NFL Conference Championship Sunday is always a great day. Two games for two berths into the Super Bowl. However, I do think in the next TV contract that both conference championships will be played in primetime, one on Saturday night and the other on Sunday night so both networks can maximize revenue. It’s bound to happen. But before it does, let’s cherish having both the AFC and NFC Championships on the same day. Let’s get to the picks now.
AFC Championship, San Diego at New England – CBS, 3 p.m.
This is not the matchup CBS was hoping for. San Diego took care of Indianapolis last week in what should not have been a surprise. New England took care of business against Jacksonville after making adjustments from an even first half. The Chargers do have some revenge on their minds after the Patriots beat them in last year’s playoffs. Remember the Chargers were the number one seed with a 14-2 record, but they let the game slip away to the Pats. And in Week 2, the Patriots totally manhandled the Chargers, 38-14 in the game following Spygate.
The Chargers come into this game banged up. Philip Rivers left in the 3rd quarter in the game against Indy and never came back. LaDanian Tomlinson was injured in the 1st quarter and didn’t return either. LT should play and Rivers did practice on Friday, however, one can legitimately question their effectiveness on Sunday.
Will the Patriots run over the Chargers like they did in Week 2? No. Can the Chargers pull a second straight upset on the road? Of course they can, but I think this is where their run ends. While San Diego has played well the last two weeks, expect the Patriots to try to contain the Chargers running attack, then ask Philip Rivers or Billy Volek to beat them. The game against the Jags proved that Tom Brady doesn’t have to have his two top receiving weapons, Randy Moss and Wes Welker to be effective. And Laurence Maroney is running well for the Patriots. If the Chargers want to win, they’ll have to pressure Brady, but the offensive line is doing a great job protecting him. While Jacksonville did not send the kitchen sink last week, expect Shawn Merriman to be set loose tomorrow. But the Patriots will be the victors to go 18-0. They’ll win, 28-17.
NFC Championship, New York Giants at Green Bay – Fox, 6:30 p.m.
I have liked Green Bay’s defense throughout the season. And the Giants’ D is very good as well, but their secondary is banged up. How the Cowboys did not capitalize last week is beyond me, but give the G-Men the credit for winning two playoff games on the road. Yes, the Giants have only lost one game on the road all season, but playing in Green Bay is something else. Eli Manning has finally come of age and is playing as expected. However, the Packers secondary is very good and I expect to see some flashes of the old Eli on Sunday.
What can you say about Brett Favre that hasn’t been said already? The man is having a great year and his personal PR man, Peter King of Sports Illustrated continues to find accolades. Against the banged up Giants secondary, expect Favre to light it up. Unless Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora can pressure Favre repeatedly, he could have a field day.
I like the Pack to win to get back to another Super Bowl, 31-13.