OK, so apparently I’m not as good at playoff predictions as I thought I was. So far, I’m a combined 3-8 for the first two weeks. So you may be asking yourself, should I bet with this guy or against him? Frankly, I don’t bet on sports, so I couldn’t care less what you do. But since you’re here you may as well read my predictions for the NFC and AFC championship games.
New Orleans vs. Minnesota: Both of these teams looked incredibly impressive in their wins this past week. New Orleans executed brilliantly on offense, just like they did against the Patriots and most of the other teams they’ve faced this season. Drew Brees did a magnificent job, throwing for three touchdowns without tossing an interception. And Reggie Bush was a force on the ground, racking up nearly 200 all purpose yards. There’s no denying New Orleans’ ability to put up points. But Minnesota looked equally impressive. Brett Favre passed for FOUR touchdowns without an interception. The Vikings put up 34 points without getting a good game from Adrien Peterson or really any of their talented corps of running backs. And defensively they held Dallas to just a field goal. This is where I think Minnesota has the advantage over New Orleans: defense. New Orleans defense is good, with Darren Sharper leading the way, but Minnesota’s is better. Their pass rush, led by Jared Allen, is better than New Orleans’. And their secondary can hang with the Saints wide receivers. While the Saints and Vikings are about a wash at quarterback and running back, defensively the Vikings have the advantage. If they can out-gain New Orleans on the ground they can keep Drew Brees on the sideline. The less he passes, the better. While home field will be a big factor, I think Brett Favre’s experience will balance it out. Look for a shootout where the Vikings defense makes just one or two plays more than the Saints D does. My pick: Minnesota.
Indianapolis vs. New York: First off, congratulations to the Jets. They’ve far exceeded anyone’s expectations of them this postseason. They played phenomenally against Cincinnati and San Diego, and they’re playing with house money, which makes them dangerous. Having said that, this should be an easy win for Indianapolis. The reason: Darrelle Revis is a cornerback. This is dangerous when your offensive weapons are wide receivers, like with the Bengals or the Chargers. But the Colts power lies in its Pro Bowl tight-end, Dallas Clark. And Revis won’t be covering Clark, he’ll be covering one of the wide receivers. This means Peyton Manning will still have his best weapon to throw to on a regular basis. The Jets can stop the run, but they won’t be able to hang with the sheer power of the Colts wide receivers and tight ends. And Peyton Manning is the most accurate quarterback there is (sorry Brady, maybe when you get healthy again). No matter how good the Jets’ coverage is, they won’t be able to defend some of the passes Manning will make. And I question whether Mark Sanchez will crumble or not when he faces the twin pass rushing power of Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. My pick: Indianapolis.
So there you have our next Super Bowl: Minnesota vs. Indianapolis. The best quarterback of the nineties taking on his heir apparent. It should make for a terrific game. I’ll have more to say about the Super Bowl after next week. Until then!