Jazz: The last day of football before the Big Game is upon us. Last week I missed a perfect record once again, going three for four. But since Ed rang up the same record, I’ll take the week on a push. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) The conference championships will give us one last chance to shine, though the number of picks has dwindled. I have a feeling that I’ll be opening the door for Ed to overtake me today, but a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do.
Ed: Do I mind that you bogarted the thread even though we tied up last week? Er … I’m just surprised to be in position to complain about it. My 3-1 last still leaves me at 3-5 for the postseason, and I’ve only got three more games to call. If I’m lucky, I’ll top .500 for the 2013 playoffs. So no, you go right ahead. Age before beauty, after all.
Jazz: The first game of the day is the AFC Championship, kicking off at 3:00 p.m. ET on CBS. It’s the Denver Broncos hosting the New England Patriots, and all the hot buzz I’m hearing seems to revolve around Peyton Manning “choking” in the big game and getting sent home in disgrace. But the Broncos have virtually all of their best weapons ready to start and the game last year where they lost to the Ravens was, in my opinion, a fluke. It’s no secret that I want anybody but New England to win, so take this pick for what it’s worth. It would be hilarious to see the Patriots make it all the way to the Big Game and lose again like they did against the Giants, but I have a hunch that this is Peyton’s year to go out on a high note and New England’s road to the Lombardi Trophy ends here. Denver over New England, 38-24 in a high scoring shootout.
Ed: So far we’re on the same page. Denver is tough to beat at home; only San Diego managed it, and they’re out of the playoffs now. (As I predicted.) However, New England only barely beat Denver in Foxboro in week 12, and it had to go to overtime. Denver’s gotten healthier and the Pats have gotten a little more beaten up. When Peyton has lost in the playoffs, it’s usually been in the first game, too. Now that he’s gotten warmed up, expect fireworks, but it’ll be Denver 45-34 over New England.
Jazz: The evening game is the NFC Championships at 6:30 p.m. ET on FOX. The 49ers are playing the Seahawks (again) in what is turning into a serious grudge match at this point. I’m guessing that a lot of the media prognosticators are going to claim that San Francisco simply can’t win in the thunderdome conditions at Seattle, but as with the last couple of weeks, I’m not buying the hype. Kaepernick is ready to go and he’ll shake off the distractions and the noise to take his team to the dance. San Fran over Seattle in a close one (maybe down to a final field goal) 27-24.
Ed: The Seahawks will be missing Percy Harvin, and the 49ers look red-hot. However, once again the home-field advantage may be the difference here. These two teams know each other very well, and both won their home games against each other — but the Seahawks blew the 49ers out in week 2, while San Francisco only barely edged Seattle at home, 19-17. Seattle won’t get the jitters we saw from Carolina last week. I’m going with the Seahawks, 27-23.