Championship Sunday Preview

Today we bring you a retro-style preview of today's NFC and AFC Championship Games.  For that, we send you to New York and CBS Control and Brent Musburger.  (cue theme music)




"You are looking live at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, where in about 35 minutes the Atlanta Falcons will be hosting the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game for the right to go to New Orleans and play in Super Bowl XLVII.  Hello everybody, I'm Brent Musburger, and I want to thank the Gridiron Uniform Database for the wonderful introduction.  I'm joined as usual by Irv Cross, Phyllis George and Jimmy the Greek Snyder, who will have his picks later on.  Jack Whitaker will also join us later from chilly Foxboro where he's trying to stay warm getting ready for Baltimore and New England battling tonight in the AFC Championship."

Now some highlights, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks last week in a thrilling game, the Seahawks came from 20 points down and scored in the final minute to take the lead on this one yard run, but in the final seconds Matty Ice, Matt Ryan got the Falcons into field goal range and Matt Bryant kicked the game winner and a 30 to 28 victory for the Falcons.  Irv, tell us about this Falcon team, is this finally going to be their year?"

Irv: "Well, you know, Brent, the big knock on the Falcons was they couldn't win a playoff game.  Three years ago they lost to Arizona, two years ago they were also the number one seed that year and were blown out by Aaron Rogers and the Packers.  And last year they lost 24 to 2 to the Giants.  So now that they got that playoff monkey off their back, maybe now it's their time, they have a fantastic quarterback in Matt Ryan, and a couple great wide receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White, I think this could be their year, but they will face a tough San Francisco team."

Brent: "And speaking of that San Francisco team, last Saturday night they defeated the Green Bay Packers behind the amazing Colin Kaepernick... take a look at this 70 yard run, he goes around right end and just like that he is gone!  The 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers 45 to 31.  Jimmy, how about this Forty-Niner team?"

Jimmy the Greek: "I'll tell you what, Brent, I look at this 49ers team, they were a fumbled punt return away from going to the Super Bowl last year, they got a great quarterback in Alex Smith, they were, what were they, 6-2? And Smith gets hurt and Jim Harbaugh puts in this kid from Nevada, and let me tell you something, I saw this kid Kaperakick... Kapernack, whats' his name?

Brent: "Kapernick, Colin Kapernick."

Greek: "Yeah, Kapernick, I saw this kid he had the 70 yard run the other night, he had a run just like that in the preseason against Minnesota, he went 80 yards.  And you know everyone said that Harbaugh was crazy for taking Alex Smith out after he got hurt and now everyone's like, Alex Smith who?  I ain't never seen nothing like this kid, he's got an arm like Marino and he can run like Deion Sanders.  Everybody is talking about the rookies, the Griffith kid in Washington, and Andrew Luck and the kid in Seattle, but this Caperknack guy, I tell you what he's the real deal."

Musburger:  "He had an NFL record 181 yards rushing against the Packers, that's a league record for yards rushing by a QB in a game, not just in the preseason, in any game, folks.  Now let's bring in our reporter Jack Whitaker who is in Foxboro via Satellite to preview tonight's AFC tilt.  Jack are you there?

Whitaker:  Thanks, Brent, I'm here at Gillette Stadium where the Patriots will attempt to go to their 2nd consecutive Super Bowl, and their sixth in twelve years tonight against the Ravens.  Last year it was these same two teams, and the Ravens appeared to have a game winning touchdown in the final minute, but it slipped through the receiver's hands and then kicker Billy Cundiff missed a chance to send it to overtime, and the Patriots went to Super Bowl XLVI.  Tom Brady led the Patriots over Houston last week in the divisional round, and Baltimore upset Peyton Manning and the Broncos at Mile High in double overtime.  Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis announced he would retire at the season's end, and his team has been playing at an emotional high the last two weeks in wins over the Colts and Broncos.  Will the Ravens upset the Patriots and keep the Ray Lewis retirement party on ice for another two weeks?  We'll find out later tonight when these two teams meet in the AFC Championship.

