A 3-1 divisional round puts me at 6-2 as we head towards the Conference Championship Games. What had looked to be an epic weekend, Colts/Patriots with a side of Cowboys/Packers has become anything but. The Chargers have little hope against the Pats, while there just seems to be magic surrounding the Packers. Will the Giants ride end? With the Chargers shock the world....again? Let's find out.
San Diego Chargers @ New England Patriots -- NFL Network is the best thing ever. Ranked a close fourth to my wife and two daughters. If you pay for cable with a company that does not carry the NFLN then stop reading this, call DirecTV and get it. I'll even refer you so that we both save some money. Anyway, they broadcast last year's playoff game between the Chargers and Patriots in it's entirety. The Chargers defense played well, Tom Brady looked human, L.T. was running wild, and the Patriots still found a way to win. It is amazing to me that the '06 Patriots were 2 minutes from going to the Super Bowl. That team just wasn't that talented, especially on offense. Fast forward 365 days and things are completely different. Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte Stalworth, all three have added a huge amount of firepower to Tom Brady and he has flat-out shown what he can do with A-level offensive talent -- put up numbers we have never seen before. While we were all hoping for a re-match with the Colts, it is a rematch of the Week 2, 38-14 romp between the Pats and Chargers. Charger fans and talking heads that are trying to get you to watch will tell you that was a different Charger team. They will tell you the Chargers have won 8 straight and just beat the defending champion Colts in their building.
On the surface that is true, but lets be honest. The team they beat on Sunday was a team wearing the same unis as the Colts. Injuries abound for the Colts, and at some point those injuries are going to flat out wear you down. The Colts team on the field last week was not close to the one that walked off the field in soggy-Super Bowl XLI.
That said, the Chargers won the game, deservedly, and get to face the Pats again. While L.T. is doing his best to keep his big yap shut, some other Chargers just can't help themselves. Note to Igor Olshansky -- It isn't a good idea to piss of New England, especially when they are still pissed off from L.T.'s comments a year ago. Noone's bulletin board is bigger than Billy Boy's and I am sure he has got it chock-full of every mis-quote, mis-representation and out-of-context remark possible. Bill is good like that, and the Patriots feed off it better than any team in any sport.
I guess, as football fans, we should hope for a close game, but I don't see it. The Patriots will do exactly what they did in Week 2 - spread the field with 5 receivers and spread the Chargers too thin. The Chargers do have solid corners, but not alot of depth. Randy Moss could easily have another 1-catch day, while Stalworth, Gaffney and Ben Watson go off and have huge days. Couple that with how banged up the Chargers are and you have a recipe for disaster. Besides, I am still hoping for something I have yet to see in my lifetime -- a perfect season. That will keep me glued to my T.V, regardless of the score.
Patriots -- 34 - 17
@ New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers -- Picking the Giants to beat Dallas last week was the easy part. The Giants were simply playing better football at the end of the season than the Cowboys, and for all his faults, Tom Coughlin down have a ton of playoff experience and as we all know, can prepare a team as the underog. The Packers have rode the resurgence of Brett Favre, and the legs of Ryan Grant, to the cusp of the Super Bowl. The Packers fell behind 14-0 on their home field last week before a freak snowstorm turned the frozen tundra into a ski-slope, effectively ending any chance the Seahawks had in the game.
This week it appears frigid temperatures will welcome the teams on the field, a prime-time January contest that should excite the most hearty of football purist. Brett Favre, he of the snowball throwing, snow angel making type, seems to thrive when the elements are at their worst. Peyton's little brother? Not so much. I actually like the Giants running game going against the Packers defense, the thought of Brandon Jacobs pounding, and Ahmad Bradshaw out-running the Packers seems appealing. But not in this weather. Not in the cold. While the Giants could be considered a cold-weather team they never seem to play like it, or enjoy it very much, while the Packers seem to embrace it.
Maybe it is the home crowd that warms the spirits of Green Bay. Maybe it is just the ghosts of football past, on the most holiest of football cathedrals, grinning as one of the original teams and dynasties once again makes a run at immortality.
No, on this night it will simply be because the Packers are better, and there seems to be no stopping a Tom Brady V. Brett Favre Super Bowl, like there seemed to be no stopping John Elway from facing Favre a decade ago. The wily vet going up against the MVP, the League's best. And if we are going to have to listen to 2 weeks of hype, better that it involve Favre than the Manning Family!
Packers - 23 - 13