2010 Predictions for AFC and NFC Championship Games

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2010 Predictions for AFC and NFC Championship Games
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After going 0-4 in the wild card round andNFL playoffs" target="_blank"> 1-3 in the divisional round, I don't appear to have much credibility left. With that said, what did we learn so far in this round of the 2010 NFL playoffs?

  • Brett Favre is still the man (similar to Kurt Warner and we all know what happened to him).
  • The Dallas Cowgirls were vastly overrated.
  • Mark Sanchez lived up to my prediction of being this year's Joe Flacco—crappy stats but won his rookie-tying second playoff game. 
  • The Jets are for real and the San Diego Chokers are just that. Told you.
Took a lot of crap from my fellow Viking fan friends. With that here are my "picks."

Sunday, Jan. 24 3:30PM EST

Dan Dierdorf finally made reference to Peyton Manning's jittery "happy feet" as he called them on CBS, even mentioning that while it appears he's nervous that is not the case. Remember something about timing and throwing off the defense or something like that. Whatever. It still looks stupid, just like him.
I've already proclaimed myself to be a believer in Gang Green—or is it Gang "Greene"— last week, so no reason to harp on that. But it wasn't surprising that the rookie third-round pick out of Iowa, Shonn Greene, ran for 128 yards and another TD this week.
So far, the J-E-T-S have had by far the easiest path to the AFC title game, having played both the Bungles and Chokers neither of whom deserved to be in the playoffs.
With that said, we've already praised Darrelle Revis enough and that's not to take anything away from that tremendous "D" and running game. Once again, only a fool would go against the Jets, even with them playing at Peyton's place in Cow-ville, USA.
Winning two on the road hasn't stopped New York as of yet. Expect Greene to run through the Colts' porous line and Revis to shut down the Colts' deep threats, leaving only boring dink-and-dunk opportunities for the RBs and TEs with a few shots down field that will depend on the rest of the "D" not named Revis to cover.
If I'm Revis, I spy Reggie Wayne all day but I cover Dallas Clark, leaving the rest to cover the trash left over in Collie and Garcon, who don't scare me in the slightest. The Colts also have no running game to speak of. At least it hasn't shown up yet. 
With that said, all signs point to the Jets, but I'm picking the Colts only because I'm 1-7 so far in the playoffs, and I don't want to mess that up by picking the Jets, even though I believe in them.
They haven't done anything since 1998 making it this far and haven't even been in a Super Bowl since 1968. That I can live with, provided they make it.
Colts 23 Jets 17

NFC Championship MYnnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints 6:40PM EST
For my feelings on the Saints-Vikings preview, take a look at a previous column I wrote on this potential matchup: Minnesota Vikings Dream Season can only be dampened by Saints Tiring Act.
Ruffled quite a few feathers on the Bandwagon Bayou with my preview of this matchup here. It's bad enough from the word "go" that we're likely to see video montages and get status updates of Hurricane Katrina all game long by the sentimental announcers.
But I'm more interested in the actual football game.
Cris Carter already previewed one potential mis-match today on ESPN's "Mike and Mike" when he noted the Vikings' league-leading sacks, defensive line going against the Aints right and left tackles. (He stopped short of calling them no-names, just suggested big things should come from our line like it did this weekend against the overmatched Cowgirls.)
That Vikings' defensive line made Tony Romo look like a little girl as he ran for his life. While I'd expect the same thing again—and have no reason not to after yesterday—the Vikings will have the advantage of the game being in the Big Sleazy with the crowd noise this time working against them.
Additionally, since it is on the road, it will be a challenge for the Vikings—who look like a completely different team when away from Mall of America Field, where they went 9-0 this year, especially having lost to the Cardinals, Panthers, and Bears in recent weeks leading up to the playoffs. 
Still, how sweet would it be to go into New Orleans at beat the "Paper Champions," as I call them, the New Orleans Saints with their infancy "fanbase" on their own turf? That ought to silence any doubters.
I still laugh at Brees' stupid "Who are we? Saints! Who are we? Saints! This-is-New-Orleans" barking at the camera last year for ESPN. This year he talked about being team of destiny after narrowly escaping a win against the hapless Washington Redskins. He's a joke. 
The most intriguing part of this game—aside from the fact it pits No. 1 against No. 2 and will clearly be the most interesting matchup of the weekend and probably the best NFC Title game since 1998, but hopefully with a different result—is the fact that the Saints have never been to a Super Bowl and the Vikings haven't made one since 1976 or 34 years ago.
I've also wrote about that here, prior to the season: Brett Fave to the Vikings has all the makings of 1998 with a better ending.
Something's gotta give and, as I've already explained in the previously linked Saints article, for the Saints because of Katrina it would be a nice win, a heartwarming victory that could unite New Orleans, blah, blah, blah. But for the Vikings, it could be so much more. 
First, they would be looking to cap a dream season with once arch-rival Brett Favre at the helm—you can't make this stuff up. But more importantly, they need a new stadium or else they could be eventually moved to Los Angeles and a Super Bowl victory would go a long way to their vitality of keeping them home in Minnesota where they belong.
I've also written about the Twin Cities championship-starved market before about a year and a half ago: Four Sport Droughts: Which Market Will Win Next? Washington D.C. or Twin Cities?
Trust me, the state of Minnesota and her fans need this.
Minnesota's defense proved to surprise even the biggest Viking fans and critics. If they can keep that up, Brees and the Aints have no chance. Still, I'm a realist.
The team is 0-4 in their past four NFC Championship games, having lost both as host and on the road. It's time to turn that around. Mike Greenberg suggested if Reggie Bush can do what he did on special teams next week—returning punts 80 yards—New Orleans will be unstoppable.
But I'd like to think the Vikings learned something from their disastrous Chicago Bears coverage game, namely Danieal Manning's 44.7 average. Also, Bush had one good game in, what, the past six weeks? He's a streaky player. New Orleans' defense has fizzled the majority of the final five weeks of the regular season.
With that said, my prediction is New Orleans 45, Vikings 27.
Why 45? Not only are the Saints coming off this mark at home last week vs. the Cardinals, but remember that stat when they opened the season scoring at least that many in four of the first six weeks?
Also, when you're 1-7, you don't want to mess that up and hear "Now, you pick the Vikings? "

Information and references thanks to CBS, Dan Dierdorf, Cris Carter, ESPN, and Mike and Mike in the Morning.
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