Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pigskin Predictions: Conference Championship Games

I'll be live-blogging today's games shortly, but first I thought I'd put up some predictions. Both these games could go either way, like anything in the playoffs, so these are just idle thoughts, not guarantees. If you want something with a better chance of success, check out Peter Pattakos' picks over at Cleveland Frowns; he's 8-0 so far these playoffs! With that out the way, let's get to the games.

AFC: New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts:

The Colts were a dominant team during the regular season. They went 14-2, and weren't particularly trying in the games they lost (one against the Jets). Meanwhile, Jets' head coach Rex Ryan thought they were eliminated at one point, and they only snuck into the playoffs on the last day. The Colts also beat their curse of resting starters with last weekend's win over the Ravens, so there's lots of logical reasons to pick them. However, I'm not going to. For one thing, small athletic teams like the Colts often have trouble dealing with smashmout teams like the Jets. Peyton Manning is obviously a better quarterback than Mark Sanchez, but can he handle Rex Ryan's innovative blitzes and shutdown corner supreme Darrelle Revis? The Colts can't run the ball, and I'm not sure how well they'll do throwing it all day against the Jets' great pass defence. They also have trouble stopping the run, and the Jets have a tremendous ground game, with a terrific offensive line opening holes for Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene. History's also on the Jets' side; this game's highly reminiscent of the famous Super Bowl III, where Joe Namath led the underdog Jets to victory over the Baltimore Colts. It also has overtones of the Pittsburgh Steelers' run from wild-card berth to Super Bowl in 2005-06; like this team, that one had a young quarterback and won with a punishing ground game and a strong defence. The Jets have momentum on their side, and I think they'll take the Colts' juggernaut down today.

Pick: Jets

NFC: Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

The Vikings have been very impressive this year. They've got a great running game with Adrian Peterson, and Brett Favre has put up possibly the best season of his career. They also have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL. Despite all that, I'm going with the Saints. I love their balanced attack and their ability to constantly throw different looks at you. They have so many talented offensive players; Marques Colston, Robert Meachem, Reggie Bush, Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell, just to name a few. Their ball-hawking secondary might also cause a few problems for Favre, who never met a difficult throw he didn't like. Plus, with the combination of Prince's appalling theme song and "Pants On The Ground" guy on the sidelines, there are even more reasons to root against the Vikings than normal. I'm taking the Saints in this one.

Pick: Saints

Join me here for the AFC live blog at 3 p.m. Eastern and the NFC live blog at 6:40 p.m. Eastern!

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