Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday 01/19 A.M. Quickie:
All NFL Conf. Champs, All Day

Is it mere coincidence that the last weekday before the NFL conference championship games is one of the slowest sports-news days we've seen in weeks (or even months)? Unlikely. It's because the same cabal that controls sports wants you to focus entirely on Sunday's games.

You know the key subplots already: In the AFC, it's Brady vs. Manning and, larger, Peyton vs. the Pats (and his own personal legacy of playoff chokery).

In the NFC, it's the conference's most marquee franchise (and it's No. 1 seed) versus the best story in the NFL of the year -- if not the decade (or, dare I say, ever). The playoffs' most maligned QB (Grossman) vs. the league's most valuable QB (Brees). Urlacher and the Bears D vs. the best offense in the NFL, showcasing - at the very least - the most intriguing rookie of the year.

But I'm much more interested in YOUR analysis of the game -- the biggest subplots and intrigues, the biggest X-factors, the biggest challenges and, of course, your picks. So let's light up the Comments section with your final NFL conference championship goodness.

My picks: Pats over Colts. Bears over Saints.
My rooting interest: Colts over Pats. Saints over Bears.

Simply put: You have no soul if you're not rooting for the Saints to advance (unless, of course, you're a Bears fan. And having just come from a trip to Chicago this week, they are fired up).

Oh: And if you have input on the day's other big storylines, put 'em in the Comments section too. Actually, to me, the most intriguing result from last night/news of the morning is that the No. 1 h.s. hoops team in the country (Oak Hill) lost to Chicago's Simeon and Derrick Rose (28 pts, 9 ast) last night on ESPN.

-- D.S.


Mikepcfl said...

Sorry, I cant get into the NFL games this weekend after the Ravens' flameout last weekend. Am I alone in going through this "mourning" period after my teams lose? I dont mean being depressed or anything, but I just dont feel like watching other NFL games now. Are fans of other playoff losing teams going through this?

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

Colts and Saints

Undefeated so far in the playoffs...going to keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I am more into the playoffs if my team is in it, but I don't have a "mourning" period. I mean, I am bummed when my teams lose, but it doesn't stop me from watching the rest of the games. That beaing said:

Colts over Pats: I don't need any more Brady/Bill B. cocksuckery.

Bears over Saints: And I am a Packer fan, so this one will sting. I guess I just want someone to root against in the Super Bowl.

My picks at the start of the season: Panthers & Bengals (ouch).

Picks at the start of the playoffs: Eagles & Chargers (ouch again)

So really, don't trust my prognosticating. I think I put too much of who I "want" to win in the picks.

Anonymous said...

NFC Championship Game:
New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears

In the NFC the top 2 seeds held serve and the Saint now travel to Chicago to face the team that has been the best in the NFC all season but Chicago play of late especially on the defensive side of the ball has got to have Bears fans worried. With the saints you have to think are the really this good or is there run about to end and we find out that it was all smoke and mirrors. They way I see it is that the Saints have too many weapons on offense for the Bears to be able to shut down and I just have a feeling that the Bears Offense will not be able to keep up.

Saints 27 Bears 13
Game MVP: Deuce McCallister

AFC Championship
New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts

Is there a better rivalry in the NFL today?? Not one that I can think of that has played so many big games over the last 6 years. And this one promises to be a classic. The Patriots coming of the out of nowhere, should not of won this game, victory over the Chargers will be facing the Team that has probably been the best defensive team throughout the playoffs but my question on the Indy defense is was it more the teams they played or is there defense that much better then it was in the regular season. Personally I think it is more a product of the teams they have played then the defense being that much better. Unlike the Ravens and the Chiefs the patriots have a multi-dimensional offense and they are not afraid to use whatever play, formation or personal package it takes to beat your defense. Ultimately I think this game will come down to the play of the 2 QB's and if that is the case you have to go with the guy who has been there and knows how to win the big game.

Patriots 31 Colts 28
Game MVP: Reche Caldwell

Anonymous said...

Patriots 34 Colts 17
Peyton chokes again!!

Saints 31 Bears 24
Reggie Bush runs wild!!

Anonymous said...

being a Patriots fan if the Patriots beat the colts I want the Bears to win the NFC game. Setting up the possibility for revenge from super bowl XX

Anonymous said...

Versus the spread:
Saints (+2) over Bears
Pats (+3) over Colts

Pats and Saints, again

Pats/Colts: There's not even a decision to be made, as far as I'm concerned.

Saints/Bears: When in doubt, go with the quarterback. Grossman in the SB doesn't feel right.

Anyone know the last time, if ever, two road dogs made it to the SB?

Brian in Oxford said...

I agree with mikepcfl....the lingering bitterness after a loss makes the next week hard to take. Pitt-Denver didn't do it for me last year. I can imagine HE'S sick of Colts-Pats....

But Dan, nice job hedging your picks....sheesh.

I'll make a hockey mention....Phil Kessel scoring the shootout winner in his 6th game back from ball cancer surgery.

(Okay, the tree of hockey fell, did anyone hear it?)

Anonymous said...

If Bears and Pats both win, please no Super Shuffle 2!!! The first time was bad enough and the game was painful to watch. Even though I am a long time Pat's fan, Ditka giving Fridge a TD and not giving one to Sweetness was a brutal decision.

jhawkjjm said...

Pats over Colts. Manning leads the Colts down the field to set up Vinnatieri for the potential game winner which he makes to tie/put the Colts up. However, they left too much time on the clock and Brady marches down and Gastkowski kicks the game winner sending the Pats to the SB.

(I can't hate Adam V. He won 3 SBs for NE)

As a Pats fan I would rather the Bears win since I think that's an easier game for them in the SB, but I think the Saints will.

If the Colts do happen to win, I won't be turning on espn until after the SB. If you think the cocksuckery of B&B is bad...Manning's cocksuckery will be 5x worse. And I hate having two weeks between the conference championships and the SB.

Anonymous said...

With the way this years gone it would make sense that two road dogs would make the SB.

I like Pats, until Peyton and Co beat them, I will continue to pick them. I like the Saints in a shoot out.

