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2006 NFL Conference Championship Picks

OK folks, here it is. Conference Championship Sunday. In so many ways it’s better than the actual Super Bowl. We all were wrong about the Colts last week. Will they get any respect against the Pats? And will the Bears defend their home turf? Chicago fans say that some fire in 1871 make them the sentimental favorites….

No podcast this week but check out the AFC and NFC Championship picks below.

2006 Playoffs: Conference Championship Game Picks

MATCHUP  Vegas  Vinny  BostonMac  Trevor  RJ Warner
Patriots @ Colts Colts Patriots Patriots Patriots
Saints @ Bears Saints Saints Saints Saints
Playoffs 5-3 6-2 5-3 4-4
Reg Season 165-90 (.647) 148-108 (.578) 153-103 (.598) 153-103 (.598)

New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears (-2)| Sunday, Jan. 21. 3:00 p.m. ET on FOX

Vin Diec: Did you watch Rex Grossman last weekend? Everyone did. And while his stats were pretty good (21 for 38, 282 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT) he probably didn’t make a great pass until the overtime. That beautiful 68 yard TD to Bernard Berrian? Trent Dilfer could have made that pass. Berrian was wide open and the Bears o-line gave Grossman loads of time. Rex Grossman is not a good quarterback and the Bears defense isn’t good enough (anymore) to overcome his shortcomings. On the other side, the Bears were gashed by Shaun Alexander. He seemed to be able to run at will. Imagine them going up against Deuce McAlister and Reggie Bush and the #1 offense in the NFC. The Bears have given up 25 a game in the last 5. This could get ugly in a hurry. Saints over Bears

Ryan McGowan: Here’s an interesting stat courtesy of NFL.com: This will be the 11th time since 1970 that a conference’s top-ranked offense (New Orleans) is facing the top-ranked defense (Chicago). In the first 10 such matchups, the top offense has defeated the top defense seven times. In two of those games, the top offense shut out the top defense (Cowboys over Rams in 1978; 49ers over Bears in 1984). Throw in another factor: Rex Grossman sucks and won’t put together two back-to-back decent games, and the Saints look to be sitting pretty in this one. Yes, I realize that dome teams never fare well outdoors in the playoffs, and I know that the 1999 St. Louis Rams are the only dome team to ever win the Super Bowl, but I just don’t have the trust in this Bears team to hold serve at home. Look for the Saints to blitz Grossman and cause him all kinds of havoc. On offense, the Saints should be able to control the football with McAllister and Bush, and then unleash Drew Brees’ explosive right arm when the time is right. Sean Payton called a great game against the Eagles, and I expect him to have a great game plan ready for Chicago. It would be a nice storyline for the Bears to win and set up a possible Super Bowl XX rematch, but I don’t see the home team having enough firepower to win. The pick: NEW ORLEANS.

Trevor Freeman: Ever since Mike Brown and Tommie Harris went down, the Bears defensive ship has been taking on water. This week is when the ship goes down. The Saints have too many weapons for the Bears defense. They can punch you in the mouth with McAllister, they can run outside with Bush and they can kill you in the passing Brees, Horn and Colston. The Saints are a team of destiny and they will punch their ticket for the Bowl on
Sunday. I wouldn’t even worry about the points in this game. Take the
Saints and the money line. Saints over Bears

RJ Warner: I’m going to forget about all the Katrina/Destiny talk about the Saints on concentrate on what’s important: football. Last week I ranted about how New Orleans was an average home team with a 4-4 record. They were a much better team on the road, going 6-2. Not only that, they averaged almost 30 away from their hurricane-ravaged city (sorry, can’t help it). Seriously, the Saints offense uses the higher octane fuel when on the road, including recent blowouts over Dallas and the NY Giants, both playoff teams. The problem with the Bears defense right now is that they’re not getting much of a pass rush without Tommie Harris in the lineup, and it’s trickling down to the linebackers and the secondary. Giving Drew Brees, who is surgeon-like to begin with (only one INT in the last five games) too much time could spell disaster. Saints. The weather will be cold and there is a chance of snow, but the Bears will have to deal with it, too. The fact that an inconsistent Seattle team was able to put up 24 points on them does not bode well when going up against the best offense they’ve faced this year. The Bears were barely good enough to win against Seattle, but barely good enough will not be enough against the Saints. A late Robbie Gould miss shows how cruel this game can be. Saints 23-21.

