The NFC and AFC Championship Games will settle which two teams book their flights to Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX on February 1. And, you’ve likely heard from every talking head in the industry about which teams have the best chance to punch their tickets to the Big Game.
Well, Covers gives you four opinions that really matter, coming from the guys who know these championship contenders the best – expert NFL team bloggers. They strap on the pads, slap on some eye-black and pop in a mouth guard, debating why their favorite teams will not only win but cover the spread on NFL Championship Sunday.
Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (-7.5, 46.5)
WHY GREEN BAY COVERS
Jason B. Hirschhorn writes for Acme Packing Company, a Green Bay Packers blog for SB Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @by_JBH.
In their last two games, the Packers had to overcome an explosive Dallas Cowboys offense and a stout Detroit Lions defense. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have played a “gauntlet” of teams starting Ryan Lindley, Shaun Hill, and a beat-up Cam Newton just weeks removed from a major car wreck. The Seahawks haven’t faced a quarterback the caliber of Aaron Rodgers since the first half of the season.
Accordingly, there could be some adjustments needed by the Seattle defense to account for the heightened play at quarterback. Meanwhile, the Packers’ offensive line has improved greatly since these teams last met. If they can control the line of scrimmage and allow Eddie Lacy to eat up yards, it should be a different game than the one played on September 4.
WHY SEATTLE COVERS
Rob Davies writes for Field Gulls. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @FieldGulls.
Green Bay is 0-3 ATS as a road underdog this season, losing both straight up and ATS in Seattle, Detroit and New Orleans. And, although this week’s line of the Packers +7.5 points can be viewed as possibly quite generous, the Seahawks are 12-1 ATS in the Russell Wilson era when favoured at home by less than 10 points.
Not only is that a trend that looks immediately daunting, but Green Bay ranks 23rd against the run and allowed 5.2 rushing YPA against the Cowboys last week. Wary of stating the obvious, the Packers need to be working on this aspect of their game more than any other this week at the risk of enduring a torrid afternoon against the inimitable Marshawn Lynch.
This is a fired-up Seattle defense and Lynch’s fire seems to feed their own, so should he begin stampeding over the Pack, you feel that Aaron Rodgers and his receivers will need to be in sync, and quickly, which actually isn’t far from the realms of possibility. However, Seattle is 25-2 SU in its last 27 games at home so while this could be extremely close, the Seahawks’ home-field advantage could be the clincher.
Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (-6.5, 53.5)
WHY INDIANAPOLIS COVERS
Kyle Rodriguez is a senior writer and assistant editor at The Colts Authority. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @ColtsAuthority.
The Colts can cover because their defense is playing well. Even the best offenses need the defense to have a defense to have a decent run to get to a Super Bowl. Andrew Luck is playing phenomenally right now, but the Colts will need more than Luck to win in Foxboro. They’ll need a defense that won’t get run over by New England, but they’ve done a good job limiting strong Denver and Cincinnati run games in recent weeks.
They’ll need a defense that can limit Brady, and they’ve done a good job of maintaining tight coverage in the secondary in recent weeks. The biggest threat to the Colts is Rob Gronkowski, and they’ll likely employ a number of looks to keep him and Brady out of a rhythm. They won’t be able to stop the Patriots altogether, but if they can keep it close and give Luck a chance late, we could see an upset.
WHY NEW ENGLAND COVERS
Richard Hill is an editor at Pats Pulpit. You can follow them on Facebook and Twitter @patspulpit.
Some might point to the Patriots’ past success against Andrew Luck’s Colts, with the average victory of 48-22 as a reason New England will cover. This Indianapolis team is different from earlier in the year, where they lost starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw in the middle of the game and cornerback Vonate Davis was hobbled.
Don’t count on a 26 point victory, but still, the Patriots are more than qualified to beat the Colts handily. New England has 10 rushing touchdowns in their past two games against Indy’s defense, and both workhorse backs from those games – LeGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray – are on the roster. Look for the Patriots to replicate the same success on the ground and cover the spread.
Join in the debate in comment section below. Who covers Sunday: Packers or Seahawks? Colts or Patriots?