Final Four NFL Picks: Analyzing Premier Quaterback Rivalry For Title Weekend

Jordan Sharp

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 7:55 PM GMT

Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016 7:55 PM GMT

The conference championship games in the NFL playoffs are finally here, and both quarterback matchups are extremely intriguing. Can we gain an edge in the NFL Odds by taking a dive here?

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Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning
At the beginning of the season it looked like there was no way we could have had any other matchup in the AFC Championship game, and while both teams had their ups and downs with injuries and inconsistency, here we are once again. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have made it almost an annual thing to meet up in the AFC championship recently, and with Manning declining this could be the very last time we see these two meet up at all, let alone in the conference championship game.

In the Patriots and Broncos first meeting during the regular season, the Patriots famously lost their perfect season in one of the better games of the season in overtime. However, Manning did not play in that game, but Brock Osweiler went for 270 yards, a touchdown and a pick. However, it was the ground game and CJ Andersons’s long run in overtime that set up the Broncos for victory in that game.

You have to go back more than one year ago to get the last time these two quarterbacks faced off against one another. It was a regular season matchup in New England that the Patriots absolutely crushed the Broncos in. Manning threw for over 400 yards but threw 2 picks as well, while Brady went for 333 yards and four touchdowns. Before that it was Manning’s turn to throw for 400 yards again, but that time it helped the Broncos get to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Seahawks.

Needless to say, Manning and the Broncos’ offense has looked nothing like it did in that AFC Championship game, but the advantages both teams have had in recent years has faded away. The Patriots cannot run the ball to safe their lives, and while both teams are playing well on defense, that may be where this game is won or lost.

However, one big stat I did uncover thanks to ESPN is the fact that this season because of Manning’s injury, Brady had thrown more TDs in Denver this season in one game than Manning did all regular season. This should be concerning for Broncos fans.

The NFL Odds regarding passing yards from Bet365 have Manning at only 247.5, while Brady is sitting at 292.5. With the way he has been struggling, I think the Patriots will sell out to stop the Broncos’ run game, and force Manning to beat them with his arm. Two years ago this strategy would have killed them, but with Manning’s career low QB Rating this season of only 67.9, it might be the winning strategy for New England.

 

Carson Palmer vs. Cam Newton
While it’s probably overshadowed by the Brady vs. Manning showdown earlier in the day on Sunday, the battle between Carson Palmer and Cam Newton should be equally exciting. Both these teams and both of these quarterbacks have been ripping through the NFC this season, and on one hand you have the savvy veteran playing some of the best football of his life, and on the other hand you have the rising star who is also playing the best football of his life.

Both teams have excellent defenses and both have credible running games, so unlike the AFC Championship which could be decided a dozen different ways outside of QB play, this one should come down to either Newton or Palmer playing well or not.

The big thing for Newton recently has been his ability to make amazing throws without turning the ball over. Despite going deep a lot more this season, Newton has thrown only one pick in his last nine games. Compare that to Palmer who threw two picks last week against the Packers, and has been picked off four times in his last three games, if this game comes down to turnovers, the advantage is the home Panthers.

At home this season Newton has 20 passing TDs with only six interceptions, and in his last four home games including the win last week against the good Seahawks secondary, Newton has 11 TDs and no picks. He also had two TDs on the ground during that same home stretch as well. 

The NFL Odds for props for these two QBs at Bet365 has Palmer's number sitting at 282.5, while Newto is closer to 200 a 238.5. While Newton might not hae to throw the ball as much, yet to release his odds for rushing yards. However, he still has NFL Odds of -125 to score a rushing TD in this game, so while he may not have to throw the ball 40 times, Newton and the Panthers can beat Arizona in a lot of different ways. On the road this season, Palmer has been very consistent, so unlike the ame above which could easily turn into a one sided affair, I see no game script that doesn't have both of these QBs duking it out until the very end. 

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