The weekend's title games will offer a clash of conventional power defense in the NFC and trendy no-huddle offenses in the NFL. This guarantees a Super Bowl pitting offense versus defense, and that sounds like fun. Said Super Bowl will be outdoors in New Jersey in February. For an outdoor bad-weather game, would you rather have the best offense or the best defense?
In other football news, TMQ readers know my hobby horse is coaches who punt on fourth-and-short when trailing or inside opposition territory. Sometimes such decisions rise to the level of Preposterous Punts.
Saturday at New England, Chuck Pagano ordered a punt for which "preposterous" is too mild a word. Colts trailing 43-22 with 10:16 remaining, they faced fourth-and-1 -- and in trotted the punting unit. Who cares if the spot was the Colts' 29? Trailing by three touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a playoff game, it's insane to punt on fourth-and-1. Norv Turner once had his Chargers, down by two scores with 9 minutes remaining in a playoff game, punt on the opposition 36.
TMQ thought that the was the worst play in all of football history -- until Saturday.
Clearly Pagano quit on the game, and was more concerned with holding the hosts under 50 points -- Indianapolis lost 59-24 the last time it visited New England -- than going all-out to win. But what to call a fourth-and-1 punt when trailing by 21 points in the fourth quarter of a playoff? Unconditional surrender.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 1: Seattle, which hosts the NFC title game, is 16-1 at home with Russell Wilson.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 2: Tom Brady became the first player to throw for 6,000 yards in the postseason.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 3: San Francisco has followed a 1-3 streak with a 13-2 streak.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 4: From the point at which Carolina took a 10-6 lead, San Francisco possession results: touchdown, touchdown, field goal, turnover on downs in the final seconds.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 5: In two trips to Seattle over six weeks, the Saints fell behind by a combined 33-0.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 6: New Orleans is 1-6 in road playoff games.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 7: With the Saints, Drew Brees is 56-27 indoors and 27-24 outdoors.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 8: Indianapolis turned the ball over 14 times in 16 regular season games, and eight times in two postseason contests.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 9: Denver averaged 24 points against San Diego and 40 points against all other teams.
Stats of the Divisional Round No. 10: Peyton Manning won a playoff game for the first time in four years.
Sweet Play of the Divisional Round: Even considering bad weather, was that really the New England Patriots with 28 called passing plays and 45 called rushes? Flying Elvii leading 29-22 early in the fourth quarter, the hosts took possession at their 27 and lined up in a power set with a single wide receiver. By that point, expecting run, the Colts had eight in the box, with a lone safety. Left guard Logan Mankins trapped right and made a good block, backup tight end Michael Hoomanawanui got a pancake at the point of attack. Undrafted tailback LeGarrette Blount went through the line untouched; the lone safety, LaRon Landry, whiffed on a tackle attempt and there was no one left between Blount and the end zone.