And then there were four.
This season's NFL playoffs have been among the most riveting in recent memory and that intrigue should continue into this weekend's AFC and NFC conference championship games. Only the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons remain in the hunt to go to Super Bowl XLVII, and each team carries its own set of storylines. So I got to thinking, which of the potential Super Bowl match-ups will make for the best (or at least most interesting) game?
Here is my list: (vote for your favorite below on the right)
#1 - Patriots vs. 49ers
As a Patriots fan myself, it is very difficult to remain objective when looking at potential match-ups, but this one in my opinion would make for the most exciting Super Bowl. The two teams met earlier this year in a game that the Patriots overcame a 31-3 deficit, only to eventually lose 41-34. That game was one of the best of the season, but it isn't what would make this game so enthralling. Patriots QB Tom Brady is looking to cement his legacy as perhaps the greatest quarterback of all-time and win his fourth Super Bowl ring, which would tie him with 49ers legend Joe Montana. Oh and by the way, Brady grew up in the Bay area and was a huge 49ers fan.
Count me in as one of the critics who say that there are way too many bowl games in college football. With 35 bowl games on the schedule for 2012-13, there are 70 teams that will be playing in those games. Just due to the sheer amount of teams, you are bound to find some really great match-ups and some really, really poor ones.
BCS Championship Game: Notre Dame vs. Alabama - I don't know if there could be a more intriguing game than the Fighting Irish vs. Crimson Tide. Both programs have huge fan followings who will be helping to build up the hype for this one.
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma - These two teams have perhaps the biggest gripes with the BCS. Both seemingly earned spots in a BCS bowl game but were not selected. Despite not being a BCS bowl game, the Cotton Bowl may be the best match-up other than the BCS title game.
Hyundai Sun Bowl: USC vs. Georgia Tech - Now I could complain about how disappointing USC was this season, but let's look at Georgia Tech instead. They had a losing record! They were 6-7! Could someone explain to me how they are playing a postseason game?
Discover Orange Bowl: Northern Illinois vs. Florida State - I am firmly on ESPN Analyst Kirk Herbstreit's side—Northern Illinois does not deserve to be in this game. Florida State will probably blow them out and make what should be a big time BCS game into a laughing stock.
In just two days another Thanksgiving will be upon us. A day to enjoy family, an unreasonable amount of food and a full schedule of NFL football. While I would love to go on a 500 word rant about all my favorite foods from Thanksgiving (pumpkin pie, obviously), I figured I would instead create a perfect schedule to make sure you get the most out of your holiday.
Assuming you are not the person preparing all the food, the morning of Thanksgiving is the time to sit back and rest up; you have a big day ahead of you. Eat something really light for breakfast—no heavy pancakes or waffles. The only exception is if you are offered a plate of bacon. Choose the bacon.
12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.
With just 30 minutes until kick-off, assess the seating situation. If you are with a big group, seating can be at a premium, so be prepared to claim your spot. You don't want to be stuck standing.
With nine weeks of the NFL season now officially in the books, teams have begun to distinguish themselves as contenders or pretenders. There have been some surprises and some disappointments, but it has all been entertaining. Now the NFL enters its unofficial second half of the season, and there is plenty of dramatic story-lines for fans to be excited about.
How good are the Atlanta Falcons?
The Falcons are the lone undefeated team in the NFL, but despite their perfect record many doubt that Atlanta is a true Super Bowl contender. They had to come from behind in the 4th quarter for three straight games against mediocre teams; those teams currently have a combined record of 8-17. The question is: can the Falcons step up when they face tougher competition?
Can Andrew Luck lead the Colts to the playoffs?
The Indianapolis Colts were the worst team in the league last year, winning only two games. The prize for all their losing? QB Andrew Luck, who they recruited with the first overall pick in the draft. Many predicted that he would be good, but few thought he would be this good. He has already led the Colts to five wins this season and a real shot at the postseason. This could be the start of a long and successful career for Luck, and it should be great to watch.
Happy Labor Day everybody! We celebrate the day by wrapping up our preview of the upcoming NFL season (which is now just two days away) by taking a look at the NFC West.
(To view previous NFL previews, click on any of the following division names: AFC East, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, NFC East, NFC South, NFC North)
Top Cardinals Games of 2012
The Arizona Cardinals are just a few years away from being in the Super Bowl, but since QB Kurt Warner retired, the team has struggled to find a competent replacement. The starting QB job this year will go to Kevin Kolb, who has struggled throughout his time in Arizona, with John Skelton waiting in the wings if Kolb trips up. If Arizona wants a successful 2012, they need one of the quarterbacks to be able to get the ball to arguably the best wide receiver in the game, Larry Fitzgerald.
Projection: Unless one of the team's quarterbacks exceeds expectations, the Cardinals are on their way to another mediocre season without a trip to the postseason.