"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network
The waiting list for Super Bowl participants is getting shorter and shorter.
Unlike a White House soiree, there is no getting past the security unless you
were invited and can display the appropriate credentials concerning same.
Those are encased in the final scores of games just played, with your team's
name under "winners," point spreads and over/under results aside.
Arizona is bringing its version of an aerial circus to New Orleans and the
Louisiana Superdome, where the Saints are waiting to march in and all over the
Cardinals, or so it says on the chalkboard in the locker room of the home team.
The fact of the matter is Drew Brees thrives on airing it out with an
underrated running game in attendance just to keep everyone honest. The way
this goes is that a high scoring affair favors New Orleans, and those who
believe the total of the two will exceed 57?. Understood.
I, on the other hand, like the Cardinals with the 7 and a game that will be, in
the vernacular of Nevada and elsewhere, an "under." Also, how serious were the
Saints in their final three games after getting off to a 13-0 start? Rumor has
it that Kurt Warner will be another ex-quarterback turned commentator very
soon, but I am not sure that announcement will come Saturday evening.
Kurt Warner threw for over 3,700 yards and 26 TDs this season.
Funny that Arizona and Green Bay broke all sorts of records in a New York
street version of touch football, but won the game in overtime on a defensive
play after a "chippie" field goal was blown. The result also allowed Neil
Rackers to have a restful night's sleep. My guess is that Brees and company
will leave the flight deck in their F-14 immediately, but that Warner will wait
a bit and try to grind it out on the ground and with short pickups of 5-10
yards while the clock keeps ticking away.
Speaking of resting, I have already stated that I thought the decision made by
GM Bill Polian and coach Jim Caldwell regarding early retirement from the NFL
regular season for their team, the Indianapolis Colts, was one of the worst in
NFL history. What is the lasting effect? Two weeks of reconciliation, focus
adjustment, camaraderie sessions, enlarged photos of the Lombardi Trophy on the
inside of locker room doors, a separate place in history preached to all every
day and a goodly amount of prayer. That does not mean turning to a superior
being for guidance or favoritism...just the belief that it will all work out.
Still, one of stupider decisions ever. Moving on, the Colts are the choice for
one reason only, although there are supportive others. That reason is called
Peyton Manning. And, his team will not allow the game to be over, as New
England did, before the first break for commercials. Additionally, the Tom
Brady of old was wandering around going through the motions, likely thinking of
a better year in 2010-2011. The only thoughts he had of a Super Bowl appearance
were in the past.
The Ravens are not to be taken lightly, but they are not the complete defensive
juggernaut that will be spoken of on the pre-game show. The Colts are not in
mortal fear of Ray Lewis and friends. And, it was not Joe Flacco that set the
tone of their recent annihilation of the Patriots. Running back Ray Rice, the
heart of the offense, busted the first play from scrimmage for an 83-yard
touchdown run, and it was all downhill from there. The Ravens never let up as
Rice rumbled for 159 rushing yards to lead his team in the Ravens' 33-14
victory over the Patriots.
This one will have to be played in slow motion if the visitors have any hopes
of advancing. Manning, on the other hand, will shift gears as many times as
necessary to take the lead and keep it. He is that good.
As one moves closer and closer to the big dance, caution sets in for one team
or the other, maybe both, as the fourth quarter arrives and the clock winds
down. Close game and it becomes a crawl; big lead and it is "Go to the Buick,
cut behind the Chevy and I will hit you in stride as you come out from behind
This is that time of the year when the statisticians start spewing forth
numbers, and historical traditionalists grab the record books for what has
usually happened with this or that team, or someone like them in years past.
Where does heart and gut come in? Mostly for those depending upon luck or who
have come, seen, and not yet conquered but ostensibly know just from experience
of their own and having watched and determined. I am good with that.
The Colts, for example, have crushed others in a number of games but, on the
other hand, have just eked out wins in many more, the last two aside and
forgotten. So, why then, lay the 6? Because Manning will need a 10-14 point
lead heading into the final quarter to put the Ravens away. My guess is that
he will have it and want to make sure it is more than eight if his club has a
chance at advancing. Get there and hang on tight.
How hot is Dallas right now? Sizzling. What did they prove against the Eagles
in two consecutive weeks of playing demolition derby? Not much other than
establishing that the boys from Philadelphia were a legend in the making in
their own minds. But, Tony Romo's confidence level is at its peak, the Cowboys
believe in themselves, the legendary Brett Favre is preparing yet another
retirement speech and this swan song had "return to the Super Bowl" written all
over it so that he can talk the talk, then walk the walk all the way to Miami.
The Vikings' game plan is relatively simple...run 'n gun. Do the former if it
works and bail out with the latter if it does not. Favre can still throw the
ball long or short with unerring accuracy. But Dallas can be all over him in a
heartbeat and he is not about to scamper in and out of trouble. Those days
were left home, safe and sound, in the memory bank. Dallas has shored up its
defense, has tremendous confidence in its running game and Romo thinks he is
Ken Stabler reinvented...take what they give you, again and again and again.
Then hit them long. Throw in a few runs from time to time just to prove you
The Vikings are in search of their first NFC Championship in over 30 years, but
before they have a chance at a Championship, they must defend their home turf.
This will not be easy and the oddsmakers know it so they have installed them as
a home field advantage favorite, three points. My guess is that both Romo and
Favre will throw more than run, decidedly so, and that will lead to points
going up, more than 45? between them.
I am not certain if Dallas is the team to hate, like the Yankees, for having
done so much early on, for having set the tone for style, looks, winning and
the sexiest cheerleaders around. But, like 'em or hate 'em, the fans will be
out there and in front of the tube from coast to coast.
Dallas plus and the over.
You want a hot team? San Diego. You want a team that thinks they can beat
them? Jets. The problem with the Chargers, as with Indianapolis, is that they
opt to let it all out on some weekends and then just manage to win on others,
doing a lot more of the latter than the former. Count on them to put up totals
in the 20's, at a minimum, and maybe higher if they get on a roll. The Jets
are good for from anywhere between 14 and 24. That makes the cover of 42 look
like the mortal lock of last week's Arizona/Green Bay game.
But, lay 7?? Time for the Tums. It will be that kind of a game and Mark
Sanchez has come across like a youngster that is no longer rattled by being
thrust upon the big stage. But, behind the center on the other side is Philip
Rivers, who has truly come into his own as a leader and well-rounded
quarterback that can do it all. Jets in the Super Bowl? It does not even
Besting Cincinnati two weeks in a row is not an adequate or appropriate
barometer. At the Meadowlands, the Bengals did not care. When they got home
to Paul Brown Stadium, the Jets sensed the crack in the dam wall and pushed the
water through fast and furious until it burst. There was not stopping it.
Laying the points for this one is the toughest decision of all but the over is
not. No Joe Namath to guarantee any wins in sight, and Sanchez is certainly
not going to do it. Actually, in the NFL, with rare exceptions like the
Eagles, it is simply not the stimulus or fodder to provide to the other team.
Two weeks to go. Should be fun. What about the farm and the college funds?
You gotta be kidding!