I really enjoyed the football this weekend even though most of the games were not close. I correctly picked the Saints, Vikings and Colts but the Jets surprised me and , I think , a lot of others.
Saints- Cardinals: When Tim Hightower ran for a TD on the first play from scrimmage , I wondered if the underdog Cardinals were going to pull off another upset. Not for long. The manner in which the Saints responded left no doubt of their superiority. Every facet of their game clicked –offense , defense , special teams all looked awesome. Drew Brees was no surprise. Neither was Marquis Colston, but Reggie Bush was a revelation. Great combination of speed and power. The Greg Williams coached defense was impressive in holding the high powered Cardinal offense without a score for most of the game and the game was never in doubt after the first quarter. Still , it was interesting to see the football clinic that the Saints put on and I’m definitely going to be rooting for them in the championship game next weekend. Couldn’t help feeling sorry for Kurt Warner who took a pounding. It was scary to see him lying on the ground after being knocked off his feet during the interception return. He is a real warrior and he’s had a fabulous career but I think it is time he called it a day. With his history of concussions, every hit that he absorbs is scary.
Cowboys @ Dallas : In my last post, I had opined that the Vikings would prevail as Tony Romo reverted to form but even so I never thought that my words would come so true. I thought it would be a fairly close game. I never expected the Cowboys to absorb such an ass-whupping. Gotta give credit to Favre and to the Minnesota defense which made life miserable for Romo. Afterwards, some of the commentators were saying that this Dallas team is so talented , so young that they should be able to put this defeat behind them and re-group. I don’t know. This is not the first time that this has happened , that they have stumbled badly in the late season or in the playoffs. Romo has been around for awhile and yet this keeps happening again and again. I agree that he was facing a ferocious defense and that his OL was banged up but still… I expect some changes in Dallas but I think it will be the coach, Wade Phillips, who will pay the price. But who will take over ? I don’t think Jason Garrett , the current offfensive co-ordinator , is the answer.
Ravens @ Colts : This game went according to script for most of the first half but a coaching mistake decided it before the end of the half. When Indy scored a TD to go ahead 10-3 there were just under two minutes left . The percentage play would have been to play it safe and call three running plays to run out the clock . After all the Raven offense had been stymied by the Colts up to that point. However, Coach Harbaugh decided to try some passes, which didn’t work and Indy got the ball back with about a minute and a half to play. Curtains !! Peyton Manning led the Colts to another TD and you knew the Ravens would never be able to make up a 14-point deficit. Joe Flacco is a pretty good QB but he just doesn’t have the skill or the surrounding talent ( no break-out WR) to put a lot of points on the board. I have to admire the Indy coach , Jim Caldwell ,first for having the guts to go for it on 4th down with just 7 seconds to go and then calling a play up the middle. If they hadn’t made it , there would have been no time for another play and the Colts would have had nothing to show for their long drive. Peyton Manning was awesome ( what else is new) but the Indy defense proved to be surprisingly stout. They should have a tougher time against the Jets but I can’t see the Jets scoring enough to offset Peyton Manning’s genius.
Jets @ Chargers :All credit to the Jets and particularly to the coach, Rex Ryan, who has the players believing in themseves. I find Ryan an obnoxious type but he’s a damn good coach . The Jet defense is terrific and playing well as an team. The offense is doing just enough to win and as long as it doesn’t make mistakes , the Jets will be in the game because of their defense. The Chargers certainly had the talent to win but I think the problem is with the coach. Norv Turner has never impressed me because I think he doesn’t have the personality to be a head coach. He was a good offensive co-ordinator with the Cowboys but he’s never been successful as a head coach . Here he failed inspite of having the talent and the home field advantage. Color him gone.
Championship picks : Saints over the Vikings
Colts over the Jets.