NFL Championship Sunday predictions

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski
Photo by Steven Senne/AP

Jaguars @ Patriots

No one really knows what’s going on with Brady’s hand and there is no reason to believe Belichick doesn’t have whatever magic it might take to get Brian Hoyer to win and AFC Championship game. I think people make too much of Tom Coughlin’s influence on the Jaguars and how it might mean they’ll beat the Patriots like the Giants have in the past. That said, are Blake Bortles and Eli Manning that much different? So, just for fun, I’m going to buy the Jaguars hype, believe Brady is actually hurt, and assume Hoyer is just as bad on the Pat’s roster as he has been since he left the team… and predict that the Jacksonville Jaguars will be going to Super Bowl 52.

Prediction: Jaguars win

 

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Photo by Mark Zaleski/AP

Vikings @ Eagles

Well, I didn’t trust Case Keenum nor Nick Foles to win last weekend and they both did. I guess I trust Keenum more. The Eagles’ defense seems to play better at home and if they can keep the Vikings under 20 points, they might be able to pull this off. That said, I still think Keenum having so much confidence and a whole season of experience with this team and coaching staff will make a difference. I think the Vikings win, but only if they can put points on the board. If the Eagles can make it an ugly game, it’s theirs.

Prediction: Vikings win

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NFL Divisional Playoffs Predictions

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Photo by Eric Hartline – USA Today

Falcons @ Eagles

It’s almost impossible to trust the Falcons to win a playoff game, but it’s somehow even harder to trust Nick Foles to win a playoff game. The Falcons should win this one, the Eagles defense seemed to decline towards the end of the season and Nick Foles just couldn’t run the offense effectively. The Falcons SHOULD have confidence after than win over the Rams and have the more talented Quarterback. But, they’re the Falcons, so they could find a way to blow this. My guess is that they don’t do that just yet though.

Prediction: Falcons win

 

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Photo by David Butler II – USA Today

Titans @ Patriots

The Titans don’t have a chance in hell, but after Mariota’s performance last week, I expect them to put up a good fight. But, there’s not much mystery as to who wins this one.

Prediction: Patriots win

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Photo by Phillip G. Pavely / USA Today

Jaguars @ Steelers

The Jaguars annihilated the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 5, but their performance against the Bills, especially Bortles’, shouldn’t inspire much confidence. I think the Jags have a shot if Bortles plays like he did at his peak in the middle of the season and Antonio Brown isn’t quite himself. But, the Steelers’ offense, even against the Jag’s excellent defense, will probably score too much for the Jaguars to keep up.

Prediction: Steelers win

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Photo by Scott Takushi / Pioneer Press

Saints @ Vikings

The Vikings beat the Saints at home in Week 1, but that was Week 1 and since then Sam Bradford got injured and now the Vikings are starting Case Keenum. Also since then, Alvin Kamara has had a breakout year (as has the Vikings’ Adam Thielen). Either way, it’s hard to know if the result will be the same and Drew Brees has had a few monster games this season that make me feel like he’ll be able to turn it up in a playoff game in a way that Case Keenum won’t.

Prediction: Saints win

NFL Wild Card Weekend Predictions

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs

Photo by Denny Medley – USA Today

Titans @ Chiefs

While it’s tough to trust Alex Smith and Andy Reid in a playoff game, they should be able to beat up on the weak opponent that is the Tennessee Titans. This might be slightly less depressing than the Raiders vs. Texans game last year, but less one-sided than Chiefs vs. Texans from the year before.

Prediction: Chiefs win

 

Falcons @ Rams

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Photo by Dilip Vishwanat – Getty Images

The Falcons were able to squeak out a few good wins and slide into the last Wild Card spot, but they’re desperate to be put out of their misery. The Rams might be young and inexperienced, but they actually want to win. This might start off close, but I expect the Rams to blow this open in the 2nd half, if not the 2nd quarter. I hope we get to see a few awesome Todd Gurley playoff games.

Prediction: Rams win

 

Bills @ Jaguars

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Photo by Kevin Hoffman

As much as I love that one of these teams HAS to win, I hate that one of them has to lose. The Bills have a pretty good chance of winning if LeSean McCoy can play. The Bills have the better Quarterback and possibly the better running back, depending on health. If the Bills defense plays decently or if Blake Bortles gives them the ball more than he does to his own team (I’m a Bortles Believer, but also not blind).  I think the Jags ultimately win, but this has a decent chance of going either way.

