NFL Playoffs 5 Things to Know: Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton First Super Bowl, Patriots, Panthers Favorites, Injuries Major Factor

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Jan 20, 2016 09:26 AM EST
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (12) calling signals during game vs Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium. Foxborough, MA "

The NFL playoffs are into the championship round and both the AFC and NFC have the top two seeds battling to see who will make it to Super Bowl 50.

The New England Patriots are battling with the Denver Broncos in the AFC title game, while the Carolina Panthers are hosting the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC title game.

Brady vs. Manning 17

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are set to battle for the 17th time as they get ready for the AFC championship in Denver this weekend. The two quarterbacks have broken records, won titles and accomplished quite a bit and now they could be facing off for the final time. The two faced off two years ago when the Broncos went to the Super Bowl, with Manning passing for 400 yards and two scores in the win over the Pats. Brady is just 2-6 in Denver in his career and this could have been the second time the QBs faced off this season, but Manning was injured for the first meeting, leaving Brock Osweiler to start. 

Panthers and Patriots are the favored teams

The New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers come into the championship round as the favored teams in the AFC and NFC, according to the betting lines for the game. The Patriots come in as the second seed in the AFC, but the team won the Super Bowl last season and for most of the year was considered the favorite in the conference. The Panthers host the Cardinals and they are the top seed in the NFC.

Carson Palmer, Cam Newton battling for first Super Bowl appearances

The Panthers-Cardinals matchup is notable for a number of reasons, including that it will be the first time that two Heisman trophy winners will face off in the playoffs in the Super Bowl era. Cam Newton won back when he was playing at Auburn, while Palmer won the award while playing at Southern California. Both players are also trying to make it to their first Super Bowl appearance, which is a start difference from the AFC matchup where Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have been to the Super Bowl multiple times (and have won).  

Injuries could be a factor for some of the teams

Jared Allen is likely going to be out for the Panthers, while Greg Olsen is dealing with a shoulder injury but should be "fine." Jerod Mayo is done for the season for the Pats, while Jamie Collins and Chandler Jones come into the game banged up. Chris Harris is dealing with an injury for the Broncos, while Omar Bolden is done for the season.

Manning could ride off into the sunset

Manning may still want to play next season no matter what, but he likely will at least consider retirement if he ends this year with a Super Bowl win. John Elway went out a winner after winning back to back

No one disputes that Manning is one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, but some have knocked him for his playoff record over the years and just like Elway, he could quiet some of this critics by capping off his career with a win. Until Elway won his first title, many saw him as a great QB that couldn't get it done in the playoffs. Manning already has his Super Bowl win, but adding another one would be icing on the cake.

Check here for more on the playoffs.

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