Road to Super Bowl 50: The NFL Conference Championship Games Predictions

January 15, 2016

This season just keeps on giving and last weekend’s games gave us some of the best action of the season. Eight teams made it out on to the field, with four advancing to the conference finals. The first game saw the New England Patriots win against the Kansas City Chiefs in what eventually proved to be an easy victory for the home side. The other AFC game featured the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos. The Steelers led for most of the game however a stellar performance in the last quarter helped the Broncos to a seven point lead over their opponents.

On the NFC side, the Green Bay Packers faced off against the Arizona Cardinals and pushed the game to the very end. The score was tied after the regular period and the Cardinals had to go into overtime to win the game by six points in the end. The other game saw reigning NFC Champions the Seattle Seahawks go head to head with the Carolina Panthers in what turned out to be a one sided affair. The Panthers cruised to a thirty one point lead in the first half, and despite their best efforts, the Seahawks could not manage to overcome the deficit.

All of this has now led to quite a thrilling lineup for the Conference Championship Games. The number one seeded Panthers will be taking on the much improved Cardinals. On the other side, the rivalry between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will be revived in what is shaping up to be one of the most awaited conference championship encounters of all time.

Just like we did with the division championship last week, we will now try and predict who we feel is going to advance to the Super Bowl this year.


Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers

The Cardinals are the oldest continuously run football franchise in the league today, and were formed even before the NFL. Even though they have won two NFL Championships, seven division titles and a conference championship, they have not enjoyed the best form over most of their tenure in the league. They were the first franchise to record over seven hundred losses and the team has consistently underperformed over the years.

Over the last few seasons however their performances have improved which has resulted in them posting winning seasons over the last three consecutive years. They also managed to win their first major title, a division championship, this season after a wait of six years. Now this is their chance of returning to the Super Bowl for only the second time in their entire history.

The Carolina Panthers are among the youngest franchises in the NFL today and have been part of the league for twenty one years. Even in this relatively short time, they have managed to enjoy some success, winning six division titles and a conference championship to date.

Their latest division title came this season and was a just reward for a side that has posted a better season record than any other in the league. They recorded only one loss during the regular season and are now making a return to the conference championship game after twelve years. It has been quite a turnaround for a side that was struggling to even qualify for the playoff a few years ago. Now they have their sights set on going even further.

The two sides have faced each other a total of fourteen times to date, with the Panthers holding a four game advantage. The last time they faced each other was in last year’s wild card game, in which the Panthers managed to beat their opponents by eleven points. This season the Panthers have been very good once again and have gone twelve games unbeaten at home. They also have arguably the best quarterback in the league right now, with Cam Newton leading the league in touchdowns, with forty five, and a passer rating of almost hundred in the regular season. They have the best ranked offense and the fourth best ranked defense in the NFL. Most of their injured players will also be returning to the lineup.

On the other hand, the Cardinals boast an in-form quarterback themselves, with Carson Palmer posting thirty five touchdowns and throwing for more than four thousand and six hundred yards. They also have great receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, who, after their last game, now has over nine hundred yards and ten touchdowns in only eight postseason games. Their defense is also playing quite well and is ranked number two on defending tight ends.   

This might be the hardest game to predict this season as both teams are very well matched heading into this championship game. However, the Panthers achievements this year cannot be over looked, while Newton’s form has been on point their entire campaign. This is why we think that the Carolina Panthers will be making their way to the Super Bowl this year.


New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos

The New England Patriots have been the most successful team over the last twenty five years and have enjoyed more success than any other side in the league. Formed over fifty five years ago, the Patriots managed to win two conference championships and five division titles before the year 2000.

Then that season they hired Bill Belichick as their new coach who started to rebuild their squad. They also drafted Tom Brady the same year as the one hundredth and ninety ninth pick, and how their fortunes changed.  Since then they have managed to win an additional thirteen division titles, six conference championships and four Super Bowl titles.

The Denver Broncos made their start the same year as the Patriots did but they did not hit the same heights. The franchise posted its first winning season fourteen years after its formation and failed to qualify for the playoffs till the eighteenth year. However, they made it all the way to Super Bowl in their very first time of qualifying and haven’t looked back since.

The Broncos have managed to win two Super Bowls, seven conference championships and fifteen division titles to date. They have been winning their division title for the past five consecutive years and even made it to the Super Bowl only two years ago, only to lose out to the Seahawks in the end. Now they will be looking to go one step further but will have to get past the Patriots first to do it.

