Today is the day that will determine which two teams will face off on February 7 in the Super Bowl. We almost had a rarity in today's NFL era where both the AFC and NFC Championships would have featured the No. 1 vs. the No. 2 seeds, but the New York Jets prevented that by stunning the San Diego Chargers last week. Will Peyton Manning be able to lead the Colts past the Jets' Darrelle Revis? Can Brett Favre lead the Vikings to a Super Bowl in his first season with the team by outshooting Drew Brees' offense?
If you would like to comment on either of the games, whether it be before, during, or after the game(s), please do so here. The brief previews are after the jump.
When you look at the New York Jets minus Braylon Edwards, you can have an appreciation for how they've been able to win two playoff games thus far against division leaders. Last week, they ended the Chargers' long winning streak on the road. Despite being down a little bit early, the defense held it together and did not allow the height advantage of San Diego's receivers bring them down.
CB Darrelle Revis continues to be amazing for the Jets; you'd think that one of these times, Revis would get beat on even a simple 10-yard pattern or something. Any time a throw goes his way though, it seems to get intercepted or tipped away. Will that be the case for Peyton Manning, arguably the league's best quarterback? Revis should be lined up against Reggie Wayne most of the day, but that could be a problem for the Jets. Manning has no problem not going to a receiver -- there have been times where he's thrown the ball to someone like Dallas Clark almost 10 times in one drive.
Offensively, the Jets have stuck to a sound running game. There entire gameplan revolves around their offense not falling behind by two possessions though, because if they do, odds are that Mark Sanchez will have to put more weight on his shoulders. He's done very well as a supplement to the running game, but if the ground game has to be abandoned, I still have my doubts in him.
These two teams met not to long ago. The Colts had a 14-0 record in Week 16 and were battling the Jets in Indianapolis. The Colts had the advantage in the third quarter, but the Jets were still very much in the game. Indianapolis then pulled their starters and watched backup quarterback Curtis Painter hand the Jets a win. It was a much-needed win for the Jets, but the Colts' coaching staff could care less.
The Jets have had a great run, but it ends today against the the Colts. Colts win by 14.
I don't think there's any arguing that this is the best NFC Championship match the league could have asked for. Although both teams struggled the last few weeks of the season (compared to their red-hot starts), both teams were unstoppable against two powerhouses in the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys last week.
Each team is led by well-respected, team-leading quarterbacks. Brett Favre has had the best passing season of his career, and Drew Brees has been Drew Brees.
The thing you have to appreciate about both teams, and the reason why both teams are so dangerous, is the amount of different weapons/playmakers they have. Since Adrian Peterson's struggles began, neither team has really had a "go-to-guy" (not including the quarterbacks) on offense.
The Saints can get you with any one of Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Jeremy Shockey, Reggie Bush, or Pierre Thomas. The Vikings can get you with any one of Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Visanthe Shiancoe, Adrian Peterson, or Chester Taylor.
Both teams feature an array of defensive specialists too, from the Vikings' Jared Allen to the Saints' Darren Sharper. These two teams are so evenly matched on paper that it's hard for me to break down why a particular team will win over the other. I'll ride with the home Saints in a down-to-the-wire comeback effort. Saints win by 4.
Chris' Playoff Record To Date: 3-5
Feel free to share your own predictions on today's games in this thread as well.