Eight teams began this weekend with aspirations of advancing to their respective conference championship games, but only four made it into next weekend. Wow, I can divide by two.
The first three games were no surprise as the home teams handily throttled the road teams, while the fourth and final game of the weekend had a different outcome. So lets recap.
The New Orleans Saints, coming into the playoffs with three straight losses, trounced the defending NFC champions, Arizona Cardinals, 45-14. The Saints found their high-powered offense after looking befuddled coming into the playoffs
The Indianapolis Colts, behind this year’s MVP, Peyton Manning, defeated the Baltimore Ravens 20-3. Manning didn’t dazzle with his stats, but he managed the game enough to keep the Ravens potent running game off the field.
Sunday’s first game of Minnesota Vikings against the Dallas Cowboys proved to be much of the same as the Vikings stomped on the Cowboys 34-3. The Vikings’ defense harassed Tony Romo all day, not letting the ‘Boys offense to get on track. The offense wasn’t too shabby either as Brett Favre threw four touchdowns, including three to Sidney Rice.
The San Diego Chargers, coming into the game on an 11-game winning streak, played the Mark Sanchez led New York Jets. If there was ever a sure bet to win, it was this one. Well, that is why they play the game. The Bolts shot themselves in the foot with three missed field goals, vital dropped passes and questionable game calling. The Jets took full advantage of the Chargers’ mistakes. They also persistently ran the ball as they have the whole season, which paid dividends in the fourth quarter with a Shonn Greene’s 53-yard touchdown run. The run was the dagger that the Chargers couldn’t recover from, as they lost at Qualcomm Stadium, 17-14.
So the conference championships are set. The Vikings will travel to New Orleans to face the Saints, and the Colts will host the Jets.
Three of the teams who remain were heavy favorites to contend for the Super Bowl even before the season began. The same teams who remain have proven Pro Bowl quarterbacks. They also have at least 12 wins in the regular season remain. And then there are the Jets, who were picked to struggle to stay .500 before the season, are led by a rookie quarterback and scathed into the playoffs with only nine regular season wins.
The Jets look like a mutt in a prestige dog show compared to these three talented, regular-season successful teams, but as they proved against the Chargers, you can’t count this dog out yet.
I’m done predicting who wins because I went 0-4 last week. I’m just going to watch some good football and see who advances to Super XLIV.