I must admit to being absolutely and totally confused as to who I will root for in today's AFC Championship Game. On the one hand, I can't stand Jabba the Rex, that blowhard from New Joisey. Part of it is personality; I'm not that keen on guys who talk about planning their Super Bowl parade routes weeks in advance of the Super Bowl. Yeah, I know why he's doing it. He's trying to fire up his team and his fanbase. It's a tactic and I'm sure if he was my team's head coach, I'd buy into it. But he's not. He's the head coach of a division rival who is admittedly becoming a force in our division. The Patriots have some stiff competition to look forward to for the next several years. But I can't convince myself that I should cheer for them even if they're the underdogs and are in our division.
The Colts? I'm supposed to hate the Colts. A rivalry born of two great quarterbacks, Indy and NE have crossed paths many, many times. A Colts vs. Patriots game is always the highlight of the regular season for me (we play them again in 2010, by the way). How intense is this rivalry? When Belichick decided to go for the fourth and two, there was stunned silence from the Indy faithful. Get the first down and the game is over, their hated rival just beat them in THEIR house. But it didn't happen. Indy won by one point and it was the most talked about play in the NFL for weeks. That's how intense this rivalry is.
Putting my "hatred" for both aside, I think this is going to be one hell of a game: one of the best offenses in the league against one of the best defenses in the league. Peyton Manning is incredibly difficult to blitz; he has one of the quickest releases in football and rarely gets sacked (Indy's ranked 1st for fewest sacks per game with a paltry 0.7). New York is ranked 1st in fewest total yards per game with 258. This battle will be won on the OTHER side of the ball, the rookie Mark Sanchez against the dynamic pressure duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.
In the NFC, my allegiance is pretty clear: I can't stand Brett Favre. I have little respect for a man who is clearly chasing rings and upending starting quarterbacks in the process. He cares about himself and I'm very tired of the "retire, not gonna retire" story line. Do us all a favor, Brett, and take up spelunking or something. I also tend to like Drew Brees and crew. Sure, they torched our Patriots big time (very reminiscent of how the Patriots ran over opponents in 2007), but they're a Cinderella story, a team that's been struggling for many years led by a quarterback who, thought to be washed up, finally has a shot. This one's clear for me: I hope New Orleans stomps Minnesota.
After Indy torched the Ravens, the Colts faithful felt sacrificing their 16-0 season to rest starters was justified. What if the Jets turn around and beat the team that "allowed" them into the playoffs? What will they say then? Personally, I think resting starters is silly, stupid football. Keep them in long enough to get the win and THEN take them out; that's Belichick's way and it's the best way. I favor this way, but resting or not resting starters is a crapshoot; to say it was the reason for winning or losing is, well, ignorant. How so? Watch. If indy wins, fans will rally behind Polian's decision. If they lose, he will be put in stocks at The Lube's 50 yard line. Fickle.
Who do you want to win? Why? Who do you "hate"? If you have a prediction, let's hear it.