January 13, 2008

Nearly The Best Of All Possible Worlds

The results of the divisional playoffs this weekend. Two upsets! That's why they play them on the field instead of in the commentators' booths.

In the AFC, the Bolts upset the Colts (28-24, with a come-from-behind drive early in the fourth quarter followed by a monster stop) and, as predicted, New England continued its undefeated drive against Jacksonville (31-20). The Patriots are fifteen-point favorites against San Diego next week.

But it's unremittingly good news in the NFC, where my two favorite teams (Green Bay and whoever's playing Dallas) won. Green Bay overwhelmed Seattle (42-20); fourteen of the Seahawks' 14 points came early in the first quarter when Ryan Grant dropped two balls, apparently not realizing that in January in Green Bay, it gets really cold, and Favre throws really hard. The press-booth camera couldn't follow the action because it was snowing so hard for most of the second half. Playoff football the way it's meant to be played.

And in a bit of unexpected but most welcome news, the New York Football Giants simply outplayed the unexpectedly slow-paced Dallas Cowboys (21-17). Poor Terrell Owens! He cried after the game, but to his credit he defended his quarterback who decided that instead of practicing for a divisional championship, he would go hang out at the beach with his rock-star girlfriend. Good for Tony Romo that he's dating Jessica Simpson (hell, I would if I were him) but it was not quite time for a vacation yet, and the results showed it. Of course, playing conservatively (Romo only completed to Owens four times, for an average of 12 yards) is not how Dallas got as far as they did. Abandoning the audacity that got them to run up the score and outpace Green Bay on the pundits' ratings all year in retrospect does not seem like a good move for them.

It would be sweet if Green Bay spoiled New England's season in the Super Bowl. But first things first.

The last time Green Bay and Los Gigantes met, it was September 16, 2007 (the second game of this season), at the Meadowlands. The Packers dominated, and won 35-13. There aren't odds posted yet, but no matter what they are, next week in Green Bay I expect New York to show up to play hard, and to relish their underdog role. They proved they can play with the best of them on the last game of the season, when they nearly took down the Patriots. I can guarantee that Green Bay will not be looking past them.

UPDATE: The Vegas line opened with Green Bay a seven-point favorite.

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