National / Sports / January 15, 2014

Cream rises to the top in NFL playoffs

With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line the NFL has hit the jackpot with a pair of intriguing matchups. Let the predictions begin.

Gavin’s Picks

New England at Denver

This is not just a game between two of the most dominant teams in the AFC: this is a game between two of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the game. For Manning, it’s finally time for him to buck up in the playoffs and turn regular season domination into postseason results, especially after his record-setting season in which he set records for passing touchdowns and yardage. Brady single-handedly carried the Patriots through what could have easily been an abysmal start to the season and sets himself up to reclaim the golden boy status of his earlier years. Brady holds a 10-4 record against Manning, but the quarterbacks have split their last eight meetings. Behind Manning, the Broncos run game is nothing to scoff at: Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball together ran for almost 1,900 yards behind one of the better offensive lines in football, allowing not only for the run game to cash in, but for Manning to set records hitting a bevvy of receivers (five of Manning’s targets hauled in 60 or more passes, and four of those five had double digit touchdown receptions). Brady’s squad has been decimated by injury, but on the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots, anchored by safety Devin McCourty, suffocated Manning in the Patriots’ 34-31 OT victory in Week 12. Still, the Broncos simply have too many powerful weapons on offense for the Pats to take them down, especially at home.

Broncos 27, Patriots 20.

San Francisco at Seattle

Anything can happen in a rivalry game, especially between two of the most up-and-coming teams the league has to offer. It’s no secret that the Seahawks have been dominant at home and I’m not entirely confident in Colin Kaepernick, who has proved to be a mere mortal this year, will hold up well against them. Since wide receiver Michael Crabtree has returned, however, the 49ers have won their last seven games. In simple description, the two teams seem almost identical: young, new-age quarterbacks who can produce both in the run and pass game, dominant defenses and strong run games that allow for a balanced offensive gameplay. Were this game in a neutral location, the outcome would be much more in question. That said, CenturyLink Field is a near impossible task for most opposing teams to deal with, as has been proven by the Seahawks’ dominance over San Francisco at home.

Seahawks 24, 49ers 13.

Jackson’s Picks

New England at Denver

Fans are salivating at the match-up because there is no such thing as Manning-Brady exhaustion. Undoubtedly the two are the best in their craft and as much as I would have liked to see Andrew Luck or Philip Rivers get their first shot, another title about between these two heavyweights is too good to miss. I will say that while the ratings will be off the chart it is not always star power that wins in the NFL. Somehow this game is going to come down to players not named Manning or Brady. A key block on a kickoff, a forced fumbled at the goal-line, in contest that should be a 50-50 proposition plays like those decide the game. I say the Broncos end up on the right end of them. Broncos 31, Patriots 27

San Francisco at Seattle

Just three years ago the NFC West was a floundering division ripe for ridicule and full of lackluster football. Now it is home to the two best teams in the conference that continue to battle back and forth. The teams split the season series with each game finishing in favor of the home team. With Seattle establishing itself as the toughest road test in football (the regular season’s most shocking result may be Arizona’s road victory over the Seahawks in week 16) I do not see any way for the 49ers to pull off an upset. In what may be another career-long QB rivalry brewing, Russell Wilson will take Colin Kaepernick’s spot in the Super Bowl this season. I have been riding the Seahawks-Broncos train since mid-October and I see no reason to get off before the last stop. Seahawks 23, 49ers 16.

Jackson White
Jackson White is a senior double majoring in political science and secondary education. This is his third year as a sports editor for TKS. Over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year, Jackson worked for cornbeltbaseball.com, writing feature stories and columns about high school and college baseball in central Illinois. Outside of the Publications Office, he is an information assistant for the Knox College Sports Information Department and a two-time all-Midwest Conference baseball player. Jackson is the recipient of five awards from the Illinois College Press Association, including two first place awards for sports game coverage and sports page design.
Gavin Crowell
Gavin Crowell is a senior psychology major with minors in neuroscience and journalism. He has been writing and editing for TKS since his freshman year. He has won three ICPA awards: 1st Place Sports News Story, 2nd Place Sports Feature Story and 3rd Place Sports Page Layout. During the summer after his sophomore year, Gavin had an internship with the Chicago Sun-Times, covering teams such as the Chicago Cubs, White Sox, Bears, Blackhawks and Fire. Following graduation, he intends to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Tags:  andrew luck arizona cardinals colin kaepernick denver broncos knowshon moreno montee ball new england patriots nfl playoffs peyton manning phillip rivers russell wilson san francisco 49ers seattle seahawks super bowl tom brady

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Jackson White
Jackson White is a senior double majoring in political science and secondary education. This is his third year as a sports editor for TKS. Over the course of the 2010-2011 academic year, Jackson worked for cornbeltbaseball.com, writing feature stories and columns about high school and college baseball in central Illinois. Outside of the Publications Office, he is an information assistant for the Knox College Sports Information Department and a two-time all-Midwest Conference baseball player. Jackson is the recipient of five awards from the Illinois College Press Association, including two first place awards for sports game coverage and sports page design.




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