There are only 3 games remaining in the 2011-12 NFL season, therefore only 4 teams are left standing; it all comes down to this.
Last weekend, the Divisional Playoffs were nothing short of spectacular, because it was deemed Upset-City around the NFL Universe. Like every year, the playoffs have been unpredictable, showing once again that just making the playoffs gives any team a chance at a Super Bowl Title.
Starting with early game last Saturday, the gold-helmets shined bright in a game that put everything on the line between the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. My Super Bowl pick was shalacked as the “Catch III” (and some turnovers) led the the 13-3, but underdog 49ers to their first playoff victory since Jeff Garcia was actually relevant (along with T.O.). A number of 4 touchdowns were scored in the final 4 minutes of the game, creating one of the best football games in the last few years. After Jimmy Grahams’ unbelievable TD (accredited to SF awful tackling), it looked as if Drew Brees had taken control of the game and New Orleans was headed to their second NFC Championship game in the last 3 years. Yet, with all the doubt behind Alex Smith and the Niners offense, they put together the game winning drive to continue the Jim Harbaugh’s legendary first season as lead man in San Francisco. Niners to the Super Bowl?
The late game in Foxboro (the New England way to spell it) wasn’t even a contest. Tom Brady showed he still has it in the postseason, throwing for 5 TDs in the first half, ending the game tied with the postseason record of 6 TD passes. The Tim Tebow talk hasn’t ended unfortunately, but it sure has dwindled to almost nothing because he was put in his place by a real QB. Taken from the encounters of a Pats fan inside Gillette Stadium on Saturday, a quote from a New Englander to a man in a Tebow Jersey (take it off, man), “Can I see your Bible? I hear Tom Brady’s on the cover.” New England won the game 45-10 in a College-Football like matchup and now fans covering the 6 Northeastern States can rejoice because the Patriots are one win away from another Super Bowl appearance, and this one is for Robert Kraft and the late Myra Kraft. Wait, who even remembers that Steelers game? Sorry Steelers fans (Go Browns).
I thought the Houston Texans would be headed to Foxboro this weekend, but the Baltimore Ravens gutted one out at home on Sunday. Yeah, I put some trust in TJ Yates and that one backfired, because the picks he threw were absolutely disgusting. Hey Tyler John, it’s called throwing the football AWAY, not to the other team when no one’s open. Maybe if Yates didn’t force the ball to Andre Johnson every freakin’ play, the Texans would have actually had a chance because Joe Flacco didn’t shave that contraption on his face (come on, Joe). I don’t think you can trust Baltimore’s offense, it didn’t look fluent enough on Sunday (that’s on you, Cam Cameron). Plus, the Raven’s defense looks a bit hobbled going into this weekend, something Tom Brady will be all over. All in all, it was great season for Kubiak’s Texans and they could be a real contender next season when Schaub returns from the sidelines.
Green Bay, Wisconsin hit an all time low Sunday night when Eli Manning and the New York Giants ousted the 15-1 Green Bay Packers on their home turf, 37-20. Once again proving defense does win championships even when going against the #1 offense in the league. Eli Manning has always been a great QB, can we please stop throwing the word elite around? Go ahead, try to give me a definition of it, yeah that’s right, you can’t because no one has any idea what elite even entitles. Aaron Rodgers may still be the better QB, but Eli Manning came to play on Sunday and when it comes down to it all, wins matter more than anything (sorry Dan Marino). While Manning is vying for his 2nd Super Bowl ring, Rodgers will be stuck at 1 until next year possibly, granted Eli has been in the league for one more year and Rodgers didn’t become the starter until 2008. But, Eli is the quiet kid in the courtyard who always wins when it matters and if he completes the run the Giants have been on this season, nobody will ever forget Eli again. Back to the game, Rodgers did play excellent, his receivers were the opposite. They dropped the ball on a constant basis all game, along with some fumbles, the more important one on Ryan Grant (maybe he’s not a playoff guy). Yet, Tom Coughlin continued to show he’s the man who should be the helm of the franchise until he decides to retire his headset.
With that, I welcome you to my NFL Playoff Preview: Conference Championship Edition
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (Jan. 22nd, 3:oo PM ET, CBS)
Can a 32nd ranked defense win a Super Bowl? Yes, they can. The New England Patriots are the best team remaining in the playoffs and the only team that can beat them, yes pretty ironic, but it’s the New York Giants(we’ll get to that next week). Trusting the Ravens offense and aging defense this late in the season is a gutsy move, yes I believe Baltimore is as good as where they are, but I can’t see them containing New England’s offense especially inside of frozen and snowy Gillette Stadium. I truly trust John Harbaugh because in his first 4 years, he’s won at least 1 playoff game and has been to the AFC Championship game now twice. Also Ray Rice needs to carry a heavy load against New England’s defense and the receiving core of Baltimore is highly underrated (blame Flacco). Yet, behind Gronkowski, Hernandez, Welker, The Law Firm- BJGE, the mastermind- Bill Belichick, and of course Tom Brady, the New England Patriots are nothing to be joking about. Number 12 could be heading to his 5th Super Bowl, possibly making his case as the greatest QB to ever play the game. Congratulations Patriot fans, you even got me on your side.
New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers (Jan. 22nd, 6:30 PM ET, FOX)
It looks as if we are headed for a Super Bowl XLII rematch, I’m taking the New York Giants to head to the big game. San Francisco has made one hell of a run this season going from 6-10 to 13-3 all the way to the NFC Championship game and on their home field. Two defenses are set to battle it out on Sunday night, yet the offensive advantage goes to Eli along with the ground game of Bradshaw and Jacobs. How awesome would it be to see Eli win his second Super Bowl, surpassing Peyton’s 1 in Indianapolis? Well, it’s a possible outcome over the next 3 weeks. I don’t want to bet against Jim Harbaugh because nobody has it better than him, and San Francisco was able to defeat the Giants in Week 10, yet this is a different New York football team because everything has went from disappointment to greatness. If Alex Smith heads to Indianapolis on February 5th, it will be the greatest QB story the NFL has seen in a while (good ones not bad……..Jamarcus Russell), from the No. 1 pick to being benched to the Super Bowl, it just took the right coach to get Smith on track to NFL stardom. Yet, on Sunday I think the lights will turn out again on the 49ers.
The Road began in September, but it feels like a whole new ballgame. The Road to Indianapolis: Super Bowl XLVI.
Who’s your pick?
About the Author
Written by Corey Rioux
A wise man once told me, "Sports are modern-day mythology." I tend to disagree. Proper grammar is optional. You can read my columns here: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/c_rioux23/ You can follow me on twitter at: @CoreyRioux You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org