It was the second best thing that could have happened to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots this weekend. That being when the Baltimore Ravens waltzed into Denver and knocked off the #1 AFC seed Broncos. With the resurgent Peyton Manning and a stout defense -- that wasn't supposed to happen -- but it did.
Of course, the best thing for the Brady Bunch would be to defeat the visiting Houston Texans on Sunday. Most think the Pats will make easy work of them. After all, just a few scant weeks ago, New England demolished Houston by about 4 touchdowns worth in a regular season game. But you never know. It's the NFL. Any given Sunday, and all that.
Still, assuming the Patriots prevail, they no longer have to go to Denver the following week, and instead would gain home field advantage themselves against the Ravens in the AFC championship game. Home field is by no means a lock (see the NY Giants' brutal playoff schedule on their "road trip" to the Lombardi Trophy last year), but I dare say most teams, including the Pats, would much rather play at home than on the road in a big game.
Something equally unexpected happened in the NFC playoffs. Many, including yours truly, thought the Green Bay @ San Fran game would be the best of the bunch. Two outstanding teams slugging it out. A toss-up. Wow, was I wrong. It was a rout.
All that talk about Packers' QB Aaron Rodgers, the reigning MVP, having his full complement of receivers to throw to didn't seem to matter. Evidently, somebody didn't do their homework in "cheeserland", because they seemed to totally forget about that little thing called playing defense. The 49ers racked up almost 600 yards of total offense. Good grief, their QB alone, in his first year as a starter, let alone being in a playoff game, ran for almost 200 himself, an NFL record. He threw for 200+ more. Their feature running back had over a 100. Time of possession, line play, and the other intangibles? Forget about it. Even more dominating.
Note to the Packers -- those same 49ers came into your house, Lambeau Field, at the start of the season, and thumped you. In this last game, they flat-out trashed you. Bookends. A suggestion -- whatever it takes -- stay away from those guys. They've got your number in a big way.
Regardless of how the Houston/New England, Seattle/Atlanta games play out -- the Harbaugh boys, Jim and John, are both heading to their respective conference championship games. Could we have an all-Harbaugh Super Bowl match-up?
Maybe, but wait a minute. Didn't we go through that same scenario last year about this time in the playoffs? And then the H&H teams both got broomed and neither one of them even made it to the Super Bowl?
Guess that's why they play the games. You never know.
What I do know is a couple famous guys named Peyton and Aaron won't be there either this year. Besides Brady, there's two Matts, a Joe, a Russell, and a Colin still left in the hunt.
Funny, or maybe not, how that works out sometimes.