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NFL Picks: Championship Weekend

NFL Championship Weekend

Check out Gridiron Experts staff NFL picks. Championship weekend is without a sleeper this season as the two best teams from their respected conferences face off in hopes of punching a ticket to Super Bowl 50

NFL Playoff Picks

NFL Championship Games Mike Jody Jen Bob Preston Jason Zach Shae
New England Patriots Denver Broncos Get Tickets
Spread: Pats -3 Score: 28-20 27-23 24-20 24-20 27-24 23-17 24-23 27-23
Arizona Cardinals Carolina Panthers Get Tickets
Spread: Panthers -3 Score: 34-30 31-27 30-28 31-27 31-27 30-26 27-23 27-23
Total:
NFL Pick’em Recap
Wildcard Weekend Picks Straight up Results 3 2 3 3 3 3 4 3
Wildcard Weekend Picks ATS Results 0 1 2 1 3 1 2 2
Last Week Picks Straight Up Results 4 3 3 4 3 3 4 4
Last Week Picks Against the Spread Results 3 2 3 1 2 2 3 2
Total 10 8 11 9 11 9 13 11

Thoughts & PredictionsPeyton Manning

Preston Wickersham -Gridiron ExpertsIs this the last time we’ll see Peyton and Brady duke it out in the playoffs? It seems likely, but this game will be less about Peyton’s last ride and more about the ferocity of the Denver defense. Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware are good enough off the edge to give Brady fits, and Denver’s interior line should have an edge over New England’s guards. The biggest concern for Denver right now is Chris Harris Jr.’s shoulder. If he can’t keep Julian Edelman in check, the Broncos will have a tough time getting the Patriots off the field on third down. Rob Gronkowski is too good to shut down completely, but if a combination of Harris and Bradley Roby can limit Edelman’s effectiveness, Peyton should be able to do enough to take the Broncos to the Super Bowl.

Jason Willan -Gridiron ExpertsI don’t like what I saw from Denver last week, needing a fourth quarter comeback to beat a Steelers team that was decimated by injuries on the offensive side of the ball and should have been much more beatable on defense. Meanwhile, the Patriots didn’t have much trouble with Kansas City and look poised for another Super Bowl run. The Broncos defense may be able to slow Tom Brady and company enough to keep this game close, but I don’t think Peyton Manning has enough left in the tank to lead Denver to a victory here.

Bob Talbot -Gridiron ExpertsA lot will be said about the Broncos defense and Brady’s history at Mile High (2-6), but I’m not intimidated. In my mind, asking Denver to beat the Patriots is asking Denver to score more or surrender less than 20. I don’t think they can do either. This is not the Peyton Manning we are used to from the last few decades. His performances this year have been highly underwhelming, even of late.

Tom Brady actually has MORE TD passes (3) at Mile High than Peyton this year (1)!!! Read that sentence again. If not for an injury to Gronk, the absence of Edelman and a significant snowstorm, the Patriots would have dismantled Denver a few weeks back. With all of those factors off the table and an admittedly banged up Chris Harris on Denver, expect the Pats to cruise to yet another Super Bowl trip. It may end close, but the game will never be in doubt.

Mike Rigz[the_ad id=”58837″]Everything in my bones tell me that this game will be a one-sided let down for the home team. I just can’t see the Broncos really keeping up with Tom Brady and company offensively, especially after last weeks poor display against the Steelers. If the Broncos want to win this week their butter-finger wide receivers need to come up huge. I mean, aside from catching everything that is thrown at their chest, they need to snag a few balls that are off target. Manning will bring his best, but can the rest of the team match his level of intensity?

Jen RyanBrady and Manning have 17 matchups against each other, a full football season. When you think about it, it is really incredible. It is a shame that we will be witnessing this historical showdown with a Peyton Manning who is a shell of his former self. If the Broncos are going to advance to the Super Bowl they will need a vintage Manning performance. I do not see it happening, but I still see the Broncos pulling out the win. Their games as of late have been low-scoring and teams have played down to their tempo. We all know Tom Brady does not like getting hit and the Broncos pass rush will make him uncomfortable all day. It will be a close one, but I think this game will come down to the two-minute warning. I am not talking about a game-winning drive from Manning but a game-ending drive from this top-rated defense.

Jason Willan -Gridiron Experts Greg OlsenI’ve gone back and forth on this pick several times, as I could see either team earning a trip to the Super Bowl. But I think Arizona has enough weapons on offense to ultimately overcome the Panthers stout defense, while I don’t think the same can be said when Carolina has the ball. Arizona should match up reasonably well with Greg Olsen, forcing Cam Newton to beat them through the air with his rag-tag receiving corp. The presumptive MVP will do enough with his arm and legs to give the Panthers a chance to win, but I think Carson Palmer and his plethora of receiving options will triumph in the end.

Bob Talbot -Gridiron ExpertsThe Panthers have answered the bell every time this year. They may not do it in the sexiest fashion, but Mike Shula’s creative offensive scheme has run like a well-oiled machine in 2016. A stingy and advantageous defense has contributed to the team’s success as well. The Cardinals entered the playoffs believed by many to be the most complete team in the NFL. But the Cards looked shaky on Saturday night. The Panthers didn’t exactly boost confidence with their second half performance as well. This feels like a game that will come down to the turnover battle. I put a little more trust in Cam and company there. Carolina answers the bell one more time.

 

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