The Broncos have faced the Patriots fifty times to date. The team from Denver currently holds an eight game lead over their opponents and also won the last fixture earlier this season. They are facing each other for the fifth time in the playoffs and for the second time in a conference championship game. This will also be the Patriots’ fifth consecutive appearance in this game, while Belichick will equal the record of legendary coach Tom Landry by appearing in his tenth championship game.

For this important game, the Pats will also have receiver Edelman back in action, who has been amazing this season and is still to taste defeat while being in the starting lineup. Brady has also been on form and hasn’t had an interception in the last five games. Rob Gronkowski has had eight touchdown catches in the playoffs, setting a new record for tight ends.

The Broncos have been doing quite well this season and their quarterback Peyton Manning has been playing a lot better too. Their win over the Pats during the regular season came while Manning was injured and having him back in the team will be a huge boost for this next game. Their defense has been their best asset and was ranked among the best in the NFL this season. The team from Denver also has the added advantage of playing at home, where they have won ten and lost only three. Manning also has recorded much better passer rating playing at home than away.

Another game between Brady and Manning and another one that is tough to call. However, this season and over the last few years, the Patriots have again and again proved their postseason pedigree. Their experience will take them all the way to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive time this year. That is what we think at least.

There you have it football fans. We analyzed their past encounters, we looked at their current form, we evaluated their major players and we have come to the conclusion that the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots will walk out to headline Super Bowl 50.


NFL Divisional Playoffs Predictions: Who will headline the AFC and NFC Championship Games?

What a season it has been so far. With plenty of excitement and disappointments, to go with some pleasant surprises along the way, this has been one of the most entertaining years in football for quite a long while. Several franchises showed grit and fight to make it all the way to the postseason this term, with some of them never having won the Super Bowl before. The Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals fall in this bracket. However we also have the usual suspects that are bidding to add to their trophy hauls, including the Denver Broncos, the Green Bay Packers, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also making a return are last year’s Super Bowl finalists, the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.

After a thrilling Wild Card round, which saw every low seeded team win over their high seeded counterparts, we are now left with some very intriguing encounters to determine the conference championship finalists. The sixth seeded Pittsburgh Steelers will be taking on the number one seed Denver Broncos, while the other AFC game will feature the fifth seeded Kansas City Chiefs going head to head with the number two seed and reigning Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots.

On the NFC side, the sixth seeded Seattle Seahawks will go up against the in-form number one seeded Carolina Panthers, while the second clash involves the fifth seeded Green Bay Packers facing off against the second seeded Arizona Cardinals. The competition is tough and that means anything can happen on a given day. However, we will still try to predict the sides that will headline the AFC and NFC Championship games. So here goes it:  

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been playing quite well over the last few years and have not posted a losing season record in over twelve years. This season they managed to win ten games and lose six, while their Wild Card game against the Cincinnati Bengals also went right down to the wire, as they won by just two points in the end.

Going into their next game, the Steelers will have quite a few positives to look forward to. They have one of the best quarterbacks in the league in the form of Ben Roethlisberger, who is currently recovering from a separated shoulder. However he played very well against the Bengals and his form will be crucial for the team to win in the end. Their wide receivers have also performed very well in recent games and their running defense has been among the top five in the league.

The Denver Broncos are the number one pick in the AFC and for good reason too. They have won twelve games this season, losing only four. They have also posted one of the best defensive records in the NFL. They led the league in sacks during the regular season and have the added bonus of Peyton Manning returning to the side after an injury layoff. His experience in the postseason will be a great asset to the Broncos.

To date, the Steelers have faced the Broncos thirty times and the team from Denver holds the upper hand in this battle. They have won eighteen games compared to the Steelers’ eleven and will be hoping to extend their lead. However their last encounter ended with a victory for the franchise from Pittsburgh. This game is too close to call but in our opinion, the Denver Broncos will come out on top in the end.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots

The Kansas City Chiefs did not start this season entirely well. However they turned it around in spectacular fashion to post ten consecutive wins to end the regular season and qualify for the Wild Card round. They have been through quite a few disappointing periods throughout their history and it has been over thirty five years since the last time they won the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs’ current form has surprised quite a lot of people, especially the way they annihilated the Houston Texans 30-0 in the Wild Card round. This was a first blowout victory in the postseason in years and showed the kind of form the Chiefs are in. Their defense has been playing very well and was ranked third in scoring during the regular season. They have also let in more than twenty points only once in their last thirteen games and have won seventy percent of all their games on the road.

