So far at Zero US Sports, we are 7/8 in the post-season with NFL tipping, with only one errant Pittsburgh Steelers pick from last week being our one slip-up.
With the two conference championships this week, can we go 9/10?
Here are our predictions for this weekend’s games.
New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos – Monday, 25th January, 7:05 AM
They’re calling it ‘Brady vs Manning XVII’ – but this matchup will be far more than a battle of two legendary quarterbacks. The reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots have actually lost 2 of their last 3, whilst their opposition are on a three-match winning streak, beating both Cincinnati and the Steelers in that time. It’s fair to say the home team is in superior form
However, despite this, the Patriots are favourites – and perhaps rightfully so. They are undefeated with the fully healthy team they boast this Monday, and historically, Brady leads the qb matchup 11-5. Whilst Denver’s defence has certainly been noteworthy this season, they struggle to score with both the young Brock Osweiler and the aging Peyton Manning. To compact this, the Broncos are missing quarterback Chris Harris, which will make defending the returning Julian Edelman problematic.
If everything comes together for Denver, they are prime for an upset. Playing at Mile High is draining at the best of times, and Tom Brady has a poor record there. However, the stars will need to align for that offence and defence to come together to beat the post-season winning machine that is the New England Patriots. Can they do it? Yes, but the odds are slightly too heavily against them.
Tip: New England Patriots
Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers - Monday, 25th January, 10:40 AM
This should be the pick of the games this weekend, and it fairly has the later timeslot. The two best teams in the NFC are deservedly going head to head to win a ticket to San Francisco to play Super Bowl L. Carolina have of course lost only one game this season, whilst Arizona have only lost 3. These two high-powered offences going together should be enthralling to watch.
Both teams actually have a similar tale of the tape: they both saw off recent Super Bowl champions that made late chargers in the match; Arizona winning in overtime with some late Larry Fitzgerald magic, and Carolina just hanging on against a fast-finishing Seattle Seahawks. Neither team was overly convincing last week, and it looks as if this game will be played entirely on its’ merits, as opposed to following any script.
With that said, I think it is Arizona who have a good chance to do something special here – Carolina will be without first choice cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Bene Benwikere, as well as defensive end Jared Allen, and Carson Palmer will surely look to expose a weakened defence. Playing at home, Carolina should look to put the game away early, and keep the foot on the throat if they build up a lead, rather than attempt to play conservative. Apart from these footnotes, it’s not much more than a coin flip. Carolina are undefeated at home this year and have certain MVP Cam Newton, so that’s what swings the balance for me.
Tip: Carolina Panthers