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NFL Pro Football 2015-16 Conference Championship Picks

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Pro Football Conference Championship Picks - late games


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Fearless Rick's NFL Conference Championship Picks - Early Games

Rick Gagliano | Sunday, January 24

All times Eastern - Click here for late game.

3:05 pm New England Patriots (-3, 44) at Denver Broncos - Amazingly, conference championship in each division has come down to the top two seeds (could this mean a Trump/Cruz ticket later this Spring?) facing each other for the right to advance to Super Bowl 50.

Nothing sneaky or snarky about it, but the NFL must be happy to have this match-up of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, meeting for the 17th time in their storied careers.

Naturally, Brady has a decided edge overall, but Manning, having returned in week 17 to rally his Broncos, take a week off and then rally them again to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 23-16, really began to look like his old self in the latter stages of the conference round victory.

Brady also was at the top of his game against the Chiefs in New England's 27-20 win over Kansas City. The New England defense, however, left much to be desired. In many instances, the Chiefs stopped themselves with poor play-calling, penalties and mental screw-ups more often than the Patriot defenders made plays.

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That's not idle speculation. The Chiefs out-gained the Patriots, 378 yards to 340.

What killed Kansas City, in the end, was not Tom Brady nor the Patriot defense, but horrible clock management in the last ten minutes of the fourth quarter, when, down by 14 points, the KC offense took their sweet time moving the ball downfield, erasing as much as four additional minutes off the clock that could have been saved by not huddling after every play.

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Had Kansas City realized at halftime that the New England defense was unable to stop their balanced attack, the game would surely have had a different outcome. While Kansas City may not have emerged victorious, the contest could easily have been taken to overtime, but, because of the aforementioned poor clock management, the Chiefs never gave themselves the opportunity.

When the Pats come to Denver, they'll not be facing an offense run by Alex Smith, but by Peyton Manning, an expert at snap-counts, reading defenses and clock control. New England will be in for the fight of their lives on both sides of the ball, because the Denver defense - if they play anywhere near their effort against the Steelers - will not be moved.

As the line indicates, this one should be close, but, given that the Patriots are favored while the Broncos are at home, this one seems an easy choice. New England has their full complement on offense, but the Broncos have a much better defense, and, as we all know all too well, defense wins championships.

This one will belong to the Broncos because the Patriots will be unable to stop them.

Prediction: Broncos 34 Patriots 24

All times Eastern - Click here for late game

Copyright 2015, 2016, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.



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