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NFL Postseason Preview Conference Championships

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Another week gone, another four teams eliminated from the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy.

At the beginning of this postseason, there were 12 teams striving for one of those coveted spots in that biggest of big games, the Super Bowl. Now, with the Indianapolis Colts, the San Diego Chargers, the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers having gone down to defeat over the weekend, just four remain.

Only one game stands between these teams and a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII.

In the AFC, the seedings held, meaning that the AFC Championship game will have the Denver Broncos hosting the New England Patriots. In the NFC, top-seeded Seattle will welcome the San Francisco 49ers, the only team to have won two games thus far in the postseason.

It's time to look ahead at the two games remaining.

AFC

#2 New England Patriots at #1 Denver Broncos

This is a dream matchup for the powers that be in the NFL offices. It pits the two greatest quarterbacks of their generation against one another with a trip to the Super Bowl as the prize. One could argue for either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady at the top of the list, but as much as they'll drive the narrative, they're only part of the story. Both teams have potentially impressive running games, but New England's LeGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley not to mention Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden might be stronger going in than Denver's Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball, though the Broncos have an edge in terms of pure talent. As far as catching the ball, there's no disputing that Manning's weapons Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, Julius Thomas have a huge edge over Julian Edelman and whoever else is unbroken enough to suit up for the Pats. On the defensive side, both squads are missing key playmakers. However, New England's D has had more time to adjust to the absence of that talent, whereas Denver has lost standouts like Von Miller and cornerback Chris Harris more recently. In the end, either team could easily win. When in doubt, I go with my tender little homer heart.

New England 35 Denver 31

NFC

#5 San Francisco 49ers at #1 Seattle Seahawks

While the old guard is doing battle at QB in the AFC, in the NFC it's a battle of new blood. Quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson have only been in the league for a short time, but both men have showed the ability to get it done on the field. Kaepernick hasn't even been a starter for two full seasons, yet this is his second consecutive trip to the NFC Championship. He can get it done with his arm or his feet. Meanwhile, Wilson has just completed his second year in the league, winning more games in his first two years than anybody. He's also lost just once in Seattle in his career to date. Of course, it's not just about the quarterbacks. Seattle's Marshawn Lynch and San Francisco's Frank Gore are both formidable running backs, though the advantage probably goes to the younger Lynch. But on the receiving side, Kaepernick targets like Aquan Boldin and Vernon Davis are superior to anyone the Seahawks throw out there (though newly-returned Percy Harvin could be an X-factor). But these two exceptional defenses will likely define the day both teams are great against both the run and the pass. Frankly, whichever team can manage a big play or two will likely win this one. Look for that team to be Seattle.

Seattle 24 San Francisco 17

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