The conference championship games are now set; the New York Jets will be visiting the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers will be visiting the Chicago Bears. Both are #2-#6 seed match ups. Some of the games this weekend were messy. Each provided the coaches, even the winning coaches, plenty to teach this week.

In the Pittsburgh – Baltimore game, we learned you play to the whistle, as a Baltimore lineman picked up the ball and ran in for a touchdown on a fumble that no one else noticed, they were just standing around with the ball sitting on the ground. In the New England – New York game we learned that when you are going to run a fake punt, pay attention to where the ball is. In the Atlanta – Green Bay game we learned not to hurry at the end of the half with short dangerous passes. And finally, we learned in the Chicago – Seattle game, we learned that you have to run your pattern and actually catch the ball to win games. I am sure that you can see many more teaching opportunities (like do not commit stupid penalties at critical points in the game).

All four of the teams in the champion ship games have been to and won at least one Super Bowl, so no new story line there. None of these teams have matched up against each other in the Super Bowl before, so some interest there. The Steelers already have six Super Bowl Championships, the Jets are undefeated in the Super Bowl (but only have one appearance). Only one #6 seed has ever made it to the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XL, which they won. The #2 seed has made it to the Super Bowl 22 times, winning 11 and losing 11. Two #2s have met only once in the Super Bowl. Two of the teams come from large markets, the other two have storied Super Bowl history behind them.

The New York Jets beat Pittsburgh during the regular season in their only meeting. Chicago and Green Bay split their two games. The Jets beat Green Bay but lost to Chicago. Pittsburgh did not play either NFC team this year. I am sure that the pundits will have plenty of stories and angles to comment on.

The good new is that one of the New York teams made it to the Conference Championship. Why is this good news? About 95% of the talking heads predicted a possible NY-NY show down in Dallas for Super Bowl XLV. In week 2 of the season, most of those same experts called the both NY teams’ seasons over, so much for predicting 4 months and 16 games out. I guess that I get some juvenile pleasure out of seeing the experts proven wrong.

I was glad that Seattle won in the first round of the playoffs against the New Orleans Saints. I am not bashing the Saints, but there were so many people on talk shows saying that Seattle should not be in the playoffs because they did not have a winning record. I disagree. The rules as they stand today are that you have to win your division to get to the playoffs. If you don’t do that, there is the gift of 2 wild card spots for teams that played well, just not well enough to win their divisions. It was not that long ago that there were only three divisions and one wild card for each conference, now twelve teams out of the 32 get into the playoffs. My objection is the demand to change the rules in the middle (or near the end) of the season.

I still have a horse in this race, so I am pretty excited. I will be having a Super Bowl party regardless of the participants. The Super Bowl is usually a good game and there are those commercials. My friends and I usually skip the half time show, ever since Janet Jackson was exposed in front of my young children. American style football has produced great entertainment for years, with the Super Bowl being there grand finale each year. I do no expect to be disappointed this year.

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Martin writes about writing in his weekly column Ramblings from Martin.

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