Three City of Champions staffers went with all favorites last week, and they were rewarded with perfect 4-0 records in the NFL’s divisional round games.
It’s no coincidence those lads – Matt Shetler, Zac Weiss and Larry Snyder – are in the lead as we head into conference championship Sunday. Shetler and Weiss boast 6-2 records with three games to play; Snyder is close behind that front-running duo at 5-3.
There’s still much to be decided, so let’s get to the picks!
New England Patriots (13-4) at Denver Broncos (14-3), 3 p.m. Sunday on CBS
Shetler: Football fans can’t ask for anything more than another epic battle of the two best quarterbacks of this generation. This is a big game for Peyton Manning‘s legacy, but unfortunately for him it comes against his arch-nemesis, his Kryptonite, so to speak. At the end of the day Manning will be denied by Tom Brady once again. I like the Pats’ ability to run the football and create turnovers. And oh yeah, I like that Brady guy in the clutch. New England wins an epic battle. Prediction: Patriots 27, Broncos 24.
Weiss: This is a shootout to say the least, but I have to go with the Patriots. Frankly, Brady has impressed me more this season than Manning because he has had much less to work with. The Patriots seem to have a nose for the Super Bowl and this season seems no different. Regardless of if the Pats win, I don’t think Brady will get a high five at game’s end. Patriots 41, Broncos 38.
Snyder: Brady is 10-4 all time against Manning. I think it will be a high scoring matchup as the Pats are averaging 39.3 points a game while the Broncos are averaging 31.7. Let the air show begin! Patriots 37, Broncos 34.
Matt Gajtka: The Broncos survived a scare last week, as Manning led them to a game-clinching drive late in the fourth quarter. Peyton won’t be able to lean on the power of Omaha against the well-schooled Patriots, but I see Denver as the better all-around team. With the hometown energy on their side, the Broncos make enough plays in a game that will reduce defense to an afterthought. Broncos 41, Patriots 34.
Tunno: Manning picks apart the Patriots secondary in a revenge match, and the Broncos do not blow a lead (24-0) like they did Nov. 24 in Foxboro. Manning heads to the Super Bowl looking for his second ring. Broncos 38, Patriots 24.
McDowell: Knowshon Moreno and Brady were the big players when these teams met up earlier this season, but this time the game is in Denver. I expect both teams will lean on the run but Manning and his amazing receivers will send the Bill Belichick home. Broncos 34, Patriots 30.
Staff Total: Tied 3-3