By: Bob George/BosSports.net
January 11, 2009

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This reporter's secret dream: One day, the Patriots will win a Super Bowl by about 40 points instead of the usual three points, the margin of all three of their Super victories.

If Jake Delhomme had played five years ago like he did Saturday night, the Patriots win Super Bowl XXXVIII by 40.

If Eli Manning had played last year like he did on Sunday, the Patriots win Super Bowl XLII by 40.

Of the six Super Bowl opponents of the Patriots in franchise history, four of them played in the NFL Divisional Round this weekend. Two won, two lost. What was amazing about this weekend was that it went the way we predicted last weekend would go, that being the visiting team winning three of the four games, casting a pall over the NFL playoff seeding system once again and setting up some rather low-rated playoff tilts in the offing.

Two of the quarterbacks who lost at home were the top seeds in the NFC, both having faced the Patriots previously in a Super Bowl. The third home quarterback to lose, Tennessee's Kerry Collins, skippered the top seeded team in the AFC. So on the same weekend, both conference top seeds stumbled in their playoff opener. This happens all the time in the AFC.

Two amazing things resulted from this weekend. Both number six seeds are still alive. And the NFC Championship game will be played at the home of the four seed, the first time in NFL history that a four seed will host a conference title game. It will also be the first time in a non-strike year that both teams vying for a Super Bowl bid will have fewer than ten regular season wins.

But having all these top seeded teams dropping like flies is nothing short of amazing. It was a combination of atrocious quarterbacking, injury attrition and perhaps teams stale from long layoffs. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to hold serve at home, they did it in convincing style. Otherwise, there were a lot of jaws dropping this weekend, especially the jaws of fans watching their conference championship teams' seasons go up in flames way earlier than expected.

Baltimore over Tennessee was the only road team this column correctly predicted to win. In what turned out to be a ferocious, brutally contested game full of knockout hits that would have made Don King proud, the Ravens held on to knock off the top-seeded Titans at LP Field in Nashville on Saturday, 13-10. Both teams literally beat each other to a pulp, with such luminaries like Le 'Ron McClain, Terrell Suggs, Albert Haynesworth and Jevon Kearse having to be helped off the field at some point. And these were just the marquee guys. This almost came down to Last Man Standing. But in the end, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco outdueled veteran retread Collins, and the Ravens move on to play division rival Pittsburgh next week for the right to advance to the second Super Bowl in franchise history.

Flacco became the first rookie quarterback to win two postseason games. He will face off against a guy who almost turned the trick in 2004, Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben was cut down at home by the Patriots in the 2004 AFC title game, if you recall.

The Arizona Cardinals, whom you are still not used to mentioning in a playoff sense (a Jim Mora sound byte would work well here), went down to Charlotte, North Carolina as nine-point dogs, the biggest dog of the weekend. After allowing an easy opening drive score by the Panthers, the Cardinals took over the game completely, duping Delhomme into five interceptions and watching Curt Warner regain a lot of his 1999-2001 magic. Larry Fitzgerald is now being called the 'Michael Jordan of the NFL' because of what is able to do in midair, and the Cardinals walked off with a 33-13 win Saturday night at Bank of America Stadium.

The Cardinals, who last won an NFL title in 1947, gained entry into their first NFC title game in franchise history. Of the sixteen NFC teams, the Cardinals are the last team to finally play in their first conference championship. This is reminiscent of 1985, when the Patriots gained their first Super Bowl berth by becoming the last of the eight original AFL teams to win their first AFL/AFC title.

With Philadelphia knocking off top-seeded New York on Sunday, 23-11, the Eagles made a home team out of Arizona next weekend. The Eagles proved better than the Giants in dealing with extreme wind conditions at Giants Stadium, and Manning threw three interceptions which contributed to the defeat of the now former champs. Patriot fans must have delighted in watching the team that ruined their perfect season last year have this season, and their title defense, come to such an ignominious end. But they were reminded once again of what used to be, as Asante Samuel got Manning's first pick and came within two yards of taking it to the house. Samuel's seventh career postseason pick ties former teammate Rodney Harrison for tops among active defensive backs.

Just as the 11-10 final score between San Diego and Pittsburgh in their first meeting this year was the first 11-10 final in league history, the same applies to the 23-11 final posted by the Eagles and Giants. This is quite the year for numerologists, you might say.

Pittsburgh had an easy time with San Diego in the rematch, winning at home 35-24 on Sunday night at snowy Heinz Field. Despite the Chargers taking an early 7-0 lead on a touchdown bomb from Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson, it was all Steelers thereafter. The Steelers will host the Ravens next week, as division foes will decide the AFC Championship. This game will hinge on whether or not Baltimore can recover from all the injuries it sustained against the Titans, with Suggs being the prime concern.

If things go as they might, expect a game where the first team to six points represents the AFC in Super Bowl XLIII.

