There’s much to be said about Sunday’s two title games with the Pats and Chargers and Pack and Giants, but I am sure most of it you have heard before. So, with just about everything said as we get finally set to play these two games, here are my picks for the two title games, this after going 3-1 last week with the only loser being the Colts. I have gone 8-4 in the last three weeks of playoff games, 6-2 in the last two weeks.
AFC Title Game: San Diego at New England (-14)
The biggest question to me about this game will be how much the injures will play a factor on the Chargers side of the ball. I am in the boat they will mean a lot, as even if Philip Rivers plays, in no way, shape or form will he be 100 percent. This means the team will be counting on Billy Volek to lead them, and I don’t like that matchup at all for San Diego. For the Chargers to score the major upset, they are going to have to run, run, and run some more. I am still perplexed at way the Jags didn’t run more last week vs the Pats, as that seems to be the one weak point on this team as a whole. I expect to see LT, Michael Turner and Darren Sproles get plenty of shots and a lot of max protection for Volek as he plays it safe and tries to make plays only when he needs to.
For the Pats on offense, expect them to use the 1-2 punch of the passing game of Tom Brady followed by the running of Laurence Maroney to keep the Chargers D on their toes. I do think the Chargers can have success against the Pats offense, but they have to play smart, keep the ball in front of them, and try and keep pressure on Brady. Maroney is a key factor, as I think the last few weeks he has really added a lot to the offense with his running ability. He is a player that the Chargers cannot overlook in this ball game, and I personally think he will have a big game.
So it’s down to this – I don’t think a 100 percent healthy Chargers team can stick with the Pats, so I really don’t think a banged up Chargers team can. The Pats wil be 18-0 at days end, look for a big win, some big plays, and a trip to Glendale.
New England 31 San Diego 21
NFC Title Game: New York Giants at Green Bay (-7.5)
Let me just say from the start I love this game, and this is the game that I cannot wait for when it comes to Championship Sunday. The Giants are a team that can punch you in the mouth, or take a punch for that matter, and come back for more. The Pack is a team that no one thought would be in this position, but they are, and it looks as if they have the advantage with playing at home with a QB that is hungry to make it back to the big dance.
Let’s start with the Giants. They need to do a few things in game to stop the Packers defense, and they are things that the Seahawks didn’t do last week – first and foremost they need to run the ball. Stay with the gameplan of using the bruiser – Brandon Jacobs, and the speedy Ahmad Bradshaw to gain those tough inside and outside yards. I realize Eli Manning has been playing a lot better than at points of the season over the last two weeks of the playoffs, but I think that if you trust him too much, the pressure of his first NFC Title game is too much, and the Pack defense will eat him for lunch. Keep the ball safe, run a lot, and then let Eli try and make a few plays.
The Green Bay offense has a new weapon with Ryan Grant, who has been their MVP in my opinion the second half of the season. He ran all over the Hawks last week, and I thought the Pack O-line didn’t get enough credit for how well they played. They opened holes that a truck could have driven though. Look for with the weather being what it will be the Pack to try and run first, and then let Brett Favre and the wide outs have some fun trying to get downfield to make some plays. If Grant gets close to the 200 plus yards he had a week ago, it will be all Packers.
In the end, I like Green Bay in this one. The Giants are a very tough, hard nosed team, but the Pack has proven time and time again they have what it takes to hang with anyone, and I think Favre is going to make some plays and the defense of Green Bay will be able to get a few turnovers to give them a short field. Look for the Pack to be back in the big game in two weeks.
Green Bay 21 New York Giants 10