How about the Mavs finishing the first half the season 33-8. If not for that 0-4 start they'd have a chance at 70 wins.
I'm hoping for another Suns/Mavs conference finals.

Anonymous said...

I will agree that the media blows Manning too, but he at least deserves some of it. Brady has the fortune of being a pretty good QB on a team with no glaring weaknesses in an era of mediocrity. If Manning and Brady switched teams the past 7 years, people would be talking about how Brady can't win a big game and how Manning is the best ever. Don't fault Manning because he has been on a lesser team than Brady.

marcomarco said...

If Manning happens to survive this week's pressure, surely he will succumb to Superbowl cockchokery.

Gotta go with the better QB's, in both games.

Pats. 24-14 (3 manning int's)
Saints. 31-10 (3 grossman int's)

Anonymous said...

Little Championship Games History:
The Last Time Both Road Teams won:
1997 - Green Bay @ San Francisco and Denver @ Pittburgh

The Last Time Both Home Teams won:
1996 - Green Bay beat Carolina
New England beat Jacksonville

So based on this history one of the Home team is going to lose.

Steve said...

Seriously Dan, the Bears are not the marquee NFC team. The 49ers and Cowboys have both won 5 Super Bowls to Chicago's 1. The Redskins always lead the league in merchandise sales. The Giants are always having their cock sucked by the NFL brass. The Bears are no higher than 5th.

Anonymous said...

I'm definitely going through a mourning period since the Eagles lost, and therefore I guess I have no soul because I can't root for the Saints. I truthfully don't care all that much who wins in the NFC Championship because I'm still bitter. I also hate Peyton Manning (and Eli Manning for that matter), so I feel like I can't root for the Colts, but I definitely don't want to see the Pats win yet again. All in all, with my team out and no vested interest in any of these teams, I really don't care who wins.

Anonymous said...

Re: Oak Hill v Simeon

I guess I have a philosophical problem with HS sports being televised nationwide, especially when it's a game featuring one of the basketball mills (versus a known Public League basketball mill).

Anonymous said...

Conference Championship History for All the teams(Super Bowl Era):

Indianapolis - 1-3(inclduing when they where the Baltimore Colts) Only win the only time they played at Home in 1970

New England - 5-0 including 3-0 on the Road.

Chicago - 1-2 - Only Win at Home in 1986

New Orleans - 0-0

Anonymous said...

The Redskins? They are top 10 in merchandising sales, maybe. Last year, the Eagles were #1, and this year was the Steelers.

After the Steelers and Eagles, the Oakland Raiders ranked third on this year's list, followed by the Dallas Cowboys, the New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers, the Indianapolis Colts, the Chicago Bears, the New York Giants and the Denver Broncos.

Sales were tracked from April 1, 2005 until March 31, 2006.

Redskins at best were 11th this year. Not saying they aren't a marquee team, but in terms of merchandise sales, they aren't even close.

Mikepcfl said...

Last year when the Ravens completely sucked and didnt make the playoffs, I had no problem watching every playoff game. But this year, since they were in it and I had my hopes dashed, I am in no mood to watch the games. As for my predictions:

Colts 27 Pats 21. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut eventually. I think the Pats were able to use guile to get past Marty. The Colts actually do have alot of talent and are playing at home.

SAints 31 Bears 24. I think the Saints offense will run through the depleted Bears D. Just too many weapons for Grossman to keep up with.

Anonymous said...

Brady drove the team late to wins in 2 SuperBowls(2 MVPs)and for the third SB over the Eagles he played well, especially in the 2 AFC games:(Brady led the Patriots to victories over the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brady played his best game of the year in Pittsburgh despite requiring IV treatment the previous night when he had a temperature of 103 degrees. Against the NFL's best defensive team, Brady recorded a quarterback passer rating of 130.5, his highest of the season.)

Brady in Indy would have won multiple SB's by now, Manning has choked under pressure in the playoffs and blown games for his team.
5-6 in the playoffs with 16 td's and 13 int's

Drake said...

I can't see how any of you can take the colts. Until the beat the Pats in the playoffs, you can't. Not to mention wasn't last year suppose to be their year? Who beat them? A streaking veteran team. Sound familiar? Pats 27, Colts 20

Don't think the Saints can stop the Bears running game. Grossman makes a couple big throws on play action and doesn't make any stupid ones and the bears win a close one. Bears 17, Saints 14.

marcomarco said...


Manning and Brady switched teams the past 7 years, people would be talking about how Brady can't win a big game and how Manning is the best ever.

I have to object here.

If Brady was throwing to Harrison, with Edge in the backfield, he'd have 10,000 more passing yards and 60 more tds.

To go with his three rings (maybe more).

Anonymous said...

Greatest upset last night has to be Jim choosing Pam

Anonymous said...

Letter from Tom Brady's Poodle

Some funny stuff here.

A friend sent it to me and had me dying.

(posted it at the end of the day yesterday)

jhawkjjm said...

I'm with tbender, I just can't support nationally televising a high school basketball game. I just don't agree with it. Same thing when espn televised a high school football this past fall.

Interesting stat...
Pro Bowlers: Pats 1, SD 10.

Drake said...


NO kidding. I can't believe that. Don't get me wrong, I'm not tossing either one of them out of bed for eating crackers, but still...

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Brady would have led some of those Colts teams to the playoffs. Their defense was awful. Te reason the Colts go is because of Manning. Take him out, and what do you have? I don't think Brady has the same skill set to run that offense with the success Manning has. Brady is a good QB, so I am sure they would still be an above average team, but they would have to rely on Brady to win every single week by scoring 30+ points, and I don't think that would happen. I know Pats fans disagree, but whatever. The Pats win because they are a solid team, and every other team has weaknesses the Pats are able to exploit. They have won 3 Super Bowls, but they aren't a dominant team in my opinion. The Elway/Davis Broncos, the 90's Cowboys, and Favre & Young's Super Bowl Winners would all throttle the Patriots.

Brady plays well in big spots, no denying that. But the Pats win because they had an overall better team.

