It's Thursday, a mere three days away from the start of the Championship Games for the NFL playoffs. If you would have asked me prior to last week's games on Sunday who would be playing who I would've told you straight up with supreme confidence, maybe even enough to bet money, that the Indianapolis Colts would be traveling into Foxboro to face off with the Patriots and that the New York Giants would be where they are right now, on their way into Lambeau Field to face off with the Packers.
But as I sit at my computer, watching "Clerks" for the second time in a few days on this Thursday afternoon...I was 50% correct.
Last Sunday I got to go too my uncle's house for my grandmother's birthday party. A lot of the family was there, eating gumbo and such, and the guys all enjoyed the Chargers @ Colts game. And in that, were stunned as to how a team so banged up took down the defending champions on their own home field. The Chargers didnt have Antonio Gates, and then during the course of the contest suffered key injuries to Ladanian Tomlinson and Phillip Rivers. They had to rely on Billy Volek and their defense to get the job done. After a chaotic second half and final few minutes of the game the Chargers pulled off a massive upset with a 28-24 victory sending Peyton Manning packing.
After that game concluded, the Giants @ Cowboys got under way. After a very exciting first half that included Amani Toomer's break-away touchdown, a 10:30+ minute drive by the Cowboys and then in the final 46 seconds a game tying touchdown by New York...I had to go home. I got back in time to see the game end at 21-17 as Tony Romo on the final drive for the Cowboys fell to pieces. He got himself sacked on two occasions in which he should've thrown the ball away, was incorrectly flagged for an intentional grounding penalty, and then threw an interception into the arms of R.W. McQuarters in the endzone.
Now, we are left with:
San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots 3 PM ET on CBS
We've learned during the course of this week that Gates, Rivers, and Tomlinson will all be suiting up for the Bolts on Sunday. The only question remaining is, how well off will they be? Rivers injured his leg last week versus the Colts--a rather pansy looking injury from the tape--and will play and lead his offense in Foxboro. Prior to his injury last Sunday, he was doing extremely well against one of the NFL's top defenses; a defense that included Bob Sanders, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year and was on its home turf. Rivers went 14/19, 73.7%, 264 YDs, 3 TDs, 1 INTs and had a QB Rating of 133.2. Overall a vast difference from what he did the week before at home against the Titans. The Patriots on the other hand, took care of business at home against what was supposed to be a tough test in the Jacksonville Jaguars. New England put up 31 points, 403 total yards, and even won the time of possession 32:20 to 27:40. Laurence Maroney dished out a very solid performance to the tune of 122 yards on the ground and Tom Brady was nearly perfect as he set an NFL post season record for completion percentage with over 92%.
Both teams were at the top of their game last week and should be once again if momentum means a damn thing in pro sports. The only difference is, the Chargers are coming in with key players coming off of injuries and are on the road facing the best team of the 2000's. The Patriots have fought through the adversity on and off the field throughout the season and will not be affected by the most recent news spreading around regarding Moss and battery charges. Last week the NFL analysts predicted a blowout in the favor of the Colts and ended up being dead wrong. This week, I'm predicting a close game in the 1st half that collapses into an uglier scene than a Jerry Springer episode.
Chargers 17, Patriots 34
Game MVP: Tom Brady throwing for 275+ yards and three touchdowns.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers 6:30 PM ET on FOX
Eli Manning's first season as the full time starter for the Giants was in 2005. That season, he led the Giants to an 11-5 season and a 1st place finish in the NFC East over the Washington Redskins. (10-6) Eli finished the year with 24 touchdown passes and 17 interceptions only falling short of 4,000 yards passing by 238 yards. After a solid first year at the helm of the Giants Manning entered the post season. And I think some of us recall what happened in that NFC Wild Card game at home hosting the Carolina Panthers. Eli tossed three interceptions in route to a 23-0 loss to Carolina, a team that went on to getting romped over by the eventual NFC Super Bowl represenative Seattle Seahawks.
Since 2005, Manning has put up with constant pressure and ridicule after every single poor performance. In 2006, Manning finished the year with near mirror image numbers in the touchdown and interception categories, but included a whopping seven games in which he had a QB Rating under 70.0. An 8-8 season sent the Giants into the Wild Card round, where yet again, the Giants fell short. The New York media is notorious for boasting their "What have you done for us lately?" ideals and harsh criticism that can come directly after "We love you, we really love you!" Manning in 2006, and in this season has had to conquer the ridicule and lack of confidence in his abilities from the media, fans, and practically anyone else that has had an opinion. This season, after his worst statistical season in touchdowns, interceptions, and QB Rating and not having the services of Tiki Barber in the backfield Manning still led his Giants to a 10 win season and in the post season, two incredible victories over the Bucs and Cowboys. Manning so far this post season has been efficient and even borderline brilliant as he has led his team past one of the NFC's top defenses and the NFC's top team. Manning's Numbers: 32/45, 71%, 348 YDs, 4 TDs, 0 INTs and a QB Rating of 124.75. The 132.4 Rating he had last week versus the Cowboys was his BEST of the entire 2007-2008 NFL season, and the week before his 117.1 was the third best. As of right now Eli Manning is playing his best football and so are the Giants.
The only problem is, so is Brett Favre and his Green Bay Packers. Remember those Seahawks that were mentioned regarding 2005? Yeah, that's the same team that this year during the NFC Divisional round of the playoffs that got slaughtered by the Packers 42-20. In years past, if you were to hear from someone that Brett Favre only threw for 173 yards in the air you could guess that the Packers lost. But not on Saturday at Lambeau. Favre had a modest game(although three touchdown passes were included) and it was newly aquired savior Ryan Grant that stole the show...in the snow. God I'm horrible. Anyway, Ryan Grant started off Saturday's contest with two early fumbles that resulted in 14 points for the Seahawks. Like nothing had ever happened, Favre led the Packers back with his arm and with the help of the legs of Grant to tie the game and eventually take over the game. The snow let up by game's end but the Packers did not.
This is a tough game for me to call here. On one hand, Eli Manning and his Giants are playing as good of football as any of the other three teams left standing. But on the other, the Packers look to be on a mission. Right now it's like picking between pizza and burgers, Carmen and Jessica, Brian and Bon. It's too hard!
So, as a custom in tough spots, I have to resort to a favorite childhood custom: Rock Paper Scissors. But dammit...I'm home alone right now. So, flipping a coin will do I guess. (Scrounges around for a coin) Crap, I dont have any quarters. I do have some sort of Canadien Dollar coin. (Better than an American dollar!) So...heads is the Giants, tails is the Packers...
(Mac backs away from computer)
What the hell is a duck? It's a damn duck floating in a pond. Oh...(flips coin over) The other side has a picture of some chick named Elizabeth, so that means the duck is tails.
Giants 23, Packers 28
Game MVP: Ryan Grant manuveres his way through the frozen tundra for over 100 yards on the ground and two touchdowns, further cementing himself as Green Bay's savior not wearing the number four.
Alright, it's time to go back too "Clerks". Caitlin just came out of the bathroom after thinking she got freaky with Dante when it really was just an old dead guy.