So, it'll be San Francisco versus the New York Giants and New England versus Baltimore. All for the right to go to the biggest game of the year. No more upstart Broncos, no more defending-champ Packers. No more surprise Texans, and no more record-breaking Saints.
Obviously, the majority of the public wants to see a rematch of Super Bowl XLII with the Patriots facing the Giants. It's not that simple, though.
In order to get past the 49ers, the Giants will have to overcome the underdog story of the year. With Alex Smith (he of the No. 1 pick who has disappointed in almost every one of his six previous seasons in the NFL) gunning, the 49ers have impressed upon nearly everyone by now the fact that they are a serious team. By beating the New Orleans Saints in dramatic—if not overwhelming—fashion, the 49ers have proved that its sometimes-anemic offense (especially in regards to the passing game) is not a problem and its defense is a facet upon which they may hang their collective hat.
The Giants, on the other hand, rolled over the Green Bay Packers in such demonstrative fashion that their offense, which was well-heralded previously, may become secondary to a defensive unit that sacked opposing quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times. The Giants also had their way on offense, with Eli Manning picking apart the Packers' defense in way that was rather embarrassing.
In the AFC, the New England Patriots put an end to the miracle story of Tim Tebow's Broncos. The team-that-could just ran into a buzz saw and was clearly outmatched. Tebow outlived expectations this year and should be proud of the wins he (and the Broncos defense) managed this season, as well as making it to the playoffs, but the Patriots offense hung 45 points on the vaunted Broncos defense.
New England looks to continue its performance next weekend against the Baltimore Ravens, whose defense is miles ahead of the Broncos. The only hitch in the Ravens' game plan could be found in their regular season record: Of the four games they lost, all were away from home. Next week they'll play at Gillette Stadium, where New England is a tidy 7-1. That sole loss, by the way? It came to the New York Giants.
Both games will be televised on Sunday, with Baltimore and New England at 1 PM on CBS, and New York playing in San Francisco at 4:30 p.m. on Fox.
I arrive home from work and pull into the driveway of our new, foothills bungalow. It is early evening. G sits on the front steps and looks straight up in the air. There is a black hang-glider circling directly above. A flock of ravens follows him closely. A white hang-glider followed by white birds joins him. They circle together high above us like a spinning yin-yang symbol. Suddenly, the white glider plummets to earth like a rocket and lands somewhere behind our house. I dash around back, worried that he may have landed on a neighbor's roof and I won't be able to find him. A little girl runs toward me from behind the neighbor houses yelling "call Lovelace!". I don't have my keys with me so I decide to save some time by entering our house through a back window. I start to crawl through but find I first must move a bunch of little bottles and plants out of the way. "Fuck it", I say and crawl back out. I run around to the front door. Once inside, I begin to search frantically for the yellow pages. I search all the drawers in our antique white credenza, but find only place mats, candles and small toys. I recall that G told me where she had planned to put the new phone books but now I don't remember. Finally, I locate them in a stack on the floor by the couch. I look up Lovelace and find the number for the emergency room. Above it I see the number for "Ambulance": 15000. With cordless phone in hand I start pushing buttons but soon realize the phone has buttons on both sides and I have been using the wrong side. Now I've forgotten the number and have to look it up again. I start to dial on the wrong side again but catch myself this time and flip it over. I call the number and a woman answers. Now flustered, I can't remember our new house number or even our street name. I run outside to look at our house number: 64, 65, 134f, 3900. I ask the woman to hold while I run up the street to check the street sign on the first cross street. When I reach the sign, it reads "this sign has been removed due to vandalism". Below the sign is another carved into a log that says "Thistle and Spinner Bait Shoppe ->". It has a carved picture of Smokey the Bear in waders fishing in a stream. I hadn't noticed it until now, but on the other side of our street a raging mountain stream has been flowing. I enter the crowded little bait shop, phone still in hand, and ask the first guy I see what street this is. "Cabo ______", he says. He is standing next to the curly-haired guy who played the crazed sailor who heard ghosts tapping in a sunken submarine in an old Twilight Zone episode. It is now completely dark and the phone seems to have gone dead.