Ryan’s Jets aim for another shock in Conference finals
This Sunday we get treated to a pair of number one seeds and a number two seed fighting to reach the Super Bowl however it could be the pesky outsiders that steal the headlines for a second consecutive week.
New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts
Even when the Jets smashed their way past Cincinnati in the playoff wild card round nobody really believed they had the make-up to form a threatening Super Bowl push - that's everyone other than rookie head coach Rex Ryan.
As Ryan gave his post game thoughts when walking away from the Paul Brown Stadium he promised more was to come from his under-estimated side and they certainly lived up to that billing by shocking the San Diego Chargers last week.
It's not difficult to see why nobody believed in them either given their quarterback Matt Sanchez has been able at best in his first year, their offensive line had failed to execute too often and backfield threat Leon Washington was on the injury reserve.
What people hadn't reckoned on though was the emergence of another offensive rookie threat, Shonn Greene who gives New York, alongside Thomas Jones, the best looking back duo remaining in the playoffs.
Within two games, or perhaps just 15 minutes, Greene has catapulted himself from a third round draft pick out of the University of Iowa to a rising star who crushed the Chargers with a magnificent 53 yard TD dash in the fourth quarter.
To put his achievements into perspective, San Diego had won eleven straight and only allowed two players all season to rush for more than 100 yards - and one of those was Chris Johnson.
Of course nothing would have been achieved without Baltimore-esque defence but what else would you expect from a head coach with such pedigree?
If they are to cause another stir here then the defence has to get to Peyton Manning early or, simply put, Indianapolis will control the ball throughout.
A bit of pressure though and the Colts are in big, big trouble especially with a CB of the calibre of Darrelle Revis ready to snap anything and everything up.
And after seeing some of the surprise packages in the Super Bowl after the past few years I really believe the Jets just could be the real deal.
Recommendation: NY Jets to win with +7.5 point spread - 10/11
Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints
In the most fitting end possible to a great season of NFC football the, Conference Championship game takes place in the raucous surroundings of the Louisiana Superdome between indisputably the two best teams of the year.
From week one to week seventeen no other franchise came remotely close to challenging either the Minnesota Vikings or New Orleans Saints at the top of the NFC rankings - a fact best exemplified by last week's Divisional games.
The only issue you could have after last week was trying to work out whether the Vikes trouncing of Dallas was more impressive than the ease in which New Orleans brushed past the defending conference champion Cardinals.
Fair enough the Cowboys tossed in a typically Dallas style playoff choke and Arizona were shown up for what many had suggested they were, a beneficiary of a shocking west division but there's no arguing with the manner both were dispatched.
Brett Favre hinted his winter blues are refined to December while Drew Brees and his offence reproduced the type of offensive flair that ripped through every defence in their way at the start of the season.
And to think the old cliché is that defence wins Super Bowls!
For me though I can't see any reason not to be fully behind the Saints with their early to mid regular season still fresh in my mind.
Their offensive line was almost impenetrable at times and when Brees has time to operate in the pocket there isn't anything any defence can do to stop the Saints from marching up the field.
Seven times this season they managed to put 38 or more points on the board and, if you're going to be realistic, it doesn't matter what their defence does when their offence is providing that sort of production.
Brees, Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, Reggie Bush, Devery Henderson, Marques Colston, Robert Meacham; the list of offensive threats just cannot be matched by the Vikings, even with their star studded defence.
Jared Allen is terrifying and the Williams Wall is one of the best around but I still fancy the Saints finding the cracks and running the routs to put the game beyond Favre, Peterson and Rice.
Recommendation: New Orleans to cover the -4.0 spread - 10/11