The New England Patriots have been the franchise of the decade, with the Bill Belichick and Tom Brady partnership racking up several NFL records over the years. They have made most appearances in the playoffs out of all the other teams and haven’t posted a losing season in over fifteen years. They have made it to the Super Bowl seven times in the last twenty years and have won the title four times during that time.

They won twelve games and lost only four during the regular season. However two of those losses came in their last two games, with injuries to important players playing a huge part in that slump in form. Most of them are expected to make a comeback by the time their next fixture rolls into town and one of the best offenses in the league will be back at full strength once again.

The two sides have faced each other over thirty times to date, with the Chiefs holding a four game advantage over their opponents. The last meeting between the two also ended in a loss for the Patriots, and they will be out for revenge. Even though the Chiefs are in good form, the team from New England has the playoff pedigree. We think that the Patriots’ big game temperament and experience will help them advance to the next round after a very close affair.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers

The Seattle Seahawks have been on fire over the last few years. They have made back to back Super Bowl appearances in the last two seasons and won the title in 2013. They started this year a bit slowly and lost five of their first nine games in the regular season. However, they managed to turn their form around and have been quite solid ever since.

The Seahawks’ offense has improved by quite a margin and averaged over thirty one points per game in the second half of the season. Their defense has also been at par with some of the best in the league and allowed just one touchdown to be scored by the opposing team in their last six games on the road. They are also ranked number one in points allowed this season, which is the fourth consecutive time they have achieved this feat. And if that doesn’t work, then they have the reliable hands of their star quarterback Russell Wilson, who leads the league in passer rating and threw twenty four touchdowns and allowed one interception in the last seven games of the regular season.

The Carolina Panthers are among the youngest teams in the NFL today and have only been part of the league for twenty one years. In all this time they have made it to the Super Bowl only once in their history, losing out to the Patriots in a very close encounter. This season is their best opportunity to rectify that mistake and win the biggest title in the NFL for the first time.

The Panthers shocked the football world by going 15-1 this season, considering they had posted a losing season record the previous year. They were incredibly dominant at home, and are currently on an eleven game winning streak. At home they have won by a margin of almost sixteen points per game, and now they are expected to get back most of their injured offensive players as well. There is a reason they have the top scoring offense in the league that is averaging over thirty three points per game.

The Seahawks have faced their next opponents ten times to date, winning seven and losing only three times. However their last game, which came in week six of the current season, the Panthers emerged victors in a closely fought game. We predict that result to repeat this time around as well. So sorry Seahawks fans but we don’t think you will be making it to the Championship Game this year.

Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals

The Green Bay Packers are one of the most successful teams in the history of the NFL and have managed to win the highest number of league titles to date, with nine NFL Championships and four Super Bowls. They have mostly been consistent with their performances, barring a few disappointing periods in the middle, and have posted only two losing seasons in the last twenty years. This season they made a great start, winning their first six straight games, but lost four of the next five and ended the regular season with ten wins and six losses.


In the Packers next game, all the focus will be on their star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He leads the franchise in passing yards and passing touchdowns, with thirty one in the regular season. Their defense has come a long way as well and seems more adept at handling the pressures of the postseason now. Their special teams have been on point as well, with punter Tim Masthay breaking the franchise’s net punting record.

The Arizona Cardinals have been through a roller coaster of a ride in the league, ever since their inception over a hundred and fifteen years ago. They are one of only two franchises in the league today that predate the existence of the NFL itself. They have won two NFL Championships which came over twenty years before the first Super Bowl game was ever played.

This season, they have been particularly good and posted a 13-3 regular season record. They were seeded second in the conference and hence avoided the Wild Card round. By evading the Wild Card round, they ensured that all their players are well rested and injured stars like defensive tackle Josh Mauro and linebacker Markus Golden can finally make it back in time. Their quarterback Carson Palmer has also been playing very well and with the help of wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, the Cardinals are looking a dangerous prospect.

Both sides have faced each other over forty six times to date, with Green Bay holding the advantage, having won over sixty five percent of all their games. However the Cardinals went against them earlier this season in week sixteen, and ended the fixture as winners, in what proved to be a very one sided affair. The Arizona Cardinals have momentum on their side and this is why we think that they will be a little too hot to handle for the Green Bay Packers.

Predicting football results is a tricky business because a game can change in a matter of seconds. However we have tried our best to guess the teams that will make it to the AFC and NFC Championship games. So the Denver Broncos, the New England Patriots, the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals are those teams for us. What is your take on the divisional playoffs? Who do you think will take another step towards winning the Super Bowl?



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