The weather channel says there is a good chance of snow in Denver for Saturday's Divisional Playoff Game between the Broncos and Patriots. The snow, the Patriots against an AFC West opponent ... it is like a tribute to the Tuck Rule game.
While that game launched the Patriots dynasty, Saturday’s game will officially end New England’s run at the top. The NFL is likely praying for a Patriots versus Colts match-up in the AFC Championship Game.
It is not going to happen.
Before you say fix, remember the NFL would have loved for the Cowboys to go to Lambeau for the 1996 NFC Championship Game. But Kerry Collins and the Carolina Panthers did something Brett Favre and the Packers could never do—beat the Cowboys in the playoffs.
Fittingly, this version of the Patriots reminds me of that ill-fated Cowboys team. Both defending champions started 3-3; both had huge injuries on both sides of the football; the Cowboys, like the Patriots this year, went on a big winning streak at the end of the season only to lose its regular-season finale to a division rival; both snot-kicked their opening round opponents. The similarities are striking.
True, Robert Kraft did not fire Bill Belichick and replace him with an over-matched, retired college coach (what is Terry Donahue doing these days?), the injuries on the offensive line and on the defense (Rodney Harrison) will just be too much for New England. The Pick: Denver.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"They don't want to just sit there, line up and play football. They want to try to catch you off guard. They don't want to play smashmouth football, they want to trick you. They want it to be a thinking game instead of a football game." -- Steelers linebacker Joey Porter.
In other words Porter knows that the Steelers aren't as good as the Colts in the talent department, coaching department, or in the scoring points department. So he is going to call the Colts cheaters for trying to score on each possession instead of doing the cool thing and punting on first down at least three times a game. And be honest. When Peyton Manning isn't playing New England or Florida in the playoffs, he is good.
STEELERS V. COLTS
Did anybody watch this game on Monday Night Football a few weeks back? How do people even give the Steelers a chance in this game? Bill Cowher is such a one-and-done coach. The pick: Indianapolis.
BATTLE OF THE BEARDS
What a season for beard fans. Who do you think has the best playoff beard: Jake Plummer, Kyle Orton with the neck beard or Tom Brady with Bridget Moynihan?
Still not funny? It is still better than the Sports Dork, Bill Simmons, continually harping on Pete Carroll.
He stops, I stop. But asking the Sports Dork not to beat a joke into the ground is like asking the Raiders to hire a competent coach.
Like asking Kobe Bryant to pass the ball.
Like asking the Iron Sheik to not be upset at the fans for chanting, USA!
Like asking Will & Grace to be funny.
Like asking Brett Favre to not throw a game-crippling interception.
Like asking Steve Bisheff to not be pompous.
REDSKINS V. SEAHAWKS
You had all better be rooting against the Seahawks. Do you really want to spend the better part of your Super Bowl Sunday listening to your wife/girlfriend talk about how ugly the Seahawks uniforms are? Do you? Thank goodness Matt “We want the ball because we’re going to score” Hasselbeck is still leading the Seahawks. There is still a chance, but it will not be this week. The pick: Seattle.
PANTHERS v. BEARS
I know, using the same logic as the Colts/Steelers this should be a route for the Bears. But remember that Jake Delhomme is only a few years removed from going to a Super Bowl. The Panthers have lost a road playoff game in the John Fox era. And you think Rex Grossman is going to end this run? Think again. The pick: Carolina.
Enter your picks in the Hater Nation Forums. Or if you want to read some picks from somebody who knows what they are talking about, be sure to check in with the Sports Pulse or with Zach.