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January is usually considered a time of new beginnings, a time to erase the past and start with a blank slate. But in the world of sports, January is a month of grand endings, like the BCS Championship and NFL Playoffs leading to Super Bowl.
On Monday, Auburn won the 2010 BCS Championship over Oregon. Unlike past years, there was very little controversy about the two teams playing for the championship. Both teams earned the right by virtue of their season-long performances. Oregon dominated all opponents except Pac-10 rival, California. And Auburn passed every test SEC teams threw at them. It proved to be a competitive game between two evenly matched opponents.
This past Saturday and Sunday NFL Playoffs kicked off with Wild Card weekend. The games ranged from blowout to nail biter; from minor upset to major upset.
The defending Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints, were an 11-point favorite in Vegas over the Seattle Seahawks, who were playing at home. Being 11-point underdogs at home should give an indication of how lightly the Seahawks were regarded. No one thought they had a shot at the second round.
Such was not the case with the Green Bay Packers who played the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly. Many thought the Packers could win that game because of how well they closed out the year.
The Kansas City Chiefs played inspired football for one half before the Baltimore Ravens simply wore them down. And the New York Jets backed up all their brash talk with a thrilling last second victory in Indianapolis, sending Peyton Manning and the Colts home for vacation earlier than they
wanted to go.
This coming weekend will feature two division rivalries as we continue down the road to the Super Bowl. Both AFC semi-final games are divisional blood feuds. First up on Saturday: the Ravens v. the Pittsburgh Steelers. This will be AFC North smash mouth football. There will be lots of attitude and lots of hard hits with malicious intent.
Then on Sunday we get the NFLΓÇÖs version of the Hatfields and the McCoys, also known as the Jets v. the New England Patriots. The bad blood between these two teams has evolved in a true dislike of each other. This game will be intense and close because the last time the Jets visited Foxboro they were humiliated by the Patriots. Pride will be in full effect.
In the NFC semi-final games, it will be the Packers v. the Atlanta Falcons and the Seahawks v. the Chicago Bears. Green Bay looks better and better as weeks have passed. They are peaking at the right time but Matt Ryan, AtlantaΓÇÖs quarterback, doesnΓÇÖt
lose at home. And can the Seahawks pull off another upset? Can they really continue this improbable championship run?
Sports Gal will be back next week with a look at the divisional championships.
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