And if these road teams continue to excel, you're looking at a Philadelphia-Baltimore Super Bowl. Maybe Pittsburgh and Arizona will apply for a change of venue. This reporter's secret dream: One day, the Patriots will win a Super Bowl by about 40 points instead of the usual three points, the margin of all three of their Super victories.

If Jake Delhomme had played five years ago like he did Saturday night, the Patriots win Super Bowl XXXVIII by 40.

If Eli Manning had played last year like he did on Sunday, the Patriots win Super Bowl XLII by 40.

Of the six Super Bowl opponents of the Patriots in franchise history, four of them played in the NFL Divisional Round this weekend. Two won, two lost. What was amazing about this weekend was that it went the way we predicted last weekend would go, that being the visiting team winning three of the four games, casting a pall over the NFL playoff seeding system once again and setting up some rather low-rated playoff tilts in the offing.

Two of the quarterbacks who lost at home were the top seeds in the NFC, both having faced the Patriots previously in a Super Bowl. The third home quarterback to lose, Tennessee's Kerry Collins, skippered the top seeded team in the AFC. So on the same weekend, both conference top seeds stumbled in their playoff opener. This happens all the time in the AFC.

Two amazing things resulted from this weekend. Both number six seeds are still alive. And the NFC Championship game will be played at the home of the four seed, the first time in NFL history that a four seed will host a conference title game. It will also be the first time in a non-strike year that both teams vying for a Super Bowl bid will have fewer than ten regular season wins.

But having all these top seeded teams dropping like flies is nothing short of amazing. It was a combination of atrocious quarterbacking, injury attrition and perhaps teams stale from long layoffs. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to hold serve at home, they did it in convincing style. Otherwise, there were a lot of jaws dropping this weekend, especially the jaws of fans watching their conference championship teams' seasons go up in flames way earlier than expected.

Baltimore over Tennessee was the only road team this column correctly predicted to win. In what turned out to be a ferocious, brutally contested game full of knockout hits that would have made Don King proud, the Ravens held on to knock off the top-seeded Titans at LP Field in Nashville on Saturday, 13-10. Both teams literally beat each other to a pulp, with such luminaries like Le 'Ron McClain, Terrell Suggs, Albert Haynesworth and Jevon Kearse having to be helped off the field at some point. And these were just the marquee guys. This almost came down to Last Man Standing. But in the end, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco outdueled veteran retread Collins, and the Ravens move on to play division rival Pittsburgh next week for the right to advance to the second Super Bowl in franchise history.

Flacco became the first rookie quarterback to win two postseason games. He will face off against a guy who almost turned the trick in 2004, Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben was cut down at home by the Patriots in the 2004 AFC title game, if you recall.

The Arizona Cardinals, whom you are still not used to mentioning in a playoff sense (a Jim Mora sound byte would work well here), went down to Charlotte, North Carolina as nine-point dogs, the biggest dog of the weekend. After allowing an easy opening drive score by the Panthers, the Cardinals took over the game completely, duping Delhomme into five interceptions and watching Curt Warner regain a lot of his 1999-2001 magic. Larry Fitzgerald is now being called the 'Michael Jordan of the NFL' because of what is able to do in midair, and the Cardinals walked off with a 33-13 win Saturday night at Bank of America Stadium.

The Cardinals, who last won an NFL title in 1947, gained entry into their first NFC title game in franchise history. Of the sixteen NFC teams, the Cardinals are the last team to finally play in their first conference championship. This is reminiscent of 1985, when the Patriots gained their first Super Bowl berth by becoming the last of the eight original AFL teams to win their first AFL/AFC title.

With Philadelphia knocking off top-seeded New York on Sunday, 23-11, the Eagles made a home team out of Arizona next weekend. The Eagles proved better than the Giants in dealing with extreme wind conditions at Giants Stadium, and Manning threw three interceptions which contributed to the defeat of the now former champs. Patriot fans must have delighted in watching the team that ruined their perfect season last year have this season, and their title defense, come to such an ignominious end. But they were reminded once again of what used to be, as Asante Samuel got Manning's first pick and came within two yards of taking it to the house. Samuel's seventh career postseason pick ties former teammate Rodney Harrison for tops among active defensive backs.

Just as the 11-10 final score between San Diego and Pittsburgh in their first meeting this year was the first 11-10 final in league history, the same applies to the 23-11 final posted by the Eagles and Giants. This is quite the year for numerologists, you might say.

Pittsburgh had an easy time with San Diego in the rematch, winning at home 35-24 on Sunday night at snowy Heinz Field. Despite the Chargers taking an early 7-0 lead on a touchdown bomb from Philip Rivers to Vincent Jackson, it was all Steelers thereafter. The Steelers will host the Ravens next week, as division foes will decide the AFC Championship. This game will hinge on whether or not Baltimore can recover from all the injuries it sustained against the Titans, with Suggs being the prime concern.

If things go as they might, expect a game where the first team to six points represents the AFC in Super Bowl XLIII.

And if these road teams continue to excel, you're looking at a Philadelphia-Baltimore Super Bowl. Maybe Pittsburgh and Arizona will apply for a change of venue.


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