The NFL is down to its final four, and with the Giants and their division rivals out of contention, there’s no obvious choice for who to root for/against. If I may be so bold, please allow me to make a humble suggestion for your rooting interest in each of this Sunday’s games:
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, 3:00 pm
The AFC Championship Game gives us another should-be epic Manning-Brady matchup, which should be great. The most obvious Giants connection to the Broncos is Eli’s brother Peyton at quarterback, who has beaten the Giants every time he’s faced them (both with Indianapolis and Denver), including a 41-23 drubbing in Week 2 of this year. There are no former Giants on Denver’s roster.
Some people argue that the Giants have a rivalry with the Pats. I hesitate to use that word for a team we only play every 4 years, and who hasn’t beaten the Giants in a meaningful game that I can remember. But it’s impossible to ignore that they hail from Boston (sorta) and their coach is basically Darth Vader. Not only that, they claimed Jake Ballard, who tore his ACL in the most recent Super Bowl win, when the Giants tried to put him on IR in 2012. That was annoying. He’s not on the team anymore (Ballard spent 2013 with Arizona), so there are no Giants connections on the roster.
Verdict: You have to go with big bro and Denver.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks, 6:30 pm
The NFC Championship Game pits two teams that look poised to own the NFC for years to come. This is the 49ers 3rd straight trip to the NFC Championship under Jim Harbaugh, although neither of the previous two resulted in a Super Bowl win. The Giants have a historic rivalry with the 49ers, with the Giants having the upper hand recently due to the 2011 victory in Candlestick that sent the Giants to Super Bowl 46. A quick look at the 49ers playoff roster doesn’t reveal any former Giants that will play in this game, although Mario Manningham (who had a huge touchdown in the 2011 championship game) is on IR.
The Seahawks have probably been the best team in the NFL overall this year. With a stacked roster and an incredible home-field advantage, it’ll be a tall task for the 49ers to keep Seattle out of the Super Bowl. The Hawks get some rooting favor from me for not having ever won a Super Bowl, and for representing the city that lost the Sonics in tragic fashion. There are no former Giants on the Seahawks, but they do have Korey Toomer, cousin of Amani, on their reserve/non-football injury list.
Verdict: The minor (at least lately) rivalry with San Fran makes Seattle the pick.