New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos
The Patriots edged the Kansas City Chiefs 27-20. The return of wide receiver Julian Edelman was extremely beneficial for quarterback Tom Brady and company. Tight end Rob Gronkowski was dangerous as usual, and the defense maintained their “bend but don’t break” style of play. However, in his career, Brady is 2-6 in Denver. He is facing the Broncos’ defense, which is statistically No. 1 in the league. If Broncos QB Peyton Manning and the offense score early and often and allow the defense to pressure Brady, the Broncos will find themselves in their second Super Bowl in the past three seasons.
Pick: Broncos, 27, Patriots, 20
Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers
The Cardinals edged the Packers last week in what was one of the most exciting games in recent postseason history. The Cardinals love to stretch the field with down-field passing, but it will be a tall task against the Panthers’ defense. Led by QB Cam Newton, the Panthers’ offense is as multidimensional as it gets in football.
Pick: Panthers, 33, Cardinals, 27