The national media says they have weaknesses, not me. I say that, though they have been depleted in areas, they are still one of the most, if not the most, sound team in the league in every area, even more so in their Super Bowl winning seasons. Every team they beat had *HUGE* weaknesses, be it shitty defenses, Mike Martz's insanity, etc. So the Patriots replace a solid linebacker with another solid linebacker. Ohhh, huge hit there. And don't throw that Pro Bowl junk at me. That's a popularity contest, and is also driven by stats, so teams like the Pats that just win with no glaring numbers will obviously not be well represented.

Brian in Oxford said...

I don't buy the "until they do it in the playoffs" crap about the Colts over the Pats. They won two games in a row in Foxboro. No, the stakes weren't as high, but now the Colts players KNOW they can beat them, and they certainly aren't going to freeze up in a home game against them.

It was one thing when the Pats had won every game against them....then you can say yeah, they're in the Colts' heads. But 2 convincing wins in NE....I don't buy for a second that the Colts think "oh wait, those were just regular season games".

So the genius will have to come up with something else. And only then, would we be able to restore some sort of "in their heads" description of the rivalry.

mattie said...

I usually have a "mourning" period...I sure as hell didn't watch the World Series once the Mets lost. But I'm a Jets fan, and can't be upset when no one expected them to do nearly so well or make the playoffs at all in the first place. So no worries this year!

My picks: Pats over Colts
This is one where I can't pick the other way, and will only believe once it's already happened. The Pats will find a way to win, and Peyton, who hasn't even been playing well in Indy's wins, will find a way to choke. I think it'll probably be a close game though.

Saints over Bears
I think the Saints are going to put a great game together, and Deuce McAllister is going to do whatever needs to be done. I'm not as confident with this pick, but I think the Saints come out more prepared and confident.

Superbowl: Saints over Pats
I think either NFC team wins, frankly.

Anonymous said...

I'll be rooting for the Colts since they have two former Syracuse players (Harrison and Freeney) and I also hate the Pats. However if I was betting and I am not, the Pats are more likely to win.

I must be souless Dan S. since I am rooting for the Bears. I just like them better. That doesn't mean I don't like New Orleans as a city. I would be happy for them if their team wins. However despite what people think, their sports teams don't really have anything to do with the city. How many players are from NO on the Saints? It is a professional sports team and has nothing to do with the hurricane.

People may not have houses to live in but they should be happy that their local pro team won a game?

Frankly as much as I like sports, I realize that it really doesn't matter. However I am going to my 15 year old's track meet tonight and then racing over to watch my 11 year old play in his basketball game. His team is 4-0, Yahooo!!!!

Anonymous said...

Brady plays well in Indy and in Domes: In two previous games at the RCA Dome (both wins), Brady threw for 438 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. The Patriots quarterback is 10-0 in domed stadiums and 19-1 on artificial turf, which even for him is off-the-charts good.

RexyBack said...

Hell yes we are fired up... We are going to tear apart America's Favorite "I feel guilty that I haven't helped aid Katrina anywhere near as much as I could/should have; I feel guilty I am completely unaffected way away from New Orleans, so I am going to root for their NFL franchise to clear my conscience!" Team


marcomarco said...

Excellent point rexy. That bandwagon is overstuffed.

Anonymous said...

Free-agent outfielder Trot Nixon has agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with the Cleveland Indians,'s Peter Gammons reports.

marcomarco said...

Thanks for the memories Trot.

Sox couldn't pony up 3 mil for loyalty? Jeez.

Chaddogg said...

Steve, you're an idiot. There's no way that the Bears are NOT the #1 marquee franchise in the NFC. Chicago is arguably the most sports-crazy city in the country, and while we have Cubs-Sox divisions, the only thing that unites all of this city is football and Bears. Trust me, no city is more behind its team and invested in its play than Chicago is with the Bears.

Add in the history/legacy (Halas, Butkus, Ditka, Payton, etc.); the best rivalry in pro football (Bears-Packers); the continuing tradition of hard-hitting, hard-nosed football; Soldier Field (even after the bizarre makeover, one of the best stadiums in sports, considering it's RIGHT on Lake Michigan); cold weather; da Superfans; and the simple fact that Dallas are pretty-boy wannabes, the Redskins have an offensive nickname and have blown since Snyder took over, the 49ers would rather be hosting a wine and cheese party, and the Giants hate their coach and split their local fanbase with the Jets, and you see why da Chicago Bears are the NFC's marquee franchise (and arguably the most valuable commodity in the NFL, if they were to ever be sold).

Anonymous said...

Interesting breakdown from our friends at

In the days leading up to the Eagles-Saints game last week, New Orleans coach Sean Payton was peppered with questions from the media about the team’s terrible postseason history. You know the story: just five playoff appearances and one measly wild-card victory in 40 years of football before last weekend.

Finally, he lost patience.

To paraphrase Payton’s response: “What does the past have to do with the future? Have any of you guys ever even kissed a woman? God, I hate you people.”

We feel the same way about the average media ass clown, Sean.

But history does have a place. Do Mike Ditka, Ricky Williams, Archie Manning and toeless 63-yard-field-goal kicker Tom Dempsey have anything to do with how the Saints will fare this weekend in the NFC championship game? Of course not.

However, the history of teams in the championship game does mean something.

This is why, as keepers of the coldest and hardest of football facts, we set out to study these championship-level teams and draw some conclusions.

After four days buried in the archival dungeon of the Cold, Hard Football Facts cardboard-box world headquarters, we emerged – drunk, pale and squinty-eyed – clinging to all the numbers that really matter come championship weekend.

Our foray into relevant history begins with 1978. It was kind of a crappy year – Jimmy Carter was failing to put out fires all over the world, two Popes died, Kevin Federline was born – but it was a significant season for the NFL, which made several major changes in 1978.

As most CHFF readers know, 1978 was the dawn of the “Live Ball Era,” coinciding with the NFL's efforts to open up the offensive game.

But more important, for our purposes, were the structural changes: Namely, the NFL lengthened the schedule from 14 games to 16 games, and it added a wild-card round in the playoffs. It was a new formula that hasn’t really changed much: Oh, sure, there are 12 playoff teams now instead of 10 like there were in 1978. But, basically, the NFL that was then, is now.

