by Willie Lutz
Brady vs Manning and the Battle in Seattle
So far, the NFL Playoffs have been living up to fans expectations with neck and neck games, last-second comeback victories, and exciting plays by the league’s top teams. After the first two weeks up action, the dust has settled revealing the conference championship match-ups in each league.
In the AFC: New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, 3:30, Sunday, January 19th
This championship game was a match made in heaven. Fans around the league tune in almost annually to see two of the best quarterbacks in the history of football, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, face off in the quintessential clash of the titans. This will be the fifteenth match-up
between the two quarterbacks; Tom Brady’s Patriots have taken nine, while Peyton, between the Broncos and the Colts, has only taken five, although Manning may have won the most meaningful of all of the battles. In 2008, Manning won the AFC Championship Game against Brady’s Patriots 38-34 to lead the Colts to a Super Bowl and an eventual Super Bowl title. With similar implications in this match-up, fans should have their TVs on what could be another amazing game.
The game will be played in Denver, where the Broncos only have one loss this season. Peyton Manning, who wore the Colts blue for so long, is now thriving in Denver due to an overloaded arsenal of weapons. This season, Peyton Manning broke Tom Brady’s single season record for passing touchdowns with 55, but with receivers like Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, it’s almost expected.
A lot of people are wondering about how good Peyton Manning is in the cold weather. In Indianapolis, he was pampered with a warm, cushy dome stadium that was kept at room temperature, which is the ideal playing condition for an NFL Quarterback. When the Broncos and Patriots faced off in Foxboro on a very chilly night, Manning struggled, throwing for a season low yard total of 150, while Brady rattled off 334 yards through the air. Manning may get luck on Sunday, as Denver is expecting a high of 61⁰, but it could also get as low as 23⁰.
Tom Brady is arguably the best playoff quarterback in playoff history with an 18-7 record. His 18 wins in the playoffs is an NFL record, which is two more than Hall of Fame quarterback, Joe Montana. Brady has also passed for a miraculous 42 touchdowns in the playoffs, which would’ve likely been more, but the Patriots running backs combined for six touchdowns against the Colts in last week’s playoff game.
Prediction: Patriots shock the Broncos at home for a 35-31 victory.
In the NFC: San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks, 6:30, Sunday January 19th
Over the past few seasons, the Seahawks and the 49ers have been developing a rivalry that could overtake the significance of Brady vs. Manning. Both teams have two young, fast quarterbacks in the form of Seattle’s Russell Wilson and San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick. Both quarterbacks have the intangibles to be Hall of Famers. The fact that their names are being brought up as potential Hall of Famers in their third year in the NFL really shows how much talent these guys have.
All season, Seattle has been the team to beat posting a 13-3 regular season record, but one of those three blemishes was delivered by Kaepernick and the 49ers. Neither of the two quarterbacks played well in that match-up, but the running game for both teams was outstanding. In that game, 49ers’ running back, Frank Gore, posted 117 yards on the ground.
While that match-up may look close, earlier in the season, the 49ers went into Seattle only to get desolated by the Seahawks in a 29-3 loss. Granted, in that game, Russell Wilson was held to 142 yards through the air, but the Seahawks ran the ball almost effortlessly picking up 172 yards through a porous San Francisco defense.
To go along with the theme of home field advantage, the fact that Seattle is playing this game in CenturyLink Field means wonders for the team’s chances. The crowd at Seahawks games get so loud, they’re referred to as a “Twelfth Man”, because their volume acts as another player on the field. In twenty four home games under center, Russell Wilson has only lost once, making his home record 23-1.
To make a case for the 49ers, Colin Kaepernick has proven he can perform in the playoffs, including last season, when he took his team to the Super Bowl in only his ninth game as the team’s starting quarterback after replacing Alex Smith. Although he did lose in the Super Bowl last season, he made a gallant comeback effort after being derailed in the first half, only to lose by three. Kaepernick has been performing at the top of his game again this post season after knocking off two of the biggest threats to the crown, the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers, on the road no less.
Prediction: Seattle returns to the Super Bowl stage for the first time since their 2005 loss to the stealers in a 34-14 Victory over the 49ers.