NFL championship picks: Seahawks, Patriots advance

By Doug Halberstadt
Sports Columnist

Four teams are left fighting for two spots in what is arguably the biggest sporting event in America, the Super Bowl.

It’s pretty familiar territory for two of the teams. In the NFC, the Seattle Seahawks are attempting to repeat as world champions. In the AFC, the New England Patriots are playing in their fourth straight conference championship game.

If the Seahawks are going to make it back to the big game, they will have to knock off the local favorite Green Bay Packers first. It will be a rematch of the 2014 season-opener for these two teams. Sept. 4, the Seahawks defeated the Packers in Seattle 36-16.

The results of this game shouldn’t be anywhere near as one-sided. The current Packers team is vastly different from the team that opened the season. Let’s just say they are more “RELAXED.”

That brings me to Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Even with a torn calf muscle, he led the Packers to a win over the Dallas Cowboys last week. His mobility was clearly hampered. For the Packers to beat the Seahawks in Seattle, they will need a fully functional Rodgers. I’m not sure if a week will be enough time for Rodgers to be back to 100 percent.

I like a completely healthy Russell Wilson and his Seahawk teammates. I also think Seattle’s head coach, Pete Carroll, has his team believing they are destined to repeat as champions. I think the combination of Wilson, Carroll, the Seattle “12th Man” and the team’s cohesive swagger will end Green Bay’s playoff run. It won’t be a 20-point win this time for the Seahawks, but it will be a win, 31-24.

The Patriots will host the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game. The Colts are led by the youthful Andrew Luck at quarterback. The Patriots have the crafty veteran and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady calling the signals. This will be a classic match-up of youth versus experience.

I have to come down on the side of experience in this one. Brady’s playoff résumé takes up multiple pages, and I don’t think he’ll be satisfied with it until he’s taken another shot at a Super Bowl. I think this will be his chance. Perhaps, his final chance.

Luck and the Colts will get more opportunities. I’m not sure that holds true for Brady and the Patriots. I look for them to seize the moment. I’m taking New England by a touchdown, 38-31.

Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.

From the Jan. 14-20, 2015, issue

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