So, excluding the two strike years (1981 and 1987) because of their shortened seasons and/or use of replacement players, we compiled a database of the 104 teams to make it to the conference championship game from 1978-2005, focusing on their regular-season statistics.

What were these teams good at? What were they bad at? Were there any patterns behind the winners and losers? Was there a strength shared by the teams who ended up in the Super Bowl? Was there a weakness that haunted the losers?

Our conclusions:

Winning games is all well and good, but the great teams tend to win games and kick ass in the process. This ass-kicking ability is found in scoring margin – points scored minus points allowed.

Cold, Hard Football Facts: 27 of the 104 teams in this study had a scoring differential of +160. These teams went 20-7 in their title game (.741). The team with the better scoring margin went a remarkable 36-15-1 (.706) in title games – that’s a better record than home teams in conference-title play (33-19).

Who this favors: The Patriots (+148) hold a distinct advantage over the Colts (+67), and the Bears (+162) are superior to the Saints (+89).

Conventional wisdom, not to mention your average pigskin “pundit,” says that you need to run the ball to win in the playoffs.

The Cold, Hard Football Facts say otherwise: It’s important to pass the ball well. It’s not as important to run the ball well.

We looked at the average rank of all 104 teams in this study in four key areas: yards per pass attempt, yards per rush attempt, defensive yards per pass attempt and defensive yards per rush attempt.

The 104 conference-championship contenders ranked, on average:

* 8th in yards per pass attempt
* 10th defending against the pass
* 12th defending against the run
* 13th rushing the football

Running the ball, in other words, was the least important indicator.

Cold, Hard Football Facts: Teams with a greater average per pass attempt went 29-23 in championship play. An average of 7.0 yards per pass attempt seems a good place to be: Teams that average 7.0 YPA or better are 18-11 in championship games.

Who this favors: The Colts (7.89 YPA) and the Saints (7.98 YPA) were among the very best in the league this year at moving the ball via the pass. The Patriots (6.81) and Bears (6.70) were not.

This one simply confirms conventional wisdom. But what is surprising is that plenty of teams with bad run defenses have reached the championship round – they just haven’t gone on to win Super Bowls.

The average championship contender allowed 3.84 yards per rush attempt and ranked just 12th in this category. That’s pretty average for the best teams of the post-Star Wars generation. However, a lot of bad run defenses brought down the average.

Cold, Hard Football Facts: A full quarter of the teams in this study (26) ranked 20th or worse in yards per rush. These 26 teams went 9-17 (.346) in title games. Teams with the better run defense in the regular season went 32-20 (.615) in title games.

Who this condemns: As we’re sure you know by now, the Saints and Colts had the two worst run defenses in the league this year, and two of the worst in history (Saints allowed 4.94 YPA; Colts allowed 5.33 YPA). The Patriots (3.88 YPA) were 10th and the Bears (3.96 YPA) were 11th.

The list of Super Bowl champions with 10-6 records in the regular season is very short: It includes only the 1988 49ers, a team led by Joe Montana. We watched Joe Montana. We drank watching Joe Montana. And you, Mr. Drew Brees, are no Joe Montana.

There have, however, been three 11-5 Cinderella teams to win the Super Bowl title – the 1980 Raiders, 2001 Patriots and 2005 Steelers.

Cold, Hard Football Facts: Thirteen teams 10-6 or worse have made it to the championship round since 1978. They have gone 2-11 (.153). And one of those wins came when the 9-7 Rams beat the 10-6 Buccaneers in the 1979 NFC title game.

Who this condemns: As we indicated, it's the Saints. Every other championship contender won at least 12 games in the regular season – and that’s about the minimum number of wins your team needs before you can reasonably expect to win a Super Bowl.

Plus, as we showed you before this whole playoff mess started, it’s extremely rare for a team with a three-game disadvantage in the regular season to beat an opponent in the playoffs. So expecting the 10-6 Saints to march into Soldier Field and beat the 13-3 Bears definitely goes against the grain.

This is not exactly a news flash, but the numbers are scary. For most of the stats we tracked, the overall difference between winning and losing teams was low, in the 5-15 percent range. But in turnovers, the difference was as wide as the gap between Michael Strahan’s teeth: Winners were +9.1 in turnover margin; losers were +5.7. That’s a 61 percent difference.

Cold, Hard Football Facts: Teams with a higher plus-minus in turnovers went 34-16-2 (.680) against their ball-protecting inferiors in the title game. Teams with a negative plus-minus (more giveaways than takeaways) went 6-12 (.333) in the title game.

Who this condemns: The Saints (-2) were one of just two teams this year to make the playoffs with a negative turnover margin. The other was Seattle (-8). The rest of the final-four contenders are bundled among the league leaders: Chicago (+8), New England (+8), Indy (+7).

This is another gridiron aphorism soundly supported by the Cold, Hard Football Facts. The big-time offenses garner all the headlines. The big-time defenses garner all the rings. Even the great offensive teams that have won Super Bowls – the 1994 49ers, 1996 Packers and 1999 Rams, for example – had great defenses, too.

Cold, Hard Football Facts: 32 teams reached the title round after allowing 300 or more points in the regular season. Only three of those 32 teams went on to win the Super Bowl – the 1980 Raiders, 1983 Raiders and 1998 Broncos.

Who this condemns: The Colts surrendered 360 points this season – only three of 104 championship-game contenders were worse (1981 Chargers, 1983 Seahawks, 2000 Vikings). Those three teams lost their championship games by an average score of 33-7. The most points surrendered by a Super Bowl-winning defense was 338 (1983 Raiders).

We discussed the importance of passing yards per attempt as an easy and highly effective indicator of offensive success throughout the season. It works for defenses, too: If you can limit the yards per pass attempt of your opponents, chances are you’ll be a pretty good defense – and a good team.

Further proof of its effectiveness is found in this study: There is a huge correlation between stopping the pass and winning Super Bowls.

