Posted on: January 11, 2009 4:45 pm

Thoughts after the Eagles victory

The Eagles victory over the Giants earlier this afternoon underscored two important points I think have typified this season. First off is one point that I think holds true over any postseason, which is that the bye (and to a lesser extent, clinching early) is overrated. The number of low seeds or underdogs advancing through the playoffs are classic examples of teams that built momentum while other top seeds rested on their laurels.

The Giants and Titans had wrapped up postseason births early on, and coasted to the end of the season, losing games here and there and generally not keeping on top of things. This clearly hurt both teams, as the Titans had costly red zone turnovers by Alge Crumpler, LenDale White, and Kerry Collins. If the Titans had even held themselves to the lofty goal of merely two turnovers in the red zone instead of three, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But as it is, the top three seeds (New York, Carolina, Tennessee) are gone, and upstarts like the Ravens, Cardinals, and Eagles are moving on.

The second point which has brought the surprising number of low seeds advancing this postseason is a fact which I reiterated this season: There were no dominant teams, and the top seeds had potential upsets waiting for them. The Titans and Giants were the top seeds going into the playoffs, but neither had a lot of momentum, so when the Eagles and Ravens came to town, people weren't surprised when the game was close.

The Colts were one team most people assumed would succeed. They had won nine in a row, Peyton Manning wrapped up his MVP and appeared to be playing excellent, and Joseph Addai was back from his various injuries during the year. Yet even the Colts, who some considered the prohibitive favorite even with their #5 seed, fell to the Chargers, who built momentum by winning four in a row to finish at 8-8.

I'd even go as far as to say that there are teams who missed the playoffs who could easily have won a game or two, the Cowboys and Patriots being the examples that spring quickest to mind. In a season in which we had some of the worst teams ever to step on the field, there was a lack of stability at the top of the league.

As for the later game, I'm still betting that the Steelers will win this game, but at this point, you can't argue with the Chargers momentum. Phillip Rivers is a shaky QB, LaDanian Tomlinson being out would seem to be an insurmountable hurdle against the #1 defense, and players like James Harrison and Troy Polamalu are going to wreak havoc all day. Yet, a part of me feels the exciting Chargers could easily pull an upset. As long as Darren Sproles is out there racking up all-purpose yards, and Mike Scifres is pinning Pittsburgh back inside their own 10 and 20 drive after drive, I could see the Bolts pulling it out. After all, the Cardinals are hosting the NFC championship game. At this point, anything can happen.

So sit back on your couch, grab your favorite drinks and snacks, and don't let anything interrupt your game viewing, unless the phone rings. It could be Donovan McNabb calling to make some hotel reservations in Tempe.
Posted on: January 15, 2008 1:53 pm

Starting Out

Well, I've had a few blogs in my time. Mostly they have turned into meandering treatises on my life in general, and often lack in substance. Still, I think having a blog on CBS, a site to which I am a frequent visitor, would be a good idea. Here, rather than bringing in posts about entertainment, politics, or the everyday happenings of my life, I'll write about sports, and sports only.

That being said, here's what I'm thinking for the AFC and NFC Championship games this weekend.

NFC: New York Giants at Green Bay Packers:

As a Packers fan, I was elated when the Giants were able to bring down the Cowboys in the divisional playoffs. While I did think Dallas had slipped in recent weeks, the fact that Brett Favre was winless in Dallas over his illustrious career was troubling. Now, the road to Super Bowl 42 is going through Lambeau, so there are no excuses. The Packers are the youngest and most inexperienced team in the NFL, but their team chemistry and natural athletic talent have shown through that. The Giants are on a hot streak, however, and pose a worthy opponent. Watching Eli Manning dissect the Dallas secondary with his 53 second scoring drive at the end of the first half in the previous game showed me that even with his inconsistencies, he can show courage under fire. Still, with Plaxico Burress still not 100%, Amani Toomer getting up there in age, and relative youth at the other receiving slots in Steve Smith and tight end Kevin Boss, I think the physical Packers secondary will frazzle them. During the Seattle game, Matt Hasselbeck and the Seattle receivers were constantly losing their composure calling for flags on Al Harris and Charles Woodson, and the Giants can't let that happen if they want to stay in this game. On the other end of the field, the Giants depleted secondary still played well against the Cowboys at the end of the game, yet one wonders how well they will hold up against Brett Favre spreading the ball all over the field for the duration of the game. In my mind, both of these factors will lead to a close Packers victory.
Prediction: Packers 24, Giants 17.

AFC: San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots

Once again, before I begin this prediction, I must admit my biases. While I am a Packers fan first, I spent the duration of my childhood growing up in Massachusetts, and therefore have a very large soft spot for the Patriots. I was pleased to see the Colts fall, especially given the fact that the Chargers are now ravaged with injuries at the skill positions. LaDanian Tomlinson is set to play, as are Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, yet they are not 100%, and any disadvantage they have against the unstoppable force known as the Patriots is a major one. Still, the Patriots have petered off in recent weeks. They have found ways to win, but have not dominated games like they did earlier in the season, when they routed the Chargers. The Chargers defense, with All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie, are a dangerous bunch, and their run defense could pose a threat to Laurence Maroney. Still, given all the injuries to the Chargers, and the fact that it's Tom Brady, at Gillette Stadium, in the AFC Championship game, I have to give the win to the Patriots.
Prediction: Patriots 31, Chargers 20

Well, that's all for now. Until next time (most likely the Super Bowl itself), this is Favreism, signing off.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com