Championship Sunday predictions: Who will challenge Patriots?

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With the 2017 NFL season just around the corner, our analysts provide their predictions, including the winners of individual awards, playoff teams for each conference and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl forecasts.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Judy Battista: Patriots over Steelers. The Patriots will have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and an improved roster from last season is enough to again overcome the Steelers' own explosive offense.

Steve Wyche: Raiders over Patriots. So Hollywood, but ... The Raiders get home-field and they give it to Marshawn from the 1 in the waning seconds.

Ike Taylor: Steelers over Patriots. Big Ben's receivers give him the edge in this passing showdown.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Raiders over Patriots. Oakland's young offense comes alive for the second year in a row.

Jeffri Chadiha: Patriots over Raiders. Oakland is good enough to reach the AFC title game, but the Pats have too much experience and talent to lose at this point.

Heath Evans: Patriots over Steelers. With as many offensive weapons as the Steelers have, they just can't overcome a Bill Belichick-coached team.

Dan Hanzus: Steelers over Patriots. The Steelers' big regular season will give them something they haven't had in a while: home-field advantage for a winner-take-all game against Tom Brady.

Gil Brandt: Patriots over Steelers. The Patriots should have home-field advantage, and they're almost unbeatable at Gillette Stadium.

Gregg Rosenthal: Steelers over Patriots. The Colts-Patriots rivalry also felt one-sided until a dramatic conference title comeback victory for Indy. The Steelers have been building to this season.

Reggie Wayne: Patriots over Steelers. The players and coaches -- and front offices -- know what it takes to get deep in the playoffs on the regular. This year will be no different.

Charley Casserly: Patriots over anybody. Brady usually prevails in this game.

Adam Rank: Patriots over Dolphins. I think we all want to see Jay Cutler in the Super Bowl, but the Patriots don't care about what you want to see.

Marc Sessler: Chargers over Patriots. Weeks ago, I had a vision the Chargers would win the AFC. I tweeted my thoughts and was killed for it. This only strengthens my resolve.

Adam Schein: Patriots over Raiders. The Oakland defense has no answer for Tom Brady.

Dave Dameshek: Steelers over Patriots. Three of five Brady-Belichick Super Bowl wins were immediately preceded by wins over Pittsburgh in the AFC title game. Now the Pats stand on the cusp of joining the Steelers as six-time Lombardi champs. Enough's enough. In a shootout for the ages, Roetlhlisberger finally vanquishes Brady.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Judy Battista: Packers over Seahawks. An easy schedule might give the Seahawks an edge in the race for home-field advantage, but wherever this game is played, Aaron Rodgers is the difference.

Steve Wyche: Seahawks over Falcons. Both teams should be red hot at season's end, but Seattle's defense and running game is just too much at C-Link. Did I mention Jimmy Graham is going to have a resurgent season?

Ike Taylor: Giants over Falcons. Even with two great defenses on the field, be ready for an offensive battle.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Giants over Packers. Odell fulfills his promise in his return to Lambeau.

Jeffri Chadiha: Packers over Falcons. A rematch of last year's NFC title game ends on a better note for Aaron Rodgers and Co.

Heath Evans: Seahawks over Saints. The Saints' offense gets them this far, but runs into Pete Carroll's physical defense.

Dan Hanzus: Packers over Seahawks. A Super Bowl return for Aaron Rodgers has been overdue. We'll finally get it after a decisive conference title game win at snowy Lambeau.

Gil Brandt: Seahawks over Packers. The 12s make this team so hard to beat at home.

Reggie Wayne: Falcons over Buccaneers. Is this the NFC title game or the decider of the best team in the NFC South? Or both?

Gregg Rosenthal: Seahawks over Falcons. One year after getting roasted in Atlanta, the Seahawks will host the NFC title game and make it appropriately ugly before rookie running back Chris Carson breaks a long game-winner.

Charley Casserly: Giants over Packers. The Giants' defense neutralizes Aaron Rodgers, and the Giants' receivers have their way with the Pack's CBs.

Adam Rank: Buccaneers over Cowboys. Jameis Winston is ready to take the stage as the next superstar quarterback.

Marc Sessler: Giants over Falcons. The G-Men will ride into this affair as massive underdogs, but a wild second-half comeback by New York will give Falcons fans fresh nightmares.

Adam Schein: Falcons over Packers. It's the same outcome as last year, but this time, the game goes down to the wire.

Dave Dameshek: Seahawks over Falcons. Earl Thomas is the Jenga piece of the Seahawks' D. Take him away, the whole thing implodes. Good news, then, that Thomas is back after confronting football mortality. I have a hunch this might be it for the Pete Carroll Era -- and I further suspect the Seahawks will rally around that to championship effect.

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