Evan Abramson

Sports Editor

I still can’t believe the Packers lost to the Cardinals after doing the impossible yet again, and I am still bitter about my Jets not making the playoffs. But with that said, and with tears running down my face at night, the NFL is left with the “best” four teams from the 2015-16 season.

Let’s start with my home for half the year, the AFC. With the New England Patriots defeating their opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, 27-20, just as expected, and the Denver Broncos beating the seemingly immortal giant Big Ben and injury-prone Pittsburg Steelers 23-16, we once again get to see what some call the greatest quarterback rivalry since the days of Marino and Elway. That’s right folks: Brady and Manning are at it again like the siblings that always fight, and in this heated battle, I’m going with the Broncos beating the Patriots 27-24. To me, with no hesitation, Peyton Manning beats Tom Brady any day in quarterback rankings. And even though Manning was bothered by injury earlier in the season, I believe the Calvary will ride once again and General Manning will be leading the charge against the New England Patriots and the returning core of New England offense.

Meanwhile, in the NFC, the Panthers nearly blew a 31-point lead after halftime in a way that I, as a Jets fan, found all too familiar in their nearly lost 31-24 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. The Packers were sent home early to their cheese loving population while Larry Fitzgerald gets to enjoy an all-expense paid free trip to take on Carolina along with the rest of the Arizona Cardinals. Even with the terrible second half of football the Panthers played, I still see them getting the edge on the red birds in 34-24 fashion as Cam Newton will lead his team to a victory filled with “dabbing” and taunting. It was nothing more than an outlier and “Cammy” will surely prove it on Jan. 24.

So buckle up, ladies and gentlemen for a quarterback duel like no other. More important, perhaps one of the last times you’ll see the great Peyton Manning ever play in a postseason football game.

Christopher Davis

Digital Producer

Over the weekend, stories came alive as the NFL dwindled down to a few remaining teams in its own version of survival of the fittest. In the NFC, the NFL’s team with the best record, the Panthers, squeaked by the two-time NFC playoff champion Seahawks after relinquishing a 31-point halftime lead.

The Arizona Cardinals withstood a late comeback by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in overtime, with a final score of 26-20. With the Cardinals’ big win, the top two teams in the conference, the Cardinals and Carolina Panthers will face off in a rematch of last year’s Wild Card brawl, leading to a 27-16 victory for the Panthers.

In the AFC, the Patriots executed their way to a seven-point victory over the Chiefs, 27-20. The Broncos faced off against the injury-riddled Steelers, who were without their top receiver and both of their running-backs for the divisional matchup. The Broncos ultimately pulled this one out, 23-16, after forcing a late fumble on second-year running-back Fitzgerald Toussaint, setting the stage for Brady versus Manning part 17.

As much as I love soon-to-be MVP Cam Newton and the 15-1 season he’s helped anchor, I’m going to pick the Cardinals to go to the Super Bowl. They’re healthy, hot and their quarterback isn’t going to be Ryan Lindley this time, but rather NFL veteran and MVP candidate Carson Palmer. Cardinals will win this one in close fashion, 23-21.

In the AFC, it’s a tough pick. Brady is 2-6 at the Mile High and 0-2 in the postseason, while Manning is slowly writing a storybook ending. The Patriots are going to take this one, though.

The main difference between this upcoming game and the matchup of these teams during the Nov. 29 show is Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. Brady was missing Edelman in that game, and they lost Gronkowski with a little more than two minutes remaining.

The Patriots will take this game 24-17 and move on to win the Super Bowl, after an offseason riddled with allegations questioning playoff performance.

Matthew Saunders

Digital Producer

The NFC and AFC championship games have the four best teams from the regular season squaring off for the coveted chance to go to the Super Bowl.

In the AFC, many may think it is a foregone conclusion that Tom Brady and the Patriots have their plane tickets to San Francisco already booked.

Not so fast my friends. Watch out for these Denver Broncos, who are saddling up for a real charge. Peyton Manning will have something to prove, as he came back healthy for the postseason after missing some of the season due to injury. He wants to beat Tom Brady more than anyone and has the offensive firepower to do so. My pick for the AFC championship game is the Broncos with a final score of 31-24.

In the NFC, there is also a favorite. The Carolina Panthers, led by Cam Newton, owned the best record in the regular season by going 15-1. With their defeat of the two-time reigning NFC champions, the Seattle Seahawks, on Sunday, it looks like the Panthers are the favorite going into their contest with the Arizona Cardinals. If there is something that football fans love, though, it is an underdog, and the Arizona Cardinals are that underdog. Carson Palmer has had to deal with injuries throughout his career, as well as this season, to some of his top play makers. With an emerging running back in David Johnson and veteran Larry Fitzgerald, I think the Cardinals get it done and punch their ticket to Super Bowl 50 with a final score of 38-28.

Jimmy Calhoun

Senior Staff Writer

The second biggest day in sports begins this weekend, as four teams play for the right to represent their conference and city in Super Bowl 50. On Sunday, the New England Patriots will visit the Denver Broncos in the AFC championship game, while the Arizona Cardinals will go to Carolina and play the Panthers for the NFC championship.

In the AFC, the No. 2 seed Patriots will play the No. 1 seed Broncos in a rematch of their Week 11 bout. The Broncos came away victorious then, handing the Patriots their first loss of the season after they started 10-0, but I believe there will be a different outcome this Sunday. I think the Patriots will go into Denver and beat the Broncos for one simple reason: coaching. The Patriots, led by four-time Super Bowl champion head coach Bill Belicheck, will be going up against the first-year Denver head coach Gary Kubiak. Belicheck has won 223 regular season games and 23 playoff games, while Kubiak has a total of 73 regular season career wins, and only three playoff wins as a head coach. The experience goes to Belicheck who has won 10 AFC championships with the Patriots. I see him getting his 11th on Sunday.

In the NFC, the No. 1 seed Panthers will host the No. 2 seed Cardinals in a game that features the two teams that finished with the top two records in the NFL this season.

In my opinion, the Panthers, who have only lost one game all year, will see their second loss of the season on Sunday against the Cardinals. I believe the 14-2 Cardinals will beat the one-loss Panthers because of what I saw last weekend during the divisional round of playoffs with these two teams. The Panthers were up 31-0 on the Seattle Seahawks at halftime, only to see that dwindle to 31-24 in the fourth quarter.

The Panthers recovered an onside kick in the remaining minute to close the deal. The Cardinals showed this past Saturday night that they can come back. The Cardinals trailed the Green Bay Packers in the third quarter, only to come back and win in overtime. If the Cardinals find they’re in need of a comeback, they’re comfortable knowing they can get the job done.

I see the Patriots beating the Broncos in 24-21 fashion and the Cardinals defeating the Panthers 30-24.