In anticipation of the AFC and NFC Championship games this weekend, we’ve pulled together America’s leading sportscasters to make their predictions and picks for Patriots-Broncos and 49ers-Seahawks. These gridiron showdowns are almost too close to call with stout defenses and a plethora of offensive weapons, but our experts are letting you in on their predictions.
See which teams our sportscasters have making it to the Super Bowl.
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV – CBS Boston
Patriots 31, Broncos 28
This matchup has plenty of intrigue when it comes to breaking it down. Of course, it begins and ends with Manning vs. Brady, but will Manning and the Broncos try to exploit the Pats’ run defense like they did in November, or will it be more of the normal – work the ball through the ground and air to all if his weapons?
The Pats’ pass defense will likely give up some big plays, but needs to continue to force turnovers. Meanwhile, will the Pats continue to be the running machine we’ve seen down the stretch, led by LeGarrette Blount and the offensive line, or will Brady come out throwing in hopes of exploiting the Chris Harris injury, and because of the success he had in the comeback win in November?
There are lots of reasons to like Denver (home field, Manning, all those offensive weapons), but I won’t bet against Belichick and Brady.
49ers 24, Seahawks 20
I thought the winner of the 49ers-Packers game was going to the Super Bowl and I still feel that way. Getting Michael Crabtree back has been huge for the San Fran offense, and Frank Gore is as consistent as they come. I think the 49ers defense can do enough to win.
Still, if ever there was a home-field advantage – Seattle has it. But if San Francisco can hang around, I like the 49ers.
Vic Lombardi, CBS4 – CBS Denver
Broncos 31, Patriots 27
We keep hearing about how Peyton Manning has a lot to prove on Sunday. This is a legacy game for Manning. He’s got a losing record in the playoffs. He’s 4-10 against Brady. Do you really think he thinks about that stuff? Manning has been loose and carefree all week. He’s still been preparing like a mad scientist but he does that every week. Manning’s going to be fine. I think the key player in this game isn’t a player at all. It’s Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. He’s going to have to coordinate his tail off, especially with all the changes in the Broncos secondary.
Steve Sandmeyer, 1090 The Fan – CBS Seattle
Seahawks 20, 49ers 16
In the last two games Seattle has hosted San Francisco, they’ve beaten them by a combined 71 to 16 margin (42-13 late last season and 29-3 back in week two). However, I don’t expect this game to follow suit. Look for a low-scoring, run oriented, one possession final margin of victory.
Anthony Gargano, 94WIP – CBS Philly
Broncos 41, Patriots 30
Beating Brady means there’s a ray of sunlight for Peyton Manning, but he still has to win the Super Bowl for the cloud that sits over his legacy to be lifted.
Seahawks 24, 49ers 16
Somehow, some way, it will be because of Earl Thomas, reminding everyone in Philadelphia what we could have had.
Evan Roberts, WFAN – CBS NewYork
Patriots 27, Broncos 23
I can see it now…Broncos up 23-20 after Manning throws a big TD pass and then here comes Tom Brady. Pats win this game late.
Seahawks 16, 49ers 13
A defensive battle that lives up to the hype…until a critical delay of game penalty is called on SF late that stalls their bid for a game-tying drive.
Damon Amendolara, The DA Show – CBS Sports Radio
Broncos 27, Patriots 26
This one will be a thriller. As good as the Pats have been for more than a decade, they haven’t had to go on the road in the playoffs since ’06. The Pats and Tom Brady have been in this situation plenty of times, so nerves won’t be an issue for them. But the Pats are remarkably banged up in their front 7, and I expect the Broncos to be able to run effectively all game. Expect the Pats to have a 4th quarter lead, but Denver to drive for the game-winning FG. Peyton goes to his third Super Bowl.
49ers 20, Seahawks 17
This one won’t be a blowout because both defenses are so nasty. The Niners though are playing their best football of the year. Seattle will have trouble passing the football, and the Niners will clamp down on a one-dimensional offense. Kaepernick makes a few more throws than Wilson, and the Niners are heading back to the Super Bowl for the 2nd straight season.
Jeremy Conn, 105.7 The Fan – CBS Baltimore
Broncos 34, Patriots 27
I like the Broncos to win this game 34-27. I believe both teams will put up points. The Patriots are 4-4 on the road and 3 out of their 4 wins are against inferior opponents in Houston, Buffalo, and Atlanta. All 3 of those games were decided in the 4th quarter. Last time they met up, Knowshon Moreno ran for over 200 yards. Denver gets an early lead and hangs on in the 4th quarter.
Seahawks 24, 49ers 20
I’ll take Seattle to win 24-20. The 49ers are playing great football right now on both sides of the ball. With that being said, I still like Seattle. It’s the toughest place to play in the NFL and they have one of the best running backs in the game. Russell Wilson will have to make plays in this game to win it. Throwing for 103 yards will not get the job done this week.
Tiki Barber, The Morning Show – CBS Sports Radio
Patriots 38, Broncos 34
Billed as a game between Brady vs. Manning, the stat to pay attention to is red zone TD efficiency. Denver led the league during the regular season at 70%; however, they’re trending downward over their last three games.
New England was no slouch in the regular season at 58%, but have been trending the right way as the season got into December, and it’s only boosted their run game, led by LeGarrett Blount and Stevan Ridley. FGs won’t get it done in this one.
