Last week: 1-3
Last week: 2-2
Scott Reid: I don’t really believe in time travel. The impossibility of faster-than-light speed. The constant paradoxes. The fear that the simplest change to our past could have ludicrous consequences in the present – like your parents never meeting or Bush defeating Gore. So, as much as I want to go back in time and settle some debts with Todd Law in grade five, I am not a believer. And yet, as we watch the Ravens fall forward in the playoffs, it is becoming obvious that we’ve travelled backward in time to the year 2000. With a killer defence and a dead offence, the Ravens are looking like the team that won it all only nine years ago. And we all know what the past tells us about Philadelphia.
Scott Feschuk: First things first: I actually do believe in time travel – how else could you have stolen Howard Jones’s hairdo? More important, you’re an idiot: this Ravens D is nowhere near as formidable as the 2000-era version. They gave up almost 300 yards in the air to Kerry Collins (as in, Kerry Collins) and won last week only because Tennessee decided to play the game with their hands covered in Mazola (I’m assuming). So there.
Now, on to the conference championship games…
Philadelphia (minus 4) at Arizona, Sunday, 3 p.m. ET
Feschuk: Philadelphia v. Arizona: an intense, historic rivalry that dates back all the way to the beginning of this sentence. No matter what happens Sunday, the NFC is going to be represented in the Super Bowl by a team that won only nine games in the regular season, which is pretty adorable in a you-brought-your-teddy-bear-to-a-sleepover kind of way. So how do you even begin to figure out the Cardinals? Four times this season, they lost games by 21 points or more. Overall, they barely scored more points than they gave up. And their defence has demonstrated all the vitality of David Lee Roth’s solo career. The expert analysts all tell us that Philly is the vastly superior team in terms of overall talent. Maybe – but that talent is still commanded by Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb, two guys who haven’t met a clock they couldn’t stare at in confusion and bafflement as it ticks down toward zero. If the blitz-crazy Philly defence can consistently get to Kurt Warner, the Eagles are going to win. But you know what I see? I see… well, actually, I see a gigantic belly so I’m just going to take several dozen steps to the left here, moving away from Andy Reid and… now you know what I see? I see Kurt Warner ripping it up at home, building on his Hall-of-Fame-worthy playoff record and taking the “Team No One Believed In” to the “Game No One Thought They’d Get To” by beating the “Team That Keeps Running Brian Westbrook Up the Middle for Some Reason When Everyone Knows He’s Only Explosive When He Gets the Ball in Space.” Pick: Arizona.
Reid: Four words that motivate Andy Reid above all others: Sour Cream N Onion. (Incidentally, they work on all men named Reid). You can bet that Eagles owner Jeff Lurie has promised Ti-Andy all the ruffles he can pack for the rest of his natural life (no unkind estimates please) if he drags his underachieving squad back to the Super Bowl. All things being equal, that should get the job done. On paper, the Cards don’t have a hope. It’s a wonder this line hasn’t grown to ten. But the problem is that something weird is going on in Arizona. A team that has spent twenty years coming up short and this whole regular season exhibiting no defense or running game has been transformed in the post-season. They’re balanced, fast and effective on both sides of the ball. A lucky win over the young Falcons was one thing. But they laid a large can of whup on Carolina last week – and looked like a whole team in the process. Unlike you, I still hate Kurt Warner. The guy has always given me the JW willies. But I’m in reluctant agreement with you on the outcome of this game. I see Arizona getting ahead early and the lethargic McNabb-ers blundering around like long-neck dinosaurs an hour after the comet crashed. Pick: Arizona
Baltimore (plus 6) at Pittsburgh, Sunday, 6:30 p.m. ET
Reid: If a black man can be sworn in as President. If they can find ice on Mars. If Denny can outshag Alex even though he’s been dead for two years. Then don’t tell me it’s impossible for Baltimore to make it to the Super Bowl. I think the lesson of last weekend is not that Tennessee blew the game or that Flacco simply blew but that the Ravens are one of those teams that find ways to win. And in Pittsburgh, they’re coming up against a team that is ‘just a bit’ – they’re ‘just a bit’ less impressive on defence. They’re ‘just a bit’ more prone to turning up the ball. They’re ‘just a bit’ less likely to toss a long touchdown when it’s needed. This is one of those teams that doesn’t add up but does wind up on top. I think Big Ben is going to have a long day. The Ravens D will score at least seven points and the Ravens will be Super Bowl bound once more. Pick: Baltimore.
Feschuk: First of all – a Grey’s Anatomy reference? On conference championship weekend?? I hope you enjoy watching the games under your hair dryer. Second, I know the smart move in this Playoff Season of Many Upsets is to take the underdog, take the points and take comfort in the fact that Ed Reed has six arms and operates using bat sonar. But if I’ve proved anything this playoff season, it’s that I don’t understand the meaning of “smart move.” I think the Steelers win this game handily. I think they run Willie Parker at Ray Lewis until Lewis is crying for mercy (on the inside). And I think that the Barack Obama presidency is going to be a complete disaster if he doesn’t use his inaugural address to deport whomever gave Howie Mandel a second TV show. Bottom line: I for one am getting tired of hearing how unperturbed and calm rookie Joe Flacco is. Let’s see how unperturbed he stays this Sunday when he’s trying to dislodge James Farrior’s helmet from his spleen. Pick: Pittsburgh.