Well fans, that whining noise you hear, like the sound of power saws at a construction site down the block, is network execs grinding their teeth over the prospect of a Patriots/Panthers Super Bowl. This is definitely not the glamor matchup they wanted -- no marquee QBs, 1500 yard rushers, nor trapeze act wide receivers. (The Panthers don't even occupy a decent TV market!) Instead, both teams rely on solid defense and blue collar offenses run by steady QBs who avoid mistakes and make good throws and decisions under pressure.
Watching Tom Brady in the snow on Sunday, it was obvious that he had no cannon for an arm and, even more, that he didn't need one. The Patriots' meat and potatoes offense chewed up and swallowed the Colts one hearty bite at a time, but when Manning and his thoroughbred receivers took the field, it looked like they were ruining their dress shoes, getting their feet cold and wet, and just wanting to get home before they caught their death.
In the evening, Carolina beat up Donovan McNabb and chased him off the field, rather than all over it. Pressure, starting with their great front four, destroyed the Eagles' high powered offense and enabled the Panthers' worker bee attack to win the game without spectacle or even much to-do.
I like the Patsies (as they are known affectionately to our relatives in Boston) to prevail based on their greater playoff as well as QB experience. Tom Brady is nothing spectacular nor even special -- except a brainy, cool-hand winner who throws accurately. If you could somehow graft onto him the physical and athletic skills possessed by some of the franchise QBs around the league, he could beat you with nine men.
Now it can be known, and the revelation is hurtful. The NFL is the mediocre side of the league this year, with no clearly superior team. Shake the dice again and it could be the Cheeseheads, Eagles, Rams, or yes, even the Vikings in the Super Bowl!
Had the Purple defended the absurd, impossible last play of the game TD down in Phoenix, they would have had an equal chance to proceed to the Big One.
And achieve a record five losses there.