NFL Championship Sunday

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2008 by Travis Cody in

OK, so I'd be exaggerating if I said this was my worst nightmare. But it's certainly not my best AFC Championship scenario. I have no interest in either team winning this game. In fact, if there were a way that both teams could lose then I'd be all for that. However, the rules say that one of these teams will play in the Super Bowl by winning the AFC Championship game. Since I can't change the rules, and because it's what I do, I will analyze the game.

It is expected to be cold with a slight wind at game time, but there is no threat of snow or other precipitation. Weather should not be a factor, although SD has not played in sub-freezing temps this season.

San Diego comes into the game with a chip on its shoulder and looking at this game as a bit of revenge for last season's home field loss in the playoffs and a loss in week 2 this season to New England. But the Chargers are banged up on offense, with both QB Philip Rivers and RB LaDainian Tomlinson gimpy on bad knees. Rivers says he wants to play but is listed as questionable. Tomlinson is expected to play. TE Antonio Gates is also questionable with a bad toe injury. The Chargers success depends largely on how well the defense plays. SD has a very good secondary and an outstanding pass rush. I do not expect the Chargers to play passively. The defense needs to force turnovers and other mistakes so that the offense can work from shorter fields. Ultimately, the Chargers must limit their own mistakes and force NE into turning the ball over to minimize the Patriots' scoring opportunities.

The two teams I thought had the best chance to beat New England were Jacksonville and Indianapolis. The Jaguars couldn't do it, and Indy couldn't beat SD to even get a second chance at the Patriots. If New England plays to its potential, the Chargers can't beat them. For the Patriots, it hasn't been about the way the opponent plays. It's about the way New England approaches the game. New England is a more physically talented football team than San Diego. If the Patriots are mentally prepared today, which I expect, then it won't matter what San Diego does and New England will find the way to win.

My pick is New England.

Now the NFC Championship is a game that I think I can enjoy. At least I have no deeply seeded dislike for either team. I've been mostly indifferent to Green Bay throughout my life as a football guy. During the brief rivalry between SF and the Giants in the 1980's, I didn't develop a severe dislike of New York. So in a way I'm glad this is the second game today so I don't have a bad taste once our Super Bowl adversaries are decided.

Temperatures could drop into the minus figures tonight in Green Bay. But no snow is in the forecast.

I did not expect the Giants to make it to this game. In his 4th season, QB Eli Manning has still not shown the kind of consistency that can take him to the elite level. However he has played well the last two weeks to pick up his first 2 playoff wins, both on the road. No matter how well the defense plays, this game will be about whether Manning can continue to play well and make good decisions. If he manages the game well and stays away from turnovers, then the NY defense will have an opportunity to control the game with a strong pass rush.

I've never been a fan of Brett Favre. It isn't necessary for me to explain...I'm just not a fan. He doesn't "deserve" another shot at winning a Super Bowl anymore than any other player does. If he earns it on the field, then yay for him. Favre is going to have to make plays on the run today, because the Giants have a fierce pass rush that looks to chase him out of the pocket and force him into some of those wacky throws he's prone to making. Favre throws interceptions and he fumbles...he isn't afraid to try to make a play. Oddly, I think the same rules apply to Favre as to Manning in this game. Favre's mad scrambles must result in positive plays, otherwise the Giants can gain traction and force him to try to make even more plays.

For me, this game is about intangibles. Since Eli Manning has not demonstrated consistency, his performance is difficult to factor. And since Brett Favre can sometimes be his own worst enemy by getting too excited in a big game, it's tough to mark him down as good to go for a big game.

It's wobbly, but my pick is New York.

If it's your thing, enjoy the games.


  1. Even though I would rather watch AFC football than NFC football (comes from the days of low scoring-defensive games that defined NFC football, I think), I must say, I'm much more interested in the Packers/Giants battle. I am boycotting the AFC game on principle.

  1. Gail says:

    Hey - my 9 year old is already perched on the sofa, under the throw (it's 0 outside!!) ready for the games to's funny, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm gonna miss football Sundays when this is over...

  1. the teach says:

    Travis, thanks for commenting on my post about MLK and LBJ. It is my thing to watch the Green Bay- New York game today. I'm of course with you on your pick...a consistent Eli will do it. We'll see! Go Giants!

  1. OK. I will sit and read while you analyze the game.

    "It is expected to be cold with a slight wind at game time, but there is no threat of snow or other precipitation. Weather should not be a factor..."

    So far. So good. I understand that part. It's always good to know what one should wear to an event such as this.

    Thanks, Trav!

  1. the108 says:

    Ack! Football day...LOL!

  1. Jamie says:

    Missed the news that you were under the weather. I hope there is decided improvement and that the games will take your mind off any residual ickies.

  1. cathy says:

    "It's wobbly, If it's your thing, enjoy."

    This is the bit I read, the rest was about football or something.

  1. the teach says:

    It's 9:23 PM EST right now and it's 20-20 and I'm commenting on Manic Monday posts and I can't look at the TV but I can hear it...Oh God!

  1. Travis says:

    Songbird: I didn't boycott, but I didn't really enjoy the AFC game either.

    Gail: It's nice just to have a reason to sit around and enjoy something together.

    Teach: You are welcome. I agree that a consistent Eli is always going to be critical.

    Mimi: Just making sure you have the write ensemble!

    Kyra: Such is life.

    Jamie: There has been steady improvement and I am on the mend!

    Cathy: You got the important parts I think.

    Teach: Do you need a sedative??