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (-3) | Sunday, Jan. 21. 6:30 p.m. ET on CBS

Vin Diec: I’m slightly feverish as I write this so that might explain why I think the Colts will finally get the monkey off their backs and get to the Super Bowl. It’s about that time. Why is it that Tom Brady plays an awful game and he’s helped by an insanely stupid play by Marlon McCree and people keep talking about how clutch he is and how much of a “winner” he is. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning plays an awful game and gets bailed out by his defense and he’s lucky to be in the AFCCG. Just doesn’t seem right does it? Remember when Bill Belichick played so hard to win in the last game of the season against the Titans? It’s because he knew (yes, that arrogant, surly, fashion mistake of a coach knew) that it would come down to the Patriots and Colts.

On the podcast a week ago, Ryan said that he stood by his pick of Chiefs over the Colts because of sound reasoning. I laughed at him but I stand by my pick of the Chargers over the Patriots. This Patriots team might think they have DYNASTY written all over it but it’s not nearly as good as teams past. Tom Brady will have to do it all because suddenly the Colts can stop the run (3.4 ypc against in the playoffs) and their defense is playing out of their minds. But Tom Brady has Giselle waiting for him after the game. Peyton has nobody. He needs to get to the Super Bowl to cement his status as one of the best QBs in the history of the game and I think he’ll do it this week. When was the last time Peyton had 3 bad games in a row? Never? Oh and don’t you know that this is going to come down to an Adam Vinatieri field goal? The NFL is so predictable sometimes. Colts over Patriots

Ryan McGowan: Patriots-Colts is fast becoming the Red Sox-Yankees of NFL matchups: the game everyone wants to see in the respective cities, but one that many casual fans seem to be getting pretty bored with. The only thing that keeps this neo-rivalry interesting is the constant media fawning over Peyton Manning. It seems that the mainstream media is very desirous to see Manning win a championship. If he’s ever going to do it, this might have to be the year; we all thought it was last year until the Pittsburgh debacle in the divisional round. The Colts beat the Pats 27-20 in Foxborough in November, mainly by bringing up Bob Sanders into the box and shutting down the running game. Josh McDaniels and the New England offense will have to make good use of play-action, screens, and misdirection if they want to counter that; the Colts suddenly look like the ’00 Ravens when it comes to stopping the run. Last week the Patriots aired it out 51 times and could never establish a ground game. If that happens again, I think the Colts have the upper hand. However, I have eyes, and I watched last week’s game, and I am not dumb enough to pick against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in the playoffs against Tony Dungy and Peyton Manning, even on the road. This should be a great game to watch, full of drama and energy, and should come down to a field goal – a Stephen Gostkowski field goal, that is. The pick: NEW ENGLAND.

Trevor Freeman: We’ve all seen this before……………Peyton Manning against New
England in the playoffs. Until he gets the job done, I can’t pick him
to beat Belichick and Brady. His only hope has to be that the bad
karma emanating from the Patriots doing the Merriman dance at midfield
after last week’s win affects their play today. That the sports gods
say, “you know what…….that kind of hot-dogging is unacceptable” and
demand a Colt win with a Vinatieri booting the game-winner. I’m taking
the Patriots. I was very surprised that they are getting points in
this game. The Saints and Pats are setting up as the best two-team
teaser in conference championship game history. Patriots over Colts.

RJ Warner: By 6 PM Sunday, we’re going to be so effing sick of the word DESTINY. The Colts are team of DESTINY. The Saints are at team of DESTINY. It’s Peyton’s DESTINY to finally win a Super Bowl. No, Peyton’s only DESTINY is to be a daddy’s-boy doucher with a perma-scowl on his face from being constantly tricked into drinking his brother’s piss…oh, wait that’s Eli. Where was I? Oh yeah, explaining how the Patriots are going to beat the Colts when it counts once again. I know, the Colts have solved the Patriots over the last two seasons, beating them in Foxboro. And Colts’ fans have always claimed that if the Patriots came to the Dome in the postseason, it would be a different script than what happened in ’03 and ’04. I disagree. Football is football. Sure, the Hoosier Dome will be loud, but wasn’t San Diego loud? Wasn’t Pittsburgh loud in the ’01 and ’04 AFC title games? New England and Brady have proven time and time again that they can handle it. Also, I hate to keep bringing up coaching, but Tony Dungy is Marty Ball Lite; and the bigger the game, the bigger the Bellichick. It’s hard enough to beat this guy, let alone twice in the same year. Brady has to stop throwing interceptions, though. I don’t think the Colts will pressure him into throwing those like San Diego did. New England always comes up with the plays, just ask Troy Brown, who I thought was dead, let alone there to make the biggest play of the playoffs so far. Patriots 24-14

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