New England at Denver – Line – Denver by 5
Tim’s change – Denver by 7
I don’t think Leggerrretttttee Blount is a great rusher. If he was, the Bucs would still have him in the lineup. Don’t forget, Coach Bill is just as likely to give Blount 2 carries as he is to give him 20 and some running back who didn’t play since week 11 will catch 9 passes. This team just goes around Brady and he makes it all work despite the lack of a marquee receiver – Unless you think Julian Edelman is a household name. The Pats have the ability to do to Denver what they did halfway thru this same year.
Then again…Denver has that ability too and remember that the Broncos were way ahead until they went all fraidey-cat and didn’t pass the ball or try to win the game. The only team in the league that ends the season with as many injuries as the Patriots is the Broncos. Denver has no Von Miller and they just lost their best deep cover man as well so their pass defense in part rests on the soon-to-be retired legs of Champ Bailey.
In the modern, NFL, the QBs will determine the outcome, not the coaches, defenses or running backs. I think Denver has more weapons on offense and more ways to use them so while most people might be going the other way, I believe Denver emerges from the AFC with a larger than expected victory, like 38-31 maybe.
Mike’s change – Denver by 14
It’s pretty simple, really. If New England wins this game, it will be by the skin of their teeth. If Denver wins, it’s most likely a blowout. People have talked ad nauseum this week about how this is Belichick’s best coaching job ever, and they’re probably right. With everyone that they’ve lost over the course of the season, the fact that they’re one game away from the Super Bowl is just short of miraculous. Unfortunately for them, this is where the fairy tale ends, and it’s going to end ugly. There is next to zero chance that Blount replicates anywhere near his performance last week. New England, even when fully healthy, is not a good matchup defensively for this Broncos attack. The weather in Denver isn’t going to be a factor either, so there will be no wacky blizzard action to help throw off Peyton Manning. Sorry, Boston, you’ll just have to be satisfied with one world championship in the past three months.
San Francisco at Seattle – Line – Seattle by 3 1/2
Tim’s change – Pick
Do you take the better team, Seattle, or the hotter team, the 49ers? Here’s the argument for Seattle – they own San Fran at home, they have a great home advantage, and their aggressive pass defense is superb. Here’s the argument for the Niners – who cares if the Seahawks have a great pass defense because the offense for SF isn’t thru the air. If San Fran is near the bottom in passing and near the top in running, they ain’t exactly playing into the strengths of the home team. I think Seattle has been doing just enough to win but not be convincing for 2 months. This game is too close and I’m not going to give a lot of points with a Hawk offense that passes just as poorly as their opponent. Someone is gonna win this 17-16.
Mike’s change – San Francisco by 3
If Percy Harvin were healthy for this game, I might have it as a pick. If Seattle hadn’t lost at home to Arizona a few weeks ago, I’d probably have this flipped the other way. But the Russian is already cut.
San Francisco is a better team on both sides of the ball right now. Kaepernick has a much wider range of performances than Russell Wilson, but Wilson’s offense overall has been mediocre for a while now. They’re not the 60-points-per-game juggernaut that they were at the end of last season. They can’t rely on Beastquakes every game to get them through, especially against a brutally tough team like the 49ers. Sorry, Seattle fans. You’ll just have to be content with your world record for loudest stadium, while the rest of the world gets ready for the dramatic re-enactment of Super Bowl XXIV.