There are only three games left in the 2010-2011 NFL season, and two of them take place today. By the time everyone goes to bed this evening, we'll know who will be participating in Super Bowl XLV in Dallas on February 6. Here's where you can find all of today's NFL action.
NFC Championship Game - Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, 2:00 PM Central Time, FOX
Yeah, we've been listening to the hype all week about how this is the biggest game ever and all that other jazz. We've been listening even longer to the hype about how Aaron Rodgers is the new messiah and so forth.
Quite frankly, for me, this game has too many parallels to the last time the Bears hosted the NFC Championship Game. . .nobody is giving Chicago a chance to win, they're facing an offense that's apparently one of the greatest ever (in 2006-07, it was Drew Brees and the Saints, this year it's the Packers), the game is on Chicago's home field, and the weather conditions are going to be pretty far from ideal.
A couple of other numbers to bear in mind. . .teams that score 40 points in the NFL playoffs are 7-12 in the following week's game (including Seattle's loss to Chicago last weekend), and teams attempting to win their third straight road game in the playoffs are 10-39 all-time. Also, the last time these two teams got together on Green Bay's home turf, in a game that meant everything to the Packers and basically nothing to Chicago, the Bears played an incredibly bland scheme on both sides of the ball and still managed to hold the Packers to 10 points.
I think the Bears have a great chance to win this one. . .I'm not going to guarantee a victory or anything like that, but they're my pick. The only thing I can guarantee is that, no matter who wins this game, most of America will be cheering for the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Speaking of the AFC. . .
AFC Championship Game - New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers, 5:30 PM Central Time, CBS
The Jets are another one of those teams attempting to win a third consecutive road playoff game, and they have a tall task in front of them if they want to do so in the Pittsburgh Steelers. These teams are very, very similar. . .they both play great defense, and they both have quarterbacks that are good in clutch situations (Ben Roethlisberger has always been big in big games, and Mark Sanchez is getting that reputation in a hurry).
The thing is. . .I can't shake the feeling that the Jets' Super Bowl may have been last weekend when they beat the New England Patriots. Seriously, did you see them celebrating after that game? Between Bart Scott and the Ultimate Warrior-esque promo he cut afterwards and the whooping and hollering that the Jets did at Gilette Stadium last weekend, you would have thought that they were already planning the parade through Jersey with the Lombardi Trophy.
That said, this is more than likely going to end up being a close game, and in a situation like that, it's hard not to simply go with the quarterback that you trust the most. And with the game on the line, if I need a score, I'm not sure if there's a quarterback in the NFL right now I trust more than Ben Roethlisberger. The man is 9-2 as a starting quarterback in the post-season, including leading what may be the greatest drive in Super Bowl history, capped off by what may be the greatest throw in Super Bowl history.
So, hopefully I'll get what I want with my picks and we can spend the next two weeks listening to Steelers/Bears hype as opposed to any of the alternatives. If either. . .or both. . .of the other teams involved in these equations make it to the big game instead, I'm going to have to invest pretty heavily in air sickness bags. . .and I don't intend to fly anywhere.