Which team will you root for?

Elliot Smilowitz's Picks

Patriots 24 Panthers 10

Carolina has succeeded in letting teams beat themselves in the playoffs, but this Patriots team looks thoroughly unbeatable. Both teams have great defenses, but I think New England quarterback Tom Brady's accuracy will prove to be the difference. The Panthers' offense just doesn't have enough weapons to make a dent in New England's defense.

Ian Quillen's Picks

Panthers 19 Patriots 17

New England has won 14 straight, and Tom Brady is as clutch as they come. But they were helped very much the whole season, and especially in the playoffs, by home field. Meanwhile, the Panthers did it on the road, and have a chip on their shoulder. New England gains more yards, but Kevin Faulk fumbles twice in the red zone as Carolina wins.

Jesse Epstein's Picks

Panthers 27 Patriots 23

This game won't be as low-scoring as everyone thinks. With two weeks to prepare, the genius of head coaches Bill Belichick and John Fox will shine through - on the offensive side of the ball. Expect a couple big plays early and a key defensive stop at the end of the game to squash the Patriots' Super Bowl hopes. Remember the name Julius Peppers.

Kevin Hilger's Picks

Panthers 13 Patriots 10

The Panthers can sum up the country's opinion of them by what used to be on the back of punt returner Rod Smart's jersey: "He Hate Me." Carolina has been shattering expectations since day one with a running offense that may not be fun to watch, but has created 13 wins, some improbable. Expect a 14th Sunday in a defensive battle where every point matters.

Never miss a story

Get our weekly newsletter delivered right to your inbox.

More from The Eagle