NFL14: CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW

The is D. Gulley for The Shop Report

NFC Championship

Green Bay Packers (12-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (12-4)

The winner of this game is far less ambiguous than many would like to believe.  But since there’s only one other matchup this week, it appears that many are compelled to stretch every scenario on how the Packers can upset the Seahawks.

To the advantage of the Packers, they’ve faced a tougher schedule since November than the Seahawks including the playoff matchup (based on records – which at deceiving at times) began and including playoffs.   The Packers turnover margin at -15, is lower than the Seahawks at -12.  This means that both teams force more mistakes than they commit.  Where do the Seahawks have an advantage?  The thing about the tale of the tape is that, like the weather, it sets the likely conditions, but it is truly a coincidence when the weather is exactly as it’s laid out to be.  We’re not dealing with the weather, we’re dealing with the defending champion Seahawks who have played up to their level of expertise, not the level of their competition.  Also, the Packers don’t defend the run well, and this will be their demise, as all the other intangibles for each team are a push.  Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson will use this to their advantage.   The Seahawks can also play the slow game – low scoring affairs and the Packers cannot.  The Packers don’t win if they score less than 24 points and the Seahawks D is potent enough to keep the scoring low.  Conversely, the Seahawks have 5 wins  scoring under 20 points.  Notice, that none of this factors in a possibly less than mobile Aaron Rodgers.  Pick the Seahawks to win this matchup.

PICK: SEAHAWKS

AFC Championship

Indianapolis Colts (11-5) @ New England Patriots (12-4)

This is where The Shop Report is in discord – Barbershop J likes the Patriots and D. Gulley likes the Colts.  I’ll tell you why but first I’ll acknowledge my irrational decision making.  Looking at the schedule, the 2014 Colts won and lost to all the teams they should.  I cannot find an upset on their schedule for or against them.  This doesn’t bode well for a playoff team, because the post-season always includes the best of the best.  Upon closer examination, the win over the Broncos last week actually fits this narrative.  Furthermore, the Colts don’t have the best defense, and stopping the run will prove troublesome.  The body of work that the 2014 Patriots have compiled is remarkable, capped by a comeback from a 14 point deficit against a rival in Baltimore last week.  I’m not sure what the stats say, but TE Dwayne Allen is the team leader in TD receptions which means that the Colts have a variety of options in the read zone should they get there (and they will, often).  The Colts are amazingly resilient, having the ability to overcome Andrew Lucks turnover tendencies (he’s more Brett Favre than many people realize).  And still, Tom Brady hates pressure – the type that does not come from the situation but from the play-to-play attacking.  If the Colts can win, they will do so by keeping Tom Brady busy and calming Luck down.  I think it’s the clutch performances that I’ve seen the Colts display that have me picking this team to shock the world and advance to the Super Bowl to lose against the Seahawks.  Same goes for the Patriots if my intuition does not serve me correctly.

PICK: COLTS

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