By Dave Petrishen and Scott Taylor
While the Chicago Bears take a flyer on a great CFL coach, while the Philadelphia Eagles take a flyer on a great college coach, and while the Cleveland Browns just take a flyer, the real National Football League teams stay busy.
There are four teams remaining in the race for the Super Bowl and all four have solid coaches, outstanding quarterbacks and enough defense to win.
The NFL’s Conference championships are almost upon us and the fact is, they should both be pretty good football games. This Sunday, San Francisco will play at Atlanta at 2 p.m. CST in the NFC Championship game. San Francisco is favored by four points. Then Baltimore will play at New England at 5:30 p.m. CST in the AFC Championship game. New England is favored by nine.
The two winners will meet in the Super Bowl in New Orleans on Sunday, Feb. 3.
After listening to Tom Brady’s news conference on Wednesday, I’m willing to take the Patriots against any team the NFC has to offer.
When asked a myriad of questions, Brady looked on incongruously and said: “To tell you the truth, I don’t really think about any of that. I’m just trying to win a football game this week. All our focus is on this week.”
No matter the question, the answer was the same: “We have an important game this week. That’s all we’re focussed on. Sorry, I don’t have an answer for that question.”
This week, Brady will lead Patriots onto the field against the Baltimore Ravens. If he and the Pats win, Brady will head off to his sixth Super Bowl. So far, he’s won three and lost two and with a win this week, he’ll have a chance to tie the only two winners for Four Super Bowls: Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana.
But I can tell you this: Tom Brady isn’t even thinking about that. He’s thinking about the Ravens.
And that’s why he’ll win this week. That and the fact, he seldom loses at home.
Brady has made a career out of winning in the playoffs. When it matters most, he plays his best football. It could be argued that a win this week and he’ll be considered the best quarterback in MFL history, even better than his hero, Montana. Last week he surpassed Montana with his 17th career post-season victory.
This week he can set himself up to join Montana and Bradshaw with four Super Bowl wins. There are things you can count on in life and Brady winning in the playoffs is about as certain as anything gets.
Our two crack prognosticators don’t lose too often either. Last week, Dr. Football was 2-2 straight up (172-92) and 1-3 against the spread (135-123). The Coach was 2-2 straight up (175-89) and 1-3 against the spread (138-126).
As always, The Doc writes our in-depth analysis while the coach makes sophomoric comments.
San Francisco 49ers (12-4-1) at Atlanta Falcons (14-3) Line: 49ers by 4.
After stating last week that the 49ers do not have a great quarterback, Colin Kaepernick (who I am certain is not a Dr. Football fan) went out and had the game of his life. The tattooed one rushed for 181 yards (setting a QB record in the process) as he danced through the Packers all night long. When Green Bay tried to stop him from that said dancing, Kaepernick tossed the ball 263 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The 49ers have won 6 of the 8 games since Kaepernick was given the starting job, and are the Vegas favourites again on Sunday. Last week the Falcons gave up 385 passing yards but did a pretty good job against the run in a game that they looked like they wanted to lose. Matt Ryan should be able to get the ball downfield as the San Fran defense has shown some weakness against the pass, but does he have the same will to win as his QB opponent has? I doubt it. The Coach: “I don’t like either one of these teams, but I like Atlanta less.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE 49ers TO WIN AND COVER.
Baltimore Ravens (12-6) at New England Patriots (13-4) Line: Patriots by 9.
Another team that made me look like an idiot, the Baltimore Ravens are flying high in the playoffs. Last week reminded me of when Shawn Michaels challenged Bret “The Hitman” Hart for the WWE title at Wrestlemania XII, the one where the two men went to a sixty minute draw and then Gorilla Monsoon ordered a “overtime” until there was a winner and that’s when the underdog Michaels pinned Hart. A stretch to compare the two? Maybe. But what it does show me is that you can never count the Ravens out. This week they once again hit the road as huge underdogs; but I think this is where they get pinned. Tom Brady knows his team, and will not toss a ball that will get picked off as easily as Peyton did last week. He seems to never be rattled under pressure. Ravens Joe Flacco should have some success as well, as the Patriots were 29th against the pass this season, so this has the makings of a “shoot out” style of game. And we know which team can score the big points. The Coach says: “Here’s what the Boston Globe wrote about this one: ‘Tom Brady will be looking to guide the league’s No. 1 offense to his sixth Super Bowl appearance while the Ravens’ Ray Lewis will bring his last ride to Gillette Stadium in hopes of avenging Baltimore’s crushing 23-20 loss to the Patriots in this conference title game a year ago.’ OK then, the Patriots have compiled a 7-1 record in AFC Championship games, including a 4-0 record at home overall and a 3-0 record at Gillette Stadium. Great. Give me Brady.”
THE DOC: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN BUT NOT COVER.
THE COACH: TAKE THE PATRIOTS TO WIN AND COVER.
Post script: This might be the best award in the NFL: Patriots running back Stevan Ridley is one of five finalists for the 2012 Vizio Top Value Performer Award, which takes into account production and this season’s base salary. Ridley, whose salary is $509,250, rushed for a career-high 1,263 yards and scored 12 touchdowns in the regular season. The other finalists are Jaguars receiver Cecil Shorts (979 receiving yards, seven touchdowns; $496,461 salary); Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson (3,118 passing yards, 26 touchdowns; $390,000 salary); Redskins rookie running back Alfred Morris (1,613 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns; $390,000 salary); and Broncos receiver Eric Decker (1,064 receiving yards, 13 touchdowns; $490,000 salary). The winner will be determined by fan voting, which runs until Jan. 21. To vote, visit www.vizio.com/tvp .