NFL Playoffs: Championship Sunday
Jets (+8) at Colts: This is a rematch of a week 16 regular season game, one the Colts fans won’t soon forget. With Indianapolis sitting at a 14-0 record, head coach Jim Caldwell pulled most of the starters (including MVP quarterback Peyton Manning) midway through the third quarter with the Colts leading 15-10. The Jets would rally for a 29-15 victory, thus denying the Indianapolis Colts the dream of an undefeated season. So how ironic is it that the Colts are taking on a Jets team who needed to win that week 16 battle just to stay alive in the postseason hunt? The only way I see the Jets pulling off this upset is if they are able to maintain a consistent running game (Colts defense allowed 4.3 yards per carry in regular season) which would keep Manning & Co. off the field. The strategy worked in the divisional playoffs against San Diego but the Jets were also beneficiaries of Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding missing three field goals. The key here is for the Jets to keep the game close early. If they have to rely on QB Mark Sanchez to win it for them, it will be a long day, courtesy of pass rushing specialist Dwight Freeney. But if the Jets pull off the monumental upset, many will draw parallels to Super Bowl III where Jets QB Joe Namath’s famous “guarantee” came to fruition in a 16-7 win over the heavily favored Colts.
Colts 24 Jets 14
Vikings (+4) at Saints: I’d be lying if I said I remember anything about the Vikings’ last Super Bowl appearance. I was 7 ½ years old on January 9, 1977 when the Oakland Raiders crushed my beloved Vikes 32-14 in Super Bowl XI. No, my earliest recollection of Vikings football was QB Fran Tarkenton’s final season in 1978. So this would be my 32nd season as a fan of the purple and gold juggernaut. While many Vikings fans have become jaded after the heartbreak of the 1998 NFC Championship game, others became downright cynical after "41-doughnut" in the 2000 contest. In fact, I can envision a scenario after that shellacking against the Giants where many of the Vikings’ faithful were lamenting the fact they may never see their favorite squad in a Super Bowl again. ”Yeah” says Grandpa Ole, ”Massachusetts would elect a Republican to the Senate before the Vikings ever get to a Super Bowl again.”
An auspicious omen? Or pathetically grasping at straws?
What can I say? I’m a rube.
Vikings 31 Saints 28
Straight up: 4-4
Against the spread: 5-3 (4-0 in the divisional round!!!)