Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NFL Notes: Panthers, Patriots Favored in Conference Title Contests

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

NFL Notes: Panthers, Patriots Favored in Conference Title Contests

Article excerpt

Panthers, Patriots favored in conference title contests

The NFL's conference championship games are set, with the top two seeds in each conference surging into the games next Sunday that will determine the Super Bowl matchup. And while one No. 1 seed is favored, the other is an underdog.

In the NFC, the No. 1 Carolina Panthers opened as a 3-point favorite, at home, over the Arizona Cardinals. In the AFC, the No. 2 New England Patriots were favored by 3 for their contest in Denver. This is according to America's Line, a Las Vegas-based service that provides such information to media outlets including the Post- Dispatch.

The over/under, or total number of points scored, was 48 for the Panthers-Cardinals game and 44 for the Patriots-Broncos contest.

The New England-Denver game features two marquee quarterbacks, and the last time the Patriots came to town Peyton Manning watched the game on television from the locker room. This time, the Denver QB is set to be on the field when Manning meets Brady for a 17th time. Brady is 11-5 in the previous meetings.

Manning missed the regular-season matchup, on Nov. 29, because of a foot injury. Brock Osweiler led the Broncos to a 30-24 overtime victory then.

Manning's foot has healed and he guided the Broncos to victory Sunday over Pittsburgh. Brady led the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots to the AFC title game for a fifth straight season with a victory Saturday over Kansas City.

In the NFC, the Panthers and Cardinals have not played this season and this has the potential to be a high-scoring matchup. The Panthers averaged more than 31 points and the Cardinals were a close second, at 30.5.

Arizona won in its only other NFC title-game appearance, at the end of the 2008 season before losing to Pittsburgh 27-23 in the Super Bowl.

This will be Carolina's fourth time in the NFC championship game, first since 2005. The Panthers are 1-2 in their previous appearances.

Chiefs' Reid questioned * Often criticized during his Philadelphia tenure for his time management, Kansas City coach Andy Reid again was left to defend his use of the clock during a wrap-up news conference Sunday. The Chiefs, trailing 27-13 to New England late in the game Saturday, declined to use any timeouts during a 16- play drive that took more than 5 minutes. …

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