Sunday, January 20, 2008

On the Couch: Championship Games

Patriots 21, Chargers 12
Giants 23, Packers 20 (overtime)

I feel bad for Packer fan RK

Of course I wanted the Giants to win. But I admit, while watching the game, I did feel bad for RK. I know what the Packers going to the Super Bowl would have meant for him, and instead of unrestrained joy, at the end of the game I felt pity. Sorry about everything.

However, I do have advice for any Packer fan mourning over this loss. Go to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Pay the admission to the Packer Hall of Fame. While there, go to the three Lombardi Trophies there, and just sit in front of them for as long as you need to. It may take a while. But that's what you can do--go look at those Lombardi Trophies your team has already won. Some of us don't even have that comfort.

The NFC
The New York Giants are going to the Super Bowl, and that should tell us how open the NFC really is. The 10-6 Giants won on the road against two different 13-3 NFC teams. For the season, then, the Cowboys and Packers weren't really that much better than the Giants, and at the end, the Giants were better than both the Packers and the Cowboys. And recalling that in 2006, the Giants, Cowboys, and Packers were 8-8, 9-7, and 8-8, and we can see that in 2007 just about anybody can take the NFC. Including the Vikings.

Plaxico Burress is a wonderful football player.
In the 2005 off-season, I think Holy Hitter and I both wanted the Vikings to sign Plaxico Burress; after trading Randy Moss, it would have been sweet to replace him with a tall, fast playmaker that frequently makes spectacular catches.

On Sunday, Burress ripped apart the Packers with 11 receptions for 154 yards; he frequently looked like the best player on the field. Since joining the Giants, he's averaged 15.4 yards per catch and scored 29 touchdowns. He's really been a good player for them, and he's a very fun player to watch.

Laurence Maroney
In the playoffs, Laurence Maroney is averaging 136.5 yards from scrimmage; Randy Moss is averaging 23 yards from scrimmage. As a Viking fan, I know the impact Moss has on a game whether he's catching passes or not, so I'm not disparaging him. But Maroney has really stepped up as a key offensive player for the Patriots (this is the sort of performance I expected from him when I drafted him in the Hazelweird Fantasy League, but I'm not bitter). He's a good player and it will be interesting to see how he is used for future New England teams.

Great running backs?
Last year, in their first year without Edgerrin James, the Colts won the Super Bowl. This year, in their first year without Tiki Barber, the Giants are going to the Super Bowl. Clearly, a good team can replace the loss of a great running back.

Teams have been led to championships by dominant running backs; Emmitt Smith, Terrell Davis, and Marshall Faulk have six Super Bowl rings between them. But each of those running backs had great quarterbacks, too; in their Super Bowl years, Troy Aikman, John Elway, and Kurt Warner were also dominant.

The Vikings have Adrian Peterson, who appears to be the next elite running back. But they can't just rely on Peterson to carry them to the Super Bowl: the Vikings must build a passing game that can beat an opponent if they hope to compete for a championship.

Eli Manning
The Giants traded a lot to get #1 draft pick Eli Manning, and just four years later, they're going to the Super Bowl. Eli has certainly had his struggles and faced justifiable criticism, but when you draft a quarterback first overall, you have to be pretty happy if he's your Super Bowl quarterback just four years later, right?

Throwing playoff interceptions is sort of what Brett Favre does.
On Sunday, were you reminded of the 2003 playoffs, when Brett Favre's overtime interception led to Philadelphia's game-winning field goal?

Cold
In Plains, Trains, and Automobiles, Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy) are getting a ride in the back of a pickup. Neal asks how cold Del thinks it is. The classic Del Griffith responds, deadpan, "One."

I don't really know why FOX's pre-game/halftime show had to be at Lambeau Field. What benefit was there to having those four guys exposed to the bitter cold? Did they add a single relevant insight that they couldn't have provided from a warm studio? Did a single extra viewer tune in because of it?

And I don't blame the announcers for constantly talking about the cold. When it's this cold, you can't think about anything but how cold it is. Now, some people can handle the cold. I've walked home from bars shouting "I'm a viking!" and diving into the snow. But let me tell you something: this weekend, it was freaking freezing. I like the cold, but I always bundle up tight in it: gloves and a stocking cap, thank you very much. I live in this stuff, and I'm horrified when I see football players sleeveless in this weather. I'm even more horrified when I see fans with large portions of skin exposed to the cold: the football players are at least out there running around.