Prediction: Jaguars win

 

Panthers @ Saints

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Photo by AJ Sisco – UPO

The Saints have had a great year and won both of their regular season games against the Panthers. The Panthers have been inconsistent, but I think the Panthers are the better team and Cam can win this one by himself if he has to. Of course it’s possible Brees and Kamara both have great games and pull off another win against the Panthers, but I don’t think they pull it off a third time this season.

Prediction: Panthers win

NFL 2017 Season Predictions

Bay Area Teams

First, predictions for both Bay Area teams:

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Oakland Raiders: 10-6

The Raiders are going to win games with their offense, and lose them because of their defense. I don’t think they’ll necessarily be worse than last year, but they probably won’t go 12-4. They got to beat up on the AFC South and defenses weren’t quite as prepared for their lethal offense. This season they have a more balanced schedule and teams have a better idea of what to prepare for.

 

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San Francisco 49ers: 5-11

The 49ers will almost certainly win more than 2 games this year. Mostly because they have 4 games against the AFC South. They also still get to play the Rams twice. The one thing not in their favor is they don’t get that late Monday Night game. Either way, this team might be somewhat competent this year and it’ll work out in their favor a few times.

Division Winners

AFC

AFC East – New England Patriots

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Boring pick, but it’s the only reasonable one.

 

AFC North – Pittsburgh Steelers

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It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Bengals or Ravens win the division, especially with Ben Roethlisberger seemingly having one foot out the door, but with Joe Flacco just coming back from injury, and a number of other Ravens players dealing with injuries, plus the Bengals’ Vontaze Burfict being suspended, no one else in the division seems to be in an advantageous position to sneak up on the Steelers.

 

AFC South – Houston Texans

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Somebody has to win this division and if Andrew Luck doesn’t come back early in the season at full health, we can cross the Colts off. I’m not falling for the Jaguars again, no matter how great I think Leonard Fournette is. The Titans seem to have the best chance to beat the Texans for the top spot, but if the Texans were able to win this division with Brock Osweiler last year, I have no doubts they can do it again with DeShawn Watson or Tom Savage.

AFC West – Oakland Raiders

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The Broncos’ haven’t improved. The Chargers aren’t going to be significantly better than they were last year. The Chiefs might win it again, but I’m not sold on Alex Smith’s continued success. I think the Raiders might struggle a little more this year than last year, but they’re still the most likely to win the division.

 

NFC

NFC East – New York Giants

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It’s unclear how many games Ezekiel Elliot will end up playing, but I think the Cowboys will take a big step back this year. The Giants, on the other hand, have paired quite possible the best receiver in the league, Odell Beckham, with another awesome receiver, Brandon Marshall. Eli will find ways to pass to the defense anyway, but I think he’ll still find ways to take advantage of these two at his disposal.

 

NFC North – Green Bay Packers

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It’s the safe pick, but that’s because no one else in the division is a totally solid team. The Vikings have lost an all-time great running back, and still have Sam Bradford as their starting quarterback. We know what Matthew Stafford and the Lions are. The Bears will be less depressing than they have been the past few years. This is one of the few divisions I would be shocked to see any other team win.

 

NFC South – Carolina Panthers

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It wouldn’t shock me if any of the four teams won this division. They all have legitimate starting quarterbacks, which is more than I can say for most teams in the league. I think Cam Newton having both Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey on the roster will mean he might not have to completely carry the offense. I don’t think they go 15-1 again, but I think this season, people remember how they did and how Cam won

 

NFC West – Seattle Seahawks

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The Seahawks will be good. The Carson Palmer is probably done, so the Cardinals probably won’t be great. The Rams and 49ers will probably be a little better than they were last year, but still not good. So the Seahawks, who might be the best team in the NFC, and might just be a pretty good team, should probably win this division.

 

Conference Champions

AFC – New England Patriots

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I would love for it to be pretty much ANY other AFC team. But this just doesn’t feel like the year another team breaks through and the other teams that might usually have a shot like the Steelers or Ravens, don’t seem to be in a place to win it. So yeah, the Patriots will probably be in the Super Bowl.

 

NFC – New York Giants

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I think the Packers are probably the better team, but their best receivers always seem to have trouble getting through the season. As much as Brady vs. Rodgers in the Super Bowl would be awesome, if the Giants beat the Patriots again, that would just be the best.

