There are only three NFL games left in the 2014 season, which is now the 2015 postseason. While there is a fourth game in the Pro Bowl, there are two playoff games to decide who makes the Super Bowl.
Here are my NFC and AFC Championship game picks and predictions:
NFC Championship: Green Bay (2) at Seattle (1)
The Seattle Seahawks are on a seven game winning streak entering this NFC Championship. They were initially 6-4 and on the outside looking in, but better defense combined with getting healthy has kept opposing teams in check. Russell Wilson has been playing as solid as any quarterback in the league and they secured the No. 1 seed for this game, making sure the 12th man is behind them for the second year in a row. Last week they dodged a bullet when C Max Unger left the game in the fourth quarter, but it appears he will be ready to go on Sunday.
Green Bay overcame a slow start against the Dallas Cowboys to win their first playoff game since 2012. This is their first NFC Championship game appearance since their Super Bowl season of 2010. The Packers have the PFWA MVP Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was limited on one leg last week, but he did damage with his arm versus an opportunistic Dallas defense. They need to run the ball in order to have a chance and open up the passing game for receivers including Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Defensively, it appears to be a tough matchup, but Dom Capers is one of the most well-respected defensive coordinators in the league. Things should be different since Clay Matthews moved to ILB.
The Packers will need to start strong or else the Seahawks will pull away later. I don’t like the matchup for them with how Seattle has played in their last seven games shutting down opposing offenses. Even the great Aaron Rodgers can be contained with the right defense and on Sunday, I don’t think it will be any different.
Seahawks win 31-17
AFC Championship: Indianapolis (4) at New England (1)
In what used to be a rivalry between these two franchises of Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady, this game has the new sheriff in town as Andrew Luck has taken the Colts to his first AFC Championship game in his third NFL season.
Indianapolis played phenomenal on defense last week against the high-powered Denver Broncos offense. Manning was not playing well, showing his injury affected his throws and gave the Colts an easier day. After Trent Richardson has been benched and seldom used, the Colts turned to RB Dan Herron as their starter and he hasn’t disappointed. Luck has continued to make plays with T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief and TE Coby Fleener.
The Patriots are playing in their fourth straight AFC Championship game, which is one more year than what Jim Harbaugh accomplished with the San Francisco 49ers. Tom Brady bailed his offense out as the Patriots were not able to run the ball last week against the Ravens. Defensively, the Patriots secondary has been much improved over previous years while the offense has had its ups and downs.
If the Colts are able to stop the Patriots running game, there is a chance they can pull their second straight road playoff win. However, I don’t think their defense can hold up what Brady is bringing using Justin Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and even Danny Amendola. Of the two championship games, this one will be closer than the NFC one. Indianapolis could have a lead early, but I think the Patriots finish and go to their first Super Bowl since 2011.
Patriots win 28-24