NFL Playoffs: 2017 Conference Championship predictions

Written by: Dennis Vilimek- Staff Writing Intern (@DVilimek25)

The two games this weekend have the makings to be NFL playoff classics, and I think that any of the four teams remaining are good enough to win the Super Bowl. Last week ended with two very close games, and I am expecting the same this Sunday.

Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

Sunday, January 22, 2:05 PM on FOX

The Packers have refused to lose since week 12 of the regular season, while the Falcons have quietly won five straight. This should be a great offensive battle between the two hottest quarterbacks in the league, and I’m expecting both to tear up the opposing defense. Both defenses rank near the bottom of the league in points allowed, so I wouldn’t be surprised if both teams score over 30. This is Matt Ryan’s chance to prove that he deserves to be the MVP of the league and he is going up against a horrible Packer’s secondary that has been hit with some injuries. Julio Jones has been limited in practice this week with a toe injury, but it doesn’t seem like anything too serious. He should be able to expose the Packers defense just like Dez Bryant did last week. The Falcons are also tough to stop on the ground with the combination of Freeman and Coleman at running back, who were both effective against Seattle’s defense last week.

Green Bay knows how to win football games in a variety of different ways. They have shown the ability to blow teams out and win by last second field goals. I don’t think that there is any situation where you can count the Packers out of the game. Rodgers will be able to put up big numbers even if Jordy and Adams are both hurt or limited. They also showed that they can be effective in the run game last week with Ty Montgomery scoring two touchdowns against the Cowboys number one rush defense. If the Packers can get their run game going again it will be very hard for the Falcons defense to stop them. The Falcons defense has been better as of late, but a streaky Aaron Rodgers is the toughest test they can face.

I am expecting a shootout with Rodgers and Ryan both having huge games. With injuries to key members of the Packers offense and defense, they might have some difficulty competing with the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. Anything can happen in this one, but I think Atlanta pulls it off at home.

Packers 31 Falcons 35

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots

Sunday, January 22, 5:40 PM on CBS

A playoff game in Foxborough is never easy for a visiting team. The Steelers are going to have to play their best game of the year to be able to come out on top. They are riding an impressive nine game winning streak coming into this one and they have the ability to beat anyone. Their offense was not able to reach the end zone against the Chiefs last week, but they still put up almost 400 yards. The Patriots rush defense is one of the top units in the league, but Le’Veon Bell has the ability to run well against any team. I expect the Steelers to continue to rely on him and give him around 25 carries. Big Ben has been average in the last two playoff games, and he needs to get it going to beat the Pats.

Nobody ever wants to face the Patriots in the playoffs. Tom Brady has the most experience out of any quarterback in AFC Championship games, but he had a bad game last week for Brady standards. He didn’t even complete half of his passes and he threw two interceptions. The Texans defense is much better than the Steelers, and I do not see Brady having two subpar games in a row. The Patriots also featured Dion Lewis as their lead back and he proved to be a threat on offense and special teams. He could be a key player in this game while splitting offensive reps with Blount. New England could see a lot of success against a Steelers defense hasn’t faced a strong offense in weeks. While I do think the Steelers could win if their big three (Bell, Ben, Brown) is clicking on offense, the Patriots are the more complete team.

Steelers 24 Patriots 30


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