 

Super Bowl Champion

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This isn’t the most likely outcome, but it would just be so damn funny.

Super Bowl 51 Prediction

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Photo by Kevin Cox/Getty Images

Atlanta Falcons vs. New England Patriots

I think these teams are generally pretty evenly matched. The Patriots, despite not having  a great defense, are a great all-around team and the Falcons have the best offense in the NFL. Ultimately, I think the Patriots will win because they’ve been able to win so much without Gronk and the Falcons will have a tough time with the injuries to Julio Jones and Alex Mack. Also, the Falcons are still the Falcons and the Patriots have so much Super Bowl experience. But, I would not be totally shocked if the Falcons win, given that they are such a great team.

Prediction: Patriots win

NFL Conference Championship Predictions

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Photo by Kevin Cox/Getty Images

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

Sunday January 22 at 12:05pm PST

Logically, the Falcons should win. They’re the better team overall on offense and defense than the Packers. The problem is, they’re the Falcons. Despite the fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Cubs have broken curses this year, I wouldn’t put my money on the Falcons overcoming a curse AND beating Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons have the talent to win, but I just can’t bring myself to pick them.

Prediction: Packers win

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Photo by Stew Milne/USA Today

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

Sunday January 22 at 3:40pm PST

Neither the Patriots nor the Steelers looked great last year. The Patriots had trouble against the terrible Texans, but the Steelers couldn’t even score a touchdown. On the other hand, this week both teams will facing worse defenses, but much better offenses. My guess is it will be a close one, but I’m more confident in the Patriots. Ben Roethlisberger can be inconsistent and a decent portion of the Steelers’ roster might have the flu. The Steelers certainly have a chance to win, but the Patriots seem like the more likely AFC Champion.

Prediction: Patriots win

NFL Divisional Round Predictions

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Photo by Otto Gruel Jr. of Getty Images

Seattle Seahawks @ Atlanta Falcons

Saturday January 14 at 1:35pm PST

I want to believe in the Falcons, and I don’t want to believe that the Seahawks are back. But, I just can’t bring myself to feel confident in the Falcons, and the Seahawks have been there. On the other hand, the Seahawks haven’t been great on the road this year. Yet, one of their three road wins was against the Patriots, so maybe they’ll get up for a big game. The Seahawks beat the Falcons in Seattle in Week 6 26-24, but the game ended in a controversial Pass Interference no-call. Considering the Falcons offense will be going up against the Seahawks defense on the road without Earl Thomas, I think the Falcons have a good chance to win. But still think they can find a way to blow it. I’ll say Falcons win this, but don’t feel super confident.

Prediction: Falcons win

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Photo by Brett Coomer

Houston Texans @ New England Patriots

Saturday January 14 at 5:15pm PST

In Week 3, The Patriots beat the Texans 27-0 with Jacoby Brissett. This time they’ll have Tom Brady (although I’d be surprised if he played the entire game).

Prediction: Patriots win

 

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Photo by Danny Medley of USA Today

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Sunday January 15 at 10:05am PST

This game isn’t the only one that could go either way. But, I actually wouldn’t be surprised if this is actually a blowout either way. The Chiefs have been the more consistent team, by far, but lost to the Steelers 43-14 in Pittsburgh in Week 4. The Chiefs have the better defense, but the Steelers’ offensive ceiling is so much higher than the Chiefs, it’s likely the Chiefs just won’t be able to score nearly enough to keep up, assuming Ben Roethlisberger is healthy and effective. The Chiefs definitely have a chance, but I think the Steelers are more likely to get the win.

Prediction: Steelers win

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Photo by Andrew Weber of USA Today

Green Bay Packers @ Dallas Cowboys

Sunday January 15 at 1:40pm PST

The Cowboys definitely had the better regular season, and beat the Packers 30-16 in Week 6 in Green Bay. That said, I fear the Cowboys should’ve gone back to Tony Romo as soon as he came back from injury. Dak Prescott has had an incredible rookie season and will likely be the quarterback of the future for the Cowboys, but this could be a tough game for the Cowboys to have to lean on two rookies in Dak and Ezekiel Elliot to carry their offense. Maybe the rookies will rise to the occasion (and maybe Dez will have a great game), especially since the Packers’ defense isn’t great. But, I’ll lean towards Aaron Rodgers finding a way to win this game for the Packers against a rookie QB.

