Colts 15 / Ravens 6
How does Brian Billick keep his job? I mean Raven fans (and the Ravens defense) have to be fed up with the continuing offensive crapola that this team displays year in and year out. McNair was supposed to change all that but it's pretty obvious after the season he had that Tennessee let him go for a reason. Even though many in the media made a lot noise all year long about the difference McNair's confidence and presence made to the team (based on a couple of early season 4th quarter comebacks), the fact is McNair kinda sucked all year long. The Ravens were a top seed in the playoffs for the same reason they have been competitive for years---their defense. They are freaking awesome. I watch them before the snap, moving around, --after the snap---flying to the ball---and I wonder why the hell other teams don't play the same way. But the point is, on the offensive side of the ball it's "same ol same ole". The 2001 Super Bowl was a great win for the Ravens but in a way it really screwed them for the next few years. Billick and the organization have fooled themselves into thinking that kind of magic can strike again. Well it won't. They need an offense.
Actually the Colts weren't much better on offense either (except for Adam Vinatieri and Dominic Rhodes) . Manning dodged a few bullets. He had at least two interceptions dropped and he looked flustered again. I realize they played the best defense in the league but to beat the Patriots next week he will have to play better than he has so far in the playoffs. The Colts defense has played significantly better but to be honest I really think they lucked out in who they have played so far. They got two offenses that are about as uninspiring and unimaginative as it gets. Next week we really see what they are made of. And I'm nervous as hell about it.
Patriots 24 / Chargers 21
I don't even want to think about this game. I hate-hate-hate-hate-hate-hate the Patriots. I realize they are great in the clutch but why do all the breaks seem to bounce their way? Why do they always get coaches that make dumb moves against them? I can't write about this. I'm going to go throw up.
Saints 27 / Eagles 24
Andy Reid is a great coach. But I was with everyone else saying "what the hell?" when he brought his punt team out with less than 2 minutes. I know it's 4 and 15 but you just went for it on 4th and 10. And made it (although a penalty brought it back). I can see his logic that if he gets a stop then all the Eagles need is a field goal to go to overtime whereas if they had not made the 4th down play and then made a stop they probably would have needed a TD to win it (assuming the Saints make a field goal). Still, I think he should have gone for it. I thought Garcia played well again. I'm still wondering if he made a pact with the devil. This is a different man the the guy who suited up for Cleveland and Detroit. The Saints were just a little better is all. Drew Brees has moved himself into elite QB status. Although there are many reasons why this team is a playoff team this year (coach, tons of new players), Brees is the main one in my eyes. Although Rivers was good for the Chargers this year I wonder how that Patriot game would have gone down with Brees in control? Rivers didn't lose the game for them by any means but still, it's a thought. McAllister was fantastic and it will be interesting to see if he can make the same kind of yardage against the Bears D. I won't mind if the Bears win next week's game but I would much rather see the Saints playing for it all. Just keep the camera shots of Saints Owner (and umbrella waver) Tom Benson to a minimum. He bugs me.
Bears 27 / Seahawks 24
Fellow bloggers the Zoner and Greg from Sportsblah.com are understandably happy about the Bears success this year. And they should be. Had it not been for some offensive hiccups by Rex Grossman, Chicago would have been everybody's flavor of the month all year long (the media were waiting with salivating mouths to heap praise on them--and did until Rex started his run of bad games). Grossman's mistakes and the fact that the Chicago defense was decimated with injuries during the season took a little wind out of the sails for those non-loyalists who were just riding the bandwagon. But still, this team won 13 freaking games! When they are on top of their game they can beat anybody---badly. They weren't their best against the Seahawks but made some key plays (many by Grossman) to win the game. The Patriots win like this all the time so I'm not sure why some national guys like Gene Wojciechowski are ripping the Bears. Can they beat the Saints? Absolutely. Their defense hasn't been as good as it was last season but they are still better than the New Orleans "D". And while I don't think their offense is near as good as the Saints, they do have good receivers and running backs. Additionally, Grossman has played poorly in many games this year but he made some great 3rd down throws against the Seahawks (and that Berrian TD was a thing of beauty) and he does have the potential to play well. We'll see how it goes but you can't dismiss this team based on Grossman. He may be hot and cold this year but at least he has the ability to be hot. You can't say that about every QB.
I would like to see a Saints/Colts Super Bowl matchup. Do I think it will happen? No. My prediction is the Patriots and the Bears will be getting jiggy with it. I have to rely on history. History tells me that Manning will crumble and Brady will shine. Also in a tight game the Bears will make a key defensive play that will give them the victory.