AFC-NFC Championship Weekend...You asked for it, you got it.
Rarely in Sports do we get the long anticipated match up that the fans and media have been clamoring for all year. Back in 1998 everyone expected (and wanted) to see John Elway's farewell tour wrap up with a high octane offensive battle between his Broncos and Chris Carter & Randy Moss' Vikings. The Falcons spoiled the party with their improbable and flawless upset win in Minneapolis. So Super Bowl XXXIII was John Elway's swan song tribute and the Falcons were simply the "the other guys". The only major story line we provided was Eugene Robinson's Biscayne Blvd excursion and then everything that didn't happen for the Falcons in the regular season going horribly wrong in the biggest game of the year.
How many times were Andy Reid's Eagles in the cat bird seat to get to the Super Bowl? The Jake Delhomme led Panthers were the 3 seed in 2003 and unlikely NFC champ that upset the Greatest Show on Turf and the Eagles in Philly to punch their ticket to lose to the Patriots on a last second field goal in one of the greatest Super Bowls ever. No to mention the 5 seed Giants beating Brett Favre and the Packers in Lambeau to make it 3 roads wins in a row on their way to their first of 2 Tom Coughlin's Championships back in 2007?
In 2000-01' in the minds of many fans at the time it should have been the 2 talented offenses of the Raiders vs the Vikings in the Super Bowl but...Tony Siraguas falls on and squashes Rich Gannon and the Raiders fall to Baltimore 16-3. Meanwhile the Kerry Collins and Jason Sehorn led Giants whipped the Vikings 41-0 in The NFC Championship. One of many playoff games where Randy Moss looked more like Claude Raines than the greatest WR of his generation.
My point is everybody is expecting everyone's favorite pitchman and record setter, Peyton Manning to avenge the Broncos earlier meltdown in Foxboro and punch their ticket to New York. I'm not buying it. And by the way how brutal was that choke job? I expect some more of the same...
And there's some history to back me up on this...
Playoff records: Tom Brady: 18-7...Peyton Manning 10-17. In their 2 previous AFC Championship match ups they'e even. in 2003 The Patriots defense sacked Manning 4 times and picked him off 4 times in some brutal conditions. The mugging of Marvin Harrison and the other Colts receivers was so bad the league tweaked pass coverage rules the next season.
Manning's Colts did beat Brady's Pats at The RCA Dome in the AFC Championship back in 2007 en route Peyton's lone Super Bowl win over the Bears. Peyton threw for 349 yards as the Colts overcame an 18 point defect to win against a New England defense that suddenly looked old in one half of football.
This Sunday in Denver I don't trust that Broncos defense against Tom Brady and his no-name offense. And yeah Peyton may throw a pick or two. Peyton Manning is 4-10 vs Brady & The Patriots, it's the other Manning that gives the Pats trouble. Once Broncos DB Chris Harris blew out his ACL last week Philip Rivers and the Chargers passing game finally got on track. The loss of Harris and Von Miller means Brady will slice up that secondary if they can get their running game rolling.
Many scoffed at the idea of Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman picking up the slack after Wes Welker's acrimonious departure to Denver. And there were times this year where the Pats offense was downright offensive. But Tom Brady and the Patriots are like Jason or a vampire movie, you just can't kill em.
We all want to see Peyton Manning & the Broncos make it to Met Life Stadium for The Super Bowl...not gonna happen. New England wins 31-27.
Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh did their best to diffuse the media's perception of the tension between the two coaches. Perception is reality. These guys hate each other. Which is part of what makes this such a compelling game. Coaches with a history of a bitter PAC-12 rivalry, divisional opponents meeting for the 3rd time. Plus you get the odds on favorites to meet up in this game going all the way back to last Spring.
Sorry Falcons fans but the National Media and the rest of the country didn't have us penciled in to playing in back to back NFC Championship games.
Two rough and tumble defenses, two young dual threat quarterbacks. Style wise Kaepernick & Wilson are light years from Manning & Brady. The AFC Championships QBs Manning & Brady are -13 yards running the ball in 2013, whereas Wilson and Kaepernick are already over 1,063 this season alone.
The greatest stat of the NFC Championship isn't defensive scoring or points allowed...it's a salary cap number...Russell Wilson & Colin Kaepernick's payroll combined for 2013...$1.26 Million.
The 49ers hit some rough patches with their offense. The narrative became "well the league is catching up to Kaepernick and the read option", which was nonsense. It was more about injuries, specifically not having the prime target of Vernon Davis or a healthy Michael Crabtree.
No excuses for week 2 in Seattle though. Colin Kaepernick and the rest of the 49ers were awful. 3 picks and 107 yards passing. Frank Gore 9 carries for 16 yards before the running game had to be abandoned in a 29-3 white washing at the home of the 12th man.
Back in Candlestick for the week 14 rematch Seattle nearly pulled off the sweep. San Francisco's 2 first quarter scoring drives bogged down and they had to settle for field goals. Neither Wilson or Kaepernick eclipsed 200 yards passing and Troy Aikman get mentioning on the FOX broadcast that Wilson should pull it down and run more. He finished with just one rush for 2 yards. Both QB's threw a pick and a TD. (Wilson's pick coming at the end of the game on a prayer he heaved down field).
It looked like Seattle would pull out a 17-16 win, but Frank Gore busted his only big run of the day, a 51 yard burst down to Seattle's 18 which set up the eventual Phil Dawson game winner.
So what do you take from the 2 regular season games? That Seattle is the better team?....Exactly.
The 49ers may have more play makers at tight end and wide receiver, but The legion of Boom will stymie them in the raucous home of the 12th man. I have never been to Century Link Field but everyone I've talked to who has either played there or been in the stands says it's the most unbelievable atmosphere in the NFL.
Marshawn Lynch will go into "Beast Mode" and Russell Wilson will do all that is asked of him to secure the win.
Warren Moon does Seahawks TV and radio the last few years and told us this week that Russell Wilson will not make the bad pick that costs you the game. Seattle almost ground out the win in SF, they're as physical as the 49ers and with the home field advantage they get it done.
Seattle wins 24-14.
Hope to see all you guys out at our 15th Annual AFC-NFC Championship Party presented by Bacardi Oakheart at The Buckhead Saloon on Roswell Road in Buckhead. We've got the squares game, tons of craft brews and the big names too...and most importantly the hottest bikini contest in The Southeast.
Were getting back to our roots. The first AFC-NFC Party was held in the back room of the old Three Dollar Cafe on Peachtree Road. Over 500 people crammed in to watch the Ravens and Giants advance to the Super Bowl. Our first bikini contest? All ringers from The Cheetah, we had to tell the ladies to put some clothes back on less the cops shut down the party. We taken it to The Tabernacle downtown where we set attendance records. 2,500 dudes paying a cover to watch 2 football games?
This years we're centrally located in Buckhead, there's no cover charge! And we'll have over 25 knockouts from all over the country wearing what amounts to little more than postage stamps and dental floss for our bikini contest. JP from the morning show and I will be hosting.
Buckhead Saloon is on Roswell Road in the old Rio Grande building. I've known the owners since I first moved here and they're looking forward to throwing a hell of a party. Lots of parking across the street but the best idea would be a service like Uber or just cab it, were gonna get our drink on! Doors open at noon.
One thing we know how to do...and we do it better than any radio station in this town...is throw a party.