Friday, January 19, 2007

Conference Championship Game Weekend

In the early 90s, the Cowboys and the 49ers were the two top teams in the league, and they played each other in three consecutive NFC Championship Games ('92, '93, '94). This was during a run in which the Cowboys played in four consecutive Conference Championship games and the Niners played in a whopping 10 Conference Championship games in 18 years. The NFL championship was basically determined when these teams played; all season long, nobody seemed to believe anybody could beat the Niners or Cowboys in the playoffs and it was assumed they woulc play each other to win the championship.

These teams were absolutely LOADED with talent. The peak year was in 1994, when the 49ers had ten Pro Bowlers (including HOF quality players like Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Deion Sanders, and Ricky Watters). The Cowboys had eleven Pro Bowlers (including HOF quality players like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin). Both teams also had a lot of non-Pro Bowlers (that year) that are very good (and made Pro Bowls in other years); the 49ers stacked up on aging veterans looking for a title that year. I actually consider that 1994 49er team to be the best I've ever seen.

I don't know that any of the four teams remaining have that much talent (there were 28 teams at the time, and this was early in the free agency era). But it still feels like Indianapolis-New England is a huge game with great players and big names.

It's one of the best football weekends of the year. Only the great teams are left, the games have a lot at stake, but they're played in a home stadium and they don't have the crushing finality of the Super Bowl. It's going to be lots of fun.

If I must pick, I'll take the Colts 41-20 over the Patriots, and the Bears (somehow) 30-27 over the Saints.


  1. i think the 94 cowboys had another hall of famer on the line... when you bring up those teams and how great they were it certainly is true-- i remember as a packers fan there was no hope in the play offs and when we did beat one of those teams (the 49ers) it seemed a miracle tho that 1995 packers team was better than any of the teams still alive right now. its hard to compare the colts and pats with those teams because i don't think you'd be wrong in saying the chargers and ravens were better teams that tanked. this years patriots team is more like the 66 and 67 packers teams that were not especially talented but were battle hardened and still hungry. so i expect them to win against the colts even tho the colts have every other advantage. if the colts do win, tho, i won't be surprised.

  2. Larry Allen and Charles Haley are arguably HOF quality for the Cowboys, and the 49ers had Ricky Watters and Bryant Young, not to mention one of the best safeties of the age in Merton Hanks, and also people like Richard Dent, Tim Harris, and Tim McDonald toward the end. I always thought Ken Norton Jr. was good, too.

    The Patriots do remind me of those later Packer champions that weren't quite as good anymore but still found ways to beat the Cowboys, or the '69 Celtics who were seemingly far inferior to the mighty Lakers but still had Bill Russell and a lot of other guys who knew about winning titles.

  3. Hold on. We are talking about the 12-4 Patriots right? The team that has won 3 of the last 5 championships? This team is "not quite as good anymore"? C'mon, yeah they arent dominate, but cmon even when they were winning Super Bowls it wasn't like they were that "great". The Patriots are what they are a tough nosed "team" led by defense, Tom Brady, and a bunch of anonymous WR's.

    Why must Robert compare or bring up Packers teams in any discussion of "greatest teams" etc.? I think he is subtley trying to stick his Packer championships in our pathetic losing Viking's faces.

  4. I had similair thought, this Patroits team reminds me of that '88 Niner's team that beat the Bengals. They had a QB/Wr combo that the Pats lack, but they weren't dominant that season and caught fire in the play-offs behind a great coach and cucumber cool, HOF QB who could run the offense asleep in the dark.

  5. No, this Patriot team that won close games against the likes of the Lions is not as good as the 17-2 2003 team that was 10-0 in games against opponents with 10 wins or more, nor as good as the 17-2 2004 team that added Corey Dillon to the squad and dominated. I have no discomfort saying this.

    The comparison to the '67 Packers is apt. You could say, "Wait a minute, we're talking about the Super Bowl champion, and they're 'not quite as good'?" Well, no, the '67 Packers weren't nearly as good as the Packer champions of the early 60s. They were still a championship squad, but they weren't as dominant (go look at the numbers and records).