Saturday, January 12, 2008

Chargers/Colts Tomorrow - I'M TORN!!!

My two favorite AFC Teams are playing tomorrow and I really have no clue who I want to root for... last year, it was pretty easy for me to root for the Indianapolis Colts all through the playoffs, especially after the New England Patriots beat the San Diego Chargers to set up a Patriots/Colts AFC Championship game. Thankfully, the Colts won that matchup and went on to beat the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

Most of you are probably pretty familiar with both teams. The Chargers have both the NFL's best running back in LaDainian Tomlinson and the NFL's best tight-end in Antonio Gates, while the Colts feature the highest profile player in quarterback Peyton Manning. The Colts are looking to avenge a 23-21 loss in San Diego during the season in which the Charger defense intercepted Manning a career-high six times. The Colts have the #3 ranked defense in the NFL and also allowed the fewest points during the regular season. The Chargers led the league in turnover margin and also interceptions with 30 on the year. Tomlinson himself was perfect in that area, not even as much as fumbing even once in his 315 carries or 60 pass receptions this year... Colts running back Joseph Addai was equally proficient at holding onto the ball, not fumbling once in his 261 rushing attempts nor his 41 receptions. No other NFL players with even as many as 200 total touches (let alone 300, as both Tomlinson and Addai each had), were able to say that they didn't fumble at least once this year.

Yes, I think the key to tomorrow's game will again be the turnovers. I look for Manning to have a big game tomorrow, and for Addai to be a big reason for his success. The Chargers will keep it close early, but I think the Colts will pull away late, winning by about 10 points (barely covering that 9 1/2 point spread)... It should a fun game to watch, and I'll look forward to cheering on whichever team wins against the Patriots next week!

As for the other game, Peyton's brother Eli and the New York Giants take on the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants are a team that is playing pretty well at the moment. Their defense took over a close game on the road in Buffalo, where the younger Manning was ineffective for a 38-21 win. The Giants almost beat the Patriots to ruin their perfect season as Manning had one of his best games ever, going 22-for-32 for 252 yards, four touchdowns and an interception... Last week, Manning was a very efficient 20-for-27 for 185 yards and two scores as the Giants dominated Tampa Bay by a 24-14 score.

The Cowboys are a team that has played very unspired ball of late. After beating Brett Favre (quite literally) and the Packers 37-27 on November 29th, they have looked anything but good. A come from behind 28-27 win against the Detroit Lions followed the next week, followed by a 10-6 loss at home to the Philadelphia Eagles where the offense looked COMPLETELY out of sync. All kidding aside, I don't think Jessica Simpson could be blamed for Tony Romo or the rest of the team's poor performance that week. A 20-13 win against a poor Carolina team followed... and then in the final game of the regular season, the Washington Redskins just manhandled them in a 27-6 game which had all the meaning in the world for the Redskins and none at all for the Cowboys. That said, the Cowboys did play most of their starters (including Romo and tight end Jason Witten) well into the third quarter.

So, you have a classic case of a "hot" team playing against a "cold" team. The Cowboys are seven point favorites tomorrow, but should they be? Eli Manning has grown up a lot the past couple of weeks, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Giants pull off the HUGE upset. Actually, I'm going to say this will be a close game throughout and that the Giants will win on a Lawrence Tynes field goal. Regardless of what happens in that game, I'll be pulling for Favre and the Packers in the NFC Championship game next weekend...


No comments: