Well, it’s down to four teams left to battle it out to make it to the Super Bowl, which makes its first stop in Indianapolis this year. And although the Indianapolis Colts have a Super Bowl on hand, they can only be spectators this year.
The Colts didn’t make it to the playoffs again this year because they didn’t have all-pro quarterback Peyton Manning to guide them to the promised land (the playoffs). The Colts also have a huge decision to make in the upcoming weeks: whether they should keep Peyton Manning or draft Stanford Cardinal’s quarterback Andrew Luck.
East Unit science teacher and football fan Rick Kappel thinks it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Luck to sit and learn from Manning. “I’m all for college kids who come into the NFL and have to sit a couple of years on the bench. I mean, there are some quarterbacks who were good in college and then they sit a couple of years and they get better,” he said.
“Look at Aaron Rodgers,” Kappel continued. “He’s the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback now, but he was a backup to Brett Favre.”
Kappel acknowledges that some rookie quarterbacks have led their teams and been very successful. He mentioned Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers, Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Although Kappel thinks Luck should study under Manning, he sees a problem. “If the Colts do draft Luck and then also keep Manning, they’ll have too much money on that one position,” he said.
Three blowouts and a nail-biter – again
Last weekend’s games weren’t that good. Once again, there were three blowouts and a game that literally came down to the final seconds. The scores were:
The San Francisco 49ers beating the New Orleans Saints in the final 9 seconds of the game, 36-32
The New England Patriots trampling the Denver Broncos, 45-10
The Baltimore Ravens out lasting the Houston Texans, 20-13
The New York Giants stunning the No. 1-seeded the Green Bay Packers, 37-20
The Denver Broncos came into the game against the New England Patriots on cloud 9. Well, they must not have gotten off of the cloud because the team that defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers the week before must have stayed at Mile High. The Broncos dug themselves a big, deep hole, including 14 plays that went for negative yards. The Broncos only got into the red-zone three times in the entire game; their possessions were a turnover, a touchdown and a field goal.
Hirings and firings
There was a big hiring in the NFL this last week. The St. Louis Rams agreed to terms with former Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher had a final decision to go either to the St. Louis Rams or the Miami Dolphins, but a disagreement between the Dolphins’ front office and Fisher caused them to not start a bond. Fisher went 142-120 (.543) in his stint with the Titans/Oilers; he also led his team to 12+ wins in a season four times. Fisher has coached more games for one franchise than all but six coaches, all of whom are Hall of Famers.
Also, the Colts axed Head Coach Jim Caldwell after three seasons. Caldwell went 26-22 in his three-year stint. He made the playoffs two of his three years and appeared in the Super Bowl (but lost to the New Orleans Saints). But the 2-14 record this season was the icing on the cake to put Caldwell out on the street. This firing was just one of three that the Colts have already made this off-season. The Colts fired both Vice Chairman Bill Polian and his son, General Manager Chris Polian.
The conference championships
It’s down to just one game to decide the winners of the AFC and NFC. The New England Patriots are 6-2 in the AFC Championship, while the Baltimore Ravens are 1-1. (.500) In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers are 5-7 in the championship game and 5-0 in the Super Bowl, and the New York Giants are 4-0-1 in the NFC Championship.
If the Patriots win the championship, they’ll advance to their 7th Super Bowl; they’re 3-3 so far. If the Ravens advance, they’ll be in their 2nd Super Bowl; they won in their first appearance. If the San Francisco 49ers win, they’ll go to their 6th Super Bowl; they’ve won every Super Bowl they’ve been in. If the New York Giants advance, they’ll be in their 5th Super Bowl; their Super Bowl record is 3-1.
Breakdown of the matchups
Both games are on Sunday this weekend; the AFC Championship at 3:30, followed up by the NFC Championship at 6:30.
The AFC Game: The AFC game will be a game for the century, as the Baltimore Ravens take their excellent defense into Foxborough to take on the New England Patriots and their stellar offense. The Patriots are undefeated, 6-0, in the all-time regular-season history between the two teams. But since 2007, their three non-playoff meetings have been won by the New England Patriots by an average of just three points. Even the Ravens-Patriots pre-season game in 2008 was decided by one point, 16-15.
The NFC Game: The NFC game will feature the New York “football” Giants and their balanced team battling the season-shocking San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers are virtually the same team as last year, but with a new head coach. Jim Harbaugh will be making his first trip to the NFC Championship game. (Well, seeing it is his first head coaching job in the NFL, it better be his first.) And as for Tom Coughlin, he has been in three Conference Championship games (2 in the AFC, 0-2, and then 1 in the NFC, 1-0).
My winning picks
Well, once again I went 2-2 in the playoffs, but I’m going to go 2-0 this weekend. My winning picks are in teal.
Baltimore Ravens 35 @New England Patriots 23
New York Giants 17 @ San Francisco 49ers 20 (in OT)
Yes, that’s right – I’m predicting the Super Bowl will be a battle of the Harbaugh brothers. It is going to be a Har-bowl.
Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis, linebacker form the San Francisco 49ers
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers quarterback (for breaking so many rookie records this year)
Comeback Player of the Year: Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins running back (for coming back from a disappointing season last year to a career-best season this year)
Offensive Player of the Year: a tie New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (for being very good at home and on the road this year)
Coach of the Year: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers head coach (for improving the 49ers so much in one season)
MVP: Drew Brees (because he broke Dan Marino’s passing yards in a season record)