I mean, for those of you living in the warmer regions of the country that haven't experienced a zero degree temperature (with brutal wind chills), I can't even describe it to you. Sometimes you step outside and lose your breath.

Patriots in the Playoffs
As of right now, the Patriots have won 14 of their last 16 playoff games. That's incredibly impressive. The Steelers won 13 of 15 playoff games from '74-'79, the 90s Cowboys won 10 of 11 from '92-'95, and the 60s Packers won 9 straight from '61 to '67. The Patriots have been in a stunningly dominant playoff stretch, among the best of all-time.

Super Bowl
Really, the Giants and the Patriots have been the most intriguing teams in the league all season. From Michael Strahan skipping training camp and Tiki Barber's book, from adding Randy Moss and getting caught cheating and running up the score while going undefeated, from Coughlin to Belichick to Brady to Manning to Strahan to Harrison to Moss to Burress to Seau, both these teams are full of characters and storylines. I think this will be fun.

7 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:41 AM

    I couldnt believe that Coughlin didnt put something on (a hat that covers his face for instance) at halftime. I was surprised his face hadnt turned black by the end of the game. I will never understand why those guys feel the need to go sleeveless ... who are they trying to impress, I am sure the other team that is wearing sleeves probably think the guys are idiots, not tough.

    Jon

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  2. How about the fact that Bryan spent $270 to have his heart broken watching his beloved Packers live? I feel for him.

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  3. Bismuth10:39 AM

    The Giants traded a lot to get #1 draft pick Eli Manning, and just four years later, they're going to the Super Bowl.

    Yeah, but consider that the Chargers were on the other end of that trade and very nearly made the Super Bowl as well. In fact, if the Giants and Chargers traded places for this year's playoffs, I'm betting the outcomes would have been reversed (ie, Giants lose to Patriots and Chargers end up in the Super Bowl). I guess we'll see in two weeks if the Giants can play the Patriots any better than the Chargers did.

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  4. bismuth-

    Both teams made out fine in that trade. I don't think either of them are complaining.

    In terms of the Giants/Chargers. The Chargers were at a disadvantage of having LT, Rivers, and Gates all hurt, but fact is they are home. The Giants if you remember played the Patriots very tough in Week 17, so this Super Bowl could be very good.

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  5. Bismuth12:54 PM

    Both teams made out fine in that trade. I don't think either of them are complaining.

    True. I was just pointing out that the resources the Giants traded to obtain Manning were put to use by another team to reach the same level. In theory, the Giants could have done the same without having to trade away four 1st-day draft choices. Fact is, they took a big gamble with Eli, and I'm not yet ready to say that they did anything more than break even.

    Also, I didn't mean to imply that the Chargers played poorly yesterday, especially considering their injuries -- just that we'd have a measure to compare the Giants and Chargers. As for the week 17 game, it was played under very odd circumstances -- both teams had already secured their playoff spot, but were playing either for an undefeated season or to spoil one. I suspect the Super Bowl will feature stronger defensive performances by both teams.

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  6. bismuth-

    The tough call is would the Giants have used those resources the same as the Chargers. While the Chargers drafted Merriman there is no way to know that the Giants would have taken him with that pick, and the other pick (Nate Kaeding) has also kept the Chargers from having success with some playoff chokes.

    As for the Giants-Patriots matchup. I actually think it will be a high scoring affair just like it was in week 17. That game had a Super Bowl atmosphere. The Patriots were going for 16-0 and the Giants wanted to be the team to spoil it. They both were going all out in that game and I expect the same this time around.

    I think the key to the game will be the Giants Secondary vs. Patriots WR and Giants O-Line vs. Patriots D -Line and Blitzers.

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  7. It was terrible. I have never felt so excited only to be destroyed. The Giants straight-up out played the Packers. I have been to 7 Packer games (including this one) and this was the first loss I've seen live. It's amazing how much of an emotional investment I felt by being there. Seeing the loss was absolutely the most draining experience I have ever had. All of the yelling (to the point I lost my voice), the glove-muffled clapping, frozen toes, frozen beer, and the extreme bladder control...all for not.
    When it boils down to it, I'm not upset that I spent $270 to see the game. When Driver went for 90 yards, the place was electric...that in itself was worth the trip. I could blame the defense, I could blame the line for not stepping up on runs, I could blame Favre for not showing up in the second half, or I could blame the officials for the multitude of terrible calls (see Harris interception taken away by phantom pass interference)...but there is no denying that the Giants outplayed the Pack and the Giants gave the Packers plenty of chances to win.
    For the record, it wasn't that cold. :)

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