Cold, Hard Football Facts: Defenses that led the league in yards per pass attempt were 7-2 in title games (.778). Six of the nine went on to win the Super Bowl. The Bears' defense this year leads the league in passing yards per attempt. Teams that entered the conference title game defending better against the pass went 33-19 (.635).

Who this favors: The Chicago defense held opponents to 5.36 yards per pass attempt. Not only did the Bears lead the league this year – they had the best pass defense of any team in the study, edging the 1995 Packers (5.41).

All four 2006 title teams were in the top half of the league in defensive yards per pass attempt: Saints 9th (6.02), Colts 12th (6.15), Patriots 13th (6.18).

Again, the “pundits” tell you that running the ball is a necessity. Again, the Cold, Hard Football Facts prove that the “pundits” are idiots. ESPN "analyst" Merrill Hoge, for example, has built a broadcast career out of pounding on his desk and declaring that teams must run the football to be successful. ESPN "analyst" Merrill Hoge doesn't have a clue.

It’s remarkable to see how many teams with mediocre or downright bad running games have advanced to the final four – and on to the Super Bowl.

* The average title-game winner rushed for 4.135 YPA in the regular season.
* The average title-game loser rushed for 4.069 YPA.

That’s a difference of less than seven-hundredths of a yard – or about 2.5 inches per carry.

Cold, Hard Football Facts: Among the 11 worst rushing attacks to play in the Final Four since 1978, five went on to win the Super Bowl (1981 49ers, 1990 Giants, 2001 Patriots, 2002 Buccaneers, 2003 Patriots).

Who this favors: It doesn’t favor anybody. None of the four teams excelled at running the ball this season: The Colts ranked 16th (4.01 YPA); Patriots, 18th (3.95 YPA); Bears, 23rd (3.81 YPA); Saints 26th (3.73 YPA) – which only goes to prove that Hoge is an idiot and that "running the ball in January" is the most overrated cliché in pigskin "punditry."

Chaddogg said...

As for the Bears-Saints game, I want everyone to shut the hell up about Rex. Check the stats - he had the second most games with a passer-rating above 100 this season (behind Bulger). Sure, he had some crappy games, largely when A) the Bears had already basically wrapped up home-field, or B) he took an opponent too lightly. He's a first-year starting quarterback, and he went 13-3. Give me a break with the Rexcrement jokes. First year QBs have lapses in focus and preparation, and when Rex's back has been to the wall and he's gotten prepared, he's been unstoppable.

Look at last week: Rex made one mistake (the fumble; the interception went right off of Muhammad's hands, and if football had a way to assign the INT to Muhammad it would have). He also had his receivers drop some huge balls (Muhammad above, and Berrian on a crossing route that would have given the Bears a 4th Qtr. TD that would have ended the game). Ron Turner also got away from running the ball in the 2nd half, which won't happen this week. Other than that, what did we see? Deft touch (the pass to Berrian, which was a thing of beauty), good decision making (dump off passes to Benson, throwing it away when he had nothing, taking the short passes), and saavy leadership (looking off the safety on the big Rashied Davis 30 yard pass in OT). Rex is going to shock a LOT of people with his excellent (and, in a weak QB NFC, Pro Bowl worthy over Romo) play on Sunday.

The Bears' biggest concern is actually their defense, but I'm not worried there, either. They're ready to shut up all the doubters. This team is ANGRY. And you will not like the Bears when they are angry. Expect a physical pounding on the Saints by some pissed-off Bears, who are feeling slighted after being 13-3 this season and being #1 in the NFC, only to be picked by the "experts" to lose this weekend.

Bears 35-Saints 10. Brees has 2 big INTs, Bush has a fumble, Rex throws for 280 and 2 TDs, Benson hits the end zone, and Hester gives the Bears good field position all game.

Anonymous said...

Chadd Said "you see why da Chicago Bears are the NFC's marquee franchise (and arguably the most valuable commodity in the NFL, if they were to ever be sold)."

Well the experts at forbes Magzine would disagrees with you.

There 2006 List of Most Valuable Franchises:

1. Washington
2. New England
3. Dallas
4. Houston
5. Philadelphia
6. Denver
7. Cleveland
8. Tampa Bay
9. Baltimore
10. Chicago

Anonymous said...

Chris no need to be nasty, just trying to make it easier for everyone so they do not have to go searching for the article. If you do not want to read it just skip it.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, even though my blog may suck, which I never said it was any good, at least I take the time to write one.

Trey (formerly TF) said...

I was at UF when Rex was the QB and to this day I've never seen anyone throw the long ball better.

My picks this weekend.

Patriots - Peyton has been less than steller in his 1st 2 games, had it not been for his defense we'd be talking about him chocking again.

Bears - Ya, like a lot I have a soft spot for the Saints, but I really this this Chicago team is very very hungry.

Joe (Dayton)

oasiserfede said...

I have no soul if I'm rooting against the Saints, unless I'm from Chicago?!?!?!?!?

Shanoff, stop being such a friggin' idiot!!!!!

Anonymous said...

you don't put a monetary value on tradition...

i feel the pack and da bears, along with the skins... are up there...

Sheldiz said...

i'm with mikpcfl -- i'm in a bit of a mourning period. i think if the colts were playing anyone else, i'd me more interested in the game. however, since they're playing i team i equally wish demise upon, and its impossible for BOTH to lose, its a tough call. i'll still watch though.

and as far is this Saints = America's Team BS... a) it would have been more powerful if it happened last year. b) if i were a New Orleans resident and fan i'd be telling all the bandwagoners to fuck off. where was all this love for N.O. when it was needed?

Chaddogg said...

The Forbes numbers, I believe (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) measure current value (which, as I write this, I realize is probably the ONLY way to measure such a thing).

I guess my point is that I can imagine NO team that if sold and placed in capable management/ownership hands (McCaskey's, I love you, but at some point you will have to let go) would out-earn or out-profit the Bears. Too big of a following (basically all of Illinois, parts of Wisconsin, north Indiana, and then Chicago transplants around the country), and too big of a passion for football in this city (compared to, say, NYC, where baseball is arguably king).

