Canadiens' Gallagher breaks down NFL title games

Friday, 01.22.2016 / 2:24 PM
Brendan Gallagher  - Special to

Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher showed the hockey world during "EPIX presents Road to the Winter Classic" how big of a football fan he is, and more specifically how devoted he is to the Cincinnati Bengals. With his beloved Bengals out of the NFL playoffs, Gallagher has agreed to share his thoughts and his picks on for the remaining playoff games and the Feb. 7 Super Bowl.

Gallagher's second installment explains how he went a perfect 4-0 in his debut as an NFL prognosticator last week.

Confidence is at an all-time high right now.

Last week's 4-0 record was a nice entrance to my new role as an NFL Insider, but I took all the home teams, all the favorites. This week I took two road teams, so we'll see how it goes.

A few of the guys have been giving it to me since my picks came out last week. I talk like this all the time, throughout the year, and I like to talk as if I know exactly what I'm talking about. So maybe it's gone to my head, and they're keeping me level.

That's what good friends do; they keep you humble.

But I'm still confident. After going 4-0, I see the analysts on TV and most of them were not at the level I was at.

I wasn't able to catch too much football last week because we had a back-to-back on the road, but I did watch the second half of the Carolina Panthers-Seattle Seahawks game. Right away the Seahawks had that long kick return and then a couple of plays later they were in the end zone. I was starting to think maybe they could do this, but then when they got close Carolina just started stopping them. The Seahawks had to punt the ball a couple of times, and that killed all of the momentum they had.

It was a pretty good onside kick though, and a pretty good catch by Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. When it went up I thought it had a chance, and that would have been so Seattle, to get the onside kick. Just like the Bengals have nothing go their way, the Seahawks have everything go their way.

I just saw the highlights of the other games, but this week's games are going to be some of the best games in a while. We have two Heisman Trophy winners going head-to-head in the playoffs for the first time ever in Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and Cam Newton of the Panthers. And then you've got Tom Brady against Peyton Manning in the other one, so it should be pretty good.

Some people might think the pressure's on after going 4-0, but I think it's the opposite. I'm looking pretty good right now because with three games left, I'm guaranteed to finish above .500. So if I lose one this week I can rebound in the Super Bowl, but I don't think that will happen.

I like my chances.

But honestly, I like to think I know what I'm talking about based on the stuff I hear on TV. I probably don't, but still, it's given me something to joke around about with the guys, so it's fun to do.

So let's get to this week's picks.

New England Patriots at Denver Broncos

Gally's pick: Patriots

In what most likely will be the final time we get to watch Tom Brady and Peyton Manning go head-to-head, I like Brady and the Patriots to come out on top. Despite going up against the Broncos' top-ranked defense and having to play on the road, the Patriots will find a way to manage the game and move on to their second straight Super Bowl. The Broncos are in this position because of their defense, and Brady knows that! He plays a safe road game, doesn't give that dangerous defense a chance to be difference-makers and the Patriots move on.

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

Gally's pick: Cardinals

Carolina jumped out to a big lead last week and barely held on to beat the Seahawks. Meanwhile, the Cardinals won a thriller in overtime against the Green Bay Packers. I think Arizona will be able to find a way to carry that momentum into this week and win a road game against the NFL's top team. Not an easy task, but they're very strong on both sides of the ball and having a guy like wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald who's played in a Super Bowl makes all the difference against the less experienced Panthers. Cam Newton's dream season comes to an end this week and the Cardinals move on to the Super Bowl.

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