1. The New York Giants – It’s the emergence of Manning…but no the Manning that you are thinking of…the OTHER Manning…Eli. Not only has he led his team to the NFC Championship but his last two games have, arguably, been the two best games of his career. If he’s able to make it to the Super Bowl, wouldn’t it be a great photo-op to have Eli Manning settling into the pocket and completing a 22-yard TD pass while his brother Peyton cheers him on from the luxury boxes?
2. The San Diego Chargers – A team that started the season 5-5 before rattling off eight consecutive victories to get to the AFC title game. They have one of the best running backs in the game in Ladainian Tomlinson; a young, yet fiery, quarterback in Philip Rivers; a couple of solid wide receivers. That being said, almost all of those players are hurt…and they’re going up against the NFL’s best team…who just so happens to be 17-0 on the season thus far. The Chargers could be the team that had a rough start, figured things out, went to the AFC Championship and took down the giant.
3. The Green Bay Packers – Brett Favre. Need I say more? We have been sitting back waiting for this guy to retire for the past seven years yet he continues to come back. A couple of seasons ago, particularly during his 2005 campaign, I really thought that Favre had become one of those players that we hate to see – a great player that stuck around just a season too long. Well, Sir Brett of the Tundra has guided the Pack to 13 wins during 2007 and got them back to the NFC title game. Could this be the “last Hurrah!” for Brett? I doubt it…but if he wins the big one, that would be a heck of a way to go out.
4. The New England Patriots – The pursuit of perfection. I remember when I was a little kid and I saw the old ’72 Dolphins clinking their glasses and remembering the good ol’ days of their perfect season. Well, the Pats are looking to better the ‘Phins. Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the crew are looking to become one of the best teams in NFL history, and certainly put up the best record. That being said, I have never seen a team more focused than New England. They have set their sights high but have not underestimated anyone. They play with a purpose that is unmatched by anyone I have ever seen.
As for my picks? Well, I'm taking the favorites...the Packers and the Patriots.
Manning and the Giants have had a great run but the Packers are just too strong - on both sides of the ball. I think it will be a close game and will probably come down to a big play in the fourth quarter. That's the main reason that I like the Packers though. Favre has been there too many times and has too much experience to let the moment get to him. Eli's time will come one day...it just won't be Sunday.
Tom Brady just has way too many weapons (Randy Moss, Ben Watson, Wes Welker...I really could keep going on). If Rivers, Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates cannot play, then it should be a good, old-fashioned Boston Massacre. Even if the Bolts were playing at 100%, I'd have a tough time picking them over the Pats.
Well, just like those smug old men who wear the old Miami Dolphins uniforms, I’ll have my champagne ready to go at the end of the day. Because regardless of the outcome of either one of these championship games, we are going to have two great story lines for Super Bowl Sunday!
Have a good weekend!