North of the 400

North of Toronto, South of a championship

Championship weekend – It’s gunna be a showdown

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It was an outcome that should have been obvious from the start – If indeed the Indianapolis Colts are to go to the Super Bowl, they would only have to go through their old nemesis the New England Patriots.

This whole season kind of makes sense now.

With both AFC teams upsetting their opponents last week – neither home team won – the stage is now set for what appears to be one of the biggest games in recent memory. The Colts, despite having a great offense, could barely manage to score last week and won by the skin of their teeth; conversely, the Patriots did score, coming back from being down 21-14 late in the game, and upsetting a team with maybe the best offense in the NFL.

It’ll be a showdown in Indy on Sunday – and for once, maybe the Colts will have the upper hand.

“Bad dreamer, what’s your name
Looks like we’re ridin’ on the same train
Looks as through there’ll be more pain
There’s gonna be a Showdown”
ELO – Showdown


AFC Championship: New England Patriots @ Indianapolis Colts
Vegas Sez: Colts (+3
)

This will be the third time that these two teams have met in the playoffs in recent memory. Both of those games were losses for the Colts – but both teams are in different stages now. The Patriots are in arguably their worst shape in years, having lost major contributors, from coordinators Charlie Weis and Eric Mangini to players like David Givens, Doug Gabriel and – and arguably most important – their clutch kicker Adam Vinitari.

You can see how losing key players such as those has effected the Patriots offense this season – Since posting close to 600 offensive yards (5722) and averaging 27 points per game in 2004 (their last Super Bowl win), their offense has dropped: just over 5600 yards/23 points per game in 2005 and 5300 yards/24 points per game this season.

Defensively, however, they have improved: for example, their yards allowed (on a per game basis) has dropped from 310 in 2004 to 330 last season – but has rose to 294 this year, the same as Chicago’s mighty defence allows. They rush defence has improved as well, going from 98 yards a game in 2004 to 94 yards this year (much better then Chicago). And against the pass they’ve gone from 212 yards/game to 200 – which could prove to be a hassle to the Colts, who are still a pass heavy team.

Speaking of the Colts, they are actually much better team then the one that lost to the Patriots on 2004. This year, with both Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne posting big numbers – Wayne has caught 9 TD this year and is averaging 15 yards a catch while Harrison has caught 12 touchdowns (second in the league) and is averaging 14 yards a catch – their offense is one of the most productive in the NFL (3rd in yards per game, 2nd in points per game and 2nd in passing yards).

But while both of their major receivers have caught for more then 1300 yards (Harrison is ranked #2 in the NFL, while Wayne is tied for third), their running game is lacking behind (18th in the NFL with just 110 yards per game).

It’s pretty much for that reason alone that I’m going to back the Patriots. Even though the Colts are at home; even though the Colts are playing much better; even though the Colts are the 3 point favorites… They are still playing the Patriots in January.

My pick: New England

*************************

NFC Championship: New Orleans Saints @ Chicago Bears
Vegas sez: Chicago (+ 2)

The Bears defence has been great this year – perhaps even superb, especially when it covers for Rex Grossman’s occasional bad game – and their offense isn’t too bad, either, ranking 15th in both total yards and rushing yards, thanks to the duo of Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. Their passing game is somewhat better, ranking 14th, explaining why they score 26 points/game (higher then New Orleans, actually).

Which isn’t to say that New Orleans isn’t any good – they very much are. But while they have a great offense (they have the most total yards, most passing yards and are fifth in points scored per game), defensively they’re weak. They rank ranking 15th in total yards allowed (4917), 23rd in rushing yards allowed (2063) and 13th in points allowed per game (20.1). If they have one bright spot on their defense, it’s against the pass – they rank 3rd overall, with 174 yards a game.

Still, against a Chicago team that is more dangerous because of a powerhouse defense and a solid running game, the Saints have a bit of a chance – but not a big one. The Bears will win this one and play in their first Super Bowl since 1985.

My pick: The Bears

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Written by M.

January 20, 2007 at 5:09 pm

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