AFC, NFC title game picks
Weather could make huge difference in both contests
Posted: Thursday January 17, 2008 11:36AM; Updated: Thursday January 17, 2008 1:05PM
Giants at Packers
One of the toughest games to pick in a long time. A long, long time. I'm torn.
First, forget the weather. Just tell me about the field conditions. When I talked with the Seahawks last Friday, they were very confident they'd get to Brett Favre. And we all know what happened in snowy Green Bay last Saturday -- no sacks, two quarterback pressures from a Seattle front four on a team that finished second in the league in sacks.
The Giants are first in sacks.
Will we see the real Michael Strahan going around the edge on right tackle Mark Tauscher, and the legit Osi Umenyiora winning a few battles with speed against Chad Clifton on the left side? Or will the field conditions negate all of that?
It's supposed to be around minus-5 wind chill, and breezy, with flurries. Last week, snow was not in the forecast, and the game ended up being played in a nor'easter. That's why I put so much emphasis on the condition of the field.
"Pass-rushers need torque,'' Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said last week. So I'm playing this one down the middle, with a nod to Favre's big-game ability, especially against a New York secondary that could be without two starting-quality corners if Aaron Ross can't make it through the game.
Green Bay 20, New York Giants 17
Chargers at Patriots
Wrong place, wrong time for the Chargers. It's going to be about 18 degrees at kickoff, 40 degrees colder than what they practice in before they fly east. No Antonio Gates, unless he visits Lourdes on Saturday. Philip Rivers will try to play without practicing all week. LaDainian Tomlinson will play, but how healthy and effective will he be? That's not a recipe for success against New England's changeup defenses.
The Patriots are 13-0 at Gillette since mid-2006. I'd argue Tom Brady has never been better in a two-game stretch in his walk-in Hall of Fame career (last two games: 58-70, .829, 618 yards, five touchdowns, no picks, two sacks).
But football is such a great game because who could see the Jags winning twice at Heinz Field in a month and the Chargers defeating the Colts with Tomlinson and Rivers on the sideline? So I would never say San Diego doesn't have a chance -- especially after giving up 12 points a game over the last eight games. They'll send the house at Brady and hope to force some turnovers. But we've read that script throughout this season, and it always ends the same way.
New England 30, San Diego 13