NY Jets (11-7) @ Indianapolis Colts (15-2)
Sunday, 3:00 p.m. ET, CBS
In 1969, no one (except Namath) gave the Jets a chance against the Colts who had a superior quarterback and were the odds on favorite to win it all. Funny how history continues to repeat. No one thought the Jets would make the playoffs. No one thought the Jets could go out west and beat San Diego (me included). And now, people wonder if the Jets – built on running the ball and hard-nosed defense – can beat the Colts who have been the best team in the AFC (if not the NFL) all season. The Colts are actually responsible for the Jets appearance in these playoffs as they rested their starters in a late season game against the Jets. They got a good dose of a tough, hard-nosed team in the Ravens last week and the formula to beat them will be the same one they use against the Jets. I call it the Jimmy Johnson #48 offense: get out front early, score points, and watch the pack try to catch up the rest of the way. It'll be close early, but the Colts have too much where it counts on offense to be befuddled by a pass rush – even one as good as the Jets. Manning has been here before and that experience will pay off with a return to the Super Bowl.
Minnesota Vikings (13-4) @ New Orleans Saints (14-3)
Sunday, 6:40 p.m. ET, FOX
If Billy the Saw puppet was calling this game, he'd say: "Yes, there will be offense." The Vikings and the Saints, led by gunslingers Brett Favre and Drew Brees, can tilt the scoreboard. New Orleans defense isn't altogether special but they have forced turnovers in the playoffs and that's one thing the Vikings don't need from Favre who's known to do such. Minnesota's defense is very physical but they can be had for passing yards if a team can keep them off the quarterback. The key to the game is the running backs. New Orleans doesn't really have one and Minnesota has two (one of which – Peterson – is one of the best true backs in the league). Fireworks will flare up early, but the Vikings ability to get after Brees along with the running of Peterson will put the purple gang back in the Super Bowl.
Prediction: Minnesota 28, New Orleans 24