... I think.
Having correctly picked the Jets to upset the Colts two weeks ago, as well as the Packers over the Eagles (picking three of the four winners on wild-card weekend, missing only what was supposed to be the gimme game, the Saints should have defeated the Seahawks), I promptly got too busy to choose winners in the divisional round last week. Rest assured that I would have picked all four games correctly...
... well, probably not. I likely would have chosen the Patriots at home over the Jets, but I had a feeling the Packers would beat the Falcons and as good as the Ravens are, the Steelers are just a little bit better.
So if you'll give me a mulligan and say I'd have gone 3-1 last week as well, that would make me (provisionally) 6-2 in the postseason -- a far better record than the fun we had with random numbers during the regular season.
That's way too much ado. After the jump, my picks for the conference championship games.
NFC Championship Game: the Packers go in as three-point favorites on the road against the Bears. They have won three straight elimination games, including the final regular season game three weeks ago against the Bears in Green Bay. The Packers have lost an awful lot of close games this year -- all six of their defeats are by four points or less, including the 20-17 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field on Sept. 27. The Packers will say that loss was largely due to the 18 penalties they committed -- and the head referee Sunday will be the same man, Terry McAulay. The Packers also gave up a punt return TD to Devin Hester that was the difference in the game.
The Bears have been underestimated all year. They just don't feel like a dominant team -- yet they keep finding ways to win. It's something that can't be delineated by statistics or numbers. They'll do it again Sunday, but it won't be easy. Bears 14, Packers 13.
AFC Championship Game: the Jets are three-point underdogs to a team they defeated in their home stadium by five points just a month ago. Critics will say they got lucky -- but isn't that part of winning games in any sport? Talent, plus a little bit of the breaks going your way?
Unlike the other three teams in the conference title games, the Steelers did not lose to a team with a losing record all year. Their four losses were all to playoff teams -- the Ravens, Patriots, Saints and Jets. The loss to the Jets is their only one since November.
And yet, the Jets have that "team of destiny" feel to them. Rex Ryan is a loudmouth, but this time he's got some talent behind that. Jets 24, Steelers 20.
There, that ought to make Fox-TV executives drool -- a New York/Chicago Super Bowl. Let's hope I'm right.