It's kind of funny. Last weekend, I posted my picks, but I was somewhat undecided as to the Sunday games. I knew both home teams were not going to win. I knew I was going to pick a road team. But which one? I initially wrote that I felt the Jets and Vikings would win, just because I had a hunch. But then, I reversed myself and went with Dallas and San Diego. San Diego was the team. I had figured they would cruise to the Super Bowl. And Minnesota? I had no faith in them whatsoever. They were one of those lucky teams. Bunch of breaks and a soft schedule.
Of course, I was wrong on both counts. Had I gone with my gut, I would have been 4-0 last weekend.
Take nothing away from the Jets, though they certainly reaped the benefits of playing a Chargers team that was tight and off their game. But this appears to be what the Jets do: They keep their opponents off their game, at least as much as they can, until they can make some plays and swing the game in their favor. It's gone that way just about every time they've won, and somehow, it's managed to get them to the AFC Championship, in similar fashion to what the Giants did 2 years ago. They got a solid road win in the Wildcard round, and then a major road upset in the Divisional round. And so now they go back to Indianapolis.
New York Jets (11-7) at Indianapolis Colts (15-2)
Indianapolis, where this run basically started for the Jets, when Indy benched their entire A team and allowed the Jets to win the game, which spurred them on to this point. Indi, who seems to start 9-0 every season, and sometimes even better than that. Indy, with the best QB in the league, and a slew of fast WRs and a great TE and solid running game, and a defense that runs around and wreaks havoc. How can the Jets compete? The Jets spin machine, as I mentioned last week, is persuasive, but the X's and O's analysis can easily be discredited because Indy, much like San Diego, is simply a better team. It's not the numbers that will work for the Jets. It's the Jets ability to relax and play their game. This has happened each of the last two weekends: The Jets have played their game, run the ball, let their defense make a few plays and let Sanchez only do the minimum necessary to succeed. They keep the game within shooting distance and then, when they need to make that play, they strike. It happened in Cincinnati when Sanchez hit Keller for a long TD. It happened last week in San Diego when Jim Leonhard made a pick, which led to a TD, and then followed it up with a haymaker from Shonn Greene (not my favorite Landsman, Shawn Green). Meanwhile, the defense controlled the tempo and never let their opponent adequately respond. Yes, San Diego scored a late TD, simply because the Jets stupidly squib kicked after Greene's run, but look a little closer. The Jets let San Diego move down the field, but at no point did San Diego's receivers catch the ball and get out of bounds to stop the clock. As the moved down the field, they also lost time and by time they scored, barely 2 minutes remained, and the Jets were able to run out the clock. This is Jets football. Right now, the Jets are playing smart and heady football, the kind of play that has been decidedly un-Jet like. They play the kind of game that could get Indy off their rhythm, much like it got San Diego off of theirs. Going into the playoffs, I figured the Jets could beat Indy, but I gave them no shot against San Diego. Well, they beat San Diego. Now, it's Indy. They've got the players. They've got the Mojo. There's always one of these teams that does this, every year. I doubted them last week, and I was wrong. I'm not doubting them anymore. They got this far, and I think they absolutely can win this game. I believe in the Jets. YOU HEAR ME!? I BELIEVE IN THE JETS! I BELIEVE! I BELIEVE!
J! E! T! S! JETS! JETS! JETS!!!
My pick: Jets 20, Colts 16
Minnesota Vikings (13-4) at New Orleans Saints (14-3)
Two years ago, I wrote this when writing about the impending Giants/Packers NFC Championship:
Then, there's this: If the Packers win, and go on to face the Patriots, the Media will very likely have a giant, collective, simultaneous orgasm. We will be bombarded, simply bombarded with stupid puff pieces about Brett Favre. True, if the Giants win, we'll hear the same stupid stuff about Eli Manning and Peyton, but you know that if Favre is involved, it's going to go to new heights of insanity. We'll hear from his chiropractor. We'll hear from the doctor that prescribed the painkillers he got addicted to. We'll hear from the guy who dug his father's grave. We'll probably get to see a live interview with the Bog that Favre grew up in in Mississippi. It's going to be absolutely and totally insane. I don't even want to think about the ridiculous questions that he'll be asked at Media day.
Needless to say, I've had enough of Brett Favre. I'm sick of him and his retirements and his crying and his fist pumping and everything else. The Joie de Vivre that he projects can only take him so far in life. Now, he's just annoying. Now, he takes on the Saints, and a QB who projects a similar Joie de Vivre in Drew Brees, the emotional leader of a Saints team that the entire city of New Orleans has rallied around ever since the city was leveled by Hurricane Katrina. But unlike Favre, there's an eminent likability to Brees, who is usually not seen causing a media circus, but instead standing in the center of his teammates screaming like a maniac to get everyone fired up to play. And most of the time, it's been Brees firing darts all over the field and leading the Saints to victory. On the other side, there's Favre, who also has been firing darts, but I just can't put any faith in the Vikings. I already said that I believe they beefed up on a soft schedule (Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit twice, Chicago twice, the Giants after they gave up), and a lot of breaks. They also played lousy on the road and great at home. I know that the game is in a dome, but this isn't the Metrodome. This is a Superdome that is going to be louder than you can fathom tomorrow night, and I think that, while both QBs will be throwing with reckless abandon and plenty of points will be scored, that it's the Saints time to shine.
My pick: Saints 44, Vikings 34
Which gives us a very interesting BIG GAME, and a very interesting couple of weeks here in New York, particularly if you listen to WFAN as habitually as I do.
(Promise, I'll start writing about Baseball again soon. At least now there have been some things worth talking about...)