Prediction: Packers win

NFL Wild Card Round Predictions

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Photo by Brett Coomer

Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans

Saturday January 7 at 1:20pm PST

Everyone knows this is going to be an ugly game. The starting quarterbacks are Brock Osweiler (Texans) and Connor Cook (Raiders). This is NOT the way the Raiders season was supposed to go. The Texans are likely favored just because neither team will be able to do much offensively and the Texans will have home field advantage. My totally biased opinion has my feeling Connor Cook might be just competent (and confident) to get this done.

Prediction: Raiders win

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Photo by Troy Wayrynen of USA Today

Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks

Saturday January 7 at 5:15pm PST

This game might not be much prettier than the Raiders/Texans game. The Lions had an ugly end to an otherwise great season and the Seahawks have had major issues on offense (and plenty of injuries on defense). The Lions certainly have a chance, but I think the Seahawks will get it done at home.

Prediction: Seahawks win

Pittsburgh Steelers v Miami Dolphins
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Sunday January 8 at 10:05am PST

Both of these teams have been unpredictable this season. The Dolphins won the only matchup between these two teams (on their home field). However, Ryan Tannehill played that game (Matt Moore will be starting this Sunday). Also of note, the Steelers won their final 7 games of the season. I’m not confident the Steelers will win, but it seems like the safer bet.

Prediction: Steelers win

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Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers

Sunday January 8 at 1:40pm PST

By far, the most exciting game of the weekend. Both teams struggled early in the season, but finished strong. I think it’s likely that the winner of this game wins the NFC (and at least plays in the NFC Championship game). Both of these teams have playoff-tested quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers (Packers) and Eli Manning (Giants). Obviously, Rodgers feels like the more reliable quarterback, but Eli has a way of pulling a win out of his ass in a game like this. Also, both Giants Super Bowl runs included wins at Lambeau. Tough call, but after the Packers won 6 in a row, I’m going to bet on them to keep the streak alive.

Prediction: Packers win

NFL 2016 Season Predictions

2016 NFL Predictions

Bay Area Teams

First, predictions for both Bay Area teams:

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Oakland Raiders: 11-5

This may be wishful thinking, but, I really think the Raiders win their division this year. I think last year was a fluke for the Chiefs and while the Broncos were able to win with their defense last year, I just don’t see there defense being one of the all-time greats this year and able to make up for their awful quarterback situation. The schedule also helps, with games against the NFC South and AFC South, they have an opportunity to feast on the one mostly-terrible division, and one probably-totally terrible division, respectively.

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San Francisco 49ers: 6-10

Again, likely wishful thinking. I don’t think Chip Kelly is a great coach, but I know he’s better than Jim Tomsula. Similarly, I don’t know if Colin Kaepernick is a great quarterback, but I know he’s better than Blaine Gabbert. At some point, Chip will have to put Gabbert back on the bench. It may take more time than it would’ve due to Kaepernick’s recent decision to kneel during the national anthem, but if Chip, along with Trent Baalke, want to keep their jobs, at some point they’ll put winning first. They have a pretty balanced schedule with tougher games in both the second and first half of the season (mostly a product of their division, as well as the two divisions they play against, the NFC South and AFC East, being very top heavy). If Kelly waits until the bye week to make a decision on Kaepernick, he puts them in a better position to win against the Saints, Dolphins, Bears, Falcons, and their second game against the Rams.

Division Winners

AFC

AFC East

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New England Patriots

I have no idea if Jimmy Garoppolo is good. But we’ve seen this team go 11-5 with Matt Cassel. If Rob Gronkowski stays healthy, they probably go 2-2 with Jimmy, they’ll likely lose their first game (to the Cardinals) and possibly their 3rd or 4th to the Texans and Bills, respectively. But I don’t see anyone else in this division going more than 9-7, so the Patriots getting 2 out of Jimmy and get at least 8 wins out of their 12 other games. The Bills might make it interesting, but probably not.

AFC North

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Cincinnati Bengals

If Andy Dalton doesn’t get hurt and Vontaze Burfict doesn’t have a bizarre meltdown, I think the Bengals make the Superbowl last year. I know Andy Dalton doesn’t have a great track record during big games, but he was great last year, and this roster is one of the most talented in the NFL. Obviously, the Steelers have a great chance to win this division too, but I’m inclined to go with the Bengals because I trust their defense more.