Plus, imagine if a guy like Reinsdorf (a nightmare for me, as a Cubs fan) got ahold of the Bears. Can you IMAGINE the revenue he could build out of a Chicago sports network featuring the Bulls, Bears, and White Sox? (the only thing that could surpass it would be if you replaced White Sox with Cubs, in my opinion).

Also, if we're going to discuss marquee franchises, arguably the fact that SO many ex-Bears continue to do really well for themselves has to account for something....I mean, guys like Ditka, Fridge, McMahon, Butkus, etc. all are still making tons of money off their Bears connections....even Steve "Mongo" McMichael is pulling in cash as an ex-Bear. These guys are legends, and a lot of that has to do with the marquee-value of the Bears.

Mega said...

Is it just me, or is the NFC Championship game not Bears versus Saints, its Bears versus the entire flippin' country?!

I am not a Saints fan. While the story is nice, I'm pulling for my Bears all the way. There will be many disappointed people come Monday when Da Bears get ready for a rematch from 20 years ago when they last met the Patsies in the Superbowl.

Watch for Tom Brady to pull Tony Eason part 2 when he finally faces a real team in the big game!

Anonymous said...

Well CM you didn't make my life any easier having to spend an hour scrolling down that from that shitty analysis.

Anyway can anyone please explain to me why it is Peyton’s time this year? Why the defense which three games ago was going to keep them from wining a playoff game this year is all sudden being compared to the 85 Bears? Why this year’s crappy Colts team in the league?

Personally I think the media is just full of shit.

Seriously Shanoff grow a set…you pick two teams to win, but then you write that you want the other two teams to actually win the game? Is that some type of grade school jinx? Or are you just covering all you bases so no matter what happens on Sunday you can convince yourself that you’re a genius and you picked the winners? Or are you so biased you can not make a single rational comment? Don’t hold the Colts ball in your mouth and then pick the Pats. Be a man, make some pics.

Anonymous said...

Well CM you didn't make my life any easier having to spend an hour scrolling down that from that shitty analysis.

Anyway can anyone please explain to me why it is Peyton’s time this year? Why the defense which three games ago was going to keep them from wining a playoff game this year is all sudden being compared to the 85 Bears? Why this year’s crappy Colts team in the league?

Personally I think the media is just full of shit.

Seriously Shanoff grow a set…you pick two teams to win, but then you write that you want the other two teams to actually win the game? Is that some type of grade school jinx? Or are you just covering all you bases so no matter what happens on Sunday you can convince yourself that you’re a genius and you picked the winners? Or are you so biased you can not make a single rational comment? Don’t juggle the Colts ball in your mouth and then pick the Pats. Be a man.

Anonymous said...

The NFL sucks right now- I have no interest in ANY of these teams. And I also LOVEEEEEE how the WWL is conitnuing to suck Manning's cock by trotting out their analysts to say the Colts are the Superbowl fav. have they learned NOTHING from the last couple of years?

I think I need to get drunk just thinking about all of this.

Anonymous said...

FYI - Sander Played in the first Patriot-Colts game and that Patriots had over 200 yards rushing. What doomed the Patriots in the first game was 5 turnovers and even with 5 turnovers they had the ball with a chance to tie the game at the end.

Brian in Oxford said...

I agree it wasn't that good an article.....on the bright side, we can get sorta conspiratorial and suggest he's mailing it in at this point.

and no wife picks?

Brian in Oxford said...

oh ok, i read the 11:20 version of the story, not the one actually posted from the page 2 home.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the Simmons article yet, but that was kind of my point. The Patriots are a great team in this era. Their fans should be relishing it. But being great in this era isn't enough to put them among the all-time great teams, even if they win a few more Super Bowls. From my experience, they seem to get all the breaks and because of the era we are in, they get slurped up higher than they should be. No denying they are a great team, but people keep touting them among the best ever, and I just do not see it.

chitown italian said...

Colts just because I am sick of the NFL Yankees.

Go Bears, but you can not root against Reggie, Brees, and Co. Not to mention S. Payton the coach of the year and ex-Bear although he is scabbed up.

Colts vs. Bears or Saints and I am happy. No Pats please.

TJ said...

You have no soul if you're not rooting for the Saints to advance

You know, I probably would be rooting for the Saints if I didn't keep seeing and hearing statements like that. I like Rex Grossman for whatever reason, I like Lovie Smith, and I cringe to think of the barrage of medai coverage that would preceed a Saints Super Bowl berth. It's like with the 2004 Red Sox, only this time I'm getting sick of the team before they make the big game.

I was also disappointed with the Simmons article. When he made the comment about Brady last weekend reminding him of Bird and Manning... not so much. Well, Jesus Christ, man. One of those QBs made a game-losing interception throw as the game was winding down. I mean, WTF?

Anonymous said...

"My advise to you is, Start drinking heavily"

"I'd listen to him, he's pre-med."

The Patriots are the NFL's version of the Yankees (if the Yankees spent money like Oakland).

Anonymous said...

Seriously, under what criteria do you consider the Bears the NFC's marquee team? Pretty sure nobody outside of the midwest cares about the Bears (& I live in Iowa). Dallas, Green Bay, San Fran, NY Giants, Washington, & Philly all have to rank higher than the Bears when it comes to a national following.

Also, the politically correct thing to do is to root for the Saints, but there's no way in hell I would be able to put up 2 weeks of non-stop inspirational, heat-warming New Orleans stories. Can you imagine how even more insufferable the media hype for the Super Bowl will be if the Saints are involved? I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it. Seriously, besides playing their home games in the city, what exactly do the Saints have to with tragedy of the hurricane. The Saints are made up of millionaires who I'm sure weren't within 500 miles of the city when the hurricane struck. Here's to hoping Chicago wins this weekend so that the media will be forced to come up with stories that actually have something to do with football.

I'll also be rooting for the Colts this weekend because I'm sick of Peyton always getting ripped on for not getting it done in the playoffs or against New England. He's gonna go down as the greatest quarterback who ever lived regardless of whether or not he wins a Super Bowl, but a win over New England en route to the Super Bowl should finally shut up his critics.

