Something to bear in mind: in games in which the NFL's final four had a 100-yard rusher, the Giants (6-0), Packers (5-0), Patriots (5-0) and Chargers (6-1) won 95 percent of the time.
Also bear in mind both of these matchups are repeats of Week 2 and both of the underdogs this weekend were blown out in Week 2.
San Diego @ New England
Flying Nowhere Fast...
You want a challenge? Try and figure out how the Chargers have a chance to win this game.
First of all, the odds of the Chargers gimping their way two weeks in a row to shocking upsets? Forget about the injuries to their starting QB, their star running back and their All-Pro tight end and think about the fact that the Pats are 13-2 in the post season since Coach Happy Face Belichick took over, 7-0 in the postseason at home and of course, 17-0 so far this season.
That isn't to say just because nobody's beaten the Pats yet since the preseason that the Chargers are incapable of winning this game. It just makes it bloody improbable.
But oh, it's the turnovers the Chargers are so famed at, it's the turnovers giving them an advantage, a prayer...blabla...The Patriots turned the ball over just 15 times this season, a franchise record and the fifth-lowest total in league history. So much for that game plan and prayer.
Yeah yeah, the Chargers are hot leading up to this game not having lost since Thanksgiving but what's hotter than an undefeated season? And besides, even if the weather is frigid, hot in the cold, since 1993 New England is 22-3 (including playoffs) when the kickoff temperature is 34 degrees or less.
About the only teeny tiny thing that the Chargers might like to think in their favour is the controversy surrounding the extortion in an alleged assault and battery case against Randy Moss and the distraction it causes. Distraction? Does it really seem possible that the Pats are capable under Belichick, this season, being distracted?
They might also rest their hats on the fact that a Chargers victory would likely be the biggest upset in AFC Championship history. After all, who would have bet on them beating the defending World Champions minus their three offensive stars?
But let's be real. The Pats are not the Colts. Brady is not Manning and the Chargers are not going to be catching anyone off guard.
QB Philip Rivers has two gimpy knees and is presumed to be the starter. Stupid move. If you want to give Rivers some playoff time, give it to him only if Volek can't handle it. Otherwise you stand the chance of a gimpy and immobile Rivers getting stuffed, panicking, fumbling, throwing interceptions and letting the game get away from them early and permanently. Let's not forget, gimpy or not, Rivers doesn't have any AFC Championship experience.
Not only that but Billy Volek once had two consecutive 400-yard passing games while subbing for Steve McNair in Tennessee.
Somebody is going to have to use those Charger receivers to expose the Patriots less-than-impressive secondary but if the Chargers fall behind early the game will get out of hand very quickly.
Forget about the upsets. If you're a Chargers fan your best bet is to pick them with the points and hope the game isn't overturned too quickly.
Who's your hero, baby?
Believe me, I'd like to be that crazy guy (no, not THAT one shirtless at Lambeau tonight) who says oh, I've just got this feeling that the Chargers will pull out another surprise and oh, no team has ever gone 18-0 in history and what about the last time the Chargers ventured into Gillette Stadium with a historic Patriots winning streak on the line? They beat the two-time defending Super Bowl champions to a pulp, 41-17, in Week 4 of the 2005 regular season. New England entered that game having won a franchise-record 21 consecutive home games dating to Week 17 of 2002 but...
Just for fun, I had a read through the San Diego papers. I mean what's it like to have to write for a sports page about a game your team has been told by the entire country they have absolutely zero chance winning.
Are Perfect But Not Unbeatable
Prediction: Patriots 24 Chargers 13
NY Giants @ Green Bay BRRRR
They just won't shut up about the cold for this game, will they?
First of all why the hell are they playing this game at night? Won't it be cold enough even at mid-day?
Think they'll be making snow angels on the sidelines this game or will their teeth be chattering so hard they won't be able to move? Mark Schlereth, a former lineman who's undergone more than a dozen surgeries in his career describes stepping out of the tunnel onto Lambeau Field under these conditions as "being punched in the face."
Now you can just see old notoriously bad in the cold Eli Manning playing a big psyche job on the Packers like even though historically he sucks in cold weather, up until a few weeks ago when he "found himself", "turned the corner" he sucked generally as a QB anyway, this new Eli is in fact, quite capable in the cold and fools them all.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, via a column by Filip Bondy of the New York Daily News, Manning has played in only six games where the temperature was 39 degrees or less, and only one game where it was 29 degrees or less. He has four touchdown passes, seven interceptions and a passer rating of less than 60 points in those games.
On the other hand maybe he'll only have to throw 20 passes all game and simply hand it off to Brandon Jacobs, who at |6-foot-4, 265 pounds is the biggest back the Packers have faced all season.
Super Zoom Zoom?
That's maybe something you're dreaming about if you're dreaming about a Giant upset. Especially as it keeps your mind out of those nightmares wherein Favre picks apart the Giants' continuously depleted secondary or former Giant Ryan Grant running rampant past the Giants front line who won't get good enough footing on the icy pitch to mount any kind of rush or trouble for Favre. You might see a performance by Favre
somewhat similar to the ease with which Brady turned out the Jags last weekend. But no, because Favre is generally not as patient as Brady and you'll not be surprised to see him throwing a pick or two, even against the depleted secondary.
That plus the fact that the Giants will likely blitz the hell out of him every time the need arises.
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Manning,
Brett Favre is 43-5 in home games when the temperature is 34 degrees or less.
But here are the things: the cold will sufficiently negate the passing attack of the Pack and even if it didn't the Giants will come at Favre hard, from all directions and force him into Favre-like mistakes. Grant was once dumped by the Giants and his mincing running will not be suited to a cold, icy pitch whereas the Giant combo of Jacobs and Bradshaw will combined for over 150 yards rushing. Manning will be managed appropriately so that he won't have the opportunity to make Favre-like mistakes.
Bottom line is I'd much rather see a rematch of the Pats-Giants final regular season game than listening to Favre accolades for the next two weeks.
Prediction: Giants 24 Packers 16