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Championship Sunday predictions: Another Cards-Pack classic?

On the cusp of the 2016 NFL season, our analysts provide their predictions, including the winners of individual awards, playoff teams for each conference and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl forecasts.


Judy Battista: Steelers over Patriots. In what should be a high-scoring nail-biter between the AFC's best offenses, the difference could be home-field advantage, and that could be impacted early by how Jimmy Garoppolo performs during Tom Brady's suspension.

Jeffri Chadiha: Patriots over Bengals. The Patriots exact their revenge for Tom Brady's suspension by reaching another Super Bowl.

Gil Brandt: Patriots over Steelers. These are two well-coached teams and outstanding organizations. New England wins because of balance and Tom Brady.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Steelers over Chiefs. I think the Chiefs are going to surprise some people in the playoffs, but it won't be enough to overtake the Steelers.

Brian Billick: Steelers over Patriots. The Big 3 of Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell will be hitting on all cylinders as they beat the Patriots in a high-scoring affair.

Gregg Rosenthal: Patriots over Chargers.Philip Rivers' run to a storybook Super Bowl falls short in Foxborough for a second time.

Willie McGinest: Patriots over Steelers. History tells me that these two teams will always be in the mix deep in the playoffs.

Adam Schein: Patriots over Texans. The Patriots clobber the Texans on Championship Sunday with Tom Brady throwing five touchdown passes.

Bucky Brooks: Patriots over Broncos. The Patriots take down the Broncos' star-studded defense by leaning on their unstoppable tight end duo to exploit mismatches in the back end. Tom Brady is terrific, as usual, in posting a 300-yard game against Wade Phillips' nasty bunch.

Elliot Harrison: Steelers over Patriots. Pittsburgh finally enters the postseason healthy, besting the Patriots in an epic AFC title game. (Nobody wanted to play a healthy Steelers offense in the playoffs the last two years.)

David Carr: Patriots over Raiders. The Raiders' defense vs. the Patriots' offense is going to be a lot of fun to watch.

Charley Casserly: Patriots over Texans. Brady and a smothering defense expose the inexperience of Brock Osweiler.

Ike Taylor: Patriots over Texans. No surprise here with the Patriots back in the AFC title game, but the Texans are hungry to take that next step and made the necessary moves in the offseason to reach this stage of the playoffs.

Dave Dameshek: Patriots over Steelers. New England is markedly better than the second-best team in the AFC ... and will prove it in January.

Chris Wesseling: Patriots over Steelers. Nobody is stopping Tom Brady's offense with Martellus Bennett joining Rob Gronkowski in a twin-skyscraper attack to complement the waterbugs at wide receiver and tailback.

Colleen Wolfe: Patriots over Steelers. I hate this. I hate myself for doing it. I'm smashing my computer after this as penance.

Heath Evans: Patriots over Steelers. These two are no strangers to this game. There is a lot of experience on both sides, but the Pats will win this offensive battle.

Marcas Grant: Patriots over Texans. The student (Bill O'Brien) once again comes up short against the master (Bill Belichick), as Tom Brady makes yet another run at a Lombardi Trophy.

Adam Rank: Patriots over Chiefs. I know it's way too easy to say the Patriots will be looking for revenge. So I will just say that. But the Patriots' offense is going to be loaded once Tom Brady returns.

Alex Gelhar: Patriots over Texans. The Texans make a deep run, but Bill Belichick defeats his former apprentice, Bill O'Brien, to make his seventh trip to the Super Bowl with the Pats.


Jeffri Chadiha: Cardinals over Packers. The Cardinals have plenty to prove after Carolina dominated them in last season's NFC title game.

Gil Brandt: Panthers over Packers. Both teams have top-tier quarterbacks, but the Panthers' defense puts them over the top in a close game.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Cowboys over Panthers. Dallas will dash the Panthers' hopes of another shot at a ring.

Brian Billick: Panthers over Seahawks.Cam Newton puts the "S" on his chest once again as he carries the Panthers to their second straight Super Bowl.

Gregg Rosenthal: Seahawks over Packers. Both teams are balanced, deep and led by top-five quarterbacks. Seattle gets the edge because the team could have a top-five defense and a top-five offense.

Willie McGinest: Cardinals over Panthers. A rematch of last season's NFC title game will go to the Cards this time around.

Adam Schein: Cardinals over Packers. In an absolute classic, the Cardinals beat Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay.

Bucky Brooks: Seahawks over Cardinals. The Seahawks ride the momentum of "The 12s" to bury the Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game behind a spectacular effort from Russell Wilson. The league MVP torches the Cards' D with pinpoint passes to Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett on the way to a 400-yard game.

Elliot Harrison: Packers over Cardinals. In a rematch of one of the most exciting postseason games in recent memory, the Packers and Cardinals link up for the right to go to Super Bowl LI. Aaron Rodgers proves too much in a classy NFC title game.

David Carr: Packers over Cardinals. I want to pick the Panthers, but I think these two teams are going to be a little bit better come January.

Charley Casserly: Packers over Seahawks.Aaron Rodgers rises to the occasion and Green Bay's defense bottles up Russell Wilson.

Ike Taylor: Seahawks over Panthers. I want to see Seattle's defense get another chance to stop Cam Newton's offense. A year later, the 'Hawks will prevail.

Dave Dameshek: Packers over Cardinals. The Packers survive a frigid slugfest between two heavyweights in the loaded NFC.

Chris Wesseling: Seahawks over Cardinals. The conference's two most complete teams reside in the NFC West. The Seahawks' experience in big games is the trump card.

Colleen Wolfe: Cardinals over Panthers.Carson Palmer remains upright. David Johnson runs wild. Cam Newton stays in the postgame presser for at least 15 seconds this time.

Heath Evans: Cardinals over Vikings. These teams are a lot alike, but Arizona's passing game will lift them to Super Bowl LI.

Marcas Grant: Packers over Seahawks. This has the potential to be a game for the ages. Aaron Rodgers and the Pack use their home-field advantage to avenge their 2014 NFC Championship Game loss.

Adam Rank: Panthers over Packers. The Panthers are still talented -- and more dynamic offensively -- this season. A strong defense can shut down Rodgers in the playoffs, so Carolina gets back to the Super Bowl.

Alex Gelhar: Packers over Seahawks. Green Bay exorcises the demons of 2014 with a sterling defensive performance in front of a raucous crowd at the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Vikings acquired quarterback Sam Bradford from the Eagles in exchange for a first-round draft pick in 2017 and a fourth-rounder in 2018 on Saturday.

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