AFC Conference Champion Predictions Updated: February 2015
AFC Championship: Indianapolis @ New England
Once again, the New England Patriots will take part in a postseason rematch. The Pats and Colts met back on Nov. 16 when New England ran for 244 yards on its way to a 42-20 victory. Can the Patriots do it again? Well, history has shown that they don’t fare so well in postseason games that are a rematch from the regular season. In fact, all of New England’s eight playoff losses under head coach Bill Belichick have been from a regular season rematch. The most recent was last year when the Pats lost to Denver in this same AFC title game.
This time around may be different, though. New England has owned the Colts the last two times the teams have played thanks, in large part, to an outstanding ground game. The Patriots have gained 480 rushing yards against the Colts in those two games, averaging 5.3 yards per carry and scoring 10 touchdowns. If New England does the same Sunday, it will be a big contrast from what they did last week against Baltimore. The Patriots ran the ball just 12 times for a paltry 14 yards against the Ravens.
Considering that Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck has never beaten the Patriots and that New England is 16-4 at home in the playoffs, it will be hard to bet against the home team…New England 44, Indianapolis 28.
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2013/14 NFL Season
With record-setting QB Peyton Manning at the helm, anything is possible. Manning has broken the NFL record for most TD passes in a season and, with one game remaining, has a shot at breaking Drew Brees’ record for most passing yards in a season. At 12-3 going into the final week of the season, the Broncos should be the AFC’s No. 1 seed and have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
With a virtual no-name cast, the New England Patriots have once again clinched the AFC East and will likely be the No. 2 seed in the AFC. It is still possible that the Patriots can get a No. 1 seed, which would be to their advantage. They are 7-0 at home this season, including a 34-31 overtime win over Denver.
Should they make it to the AFC Championship and have home-field advantage, look out. QB Tom Brady has had an admirable year, but not one of his best (4,221 passing yards, 24 TDs). TE Rob Gronkowski came back from injury only to injure a knee and is done for the year. Brady’s top target is WR Julian Edelman (96 receptions, 991 yards), a former college quarterback.
The Bengals won the AFC North for the third time in franchise history and clinched a third straight playoff berth. Cincinnati does it with defense. They are sixth against the run and fifth in total defense in the NFL. QB Andy Dalton has been terrific throwing for 4,015 yards and 31 touchdowns. Wide receiver A.J.
Green (94 receptions, 1,365 yards) is one of the league’s best and the running back tandem of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard has combined for over 1,300 yards. To win the AFC, the Benglas will likely have to win away from home. They have won four of their last five games, but just one on the road.