2014 Conference Championship Predictions: Green Bay Rebound
Sunday, Jan. 18
Green Bay Packers (12-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (12-4), 3:05 p.m.
The Packers undoubtedly have one of the league's most potent offenses in the league, but they will be up against the league's best defense. Back in Week 1, the Packers lost 16-36, but things have changed since then. Eddie Lacy started the year off really slow, but has picked up the pace since. Even if Lacy does not play as well as he recently, which is expected considering the abundance of talent in the Seahawks' front, Aaron Rodgers, who threw 38 touchdowns to just five picks, should be able to have a decent game with his two 1000-yard receivers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The Seahawks' defense has received plenty of praise this year, but they have faced just two capable offenses (Dallas and Philadelphia) since their Week 4 bye.
The Seahawks' offense has gotten some flak for not being "explosive" enough, or only winning because of their defense. However, they have shown some promise over the past few weeks, scoring 30+ points in two of their past three, and against stout defenses of Arizona and Carolina. The Packers allowed an average of 4.3 yards per carry in the regular season, while DeMarco Murray recorded 123 yards and a touchdown against them last week, so Marshawn Lynch matches up favorably. The Seahawks' passing game, on the other hand, which has received the most negative attention, may have some trouble against an improving secondary. Without a go-to playmaker out wide, the Seahawks' offense will be forced to rely on their running game.
Green Bay Packers Win, 30-27
Indianapolis Colts (11-5) @ New England Patriots (12-4) 6:40 p.m.
The Colts' offense had some trouble towards the end of the regular season, most notably against the Cowboys, putting up just seven points, but they have rebounded, putting up a solid 26 points per game in their last three. That will not fly against the Patriots, though, who scored 30+ points five times in a seven-week span and beat the Ravens 35-31 last week. While the scoreboard says differently, the Patriots' defense did not play horrible against the Ravens. Many drives were often kept alive by ill-timed penalties, while Justin Forsett played surprisingly well for most of the game. That was a fluke the Patriots, who have held opposing backs to just 4.0 yards per carry and have picked off opposing passers 18 times while allowing just 30 offensive touchdowns.
The last time these two teams faced off, Jonas Gray recorded 201 yards rushing and four touchdowns. The first-year running back, however, has been held to just 80 yards since. The Patriots, who struggled to run the ball last week, may go back to that approach. With so many weapons but no go-to guys outside of Gronkowski, they are heavily reliant on predetermined match-ups. The Colts are allowing an average of 4.3 yards per carry but have been pretty solid against the pass. Tom Brady, who threw the ball 50 times last week, might not even half that this week.
New England Patriots Win, 34-29