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Conference Championship Predictions

I’m not sure which I feel more foolish about from my picks blog from last week.  Should it be my heavy belief in the Cowboys to go on the road and win in the playoffs?  Or should it be my strong statement towards the Jets not having any chance whatsoever against the Chargers?  It’s a toss-up, but I am going to call it a tie, and claim double stupidity on myself.

For what seems like the umpteenth year in a row, we have been duped by Norv Turner and Wade Phillips.  (By the way, how have we accepted “umpteenth” as an actual number, it implies something between 13th and 19th, yet it could mean 6 and no one would question that).  But why is it that anytime Turner and Phillips’ teams show any promise, we start talking their Super Bowl chances and forget that they are Norv and Wade?  Actually, little known facts about their real names, Norv is short for Norval and Wade is short for Harold.  So why do we keep letting Norval and Harold back into our lives?  Even Tina Turner eventually wised up to Ike.

So this is it for me, I’m wising up to them, and declaring this the final year that I will have ever supported them in a big game situation.  In fact, I’m adding them to the “You’re Dead To Me” list, which also includes, Steve Slaton, Javon Walker, Chad Tracy, Michigan St. basketball, Nip/Tuck, anything involving Shia LeBouf, Checkers fast food, the elevators at Tropicana in Atlantic City and single ply toilet paper.

Looking back at my breakdown last week of the 16 best possible matchups for the Super Bowl, I should have gone with my heart and picked the Jets and Vikings to go along with my correct picks of the Colts and Saints.  Here’s where I had the remaining four possibilities out of the 16…

1) Colts vs. Vikings – Manning/Favre winner takes all (plus we’d get a Peyton Manning/Bernard Berrian re-match, and thankfully without having to endure Rex Grossman for four quarters

2) Jets vs. Saints – I’m easy to please, #1 defense vs. #1 offense

5) Jets vs. Vikings – since we won’t be treated to Favre/Packers III, I’d settle for Favre/Jets I

6) Colts vs. Saints – this could be higher, but I have this weird feeling with all the mid-season hype that this game would be a boring letdown in the neighborhood of 23-10

And the other two in the top 6, were #3 Colts/Cardinals (which is basically same matchup as Colts/Saints), and #4 Chargers/Saints (for the Brees vs. Rivers showdown, but that really should have taken a backseat to Favre vs. Jets).  What does it all mean?  That no matter the outcomes this weekend, we should have a great Super Bowl matchup regardless of the two teams.

That being said, here’s how this weekend will play out…

I must again apologize to Jets fans, because unless Broadway Joe can put down the booze for a few weeks, there’s no way I can enjoy a Super Bowl started by a rookie QB who statistically ranks somewhere between James Van Der Beek in Varsity Blues and the backup QB who was replaced as the starter by Scott Bakula in Necessary Roughness (“blow the whistle, blow the whistle!”).

I was wrong last week when I said they really had no chance, that Shonn Greene wouldn’t matter (132 yards, TD), that Darrelle Revis wouldn’t matter (had an interception and shut down Nate Kaeding in kick coverage, wait, that wasn’t him), and that Malcolm Floyd and Legadu Naanee would have big games (combined 3 catches for 30 yards).  But I won’t be wrong two weeks in a row.

The Colts will have to accept the fact that Jets are using Madden cheat codes to prevent the opposing kicker from making field goals (kickers are 0 for 5 so far in the playoffs against the Jets), so that neutralizes Matt Stover.  Even if Revis can shut down Reggie Wayne, who’s going to shut down Clark, who moves all over the field, more so than any other tight end?  Jets D gave up 8 catches for 93 yards to Antonio Gates last week and it could have been greater numbers if not for a couple of drops.  Plus there’s always the possibility that the Colts bring back Marvin Harrison to re-enact the opening scene to The Last Boy Scout. (too soon?  But in case you’re wondering what I’m talking about, go to the 3-minute mark of this clip – although how was there no flag thrown on the play?).

The NFL and America, and probably just about every single person outside of the tri-state area wants to see Manning and the Colts in the Super Bowl, especially since it would be up against another potent offense and elite QB in either Brees or Favre.  Mark Sanchez and his 12 completions for 100 yards are not exciting football, even if Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones rush for 200 yards combined.  The Colts D did a great job of containing Ray Rice and Willis McGahee last week and should be able to duplicate that effort and hopefully force the Jets to air it out.  In his 17 career starts, Sanchez has completed more than 18 passes in a game ONCE.  In comparison, not counting the Colts last two games of the regular season (since the Colts themselves didn’t count them), Manning, in his 15 other starts, has thrown for less than 20 completions in a game ONCE.  I don’t think this will be a high-scoring aerial assault by the Colts, but it won’t be a Jets 29-15 win like last month.

