Well, it’s down to the final four in the NFL, and after a 4-0 week last week in the divisional round, here we go with the two biggest NFL games of the season Sunday between the two #1 seeds in the conference as they try to reach the Super Bowl,
New York Jets (9-7) at Indianapolis Colts (15-2) – The gritty Jets roll into Lucas Oil Stadium against a Colts team that overcame some demons last week with a divisional win over the Ravens at home. The focus is on the Jets with what they have done beating the Bengals and the Chargers, but to me, the clock is set to strike midnight here for Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan. The Colts have that quiet confidence, and with Peyton Manning playing at another high level as the NFL MVP, and the defense getting no credit for how they have played most of the season, I think they avoid the letdown that San Diego had last week at home.
The key for the Jets will be if they can control the tempo and run the ball with success. They will try to play the game like last week, looking to keep it close then sneaking up at the end with a run game and an O-Line that wears you down. Problem for New York, I think this time around they will be playing from behind, like Baltimore did last week, which made their run game pretty null and void.
Look for Indy to use their short pass game to guys like Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, and for the run game to have a few plays late to make sure their ticket to Miami is stamped. For the Jets, the season ends, but they will be back. Indianapolis 23 New York Jets 13
Minnesota Vikings (12-4) at New Orleans Saints (13-3) – As a football fan, this to me is the game we all wanted to see from the NFC (sorry Cowboy and Cardinal fans). The #1 seed vs the #2 seed. Brett Favre vs Drew Brees. Adrian Peterson vs Reggie Bush. It’s all there for what could and should be a classic in terms of conference title games.
I am sorry Saint fans, I know your at home, and I know that you played great last week vs a tired Cardinals team that was way overmatched, but the run ends here. There’s not only a legend on the other side of the field in Favre that has one bullet left in the gun, but there’s also the fact that the Vikings have a better defense and a better run game with Peterson and Chester Taylor.
There’s a couple major factors I think the Vikings sneak this out. First, as stated above, I like the run game for Minnesota. Adrian Peterson is a back that has that ability to hit the big play at anytime, and while the Saints stopped Arizona after that first Tim Hightower run last week, I think here the Vikings O-line and run game keeps Brees off the field, giving them a solid edge in time of possession.
Then there is the Vikings pass rush, which I think will pressure some Bress mistakes. If you don’t believe me, just ask Aaron Rodgers about it, or how about last week when they put a hurtin on Tony Romo, forcing some fumbles and errors all over the place?
No doubt the Saints are a great team, and they will have their moments in this game, but for the reasons stated above, I love Minnesota to end the New Orleans party, setting up a Manning-Favre classic in Super Bowl XLIV. Minnesota 34 New Orleans 27