Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Emotions Running Hot and Cold

It was tough NFL divisional playoff weekend for the "do the opposite" pigskin prediction system. The only game that I got right was the Vikings over the Cowboys. I guess I can take solace in the fact that it was the only game I really wanted to get right, but it's become clear that the opposite system is not one you want to bank (or bet) on. However, even though the results have not been good and the premise has been stretched beyond all credibility, when you get to this point you gotta stick with what you got.

AFC Championship

The Jets-Colts game offers up all sorts of intriguing "who would you rather play in the Super Bowl?" scenarios for Vikings and Saints fans tuning in before their tilt. While it might seem insane for fans of either NFC squad to wish to face the Colts and Peyton Manning (who's well on his way to becoming the best NFL quarterback of ALL TIME statistically speaking), does anyone really want to play the brash, upstart Jets? The Jets, as personified by their coach, are like a delivery driver who shows up at a member's only country club cotillion and refuses to leave. They just won't get the message that they don't belong here among the NFL elite and the longer they hang around, the more confident they become that they're really the ones who own the joint.

They also present a paradox for those trying to prognosticate their games. After failing to predict their previous two playoff victories, they're a team that I should have learned not to pick against. But they're also a team that I still can't justify picking to win. We all know that the Jets "beat" the Colts 29-15 late in December to spoil the Colts perfect season. This time around, the real Colts will be on the field for sixty minutes and they will kick the Jets to the curb winning 25-9.

NFC Championship

We all know the set up. A team lead by its high-powered, big play offense and opportunistic defense is the NFC's top seed. After crushing the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional playoffs, they're hosting the NFC Championship inside their domed stadium filled with rabid fans hungry for a Super Bowl title. They face the #2 seed, a team that also plays in a dome lead by a veteran quarterback, a top running back, and an explosive rookie kick returner that's coming off a win in the divisional playoffs against one of the iconic franchises in the NFL.

We're talking Saints-Vikings this week, right? Try Vikings-Falcons in 1999. Yes, as painful as it might be for Vikings fans to dredge up those memories, this Sunday's NFC Championship in New Orleans gives the Purple the chance to reverse roles and play spoilers to the Saint's Super Bowl plans much the same way the Falcons did to the Vikes in 1999.

With the NFL's two most prolific offenses squaring off, many expect a high-scoring affair. I think it will be more of a defensive struggle with an unexpected hero emerging to make the difference. How about the pride of Luling, Louisiana--a man with a mom named Katrina and sporting a Cajun-flavored surname--Darius Reynaud housing a punt return late to give the visiting Vikings a 27-20 win? It would be a phenomenon, but stranger things have happened. When a Republican wins Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in Massachusetts, you know we're in a time when anything goes.

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