Reverse Barometer: Championship Weekend
So, who’s going to the Super Bowl?
Those answers will come from this Sunday’s Conference Championship games. But if you really want to know who is going to win these contests, simply read ahead and bet the opposite. Because the Reverse Barometer is always good to give you guidance. Sort of.
NFC Championship — Cardinals at Panthers
The weekend’s best game will be played in Charlotte, NC. It marks the first time ever that two Heisman-winning quarterbacks will face off in a playoff game, believe that or not.
Carson Palmer throws the deep ball more than any quarterback in the league. And well. But is the index finger on his throwing hand healthy? That’s the one thing I noticed in last week’s win over Green Bay; Palmer’s taped finger seemed to make his throws be a tad erratic, and it’s one reason why I don’t like the Cards in this game.
Cam Newton, on the other hand, uses his size and strength to overpower opponents and lead the Panthers to fast starts – something that Seattle learned all too well last week. And they are deadly at home.
The NFC Championship will be decided by the Cardinals’ secondary. They must play well to have a shot in this game, especially early. Their biggest problem, however, will be Carolina tight end Greg Olsen. Expect him to be big in this game.
Now, Carolina’s secondary aren’t exactly world-beaters over there. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown must make plays to give Arizona a chance.
Relevant stat: The Cardinals led all road teams in the NFL in points-per-game, yards-per-game, and passing-yards-per-game.
Result: Cam is simply too much on home turf. Carolina 29, Arizona 20
AFC Championship — Patriots at Broncos
Brady vs. Payton. That’ all anyone wants to talk about for this game. I guess that is predictable when there is historical significance to it – this marks the 17th time it has happened. Brady is 11-5 in head-to-head match-ups, but 1-2 in AFC title games vs. Manning.
Brady has the better offense in this game, but he has two significant things against him — home field, and a Bronco defense that will be looking to run him and the Pats’ offense down on every play. Denver led the league with 52 sacks; DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller will be huge in this game if the Broncos pull out the win.
The key to the game may fall when Denver has the ball, though. If they can have any success in gaining first downs, running the clock and scoring a few points, it just may lead them to victory. If Manning can generate 20-or-more points, the Denver defense will take care of the rest.
It will take the Denver running backs – C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman – gaining some yards on the ground.
Relevant Stat: Denver went 10-3 in games decided by seven-or-fewer points. If they keep this game close vs. the Pats, it could be 11-3.
Result: The Broncos actually run the ball well and limit the Patriots offense with quarterback pressure – a recipe towards a 24-17 win.