Tortfeasor said...

Talk about a "Quickie." This is the equivalent of busting a nut before you even get the condom rolled all the way down.

Anonymous said...

Luke Bell your an idiot...If anything that had more to deal with then any other team in History. They have to deal with more teams, more traveling, and the big one, FREE AGENCEY. I watched Super Bowl 36 yesterday and do you know how many starters are still on the pats? 3! 3 out of 11. Defensive starters. Offensively? 2 - Tom Brady and Matt Light. They have Kept 5 out
of 22 starters. That is amazing.

Seriously if you’re not excited for this game you are not a football fan. Everyone complains that the Patriots wont let this respect thing go. But no one gives them any credit.

Second people are sick of seeing Brady? What about Manning? he is on every single NFL commercial imagine what is going to happen if he ever wins a super bowl? If you got sick of Brady that quick, Manning will be widely hated by 2008.

Why are the Pats the Yankees? Because they spend lots of Money? No or is it because they win? Jesus Patriots haters are so petty. Just because they are doing everything any other franchise wishes to do doesn't make them evil.

I swear if this team was anywhere but New England no one would be making this comparison, people just assume that because Foxboro is near Boston, every person thinks only about the red sox - Yankees.
You people are not football fans, you are just like women reading the tabloids.

Brian in Oxford said...

Come to think of it, the Colts are more like the Yankees.....high expectations not coming to fruition every year.

Rex Grossman versus Mark Rypien.

I'm sure you can guess the topic.

marcomarco said...

@big smitty

Tom Brady is to Tony Eason as
Dan Shanoff is to Dan Mega

Anonymous said...

Ummm, every team in this era has to deal with the same things the Patriots do. Thanks for proving my point. The Patriots are the best in this era. They can play the cap and find hidden gems that produce for them like no other team. I am giving them all the credit and respect in the world--they are the best in this era. Does that mean they would beat the '96 Packers, the '92 Cowboys, or any of those 80's 49er teams? No way. It's a totally different era.

They are like the Yankees because nobody but their pompous fans want to see them win. Take off the blinders. It has nothing to do with unlikeable players or outspending everyone else.

Anonymous said...

talk about taking off the blinders huh?

"The Patriots are a great team in this era. Their fans should be relishing it. But being great in this era isn't enough to put them among the all-time great teams, even if they win a few more Super Bowls. From my experience, they seem to get all the breaks and because of the era we are in, they get slurped up higher than they should be. No denying they are a great team, but people keep touting them among the best ever, and I just do not see it. "

Did the 60's Packers have free agency and this many teams? Did the 70's Steelers have it either? This Era is so much harder then the past.

Don't be a moron.

Anonymous said...

Yo Tim

Your a douche bag.

“They play in a division that is one of the worst in the NFL so in my mind they get 6 cupcake games a year”

AFC east had the most combined wins in the AFC this year. They also lead the AFC in Points against by over 100 total so I would not call those games cupcakes.

You guys can not praise the Pats and say they have a great team and a great system and then try knock them down a couple pegs. Its weak.

Why is the guy who dances like an idiot and does steriods get praised but the player who does everything right come off as an asshole?

Anonymous said...

I never mentioned the 60's or 70's teams.

The only thing "harder" about this era is keeping your good team together, which as I have said repeatedly, the Pats do better than anyone. When you judge them with their peers, the Pats are by far the best team out there. You think this puts them among the all-time greats by default, and I obviously do not.

Just keep in mind that before free agency, it was harder to build a championship team and easier to keep it together. Now, it is easier to build one and harder to keep it together. I would say that is an argument that it is easier to win these days, as everyone is muddled around .500 and a team can go from shitty to good to shitty in 3 consecutive seasons. The Patriots greatness is that they have maintained their quality (relative to the league) in this era.

Aitch said...

I think Brady is underrated by fans outside of New England. those of us that see him every week get more insight as to the little things that he does so well. I agree that he hardly ever throws the deep ball, but you have to acknowledge the lack of downfield threats as a factor in that too.

The thing that has always impressed me about Brady over Manning is his composure in the pocket under pressure. You'll never confuse Tom with Mike Vick, but he just has a knowledge of how to avoidf pressure in the pocket and get off a good ball (most of the time). Manning uo until this year has never done that. When it is all said and done though, BOTH of these great QBs will be in the conversation as among the greatest ever to play. I don't agrre that Manning is the best to ever play, no matter how many ring he does or doesn't end up with. Brady neither. That debate is between Montana and Elway and no one else.

As far as this weekend, I'm a huge Pats fan, so I'd obviously love to see them win. But I can't pick them to. Nor can I pick the Colts. There are too many x-factors to this game. Will Manning have another poor outing? Will either defense step up? I don't think the Colts D has played nearly as well as people are giving them credit for, but they have played better than they had in the regular season.

So basically I'm rooting for the Pats, but can't pick either way...

Mega said...

Looks like I'm getting a little ripping here and there from my Tom Brady/Tony Eason comparison. I advise you to look up the word "sarcasm" in the dictionary. Comprehension can be your friend.

Anonymous said...

If the Patriots win the Super Bowl this you would have to put them among the Greatest Teams Ever or at least acknowledge that this is the greatest run by a team in the history of the NFL. No Team has ever won 4 Super Bowls in 6 Years.

Chaddogg said...

There is no way any of those teams from the NFC have a larger fan following than the Bears, given Chicago's size, media reach, and the fact that Chicagoans (and denizens of the surrounding suburbs) identify themselves as Chicagoans for a much longer period of time than those of other cities after leaving Chicago. (Marrioti even mentioned it this morning - even if he is an idiot - that Chicago has the largest number of citizens who grow up in Chicago and stay here for all their lives than any other city in America, contributing to the hold the 1985 Bears still have on this city).

NFC "Marquee" Franchises in Order:
1. Chicago
2. Dallas (as much as I hate them)
3. Washington
4. Green Bay
5. NY Giants (support cut due to Jets)
6. San Francisco

Anonymous said...


pats until they are finally beaten... (maybe except if the face the bears again)

Anonymous said...

