Well the Divisional Playoffs are behind us, I went 3 for 4 in my picks only missing the Chargers and Jets. This patently is rather good for a member of the Church of Baseball who has no dog in the NFL fight. The only really interesting thing to me as only the Chargers and Jets game was competitive.
So let’s go through the results and look to next week.
In game one the Cardinals travelled to New Orleans to meet the Saints. The Saints were the clear favorite in the game despite the play of the Cardinals against the Packers last week. I figured that the Saints would win but gave the Cardinals a chance at stealing one from the Saints. In my heart I wanted the Cardinals to take it because I like Kurt Warner. The game was dominated by the Saints who took advantage of Cardinals turnovers to win convincingly 45-14. The Saints used aggressive defense to shut down the Cardinals and their offense led by the passing of Drew Brees and stellar performance of Reggie Bush put on a show against the porous Cardinal defense which in two playoff games gave up a record 90 points. Warner was crushed by a tackle in the 2nd quarter which could factor into his decision to continue playing or retire. The Saints take home field advantage into the NFC Championship game against Brett Farve and the Vikings this week.
In the evening game the Colts shut down the Baltimore offense and though did not have a spectacular game offensively producing only 275 yards but got the job done effectively. Payton Manning was the offense for the Colts who rushed for only 46 yards. The Ravens gave up 2 fumbles and 2 interceptions one of the fumbles coming on a potentially game changing interception by Ed Reed who was stripped of the ball deep in Colts territory after a 38 yard interception return. The Ravens go home and Indianapolis breaks the “bye week jinx” to advance to the AFC Championship game which will be played in Indy against the scrappy New York Jets.
On Sunday Brett Farve and his Vikings faced off against the Cowboys in the Hubert H Humphrey Metrosexual Dome’s final NFL game. Farve who had never beaten the Cowboys in the playoffs was spectacular leading the Vikings to a 34-3 massacre of the Cowboys making the pokes look like they didn’t belong on the same field. Farve threw for 234 yards, with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions with a 134.4 quarterback rating while the Cowboys managed as a team a mere 248 yards. Tony “the over-rated” Romo went back to traditional post season form going 22 of 35 for a mere 198 yards and an interception for a 66.1 quarterback rating. He also fumbled twice and was sacked 6 times. Cowboys fans considered a late touchdown pass by Farve at the end of the game to be not “classy” but ever since the departure of Saint Tom Landry there has been little to call classy about the Cowboys including the new Cowboys Stadium which puts the T in tacky with the scoreboard larger than Eritrea. Despite this being a massacre which I normally would have changed channels rather than continue to watch I kept watching taking a perverse pleasure in the Cowboy’s collapse.
The final game of the weekend featured the hot San Diego chargers against the surprising New York Jets. This was the only game that was not a blowout and certainly the only upset. The Jets won 17-14 in the best game of the weekend. Perhaps only Rex Ryan and the Jets believed that they could go on the road to San Diego and win this one and win they did. The Jets opportunistic and aggressive defense shut down the vaunted San Diego offense and Philip Rivers allowing only 14 points and keeping Rivers to just on passing TD with an interception. The league leading Jets running game ground up the Chargers defense and Mark Sanchez did what was needed to win the game. The Jets love their coach and he loves his team. Every week that goes by one gets the feeling that Cinderella might get to go to the ball this year and her name is the “Jets.”
Next week in the AFC Championship I pick the Jets to upset the Colts in Indy and the Vikings to upset the Saints down in the Bayou. The numbers say that the home teams which have better records and home field advantage should win but there is an sense of magic in the air as Brett Farve looks to further detract from his detractors and the Jets befuddle all of us. I should be a great football weekend.