By Brody Burns
The New Year is upon us, and the prospect of the completion of the NFL season can only be comforted by one fact; Game of Thrones will be returning shortly. The two conference championships have been picked with this tantalizing thought in mind. Each of the four remaining teams have been assigned one of the great houses from George R.R. Martin’s epic series, and Championship Weekend picks follow.
AFC Championship – New England Patriots at Denver Broncos (-4.5)
New England Patriots – House of Lannister
The proud and pernicious Patriots are a perfect match for the House of Lannister. While the House of Lannister is the wealthiest house in all of Westeros; the Patriots are valued by Forbes as the second most valuable NFL franchise (behind the Dallas Cowboys). It is widely known that “A Lannister always pays his debts,” and it is equally known to all NFL fans that Bill Belichick holds grudges and will stop at nothing to run up the score. In Game of Thrones, the Lords of Casterly Rock have leveraged their charm and cunning to seize control of the Iron Throne. Similarly, in the NFL, the Patriots have used their talent (Tom Brady – and his NFL record 18 postseason wins) along with any means necessary (cheating – see 2007’s “Spygate”) to maintain their dominance in the league. Both the Lannisters and the Patriots are public enemy number one, although partially because we all want to be them.
Denver Broncos – House of Stark
The House of Stark is the Westeros version of the Denver Broncos. The Starks have appeared in many of the most recent conflicts in Westeros, including the fall of the Targaryens and the rise of Joffery Baratheon to the throne. Likewise the Broncos have appeared in six Super Bowls, which is tied for third most in league history. The House motto is “winter is coming,” which admittedly as a Broncos fan is an acceptance that Peyton Manning in the playoffs is not a sure win. Furthermore, Ned Stark, one of the most honorable men of Westeros, is a dead ringer for John Elway.
I think the game is closer than 4.5 points, but I can’t pick against the Broncos. My Coloradoan card would be revoked.
My Pick: Broncos 31, Patriots 28
NFC Championship – San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks (-3.5)
San Francisco 49ers – House of Targaryen
The 49ers, like the house of Targaryen, are mounting their quest to return to supremacy after exile. Having not won a Superbowl since 1994, each postseason renews the “quest for six.” The Targaryens were once the ruling class of Westeros, with the mighty King Aerys II (think Joe Montana) and his son Rhaegar (Steve Young). Since that time, the 49ers, like the Targaryens, have been moving to reclaim the throne. While the House of Targaryen was once the dominant house, their motto remains “fire and blood,” which easily describes the play of the 49ers defense. In a bonus parallel, Daenerys, the heir and last of the House of Targaryens, has three pet dragons which she plans to employ in her rightful ascension to the throne. These dragons are reminiscent of 49ers fans; willing to constantly breathe hot air about entitlement and relevancy of their team, while in the end, it will fall entirely upon Daenerys and the 49ers to claim their prize.
Seattle Seahawks – House of Tyrell
The House Tyrell of Highgarden is a large and wealthy house, which features one of the greatest armies in all of Westeros. The Seahawks feature the best home-field advantage, and one of the most passionate fan bases in the NFL. With the motto, “Growing Strong,” the Tyrells rival the recent ascension of the Seahawks franchise. The House of Tyrell is also known for its fashionable dress, thanks in part to Loras the “Lord of Flowers,” and its astute leadership, due to Lady Olenna. The Seahawks have undeniably the loudest jerseys in the league, and feature a wise leader in Head Coach Pete Caroll.
The Seahawks at home are virtually unbeatable, while the Niners may be the hottest team in the league, their run comes to an end this weekend.
My Pick: Seahawks 24, Niners 20