Chadd when the NFL really talks about the MArquee franchises they really speak about consistent winner and Super Bowl Champions. Not just fan base.

Marquee NFC Franchises:
1. Dallas
2. San Francisco
3. New York
4. Green Bay
5. Washington
6. Chicago

Drake said...

Simmons article about the Pats being the Yankees was exactly what I was talking about the other day in here. People hate the good teams.

Tell me all of you who weren't cowboys fans in the 90's didn't hate every cowboys fan. Same thing with the niner fans in the 80s.

It's like cliques in high school. Every kid hated the popular kids unless they were the popular kids. It's the same way in sports fanaticism.

At the same time as much as I hated the niners and cowboys I respected their teams for how great they were (even with Dion, the pipemaker and Leon Lett).

I'm not a Pats fan, but to accomplish what they have done in this decade is pretty impressive, regardless of the worn out stories in the media.

Anonymous said...

The ESPN experts have weighed in and every single on them picked the Saints to Win and everyone except Allen and Theismann picked the Colts.

Anonymous said... expert 5 out of 6 picks the Colts, 4 out of 6 picked the Bears

Anonymous said...

SI.COM Experts
5 out of 7 pick the colts
5 out of 7 pick the Saints

Brian in Oxford said...

Steelers did their first 4 in 6 years...
9 and 10
13 and 14

But this would be a new twist, 3 in 4 and then the 4th so soon.

SF did 16,19,23,24,29. I think they ducked the Bills on purpose :)

Brian in Oxford said...

someone on WEEI mentioned Ricky Proehl on the Colts....

I forgot about that. Proehl had the very late game-tying TDs for the Rams and Panthers. He must wanna KILL Vinatieri, no?

Anonymous said...

Brady is a winner and a team player bottom line, extremely competitive and will take hits or risks like juking Urlacher for the 1st down in the Bears game to give his team a chance to win.
He is mentally prepared for the game and does not let the game situation affect his game. If he makes a bad play or the Pats are losing or lose he focuses on the next play or game. Peyton sits on the bench with his head down if he screws up, Brady stays positive and plays well under pressure.

Anonymous said...

For the Person who said Brady was not that good at Michigan you need to check your facts,

Brady started every game in the 1998 and 1999 seasons.

He was All-Big Ten both seasons.

The Wolverines won 20 of 25 games when Brady started

Shared the Big Ten Conference title in 1998.

Brady capped that season off with a win over Arkansas in the Citrus Bowl.

In the 1999 season, Brady led Michigan to an overtime win in the Orange Bowl over Alabama, throwing for 369 yards and four touchdowns.

Anonymous said...

Wow, What a week of commenting? I think this is the first time in the history of this blog we have had 100+ post for everyday this week on the main AM quickie post

Anonymous said...

If the Pats win, they for sure are on the greatest run in history. Hell, I would put them 1 or 1A as it is now. I still don't think they are among the greatest teams ever though. I think the 80's 49ers, 90's Cowboys, or even the Broncos or Packer Super Bowl winning teams in the 90's would beat them handily.

No argument about the run they are on now though.

Brian in Oxford said...

Now you'd have to balance the "the Pats aren't obviously dominant" argument against them,

against the "Players today are bigger, faster, stronger than 20 years ago" argument.

I don't know if the Pats are all-time great....but you'd have to think Belichick could scheme for Montana and the west-coast....or the Hogs....or the Bears. He actually did with the Giants and came out on top a couple of years.

Anonymous said...

Hey Dave "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere"

TJ said...

Seriously, you think that if the Saints don't make it, we won't have two whole weeks of stories about the Bears?! About Grossman overcoming the odds and Lovie Smith being a great guy?

Forgetting for the moment that the Bears in the Super Bowl would mean the greatest 2 weeks of Kissing Suzy Kolber ever, the coverage given to the Bears would not be half as nauseating as the coverage about the Saints would be. I'd rather have Sexy Rexy getting overhyped than reading about how the Saints have fixed New Orleans. No doubt the Saints making the Super Bowl would be a fantastic story. I just wish that story would get told, instead of the one the media would beat us with for 14 solid days.

And in the AFC, if you hate a Yankees/Lakers-type dominant stretch, no matter who and no matter what sport, then you would obviouly root for the Colts to win. Just because the media coverage will be way over the top doesnt mean that some stories will be easier to stomach over the course of two weeks.

And don't give me the "dont watch" speech. What the hell else am I supposed to watch on TV? Beauty and the Geek? American Idol?

Anonymous said...

Scheme all you want, but those Aikman/Emmitt/Irvin Cowboy teams would have still won. And I *HATE* the Cowboys. That offensive line would make an average back into a stud, and Emmitt was much better than average.

The same argument that the Patriots are better because they keep their team together also works against Bill B. here too. He is scheming against a league that cannot consistently keep their teams together. His schemes in NY were also with a team that was loaded with talent on defense. So he stopped the Niners with that Giants defense, but if we replace those players with the Patriots defense, would we get the same result? I don't know about that. It's a fun debate though.

Drake said...


Beauty and Geeks is hilarious. Just the fact that those bimbos are having to answer questions like "what type of advertising is a billboard call?" and the fact that they are starting to fight over the geeks. Priceless man, priceless.

Anonymous said...

The comparison between the 90's Yankees and the Patriots are about the team, not just fans.

There are only a few stars carried over year to year, Jeter/Brady, Rivera/Vinatieri and Torre/Belicheck. That comparison right there is downright spooky.

They both have a boring team-first, corporate philosophy without any flashy players.

They don't put up big offensive numbers, they're just shrewd and make fewer mistakes.

The Yankees actually did manage their money well in the 90s.

Their fans expect players to come through in the clutch.

It's not so much that we're "already" bored with the Patriots. The Patriots are boring. Casual fans want to see teams like the Colts or Saints win, big fireworks and some star power. The Patriots don't have that. They don't try to break records and they don't win every game in the regular season.

Their fans don't care, but the NFL should. Parity is a myth (Brady trumps all) and there are a lot of superstars sitting at home every January.