There are only 3 games left in the season, a real shame but I suppose that's what the whole season is for right? 4 teams remain, 3 of whom not many expected to be there, but that's what makes this crazy sport so exciting.
AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
BALTIMORE RAVENS VS. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
You should all know my problems/bias with this game but honestly, I would just be happy if anyone but New England wins the title this year. Ironically, Baltimore will probably be studying the tapes of their arch-nemeses over in Pennsylvania being one of only two teams to successfully shut down this terrifying offence. Equally, New England, for all their impressiveness, have had a very favourable schedule, and are still yet to beat a winning team this year. A lot of people are writing off Baltimore already, completely forgetting that just one week ago Green Bay (at home no less) and New Orleans were also inexplicably beaten by defence heavy teams. Baltimore may not have the same weapons, but we do have the tools to successfully defuse New England just like Pittsburgh did. We have been inconsistent on the road, but we have won when it matters (i.e Heinz Field, where New England couldn't, due to a brilliant performance from Joe Flacco) and this is the playoffs, FORM IS OUT THE WINDOW. If we can pressure Brady, get our secondary (who won the game for us vs. Houston) to perform as they can, and let Ray Rice run riot then we are in with a real chance. No one expected us to beat New England in the playoffs at Foxboro 2 years ago, but we proved we could (with largely the same squad) and New England have spectacularly failed after being a terrifying force in the playoffs since Superbowl 42. Also, really, this needs to be the year. I don't see another time where Indianapolis and Pittsburgh both fell with a whimper, and we do have a pretty ageing team, particularly on defence. All I know is, come 8pm tomorrow, I am going to be absolutely stressing my nut for three hours. WE CAN DO IT (Ravens by 4-5)
NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
NEW YORK GIANTS VS. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
What a difference a year makes huh? The Giants may have continued to be inconsistent this year, but they hit their stride at the perfect time, and have now clearly proven that, on their day they can beat anyone. Therefore, they really, almost spookily remind me of the Green Bay Packers last year. Impressive on both sides of the ball, QB whose having a career season, they've been great to watch. San Francisco however, though also very entertaining, remind me of the New York Jets last year or even Baltimore in 2009, i.e teams with new head coaches and are strong willed and play a mean defence and even despite inconsistent Quarterbacks, both got to the Championship round. You probably don't (but I will anyway) need reminding what happened to those two teams (they both lost). Both these teams were extremely impressive last week; they absolutely deserve to be in this game (though I'd still like to have seen the Packers/Saints rematch) they both showed the determination to better two teams who really by rights should have won comfortably. Therefore, this should be a very intriguing match-up from two reasonably similar teams in set-up and performances getting here. Its a very tough one to call, I just feel form and quarterback may well win out, seeing New York in the superbowl (whoda thunk it?) but it will be extremely close (by 3).
So, what are your predictions, and who would you most like to see in the Superbowl (do they match up with your predictions?) I mentioned this last week but here are all the very interesting potential headlines going into the superbowl:
If New England win, they will get the chance to win the superbowl in their bitter rival team's house, and Brady will get to twist the knife just a little more into his rivalry with Peyton.
If Baltimore win, they will get the chance to win the superbowl in the town that took away their team in the Colts (something that still causes a lot of grief today) which would pretty much be as sweet a revenge as it gets.
If New York win Eli will get the chance to double his superbowl rings in the house that his older brother built.
If San Fran win I think they would become the first for a coach in a rookie year (I'm pretty sure, not 100% on that though)
New York vs. New England is a repeat of superbowl 42 (arguably the greatest superbowl ever, certainly in recent memory)
Baltimore vs. New York is a repeat of the NFL championship game in 1958 (before it was called the Sbowl) where the Colts beat the Giants in what is also considered as one of the best games ever and of crucial importance to the success and popularity of the league (it was one of the earliest televised games in NFL history)
Baltimore vs. San Francisco would see Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh, another first (I'm pretty certain)
I have no idea if New England vs. San Francisco has any major relevance, but I'm sure there is something out there someone will dig up as "important" should such an occasion arise.
And so finally, what does everyone think of the St. Louis Rams (comfortably the worst team in the league) comitting to three years of coming to Wembley? Unless something changes dramatically there are going to be some very dreary matches, like the one confirmed yesterday between the Rams and the Pats (what is this now, their third fucking visit?! Give us two good/non evil teams already!) for October 18th. But also the idea behind it is to essentially test out whether British audiences could potentially adopt the St. Louis Rams as, "our team" with perhaps an eventual attempt to move them to London altogether. Personally I think it a ridiculous waste of time and money, (L.A ARE SCREAMING RIGHT NOW TO HAVE THE RAMS BACK) but wherever the money is I suppose, thoughts?
Well, I hope yr all excited, tomorrow night should be pretty eventful to say the least. GO RAVENS.