It took 19 weeks, but the dog truly had its day Sunday.
So much for Indianapolis and that 13-0 start. The Colts peaked too soon, did a lousy job on the field preparing for the playoffs and came in full of rust against the fired up Steelers. As for the Carolina win against Chicago, the wrong team was favored.
The 2-0 sweep for the underdogs, negated the 2-0 edge the favorites enjoyed the previous days. The divisional round of the NFL playoffs had seen the home team win more than 80 percent of the games. So seeing the two-time defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and Washington fall on the road at Denver and Seattle respectively went strictly by the book.
"Saturday’s results were to be expected," said Eric St. Clair, race and sports manager at the Rampart in Summerlin. "The Redskins couldn’t move the ball and Seattle would have had an easy cover if (Shaun) Alexander doesn’t go down."
As it was, the Seahawks held on for a 20-10 win and opportunistic Denver exited the Patriots in another double-digit result.
"We did very well off that game," St. Clair said. "Everybody went with the Patriots, both on the money line and against the spread. The public was all on New England in the teasers. We dodged a bullet. The Pats had momentum heading into the playoffs and everybody has a fresh memory of their success."
What happened Saturday with the Pats, turned out to be a snack compared to the happy meal the books enjoyed with Indianapolis going down in flames to 10-point underdog Pittsburgh. I’m happy to say both Pittsburgh and Denver were winners in a 3-1 week, but nothing was finer than seeing Carolina reach the NFC title game.
There’s my Super Bowl co-pick (with Atlanta) during the preseason and I have to stick to it
Now for our take on the conference championship games.
Steelers +3Â½ at Broncos: The Broncos are happy not to be visiting Indy, as well they should. But Pittsburgh is on a mission and is thriving on the underdog role. Last year everyone hopped on the Bus and believed Big Ben would lead them to the Promised Land. Ben wasn’t ready. Now, he is. Heck, he’s even making tackles! Denver may be too confident and we’re still not sold on Plummer in clutch. STEELERS.
Panthers +4 at Seahawks: I already told you who, now for the why. Seattle has never been in this position, hosting a league championship game. John Fox is unreal at picking apart an opponent’s weakness. I missed the playoffs in my Fantasy League, but I did make Steve Smith my top wide receiver selection. Superman will return the Panthers to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years. Carolina will run well enough and the defense will make Alexander less than great. Money line again! PANTHERS.
Season: 54-34-5 Season: 54-34-5