NFL championship round playoff picks for 2016 from the experts at CBS Sports are in, and the four best teams from the regular season will be competing to play in Super Bowl 50. In the NFC championship, the 15-1 Carolina Panthers will take on the 13-3 Arizona Cardinals. While experts have doubted the Panthers the entire season, they have proven time and time again that they are a legitimate threat to win it all. In the AFC championship, the defending Super Bowl champions, New England Patriots, will take on the Denver Broncos, led by quarterback Peyton Manning, who may be playing in the final game of his career. Here are all of the 2016 NFL championship round playoff picks from CBS Sports. Current playoff odds are courtesy of Vegas Insider.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 at 6:40 p.m.)
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) January 21, 2016
Cardinals receivers ranked near the top, but Panthers allowed an NFL-best 56.7 Total QBR on passes to receivers pic.twitter.com/0ZsUvXgVCh
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 21, 2016
This game is going to come down to turnovers. Both the Panthers and Cardinals finished towards the top of the league in points scored on offense. Both teams also gave up among the fewest points in the league on defense. In Cam Newton, the Panthers have a quarterback that has finally figured things out and is playing at an MVP level. In Carson Palmer, the Cardinals have a quarterback that is showing a resurgence late in his career and finally proving why he was the No. 1 overall pick in the draft in 2003.
While he lost his top receiver in Kelvin Benjamin before the season started, Newton has been able to lean on a strong running game with the help of running back Jonathan Stewart. He has also greatly improved his decision making and is getting the most out of an uninspiring receiving corps.
In Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and Michael Floyd, Carson Palmer has the best receiving corps in the league. While neither team turns the ball over a lot, the Panthers force more turnovers and turn the ball over less.
A majority five out of the eight experts at CBS Sports are picking the Panthers to win the game. Vegas Insider also agrees that the Panthers will come out victorious.
Expert Pick Consensus: Carolina Panthers
Current Odds: Carolina (-3)
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016 at 3:05 p.m.)
Mark Schlereth with a strong take on the Broncos' chances against the Patriots. pic.twitter.com/KlVBNTgkeE
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) January 21, 2016
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) January 21, 2016
While the Patriots’ injury report makes it appear as though the entire offense is in danger of missing the game, it is all a spectacle by head coach Bill Belichick. Just about every player on the list will be active on Sunday, and that includes quarterback Tom Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski, and wide receiver Julian Edelman.
After a tough stretch to end the season, the Patriots allowed the Broncos to steal home-field advantage from them. While this is usually a huge factor in deciding the outcome of such an important game, the Patriots are the better football team. Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is on his last leg and has not shown that he is capable of putting up a lot of points this season. While the Broncos defense is among the best in the league, the Patriots are firing on all cylinders again with Edelman back in the lineup.
Denver’s defense has a chance to make this game close for a while, but the Patriots will pull away in the second half.
Seven out of the eight experts at CBS Sports are picking the Patriots to win the game. Vegas Insider also agrees that the Patriots will come out victorious.
Expert Pick Consensus: New England Patriots
Current Odds: New England (-3)
While those are only picks and predictions from eight NFL experts at CBS Sports for the 2016 championship round playoffs, the consensus from other sources is the same. Regardless, any of these teams have a chance to come out victorious, and it is going to be an entertaining Sunday of championship round playoff football.
[Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]