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Prisco's Picks: Week 20

 
 
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WEEK
20
 
PETE PRISCO
Senior NFL Columnist
Pete Prisco has covered the NFL for three decades, including working as a beat reporter in Jacksonville for the Jaguars. He hosted his own radio show for seven years, and can be seen throughout the week on CBS Sports' NFL shows. When he's not watching game tape you can find Pete on Twitter or dreaming of an Arizona State national title in football.
MATCHUP SCORE ANALYSIS
Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014
 
New England
Patriots
24
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos -- The Patriots came back from 24-0 to beat the Broncos earlier this season, but these are much different teams now. New England has taken on a run-first persona on offense, pounding the ball last week against Indianapolis. But it's tougher to run on the Broncos than the Colts. Denver was 10th in yards per attempt during the season. As for the Broncos, they ran it down New England's throat in the first meeting. Knowshon Moreno went for 224 yards. That won't happen again. The Patriots sat back and dared the Broncos to run it, and they did. They will still play back more than normal, but I think they will change it up more. That could give Peyton Manning shots in one-on-one situations. The Broncos didn't have tight end Julius Thomas last time, so look for him to be a factor. The Patriots did have Rob Gronkowski in the last meeting, and he's out now. So where do they turn to get their passing game going? Denver has struggled against the pass, and will be without one of their top corners in Chris Harris, who tore his ACL last week. I would expect Tom Brady to challenge the Denver corners. We can talk all we want about the running games from last week, but this will come down to Brady vs. Manning. The last time they played in a title game, Manning won. He will win again. Manning is on his way to another Super Bowl. Broncos take it.
Result: Denver Broncos 26, New England Patriots 16
Denver
Broncos
31
 
 
San Francisco
49ers
20
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks -- These two teams split their regular-season games, with each winning at home. In Week 2, in a game played in Seattle, the Seahawks dominated from start to finish in a 29-3 victory, while San Francisco won 19-17 in Week 14. The Seahawks did a great job defending the 49ers' offense in the first meeting. But the 49ers didn't have Michael Crabtree in that game and they are better now with him to go with Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis. The Seattle offense has struggled down the stretch, especially throwing the football. Russell Wilson threw for 103 yards last week and Seattle still won. In two games against the 49ers, he has combined to throw for 341 yards. He was sacked six times. But Colin Kaepernick has only thrown for a combined 302 yards in the two games against Seattle. So don't expect a big passing game from either one here. Kaepernick has played better in the two postseason victories for the 49ers, so he might be rolling a bit. Both teams have had issues protecting the quarterback this season, which could play into this being a turnover game. Pass rush leads to turnovers. The Seahawks were last in sacks per pass play, while San Francisco was 29th. That could mean loads of hits on the two quarterbacks, or at least they will be running to avoid them. In the end, this is a close game. But I think Wilson will find a way to make a throw late outside the pocket to set up the Seahawks for game-winning field goal. Seahawks are going to the Super Bowl.
Result: Seattle Seahawks 23, San Francisco 49ers 17
Seattle
Seahawks
21
 
 
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