Jets – 15
Colts – 29

From the Metrodome to the Superdome, to the Thunderdome!!  Nevermind, just the Superdome.  Two teams who love the turf playing for the chance to hit the Miami surf.  I will stop the rhyming right there, because who wins this game is all you care.  Perhaps I can’t stop like Brett Favre can’t quit his career, by the way did you see him smack Jared Allen’s rear?  I will watch this game on FOX, and for breakfast I will eat bagels and lox.

Ok, let’s be serious, this is for the right to battle Manning in the Super Bowl and have a great QB battle, possibly the best matchup of Super Bowl quarterbacks since Trent Dilfer and Kerry Collins squared off nine years ago.

Actually there’s been a lot of talk this past week about “greatest QB of all-time” with both Manning and Favre in the discussion.  Both are arguably at or near the top, but for the sake of more arguments, here’s my take on the best ever (and since I was born in 1979 and never really watched a game prior to 1985, I’ve modernized the list.  So any QB prior to that time has no bearing on my opinion).

TOP 5 GREATEST QUARTERBACKS (of the Modern Jarrett Fischer era)

Joe Montana – some of my first memories of football involve Montana, including him getting concussed against my Giants in the ‘87 playoffs, but also how poised and confident he always appeared. Yes it helps to have Jerry Rice, but you just knew you were always going to watch something special with “Comeback Joe”.  Plus, his career gave birth to Joe Montana’s Sports Talk Football for the Sega Genesis.

Peyton Manning – basically the modern-day Montana.  He’s never afraid to take control of a game or lead his team back from any deficit.  Sees the game better than any QB I can remember.  Even when you play against video Manning in the Madden franchise, the computer has him constantly calling audibles and changing the play at the line of scrimmage.  No other video QB gets that respect.

Brett Favre – there’s a lot to be said for longevity, especially given his position.  I still don’t know if his streak or Cal Ripken’s is more impressive, but what he has done this season at the age of 40, if it’s not “performance-enhanced,” is truly remarkable and just a testament to his legacy.  He could be number one all-time, but I’ve never been a big fan of his, with all the back and forth retirement talk and his obnoxious attitude towards the game (last week’s garbage TD is a prime example), but there’s no doubting his mark he’s left on the position and the game.

Tom Brady – marrying Giselle Bunchden will get you on the list for sure.  He undoubtedly had an incredible start to his career with the 3 Super Bowl wins in his first six seasons, and then leading the Patriots to the perfect regular season two years ago.  But I think he’s in danger of losing his grip on the all-time list.  The inability to finish off the Giants in the Super Bowl (woo hoo!), the season-ending injury in 2008 and the mediocre 2009 by his standards can start to tarnish his reputation.  I think when his career is over, we’ll look back and consider him the Ken Griffey Jr. of football – an absolute beast in the beginning of his career, someone you feared constantly when he went up against your team, and then kind of faded into the shadows in the second half of his career and you spent more time talking about what he was, than what he is.

Dan Marino – easily would have been #1 on the list if he would have just put those laces out!!!  Or if he won a Super Bowl.  I know it’s a team sport, but it’s hard to say you’re the best at what you’ve done, if you don’t have a championship to show for it.

Next 5 on my list – John Elway, Steve Young, Kurt Warner, Warren Moon and Donovan McNabb (yes, Mcnabb makes my top 10, you try being the leader of a Philadelphia franchise for 10 years, I dare you.)

As for the actual game on Sunday, there’s no denying that both offenses are great.  They rely on their running game to set up the vertical passing game.  And both their defenses are pretty solid, with Minnesota relying heavily on QB pressure, and the Saints attacking the ball and racking up the turnovers.  This will be a loud, physical, and emotionally draining game for both the city of New Orleans and for #4 for Minnesota.  Thankfully for Favre though, it will be significantly warmer than the last time he played in the NFC Championship.  Plus, the Vikings are 10-0 on turf this season.

Vikings 37
Saints 24

And if I’m wrong about these games, just blame Harold and Norval, it’s always their fault.