Even though the Chiefs are in decompression mode—quickly losing focus with video games, weed, unhealthy eating habits and extended excursions to exotic locales—that doesn’t mean the world ends. It doesn’t mean that there still isn’t some fantastic playoff football to be played.
(The better teams prevailed, Leftridge, the better teams prevailed, Leftridge…)
And truly, they did. The four teams left are inarguably the four best teams in the league. That makes for some probably pretty awesome upcoming football. There were no weird, undeserving outliers sneaking in. The Chargers didn’t manage to finagle their way to the conference championship; The New York Giants—who’ve had a propensity for such things in the recent past—were torpedoed early this year, and never recovered.
This Sunday should be exciting, then, as football is meant to be. Evenly matched teams. Super-hero quarterbacks. Late-game dramatics. Etc., etc.
Here’s who will win.
Even if you’re sick of seeing these two teams go at it, it’s impossible NOT to respect the rivalry.
The two best quarterbacks in the game today. Maybe the two best quarterbacks, ever.
Undoubtedly, there have been 8 billion words written about these two in a comparative sense. I’ll try and limit my addition to the pile, because honestly, it’s like an argument about gun-control: people who believe Manning is better than Brady—and vice-versa—cannot be convinced otherwise. It just won’t happen.
So I’ll take a bold, controversial stance and just say that: they’re both really fucking great. Like, INSANELY great. That said, I think that Manning has the edge in this contest for one simple reason: a better current supporting cast.
Though the running games are evenly matched—and both teams have been running the ball a bit more often as of late—Manning just has more weapons to throw to.
In their first contest this season, you’ll recall that the Broncos were up HUGE at halftime. They were coasting to an easy victory. A rash of turnovers, however, and a relentless Patriots offense fueled a comeback that nobody outside of the immediate Boston-metro area saw coming. The Patriots won and EVERYONE CELEBRATED BY TUHNING OVAH CAHS.
But here’s the deal—Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski was a contributing factor in that game. A later injury, though, and Mr. Glass is done for the year. This isn’t exactly unusual, nor is it unexpected. There is a TE, however, who DIDN’T play in the first meeting who WILL be playing on Sunday: Denver’s Julius Thomas.
All things being equal—and really, they mostly, truly are—I think this simple fact swings the game in the Broncos favor. Thomas will come up with some huge catches (in the important sense, not, like, big yardage sense), as he is wont to do, and I think the Broncos win a squeaker on one of the game’s final possessions.
Denver 31, NE 24
If there’s a blowout to be had on Sunday—IF there’s a blowout to be had—it’ll be here, and it’ll be the Seahawks dismantling the 49ers.
Oh, sure, the Niners beat the Seahawks a little over a month ago, but it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t in Seattle, a place that benefits the home team by providing the best home-field advantage in the NFL. (Sorry KC, but it’s true.)
The thing is, Colin Kaepernick isn’t as good as most people seem to think. He’s got a lot of promise, and a lot of room to grow, but he isn’t in the same realm as Seattle QB Russell Wilson. In fact, if he’s not playing the Green Bay Packers (who he seems to absolutely own, for some reason), I think he’s just a step above average. And against a ridiculously talented Seahawks secondary, “a step above average” might as well be horse manure.
San Francisco’s best hope is to get up early, and get up big. With a large, early lead, they can run the ball up Seattle’s butt with aplomb; Seattle’s run defense isn’t bad, necessarily, but it’s definitely the softest spot on a rather impervious force. Getting up big will require either big, delicious pass plays (unlikely against Seahawk CB Richard Sherman and company), or turnovers (which, again, not something the Seahawks often fall victim to). In the end, I don’t see anything of this nature happening. Seattle is too complete and too strong to lose twice in two months to the same team.
I think that Seattle wins this one pretty easily, setting up an exciting Super Bowl against Denver.
Seattle 27, San Fran 13