Jan 11, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts in the second half during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Championship Weekend Predictions: Patriots, Niners Advance

The NFL season is drawing to a close, as only three games remain in the 2013-14 season. The AFC and NFC Championships will be played tomorrow, as the Broncos, Patriots, Niners, and Seahawks all battle to advance to the Super Bowl. Both of these games will be extremely tight, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them go to overtime.

Here are my predictions.

Jan 5, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) prior to the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco 49ers 23 Seattle Seahawks 20

This game was probably the hardest contest to pick all year long, and I honestly didn’t decide until about five minutes before I wrote this piece. On paper, the Niners are definitely the better overall team, but Seattle’s home-field advantage cancels that out. Ultimately, the Niners have the better front seven, the better receiving core, and the better quarterback. I think that will be enough to upset the Seahawks in Seattle. Frank Gore must have a good game, because if the Niners turn into a one dimensional offense, Seattle’s secondary will eat them alive. Staying balanced is something you have to do when playing the Seahawks, simply because they have a ridiculous defensive backfield. San Francisco’s front seven will rise to the occasion, contain Marshawn Lynch, and force Russell Wilson to win the game for them. I personally don’t think that Wilson has the ability to do this, and right now, I trust Kaepernick much more than I trust Wilson, even though Wilson will be at home.

Jan 11, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) reacts after a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts in the first half during the 2013 AFC divisional playoff football game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots 31 Denver Broncos 28

Two of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL will share the field for the 15th time tomorrow, as Peyton Manning and Tom Brady attempt to advance to yet another Super Bowl. To me, the difference in this game will be the running game of the Pats. In past meetings, everything is on Brady and the passing game, and if he slips up, New England generally doesn’t win. But this year Brady can rely on a power running game, that is led by a dominating offensive line, and a trio of running backs that know how to get it done. Expect the Patriots to stick to the ground attack all game long, which will not only keep the ball away from Manning’s offense, but it will open up opportunities in the passing game as well. Brady’s receiving core is as healthy as it has been all year long, and I think they will find a lot of favorable matchups against a depleted Denver secondary. On defense, I am confident that the Pats secondary will be able to slow down Denver’s receivers, but the key will be the front seven. If they can get after Manning and limit Knowshon Moreno on the ground, they will win this game. Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich have to come up big, because we all know that blitzing quarterbacks like Peyton is not a good idea. Plus, when it is all said and done, Tom Brady is one of the best big game quarterbacks to ever walk this earth, while Manning tends to struggle in big postseason games.

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Tags: AFC Championship New England Patriots NFC Championship NFL Playoffs Peyton Manning Tom Brady

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