AFC South

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Jacksonville Jaguars

I could be convinced that any team could win this division, really. The Titans seem like the least likely team to win it, but who knows, maybe Marcus Mariota has an unbelievable year and 9 wins will probably be enough for this division. The Colts seem like the most logical, but I worry about Andrew Luck staying healthy and consistent. The Texans might win it again, but JJ Watt‘s health is questionable and we don’t know if Brock Osweiler is actually good. So, all things considered, I like what the Jaguars have done with their defense and adding Chris Ivory means Blake Bortles has someone else to work with on offense. I hope they Steal The Show.

AFC West

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Oakland Raiders

I said a bunch about this above, but yeah, Chiefs seem like the only other team that could win this division, but I think they’ll regress to the mean this year. The Raiders look good, but we’ll see.

NFC

NFC East

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New York Giants

This is a similar situation to the AFC South. One of these teams has to win, and it’ll probably be another 8 or 9 win team. The Eagles and Cowboys don’t have much of a chance due to their quarterback issues. Washington could repeat, but I don’t anticipate Kirk Cousins improving, but with a soft schedule, it’s certainly possible. It’s mostly a toss-up between the Giants and Washington, but I’ll trust an offense with Eli and OBJ over Cousins with anybody.

NFC North

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Green Bay Packers

The Lions won’t have Megatron. The Bears don’t look to be improved. The Vikings seemed like they might have a chance to repeat, and they still might, but those chances seem significantly less likely with Teddy Bridgewater out for the season. Jordy Nelson is back and Eddie Lacy is in shape. If Aaron Rodgers is himself, the Packers should win this division with a solid lead.

NFC South

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Carolina Panthers

Every other team in this division is trash. The Buccaneers will be good in a few years, the Falcons need a decent quarterback, the Saints need somebody other than Drew Brees. The Panthers probably won’t go 15-1 and they did lose Josh Norman, but getting Kelvin Benjamin back means they’ll probably still be a better team. No doubt in my mind they win this division.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks

I want to pick the Cardinals here, but for some reason, I just can’t. The Seahawks might come out to another slow start and be a Wild Card team again, but I have a feeling they’ll be dominant all year. I would not be surprised if both the Cardinals and Seahawks are undefeated by the time they play each-other in Week 7. If Russell Wilson can produce all season like he did in the second half of last season, I think 13 or 14 wins for Seattle is totally possible. The Cardinals will probably be right there with them, but I think Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald won’t be quite as good as they were last year.

Conference Champions

AFC Champion

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Cincinnati Bengals

Logically, the Pats are the choice, but I just wanna pick the Bengals.

NFC Champion

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Carolina Panthers

Tough to decide between the Panthers and the Seahawks, but I think the Panthers will be even better prepared for a deep playoff run this year.

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Superbowl Champion

 

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Carolina Panthers

I think they’ll get it done this time. If they end up playing the Patriots, I’ll be a little less sure, but I’d still bet on the Panthers.

Super Bowl 50 Prediction

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Photo by Chris Keane/Reuters/Corbis

After the Broncos barely beat the Patriots to take the AFC and the Panthers dominated the Cardinals to take the NFC on Sunday, January 24, I was much more sure about my pick to win Super Bowl 50. I was sure this game would be more or less a re-run of Super Bowl 48, where the Seahawks just annihilated the Broncos, 43-8. But, the difference this time is that the Broncos have an even better defense than the Panthers (who are also great on defense). Thomas Davis having a broken arm (said to be starting) may also be an issue for the Panthers.

Another factor to consider is the Panthers’ habit of letting teams come back. The Divisional Round game against the Seahawks was an extreme example, but it happened a few other times this season. Allowing the Broncos to come back might just allow the Manning to find a way to win. More likely, if it’s close, the Broncos’ defense might be able to keep the Panthers from making a late run to decide the game.

But, as much as a 2nd Super Bowl win for Peyton Manning would be the perfect way for him to end his potential “last rodeo,” I think it’s more likely that Cam Newton becomes the first starting quarterback to win an NCJAA Championship, an NCAA Championship, win the Heisman, an NFL MVP award, and a Super Bowl… maybe even a Super Bowl MVP.

The Panthers will probably get off to a hot start. Manning will likely be forced to try and make big plays if the Broncos are playing from behind, and that isn’t likely to end well for the Broncos.

Prediction: Panthers win

One more time: