Analysis

NFL midseason predictions: Who'll rule Championship Sunday?

At the halfway point of the 2014 NFL season, our analysts refresh their predictions on the winners of individual awards, playoff participants and Championship Sunday/Super Bowl XLIX outcomes.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Judy Battista: Broncos over Colts. Two exceptionally well-balanced teams, with extraordinary quarterbacking and tough defenses. The torch might be very close to being passed to Andrew Luck, but Peyton Manning holds on for one more year.

Brian Billick: Broncos over Patriots. Another legendary matchup between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but it will be Denver's defense that shines in this game.

Gil Brandt: Broncos over Colts. Today's best quarterback (Peyton Manning) and the quarterback of tomorrow (Andrew Luck) should make this a great game in Denver -- where, by the way, it's very hard for opposing teams to win. The Broncos advance on the strength of their home-field advantage and superior defense.

Bucky Brooks: Patriots over Broncos. The Patriots revert back to the early-2000s formula of relying on a stout defense and an efficient offense to make their way back to the Super Bowl.

Charley Casserly: Broncos over Ravens. Denver has the more explosive offense -- and that is the difference in this game.

Dave Dameshek: Colts over Broncos. Peyton v. Luck in "The House That Peyton Built" for a trip to the Super Bowl sounds too good to be true ... but it's actually the most realistic matchup given the teams' remaining schedules.

Elliot Harrison: Patriots over Broncos. In a rematch of the 2013 AFC Championship Game, New England overcomes the Broncos' home-field advantage to win in the best AFC title bout since 2006, when Peyton Manning and Tom Bradyplayed a game for the ages.

Adam Schein: Broncos over Colts. I originally had the Broncos beating the Patriots, but will alter it slightly to Denver over Indy. Hey, still not a bad QB matchup, eh?

Michael Silver: Colts over Broncos. Luck vs. Manning will be steeped in symbolism -- and figures to be one hell of a game.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Judy Battista: Packers over Cowboys.Aaron Rodgers is just too good, and the Packers end one of the season's great surprises in a shootout.

Brian Billick: Cowboys over 49ers. Because of the seeding, these two might have to play earlier than the championship game, but by playoff time, they'll be the two best teams in the NFC.

Gil Brandt: Cardinals over Cowboys. If the Cardinals can find a little more offense, they'll become the first team in NFL history to play a Super Bowl game in its home stadium.

Bucky Brooks: Saints over Cardinals.Drew Brees leads the red-hot Saints to another Super Bowl by knocking off the NFL's top defense on the road.

Charley Casserly: 49ers over Cardinals. The 49ers keep improving over the second half of the year and carry it through in the playoffs.

Dave Dameshek: Packers over Cardinals. In frigid Lambeau, Rodgers & Co. ice Arizona's dream of playing a home game on 2/1/15.

Elliot Harrison: Seahawks over Packers. Picking Seattle is contingent on the Seahawks being able to beat the Cardinals in the divisional round. And I'm simply sticking with my preseason pick.

Adam Schein: Packers over Cardinals. Had Packers over Saints back in August, but Bruce Arians' team looks a lot tougher than Sean Payton's bunch right now. No matter: Mr. Rodgers wouldn't lose to either.

Michael Silver: Seahawks over Packers.Aaron Rodgers' least-favorite matchup ... with an all-too-familiaroutcome.

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