The Conference Championship Playoff Weekend

I'm over my Green Bay Packer playoff loss induced sports coma, but I doubt the rest of my family would consider it a great weekend if Dad spent it zoned out in front of the TV watching 6+ hours of football. No matter how good of a plan it sounds like to me. I'm usually allowed to vanish into my NFL cave only for Packer games. I'm looking forward to the day when one of my preschool children becomes a Packer fan (or at least a football fan). 

Last week featured three blowouts and one shank-fest (I'm talking about you K Nate Kaeding). It wasn't a memorable weekend of football, except for those fans that watched their teams advance to the conference championships. 

First up on Sunday is the Jets at Colts. While the Jets are already accepting orders for their AFC Championship swag, the Colts are favored by 7. I like two stats in the playoffs: turnover margin and defense. The Colts and Jets are tied this postseason with a league best +3 turnover margin. In the regular season, the Colts had a +2 margin and the Jets were +1. While the Jets had the No. 1 ranked defense during the regular season, the Colts defense was ranked No. 16 by Football Outsiders, and they only have to face QB Mark Sanchez instead of QB Peyton Manning. This game looks a lot closer than I expected, and it might be another game that is decided by who's field goal kicker doesn't suck. Colts win (because I have to pick someone). 

Then comes Vikings at Saints. Not surprisingly, just as the Jets and Colts each had a postseason turnover margin of +3 to lead the AFC, the Vikings (+3) and Saints (+2) lead in the NFC. The Saints had a +11 margin during the regular season for 3rd best in the NFL. The Saints also have a good pass defense, led by FS Darren Sharper, but an awful run defense. RB Adrian Peterson was 5th in the league with 1,383 rushing yards this season, but he hasn't looked like Purple Jesus in a while. His last 100 yard game was on November 15th at Detroit, and he's only had over 4 yards/carry in a game once since then (6 yards/carry on 9 carries in the week 17 blowout of the Giants). The last time he had over 20 carries, 100 yards, and 4 yards/carry in a road game was week 1 at the Browns. If the old AP doesn't show up, then QB Brett Favre will have to carry the load. And if he struggles against the Saints stingy pass defense, without a running game, he could start forcing passes which usually leads to INTs. Assuming the recent AP shows up (the guy who averaged 2.4 yards/carry last week against the Cowboys), Saints win.

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