NFL picks and predictions: Championship edition

The NFL conference championship games are being played on Sunday, and it’s time for Matt Verderame to make his final pick before Super Sunday.

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (-4.5)

This isn’t the game most people are talking about, but it’s going to be incredible. Look, the defenses aren’t anything to write home over, but the offenses? Whew. The Packers don’t have a great group of weapons with Jordy Nelson out, but they are going to put up a ton of points because of Aaron Rodgers. If you can remember a quarterback playing better than Rodgers over this past three months, kindly point him out to me.

Then there’s the likely MVP, Matt Ryan. Ryan has been nothing short of phenomenal this year, throwing for more than 9.00 yards per attempt and 38 touchdowns. With Julio Jones, Ryan is going to torch Green Bay, but will it be enough? Comes down to who has the ball last in Atlanta.

Pick: Green Bay 34, Atlanta 30

Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots (-5.5)

This game is all about the coaches and quarterbacks. For Mike Tomlin, he’s looking to become only the 12th coach in NFL history to reach three Super Bowls. Bill Belichick has a seventh appearance in his sights, a record he will likely hold forever.

Then we have Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady. Roethlisberger is aiming for a third title, putting him in a class with Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, Troy Aikman and Brady. New England’s signal caller is hoping for a fifth ring, something no starting quarterback has ever amassed.

Look for Brady to have his opportunity in Houston. The Steelers have a terrific offense and Le’Veon Bell is playing at an obscene level, but he’ll meet his match on Sunday. Bell will be the center of Belichick’s gameplan, and considering his track record in these spots, that’s bad news for the impending free agent.

Pick: New England 31, Pittsburgh 23

Last Week: 3-1

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