Fikkle Fame’s NFC and AFC Playoff Predictions for January 22, 2017

We’re down to the NFL’s Final Four, the NFC and AFC Championships. All four of the remaining teams have been hot the last half of the season and in the midst of winning streaks of from five to nine games. All four feature top of the line quarterbacks, three of whom have won Super Bowls. It should be a great Sunday of football.

NFC Championship

Green Bay (12-6) at Atlanta (12-6). Falcons favored by 5. The Falcons beat the Packers 33-32 in Atlanta on October 30th. Atlanta QB Matt Ryan is a strong candidate for the MVP award, with 38 touchdown passes 4944 passing yards. His favorite target was Julio Jones, who had 1409 receiving yards, 2nd best in the NFL. The running game features Devonta Freeman, who rushed for 1079 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Packers have been playing with a banged up, patched together secondary. The Falcons averaged 33.8 points per game, best in the NFL. They’ve also allowed 25.4, which is 27th in the league. The signs point to the Falcons winning at home in their final game at the Georgia Dome. Except, that is, for the fact that Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on an extraordinary run. Green Bay knocked off NFC top seed Dallas on a last second field goal after Rodgers completed a nearly impossible pass to Jared Cook. The defense will have its hands full, but has been bending and not breaking for several weeks. In what should be another high scoring, entertaining game between these two teams, we’ll go with the Packers in an upset. Green Bay 41 Atlanta 38.

AFC Championship

Pittsburgh (13-5) at New England (15-2). New England favored by 6. The Patriots beat the Steelers 27-16 in Pittsburgh on October 23rd. The Steelers were without QB Ben Roethlisberger, who was injured. He’s been back a while, and the Steelers have won nine in a row. Running back Le’Veon Bell rushed for 170 yards against Kansas City last week, and WR Antonio Brown had 106 yards on six catches. But the Steelers could not reach the endzone against the Chiefs, winning 18-16 on six field goals. New England had more trouble with the Houston Texans than anticipated before pulling away 34-16. But while New England will have to play better to beat the Steelers, as QB Tom Brady said, we think they’re up for the challenge. Brady is 9-2 against the Steelers, and the Patriots’ defense has been excellent this season, and hasn’t always gotten the credit it has deserved in the Patriots run. The Steelers will have to get in the end zone and not rely on field goals to beat New England. Patriots 27 Steelers 17.

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