Musburger:  "Thanks, Jack, and that game will be seen over on the other network tonight after our game from Atlanta.  In a moment after this commercial break, we'll be back with the Greek's picks, but first some sad news.  The world of baseball lost two Hall of Famers yesterday, as the St. Louis Cardinals' great Stan Musial died of natural causes at the age of 92.  Musial retired in 1963 with 3630 hits, which was second only to Ty Cobb at the time of his retirement, and is still good enough for fourth best all time behind Pete Rose, Cobb and Hank Aaron.  Also dying yesterday was the great manager of the Baltimore Orioles, Earl Weaver.  Earl led the Orioles for seventeen seasons, including the 1970 World Championship, he was 82 and died of a heart attack on a team-sponsored Orioles cruise yesterday in the Caribbean.  We'll be back after this."



Brent Musburger: "Welcome back to the NFL Today.  They are getting ready for kickoff at the Georgia Dome, and in a moment we will send it to Pat Summerall for the player introductions.  But first, we bring back in Jimmy 'The Greek' Snyder for his analysis and picks for today's games.


The Greek:  "I go down my list here I give a check mark to Atlanta, I give a check mark to San Francisco, these two teams are very evenly matched... Atlanta gets the check mark for kicking because, the kicker for San Francisco has struggled, they even brought the kid in from Baltimore that missed the kick last year, but they're going to stick with the lefty.

Brent: "David Akers"

Greek: "Yeah, Akers from Philly.  Atlanta gets a check mark for having the home field advantage.  And intangibles, you know uh, Gonzalez, he might retire, but it's just not the same like Ray Lewis for the Ravens.  The Falcons finally won a playoff game, I think that the 49ers are just the more well-rounded team, and this Capermash kid, he's the real X-factor, if the Falcons don't keep a spy in the box, he's going to run for 200 yards on that turf down there in the Georgia Dome, and he might anyway, even if they do."

Musburger:  "So you're going with the Forty-Niners?"

Greek: "Yeah, they should've gone to the Super Bowl last year, and this year they're even better."

Musburger:  "Do you have a score?"


Greek:  "Uh... I'll go San Francisco 27, Atlanta 20"

Musburger: "And in the AFC, it's the Ravens, and the Patriots."

Greek:  "Well, I gotta give the check mark for quarterback to Brady, I mean, Flacco is playing great, that great win in Denver, but Brady is going for four rings....  On defense, the Ravens aren't the same Ravens defense like they used to be, but they are still very good... uh team speed, Welker and the other guy, as a the team the Patriots are fast.  Gronkowski is out, but they got Hernandez from Florida, that's another big TE, and coaching wise, a couple of really well-coached teams, you know, but this guy Belicheck might be the best coach of all time.


Musburger:  "The Greek likes the hoodie?"

Greek: "The Greek does like the hoodie, Brent, this is a good team, but you know it's just hard to believe this Patriots team we think of as this dynasty, they haven't won a Super Bowl in eight years.  Last year they should have lost to Baltimore, Brady played a terrible game, it just came down to one play and then the kicker missed the chip shot.  But forget about last year, do you remember, Brent, when they played the previous time in the playoffs, a few years ago, Ray Rice and the Ravens just ran right through the Patriots.


Brent: "So you like Baltimore?"

Greek: "I think it comes down to intangibles. It's hey diddle diddle Ray Rice up the middle, and with Ray Lewis going out, he wants to get another ring, I know Brady wants to tie Bradshaw and Montana with four, but this is Ray Lewis's last chance and that whole team over there on the Baltimore sideline is behind him, it's about worth three check marks in the intangibles right now."

Brent:  "And a score for that game?"

Greek:  "I think it's going to be low scoring, it's going to be Baltimore 20, New England 16."

Brent: "So 20 to 16 Baltimore, so you're picking an all-Harbaugh Super Bowl.  Okay, well they're just about getting ready to kick off down in Atlanta, so we'll send it to Pat and John in a minute.  You're watching the NFL Today on CBS..."



Divisional Weekend Uniform Rankings

Here we are with Round 2 of the 2012 NFL Playoffs, where we separate the men from the boys, the Divisional Round.

Ravens-Broncos: BAL in white/black, DEN in orange/white. As stated often this season, it is so good to see the Broncos back in orange. And this was a great time to see them in the fiery hue on such a cold day in Denver. The Ravens added the favor by going to the black pants. As such, this was indeed the best possible uni matchup for this affair. Nice trim colors of gold, purple, dark blue made this one a pleasure to watch.

