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We Cannot Escape Manning/Brady

If you're checking here looking for my thoughts on the Saints...well, you're not going to get them. I'm so caught up in playoff fever, I simply cannot talk about the team rationally. The fact that the Ravens and Chargers, the two toughest challenges for the Saints, were eliminated makes me awfully excited for the prospects of a Super Bowl. OK, so you got a few of my thoughts. That's it. No more Saints talk until their season is over, however it ends.

Instead, let's talk AFC. Because there won't be enough talk about this game as it is. It's Manning/Brady XXVII! If the match seems to lack the luster of former battles, it might be because neither team has looked as particularly imposing as they have in the past.

Peyton Manning is only one game away from the Super Bowl, where he can choke on football's biggest stage for the first time. Seriously, the Colts have looked good. Manning has looked piss-poor. You can extoll the virtues of a hard-played 15-6 game. You know, that's playoff football, but a Peyton Manning team that doesn't score a touchdown shouldn't be good enough to be in the conference championship.

As for Tom Brady, well, what can I say about him. He deserves it. But he got lucky his year -- a Jets team with no weapons, a Chargers team with no coach. If he and the Patriots had to play the Eagles, like a certain NFC team, they might not have made it so far. An aside, by the way, about Marty Schottenheimer: going for it on that 4th & 11 proved one thing. Namely, that he was more interested in refuting his conservative Martyball reputation than actually winning the game. Even the ballsiest of coaches don't go for it on 4th & 11 deep in their own zone with no score in the first quarter. Completely nonsensical.

Anyway, lucky breaks with the matchup or not, it's pretty remarkable that the Patriots have the chance for another Super Bowl with all of the holes this team has. That being said, both of the underdogs winning to set up this match will do nothing to appease conspiracy theorists who claim the NFL sets its schedule to withdraw maximum storyline potential.



WTF? You thought that the Chargers and the Ravens were the biggest obstacles to the Saints Superbowl chances? You're a hapless homer. How about worrying about you're own conference, who posted an awful 24-40 against the AFC. How about worrying about, oh, EVERY AFC team that was still alive in the last week, all of which could probably beat the Saints. These things are cyclical, but the NFC is an inferior conference this year, and as feel-good a story as the Saints have been, they were the second best team in the NFC with SIX FRICKIN LOSSES! The team with the best record is less stable than the Bengals! That said, I DO think that the Saints are the best NFC team, however, the best team in the NFC might not have even won their division in the AFC. You think you're tougher than the Patriots because you had to play THE EAGLES? The Colts stomped them a few months ago. They don't even have their number one guy. Anyway, I bear no grudge, it just seems as though you have misperceived the strength of the NFC teams. You would probably say that they are tougher because they beat up on each other, but the out of conference record I just posted is all the evidence you need. 24-40...that's a paltry .375.

No, Jack...out-of-conference record means nothing. The Saints never played the Pats or Colts this year, therefore we don't know how they stack up against them. Remember when the Patriots played the Rams in '01 and no one gave them a chance? The Pats won the Super Bowl. Remember when the Panthers played the Patriots in '03 and no one gave them a chance? They gave the Patriots a tough game. The Super Bowl is one game and no team in the playoffs (with the exception of the Chiefs) is so inferior that you could say they'd have a shot. A real football fan wouldn't be so ignorant, because the proof has been there all year: Raiders beat Steelers, Bucs beat Bengals, Packers beat Bears, Texans beat Colts. With the parity in the NFL now, any team can beat any team and the only way you know how two teams compare is to see them play each other. Mutual opponents/out of conference records/etc don't mean anything. Also, the definition of a homer is a local guy who is constantly biased towards his own team. Me making a prediction on the AFC playoffs does not make me a homer.

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