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Preview: NFL Confrence Championships

Miguel Montoya, Staff Writer

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This upcoming Sunday at 2:00 Pm EST, football fans will get to see the Brady vs Manning match up for the 17th time, possibly the last one. The Denver Broncos will host The New England Patriots for the AFC championship.

The New England Patriots traveled to Denver for week 12, where the Denver Broncos tarnished their undefeated season. The Patriots came into the game missing several key players, such as Dion Lewis, who tore his ACL a few weeks prior to the game, Julian Edelman, who suffered a broken foot bone, and Rob Gronkowski, who suffered a knee injury late in the game. Losing these key players affected the Patriots offense greatly, especially for Tom Brady, who relied heavily on them.

But now both Edelman and Gronkowski have returned. During the divisional, Gronkowski recorded 83 yards and two touchdowns despite missing the last three practices and being listed as questionable because of a back and knee injury. Edelman, who had not played a game since his injury back in November, recorded 10 catches and 100 yards. Just by adding the presence of those two weapons, I think the Patriots will play a much better game than the last time they played the Broncos.

 The Broncos did not play Peyton Manning back in week 12, but he since has regained his starting position. Manning threw for 222 yards against the Steelers in the divisional round, but had no touchdowns. He will be surrounded by a core of strong receivers such as Emmanuel Sanders and Demeryaus Thomas, who both played a very big role in beating the Steelers.

Manning holds the touchdown and passing yards record in the NFL. He looks to attend his fourth Superbowl and win his second. Knowing this could be his last game ever, he will come out with everything he has. Tom Brady hopes to attend his seventh Superbowl and do something nobody has ever done; win five Superbowls.

The AFC Championship will be a hard fought game- both the Patriots and Broncos have their weapons and have faced each other enough times to know what to expect. Both teams will have to leave behind playing conservatively and bring out all the magic plays they go over in practice. I think the weather could also play a big key; if it’s windy, both teams could have more of a run attack to avoid being slowed down. My prediction is that Patriots win it in a close battle, the final score being 28-24.

The Carolina Panthers will host the Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon in the NFC championship. The Cardinals and Panthers did not play each other in the regular season and neither team has ever won a Superbowl.

The Cardinals’ quarterback Carson Palmer is coming off his first career playoff win, and possibly an MVP caliber season. Palmer has thrown for 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns this season. The way he plays will dictate a lot of the game. He can’t stand back in the pocket and take hits or take huge amounts of pressure and start making game-changing mistakes. Larry Fitzgerald will also have to bring his best as Palmer heavily relies on him and if Fitzgerald is locked down most of the game, Palmer will feel uneasy and lost.

The Carolina Panthers have come off one of the best seasons in the history of the NFL. Quarterback Cam Newton seems to be playing the best football of his life. This year, Newton has thrown 35 touchdowns and rushed for 10 yards, proving he can be a threat in the passing and running game.However, he will be without his best receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, who injured his knee back in training camp. 

The second player who will need to have a big game is Jonathan Stewart, who rushed for 106 yards against the tough defense of Seattle during the Divisional round. If Stewart starts the game off strong they can sneak deep play action passes in and keep Arizona’s defense on their heeels.

My prediction is that Panthers win it 30-20 in a close battle. Newton will need to play the best game of his career if he wants to advance to his first Superbowl.

 

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Preview: NFL Confrence Championships