We managed to tear ourselves away from Bill Simmons’ 10,000 word Suns blowjob to preview this weekend’s AFC and NFC championship games. We’ll take any distraction we can get from the pain that is our day to day lives. Since the Chargers managed to crap the bed against the Patriots, it’s all gray skies and ice for us until the draft in April. After that, it’s the same foreboding that haunts us every season and we do the dance all over again. God, I love football.
As always, read our picks and go the other way.
New Orleans Saints (11-6) at Chicago Bears (14-3) (-2)
Sorry Chicago fans, you are the bad guys here, especially if you win this game. No one who isn’t a life-long Bears fan should root for the Chicago here because the Saints are too good of a story. The Saints have the collective karmic power of most of the football fans in the United States behind them. There’s no way they’ll lose this game because no one supported them. I’d be mildly surprised if the Bears fans rooted wholeheartedly against them. If my team were to lose a playoff game (again, in a horrible, horrible twist of fate) I’d want it to be at the hands of the Saints, in the game that sends them to the Super Bowl against either the third or fourth seed from the other conference.
It helps that the Saints are an offensive juggernaut and have a decent defense. The question is whether the Bears will pull out another ugly win or not. This team is incapable of winning pretty and Bears fans seem a little too calm about it. The real problem for us temporary Saints fans is that, without fail, opposing teams get sucked into the type of ugly games that the Bears seem to win again and again. This game is also at Soldier Field in January, so needless to say, the weather report ain’t pretty. Dome teams tend to not play well in these games either, generally speaking. But if anyone can win this game, it’s the Saints.
So what are the Bears to do? They need to win like they have all season: with defense, a few key plays, and a prayer that Rex Grossman doesn’t fatally screw them. It’s imperative that they run the ball like they did for much of the Philly game last week too. This game cannot get put into Grossman’s hands, not because he’s shaky, but because that’s what the Saints want. Their defense will be set up to make Rex throw a lot and the defensive backs and linebackers will be salivating as they wait for his first errant pass. Unless Tom Brady suits up as number eight for the Bears on Saturday, Chicago needs to go old school.
Prediction: Saints beat the spread, win the game and head to Miami. Come on, like I was going to go with the Bears. By the way, do you think those FEMA trailers will make it to South Florida?
New England Patriots (14-4) at Indianapolis Colts (14-4) (-3)
I (McD) may not watch this game at all. It’s still a little too much. So I’ll talk about Marty Schottenheimer instead. The Chargers’ brass did the absolute right thing bringing him back for 2007. A coach should not lose his job after winning 33 games in 3 years. It’s ridiculous to even think that he should be fired after a loss, albeit a painful one, which has temporarily killed my love of football and made the world a little more gray. He’s turned this franchise into a winner after the Kevin Gilbride and Mike Riley disasters, and his players would kill for him.
They just may never win playoff games for him.
Which brings me to my point. Marty may never win a playoff game for us. He may be too old and out of touch with today’s NFL as far as strategy and communication with the front office are concerned. But damn it, he’s OUR loser. Too many people are interested in winning at any cost. They want to go 16-0 every year and win the Super Bowl, have no turnovers, and make every game a shutout. No one seems to appreciate a great coaching job when it doesn’t produce championships. Well, they should start with Marty Schottenheimer. He’s the one that leads the San Diego franchise with character and personality. His teams in San Diego win games and are exciting to watch. He has put his stamp on the Chargers for better or for worse, and they should be his team until he retires or leaves of his own accord.
Oh, right, I’ve gotta make a pick. Uh, Colts cover.