Sunday, January 24, 2010

League Championship Thoughts

So I picked them both (Indy-30 Jets 17, New Orleans 31 MN 28) but I don't feel good about it--at least, not about the second game. The Saints-Vikings game started out great, a lot of fun to watch. But it got ugly. It isn't fun, at least for me, seeing a quarterback get beat up like Brett Favre did. The Vikings basically outplayed the Saints, Favre outplayed Brees, but some pretty bad calls by the officials and some unforced errors set them back. Still, Favre had them in position to win the game, but at the end of regulation, beaten up physically and mentally exhausted, he made a fatal mistake. He had to get ten yards or so, and though he had a running lane he probably didn't feel he could make it. He threw an interception, and his truly courageous game ended with a bitter taste.

The Saints offense did basically nothing the second half. They got a few breaks in overtime, and their kicker did his job. It's great that New Orleans is in their first Super Bowl ever, but they got in ugly.

I also have to say that based on this game I'm withdrawing my SB pick. The Saints were almost rudderless in the second half--they couldn't run, they couldn't throw. Now Indy has two weeks to study what the Vikings defense did to stymie the Saints. The Saints looked lethargic, they were out of rhythm. It may have been that they were beat up, too, and two weeks to heal up should help their energy level. But if the Colts defense can replicate what the Vikings did, the edge goes to them.

As happened all season, the Colts did just enough to win. That's usually dangerous, but the Colts play with such confidence, and Payton Manning deals with pressure and defenses so well, that they are hardly ever out of the game. They basically studied what the Jets did in the first half, didn't panic when they were behind, and carved up the Jets defense and stifled their offense in the second half. The Saints will need to reenergize, and they'll need Indy mistakes and the kind of breaks they got today.

On the other hand, there is still the question mark about the relative strengths of the conferences--it looked to me that the NFC teams were stronger. New Orleans dismantled the Patriots, but then it turns out that the Patriots weren't so good even relative to the AFC. The Saints OL and DL could overpower Indy. Although I don't relish seeing another quarterback beaten into the ground. I guess that's why some people watch football. Not me.

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