Seahawks 23, 49ers 21
This game is going to be an old school street fight between division rivals that play the same brand of football. There’s animosity from the head coaches on down, and it will be on full display. In a game of attrition, the team that runs the ball best and doesn’t hand the other opportunities wins.
Justin ‘The Commish’ Pawlowski, 98.7 The Fan – CBS Tampa
Broncos 31, Patriots 23
Manning and his weapons are too much for Brady and his lack of weapons. The weather will be beautiful and will play right into the hands of the Broncos.
49ers 23, Seahawks17
The 49ers have the better Qb/coach combo and I believe they are due for a win in Seattle. Kaepernick has a knack for making big plays in the playoffs.
Jamie Samuelson, 97.1 The Ticket – CBS Detroit
Broncos 31, Patriots 13
This is the game where the Patriots’ depth finally catches up with them. Peyton Manning has been playing this entire season (and his entire career) for this game, and I fully expect him to come through. The Colts lost to New England last weekend because they turned the ball over. I don’t expect the same from Manning and the Broncos.
49ers 24, Seahawks 17
Plain and simple, the 49ers are the best, most complete team in football. They can move the ball on the ground and through the air. Their defense is as dominant as any we’ve seen in the NFL in years. I’m not concerned that Seattle has been nearly unbeatable at home. The best team wins this time of year regardless of the venue, and San Francisco has the best team.
Dana Jacobson, The Morning Show – CBS Sports Radio
Patriots 38, Broncos 35
Even though I picked Denver to make the Super Bowl before the season began, I have to give New England the edge here. If all things are even or relatively close in the air and on the ground: Manning vs. Brady & Moreno vs. Blount, I have to look to the defenses. New England is somehow healthier and both Talib and Dennard seem to be playing their best ball. An X-factor Jamie Collins who might actually find a way to disrupt Peyton or at least get some pressure. I’m thinking that D forces a game changing turnover or stop and New England finishes on top.
Seahawks 26, 49ers 24
Seattle was my preseason Super Bowl champion and I will stick with the Seahawks. A split regular season series is weighing on me but Seattle played closer in its loss at the Niners. San Francisco may be playing the best football right now of all 4 teams still around for Championship Sunday, but I don’t know that SF can beat an earthquake. That’s the advantage CenturyLink Field brings Sunday, so the game ball will go to the 12th man.
Tim Kephart, CBS4 – CBS Miami
Broncos 31, Patriots 21
Because Peyton Manning. Well, that and Brady just doesn’t have the needed weapons to keep up.
49ers 24, Seahawks 21
The 49ers are the most complete team left in the playoffs. They physically dominated the Panthers and have more than enough talent to quiet the crowd in Seattle.
Bonus: The 49ers will beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl in New York because offense puts butts in the seats, but defense wins championships.
Jim Hill, CBS2/KCAL9 – CBS Los Angeles
Broncos 30, Patriots 27
Peyton Manning’s arm will win a shootout.
49ers 27, Seahawks 17
The Niners’ rushing game will be the difference.
Brandon Tierney, The Morning Show – CBS Sports Radio
Denver 31, Patriots 30
The Patriots have remarkably altered their style of play on the fly, grinding out yards and moving the sticks on the ground. The Broncos however, have too much firepower and ride what could be number 18’s final shot at ring No. 2 all the way to MetLife.
49ers 23, Seattle 20
Jim Harbaugh’s team is clicking at the perfect time, and will exact revenge in a venue that’s been unkind to them of late. The 49ers’ balance on offense and stout front seven pushes the boys from the Bay all the way east.
Dan Durkin, 610 The Score – CBS Chicago
Patriots 34, Broncos 31
The Patriots’ standard of excellence is based on their willingness and ability to reinvent themselves on a weekly basis. The dynamic duo of Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will notch their league-record 19th combined playoff win, and make their fifth Super Bowl appearance since 2003.
49ers 23, Seahawks 20
The 49ers are the hottest team in the league, going 13-2 since Week 3. Home-field advantage or not, the Seahawks’ lack of weapons in the passing game will be their undoing.
Marc James, The Fan 610 – CBS Charlotte
Patriots 34, Broncos 31
Tom Brady has beaten Peyton Manning 10 out of 14 times head-to-head in their careers. Belichick beat John Fox 10 years ago when the Patriots beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl.
Seahawks 20, 49ers 17
The “Home of the NFL’s 12th Man” is Seattle. The Seahawks are 16-1 at CenturyLink Field in the Russell Wilson Era. The 49ers have gotten blown out 71-16 their last two trips to Seattle. In a very close game, the Hawks will pull it out 20-17 & advance to the Super Bowl for the 2nd time in Franchise History.
Tom Brady & the Patriots will face Russell Wilson & the Seahawks on “Super Bowl Sunday” February 2nd at MetLife Stadium.
Tom Ackerman, KMOX Sports – CBS St. Louis
Patriots 30, Broncos 27
Peyton Manning put together one of the best seasons in the history of the NFL. He’ll go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks ever. But I have a suspicion that secretive coach Bill Belichick has something up his sleeve. And by the way, the Patriots’ QB is pretty good. Tom Brady & Co. get it done.
Seahawks 20, 49ers 16
Forget the noise in Seattle. The 49ers are built for this time of year; some extra decibels are not going to bother them. What will be painful: the downhill running of Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch, which might open up some opportunities for QB Russell Wilson. In a hard-hitting affair, the Seattle defense holds.
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