Ah, Championship Weekend.
After five months of hard work, the NFL has been reduced to the final four:
Chicago, Indianapolis, New England and New Orleans. Each of the four teams struggled
with sloppy play in the Divisional Round, and each overcame their mistakes to
pull out a victory in the end. The average margin of victory in the Divisional
Round was 4.5, the lowest such average since the NFL and AFL began playing two
games each in the Divisional Round in 1969. By comparision, the average margin
of victory over that time span is 13.51. That means we witnessed the closest,
most exciting weekend of Divisional Playoffs in the history of the Super Bowl
era, and it sure felt like it -- well, with the exception of the Baltimore-Indy
FG-fest which was, shockingly, the most lopsided of the weekends games.
In the NFC, everyone who doesn't live in greater Chicago metropolitan area is pulling for the Saints, who have managed the greatest turnaround in a single season in NFL history. It's hard to remember while watching New Orleans play, that this team was 3-13 last year. They were the second worst team in the NFL and now they stand just one game away from the Super Bowl and, oh by the way, they're making their first appearance in a Championship game in franchise history. On the other side of the ball, the Bears will have to find a way to stop the run, something they've been unable to do since losing Tommie Harris to injury. In the plus column for Chicago; Rex Grossman played a solid game against the Seahawks and appears capable of not losing the game.
In the AFC, both the Colts and the Patriots had their Marquee Quarterbacks play lousy games, but the team rallied around them and capitalized on their opponents mistakes to earn a victory. I, for one, am praying that the football gods will grace us with an Adam Vineteri FG sailing through the uprights with zeroes on the clock, making the offseason aquisition of a place-kicker the single greatest off-season move of 2006.
Enjoy Championship weekend!
The Saints offense wasn't operating at full throttle and they still shoved Philadelphia's defense around almost at will.
New England got plays when they needed it most, a hallmark of a Championship team.
Tony Dungy's strategy of using his offense as his defense seems to have totally flustered Brian Billick and Herman Edwards. I doubt it will work on Bill Bellichick.
The Bears squeaked out a win in overtime to move on to their first Championship appearance since 1988.
People are going to blame "Martyball" but the truth is the Chargers as a team couldn't get out of their own way.
The dream is over for Jeff Garcia and the unlikely Eagles, but unlike the other three teams in the NFC East, they head into the offseason without internal strife.
The most injury depleted of the Playoff teams took the the number one seed to overtime and, yet, come summertime, the pundits will predict San Francisco to win the division.
Turns out Steve McNair not being Trent Dilfer was a bad thing. Who knew?