First of all, while I might not have any clue what the hell Casi Cielo is, my friend tsblogger does … and he needs site visits to start blogging at a respectable pace, so go leave him a comment or five.
And now, the regularly scheduled programming. Well, the Super Bowl is set – the secular holiday that is February 7 now has a matchup. First, some words on the title games.
Colts 30, Jets 17 – The ride had to end sometime. I predicted this to be 24-10 Colts, so I got the score wrong, but the factors that did play into my decision actually bore out. Given my 12th place finish in fantasy football season, this is a pretty big surprise. The Revis factor was less of an issue in this game than in the previous Jets victories – most notably because the Colts offensively could win a 10 on 10 game with the Jets. Sure Revis Island, as the pregame show called it, was a problem, but they could work away from Reggie Wayne. So while Wayne had the predictably pedestrian game a Revis opponent has (3 catches, 55 yards), Manning still threw for 377 by taking advantage of the other side of the field and the middle game. I thought Dallas Clark would play a bigger role, but the #2/#3 receivers, taking turns on the Jets other corner and in the slot, combined for a shocking 18 catches for 274 yards. Offensively the Jets were hurt by two Jay Feely nontrivial field goal misses – but really their blitz heavy defense ultimately failed them. Good QBs like the blitz in that it provides one on one matchups and ready targets for passes – the key is for the QB to have protection – and Manning consistently had some. The blitzing plus the ability to shred the Jets middle – and throw in injuries to Jets safeties over the game, and the vaunted defense was left whimpering. The Jets inability to run the football in a big game added to the worn down defense left too much for them to overcome, even when Mark Sanchez actually played pretty well. (257 yards, 17-30) Sanchez has the intangibles clearly to succeed – and it is a hat tip to him that in three postseason games, he was never the problem and often part of the solution.
Saints 31, Vikings 28 (OT) – A Greek tragedy in four parts, this game had it all – and like all tragedies it featured a hero brought down by his flaws. Of course, we’re talking about Brett Favre, who rode a truly amazing season to be the X-factor for the Vikings as they got to the title game against the Saints – but then when his team was ridiculously close to a game winning field goal, he threw a pick in the worst way possible. He rolled right on a perfectly called 3rd down play, had 10 yards to run to set up a 40 yard FG (not trivial but plenty short for Ryan Longwell, the Vikes kicker) and instead inexplicably threw across his body (increased distance hard to see defenders – read up on geometry) and got picked off. That said, the interception was not crucial – that is, not throwing a pick did not portend a chip shot field goal – the Vikings made many many many other mistakes, more than enough to squander a 475-257 yardage advantage. The 5-1 turnover advantage for the Saints saved them on a day where honestly the Vikings did more than enough to win. The Saints defense needs to be sharper – but they did a good job hanging in there – and given that they were one of the best ball hawking defenses in the league all season – perhaps the many turnovers were part of design. But it’s hard not to think the Vikings let one get away – a truly compelling, great NFC title game – if not wholly well executed.
Two weeks to ruminate about the Super Bowl – so no pick needed today …