Analysis

Championship Sunday predictions: Rematch for the AFC title?

At the midpoint of the 2017 NFL season, our analysts refresh their predictions on the major individual awards, the entire playoff field and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl LII outcomes.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Judy Battista: Steelers over Patriots. A midseason injury to Dont'a Hightower is simply too much for the Patriots to overcome, putting the championship game in Pittsburgh and giving the Steelers' explosive offense the edge.

Jeffri Chadiha: Chiefs over Patriots. Kansas City proves that season-opening win wasn't a fluke. Their high-scoring offense once again dominates New England's weak defense.

Gil Brandt: Steelers over Patriots. I think this game will be played in Pittsburgh as a result of these teams' Week 15 regular-season clash -- and I'm taking the Steelers in both contests. They have better players, and the home-field advantage will put them over the top.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Chiefs over Patriots. The Chiefs beat the Patriots for the second time this season behind the mastermind Andy Reid.

Steve Wyche: Steelers over Patriots. Pittsburgh's defense is really playing at the level it needs to. Plus, Stillers have home-field.

Ike Taylor: Steelers over Patriots. Who doesn't want a rematch of 2016? This time, Pittsburgh's the better team.

Charley Casserly: Steelers over Patriots. Pittsburgh's just a better team (secondary, pass rush and wide receiver) than New England (losses in secondary, pass rush) this year.

Heath Evans: Patriots over Steelers. It always seems to come down to this, and you know I'm not turning my back on the greatest coach-QB tandem in history.

Adam Schein: Chiefs over Patriots. Andy Reid gets his revenge! The Pats can't stop Travis Kelce, Tyreke Hill and Alex Smith.

Reggie Wayne: Steelers over Patriots. I switched the winner of my preseason pick after watching the first half of the season. Pittsburgh's trending up.

Alex Gelhar: Patriots over Steelers. A tale as old as time, Pittsburgh falls just short in a shootout against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Adam Rank: Patriots over Jaguars. I would love to say Jaguars this year, and nothing is holding me back. But it comes down to the quarterback. As much as I love Jacksonville's defense, I just see Tom doing enough to get his team back to the Super Bowl.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Judy Battista: Eagles over Vikings. The Wentz-led offense punctures Minnesota's defense.

Jeffri Chadiha: Eagles over Seahawks. Philadelphia's dominant pass rush overwhelms Seattle's woeful offensive line, while Carson Wentz demoralizes the "Legion of Boom."

Gil Brandt: Seahawks over Eagles. These are two very good teams with outstanding young quarterbacks. Pete Carroll is 3-0 against Philly in his Seattle tenure, however, and that -- combined with the edge in playoff experience -- clinches a return to the Super Bowl for the Seahawks.

Maurice Jones-Drew: Rams over Saints. Questionable teams in the preseason, these two make a surprise appearance in the title game. Jared Goff proves he's for real.

Steve Wyche: Seahawks over Eagles. With this game played in C-Link, the experience and Earl Thomas-led defense are too much for Carson Wentz and the upstarts.

Ike Taylor: Seahawks over Vikings. The 'Hawks edge the Vikings in a defensive battle.

Charley Casserly: Saints over Eagles. New Orleans upsets Philly with a big day from the offense in a high-scoring game.

Heath Evans: Seahawks over Saints. The Seahawks make one too many big defensive plays, limiting Drew Brees' offense.

Adam Schein: Eagles over Rams.Carson Wentz runs for three key first downs and throws for three touchdowns. Philly to the Super Bowl!

Reggie Wayne: Saints over Seahawks. Sean Payton outsmarts Pete Carroll. Drew Brees outplays the "Legion of Boom."

Alex Gelhar: Eagles over Seahawks.Russell Wilson gives Eagles fans a heart attack with late-game heroics, but Malcolm Jenkins and the defense seal the win.

Adam Rank: Rams over Vikings. The Rams have that great offense. But as I've been saying, I really like the way the Rams' defense has come together after a pretty shaky start. And for any old-timer who remembers the Rams losing seemingly every year to the Vikings in the cold Old Met, this will be the ultimate payback, as the Rams win indoors in Minnesota.

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