Packers-49ers: GB in white/yellow, SF in red/gold. This uni match is another one that makes watching football in HD color a treat. The white jerseys actually make the bright yellow Packer helmets and pants even more sunshiny. Then add in the bright red jerseys on the Niners augmented by the lush gold helmets and pants and you simply can't go wrong even if you tried. Lovely!

Seahawks-Falcons: SEA in all white, ATL in red/white. Well, not quite the nice matchup as I would have liked. The Seahawks, I guess trying to ride the all white karma from last week's victory in Washington, stayed with their rare all white combo. Not good. They should have definitely worn at the very least the gray pants or better yet, the navy pants against the Falcons' sharp red jerseys and white pants. As such, it was not the best uni matchup of the weekend. Nowhere near it.

Texans-Patriots: HOU in all white, NE in dark blue/silver. Now here is where all white works. The Texans, who normally only wear all white for their regular season home opener, do it here. And it's perfect. because these two teams are very similar in their color schematic (except for the Pats' additional silver). Had the Texans gone with their normal blue pants, it would have seemed almost like a little bit of an intra-swuad scrimmage. But the all white look adds a stark and strong contrast to the very familiar (especially at this time of year) Patriots dark blue and silver.

So, the ranking for this weekend's games go like:
4) SEA-ATL
3) BAL-DEN
2) HOU-NE
1) GB-SF

As we move closer to the Big Game, we'll critique Championship Sunday next time.

The Final Four (...or Six)



With the NFL down to the final four teams, we can preview what Super Bowl matchups we may see. This year the AFC Champion will be the road team, and the NFC Champion will be the home team.  This season the Falcons and 49ers are pretty standard with what they wear at home, and the Patriots have a single road look.  The Ravens are the only team of the final four with some room for mystery, sometimes going mono-white on the road, and sometimes going with white-over-black.

Therefore that leaves us (barring some unexplained circumstances, like the Falcons wearing their throwbacks or bringing back black pants they haven't worn since 2008, or the NFC Champion choosing to go 'white at home') only six possible combinations to expect to see in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans on February 3.

Basing this more on which combos you find most aesthetically pleasing, rather than solely on which teams you think will win Sunday (although that can play a part too), which uniform matchup do you expect or hope to see in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans?


This is a nice look -- contrasting pants, I could see this matchup, Brady going for his fifth ring vs. Tony Gonzalez looking to go out on top.


This is also a nice classic look (even though the Patriots have only looked like this for a dozen or so years)  -- this matchup screams Super Bowl.  Brady going for his fourth ring vs SF trying to tie Pittsburgh with six rings and cap a remarkable rise for Kaepernick going from backup QB to the sport's newest biggest star.


This is a matchup that screams indoor contest, and with the game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, it'll look right at home.  It'll be all white-pants as Ray Lewis and Tony Gonzalez battle to see who will end their career with a Lombardi.


The Ravens also went mono-white in Super Bowl XXXV, but that seems like a generation ago.  The Niners wearing their red home jerseys in New Orleans would be the opposite of 23 years ago when Montana and company wore road whites for Super Bowl XXIV against Denver.


If CBS' dreams come true and they do get the fantastic story lines of dueling warriors going out on top (the man who some still think got away with murder in the city the other team is from versus the wholesome vegan all-time best TE who up until a week ago had never won a playoff game) -- it'll look better in this uni matchup.  The black Ravens pants make this a contrasting pants matchup, and much better than both teams wearing white "britches".  (That's for you, Jedi Knight)


And finally, this may be the best combo of all.  The Ravens in their white-over-black versus the classic Niners home look.  I could see Ray Lewis going for his second ring head to head with phenom QB Colin Kaepernick.  What a great matchup that would be!

Again, all bets are off if either team decides to go 'White At Home' like the Cowboys or the 2005 Steelers.  But considering that Seattle lost, and they would have been the only team of the final eight that could've won three road playoff games, that's probably unlikely.

So which matchup do you like?  Let's vote!


Which Super Bowl XLVII combo do you hope to see?
  
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