Just because the New England Patriots are out of the NFL Playoffs (really, the more you say it the easier it is to accept, allowing you to move on to more exciting things, like the ... East-West Shrine Game? Um, OK, sure), it doesn't mean your weekends are football-free yet. And while you may no longer have a rooting interest -- unless "hoping the Packers beat the AFC representative, 49-3," counts -- Sunday can still be exciting. Especially if you're gambling!
In Sunday's first game, the NFC Championship (3 p.m. EST, Fox), Green Bay is a 4-point favorite on the road against the Chicago Bears. The two NFC North rivals split their regular season series, with the home team defending their field each time, including the Week 3 meeting, when Chicago edged out a 20-17 win in Soldier Field. While I think the Packers will win, the move here is to take the Bears and the points. Chances are it's going to be a close game -- their last five meetings have been decided by an average of 5.2 points.
Then at 6:30 p.m., it's the AFC Championship (CBS).
The Jets have already beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh in a playoff-like game -- New York had to win Week 15, and they did, 22-17. But still, they're the home team, so the Steelers are a slight favorite, giving 3 1/2 points on Sunday. This is a tough one to gauge. On the one hand, Pittsburgh is at home, where they are 4-2 in their past six playoff games. And I hate to mention intangibles or gut feelings, but there is just something about this New York team. Take the Jets. And then root heavily for the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.