Game Time: NFL Conference Title Predictions...Channeling College Football
There's no two ways about it, my NFL playoff predictions have been terrible. As I outlined on Monday, I reached a point this past weekend, after going goose eggs on the first seven games, where I picked the Jets to beat the Chargers outright merely because every rational thought and shred of evidence I unearthed told me to take the Chargers and lay the points. In other words, I did the opposite of what I thought the right thing was to do.
The result? Jets 17, Chargers 14, of course.
So after going 1-7 in the first two weeks, I am fortunate enough to be traveling this weekend back to Chicago to see my kids. (My older two turn twelve today! Happy Birthday James and Judy Anne!) I say "fortunate" because I do some of my best, most lucid thinking on airplanes, and make no mistake these conference title games will require my "A" game. Add my heightened airplane IQ to the inevitable Seanie Gin and Tonic System play on the flight (one can tonic, two small bottles gin, two cups with ice and lime) and basically air travel transforms me into a slightly inebriated Albert Einstein.
So as I'm getting ready to head to the gate, I am taking down a coffee and danish and watching Sportscenter in the airport bar. One of the talking heads starts making lovey-dovey noises about Brett Favre this weekend, and simultaneously a Pavlovian feeling of nausea overcomes my entire being. This was a familiar feeling; certainly I'd felt it with Favre before, but the last time I'd felt it was....trying to place it....I got it! TEBOW'S LAST GAME!!
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And then it hit me! Perhaps the answers in this weekend's NFC and AFC title games could be found in what amounted to the college conference title games leading to the college version of the "Super Bowl"...BRILLIANT!!! I dug further...and were there similarities? Oh you betcha. Here's what I found....
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS and ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
-- The obvious one is the geographic similarity. Both teams reside in the deep south where people's rabid passion for football is exceeded only by their rabid passion for their cousins. Both teams have quarterbacks from the great state of Texas (Shouldn't we treat that all as one word by now? It's what everyone says...greatstateofTexas!)
-- Brees from Austin by way of Purdue, and McElroy from powerful Southlake Carroll. Two Texas boys leading teams in the SEC footprint. Go figure.
-- Both teams have spent the last twenty years (up until the Tide's win a couple weeks ago over UT) in various states of downtrodden with occasional teases and glimmers of hope.
I'D FEEL A WHOLE LOT BETTER ABOUT THIS "SIMILARITY" THING IF...
...the Saints had actually won ONE title. Just ONE. You know, since Alabama has won the most in the history of college football and all.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS and FLORIDA GATORS
-- Both have quarterbacks who seemingly every football analyst on television would have allowed their wives to have sex with on their wedding night, like in Braveheart -- Commissioner Goodell grants Tebow and Favre PRIMA NOCTA!!"
-- Both have had their best success the last couple seasons when "getting the ball in Percy Harvin's hands" was a prominent part of the game plan.
-- Jared Allen and Carlos Dunlap are arguably the best at their position on their respective levels of football. And, BONUS, they can sit and wax poetic with some cool DWI stories as well!
I'D FEEL A WHOLE LOT BETTER ABOUT THIS "SIMILARITY" THING IF... ...Favre spent his offseason circumcising babies in the Phillipines.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS and TEXAS LONGHORNS
-- Both teams have been champions this decade. In fact, they did it within thirteen months of each other back in 2006 and 2007.
-- Both teams have the most decorated quarterbacks of the 2009 season, even if neither one won the Heisman in their respective senior years of college. Granted, each of them perfected the same pissy look on their faces when it was announced they didn't win.
-- While the offense gets most of the attention for both teams, mostly because of said quarterbacks, the defense has actually been the key to some of their biggest wins of the season.
-- The word "COLT"...Indianapolis COLTS...COLT McCoy...hey, no one said these had to be GOOD reasons!
I'D FEEL A WHOLE LOT BETTER ABOUT THIS "SIMILARITY" THING IF... ....Peyton Manning and Austin Collie were roommates, and Collie had an album of guitar songs coming out before Sunday.
NEW YORK JETS and NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
-- Both teams have head coaches with defensive coordinator backgrounds, and are largely regarded as two of the best at what they do on the defensive side of the ball.
-- Each team has the best defensive player at their respective levels playing for them -- Darelle Revis for the Jets, Ndamukong Suh for the Huskers.
-- Both teams are offensively challenged to a degree because of quarterback play; they'll try and turn the game into a slugfest and dare you to beat them in a 10-9 kind of game.
I'D FEEL A WHOLE LOT BETTER ABOUT THIS "SIMILARITY" THING IF...
....Rex Ryan weighed about two hundred pounds less and looked like David Schwimmer's more manly cousin.
So there you go -- the NFC Championship game is the SEC Title Game, and the AFC Championship Game is the Big XII Title Game. Hot damn, as the airline waitress brings me round two of the Seanie Gin and Tonic System, I am feeling so freaking smart. So knowing full well that logic and reason got me nowhere the last two weeks, now it's prediction time....
NFC TITLE GAME: New Orleans 32, Minnesota 13
AFC TITLE GAME: Indianapolis 13, New York Jets 12 (on a last-second Matt Stover field goal, of course).
So there you go. Saints cover the four-point spread easy, and the Jets keep it close. Who's coming with me????
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7p.m. on the Sean & John Show, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Sean Cablinasian.
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