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There are only four teams left in these 2008 NFL Playoffs, and while the remaining matchups aren't exactly what the network suits wanted (no Tom-vs-Peyton rematch?), there are still plenty of questions left to be answered during this weekend's conference championship games: Can the Patriots keep their perfect season alive and punch a ticket to Glendale? Can the Chargers, perhaps without their QB and the league's best RB, prove that their win at Indy wasn't a fluke? Will Brett Favre keep Green Bay's magical season going, and leave the game a winner? Or will much-maligned Giants QB Eli Manning finally emerge from his brother's shadow and lead NY to a Super Bowl? Fortunately, you don't have to wait until Sunday to get these questions answered... because I'm going to run a COM-vs-COM sim of every matchup ahead of time using Tecmo Super Bowl, giving you the 8-bit lowdown on which teams will advance to the Super Bowl and which teams will be starting their summer vacations early.
But first, here's the usual business that we have to take care of:
- For all of those who have been asking, the basic version of the rosters I'm using can be found here, and you need an emulator to play the ROM, so pick up Nestopia here.
- Again, thanks be to Greg the Ex-'Burgher, for originally doing something like this two years ago, and for introducing me to the wonderful world of the TSB Repository.
- Also, special shout-outs to Deadspin and The Globe for continually linking to these articles -- it's nice to know people are enjoying the sims!
- Finally, feel free to point out any roster flaws you see, so that I can fix them before the next batch of games. I think they're pretty accurate at this point (although Michael Strahan's name is misspelled), but if you see anything incorrect, give me a holla.
Okay, to the Conference Championship matchups! Last week, Tecmo called 3 of the 4 games correctly (including San Diego's upset of Indianapolis), the only slip-up coming when it picked Dallas to top the Giants. And, believe me, it's apparently learned not to pick against Eil and the G-Men again... Anyway, for each game I'll tell you what Tecmo's simulated score was, and also what I think the outcome will be -- of course, I make no guarantees as to the accuracy of either. Accompanying each game is the "Matchup Breakdown" chart, which is based on a percentile ranking of each team using Football Outsiders' DVOA metric -- remember, it is a measure of a team's real-life strengths and weaknesses, and has nothing to do with Tecmo per se. But I thought it would be cool to include nonetheless. Enjoy the sims, kids!
San Diego vs. New England
First HalfSecond Half Game Summary: True to their dominating form (and perhaps inspired by LaDainian Tomlinson's "classless" comments a year ago), the Patriots sprinted out to a 14-0 lead on San Diego almost immediately. For his part, Tomlinson -- fighting the effects of the bruised right knee he suffered against Indy -- would answer with a spectacular 87-yard touchdown run early in the 2nd quarter, but Tom Brady immediately connected with Donte' Stallworth for his third TD pass of the day. After San Diego's final drive of the quarter only resulted in a Nate Kaeding field goal, New England found themselves up 21-10 at the half on a team without their QB and with their star RB at less than 100%. But much like he had done a week earlier against the heavily favored Colts, Chargers backup QB Billy Volek tried to will San Diego back into the game, this time capping the opening drive of the 2nd half with a TD pass to Vincent Jackson. San Diego was within striking distance at 21-17, but Brady and the Pats continued their pattern of answering every Charger touchdown with one of their own, closing out the 3rd quarter with Brady finding Stallworth for another TD, which pushed the lead to 28-17. The Bolts would not simply go away, though, and as the 4th quarter began, Volek connected with Jackson again, cutting New England's lead to 4. The Patriots would offer no hope for a San Diego comeback, however, embarking on a clock-killing drive that ended when Laurence Maroney scampered into the end zone to make the score 35-24 with 1:42 remaining in the game. Volek would end up tossing a meaningless TD to Chris Chambers as time expired (explaining the 35-31 final), but in the end, the Patriots simply did what they've done every week since the middle of August -- move on with a victory. 35-31 Patriots, final score. My Prediction: New England 35, San Diego 14. NY Giants vs. Green Bay First Half Second Half Game Summary: Favored by a touchdown and playing at home, the Green Bay Packers had every reason to expect a favorable result on this frigid Wisconsin Sunday. But what happens when your opponent believes they are a team of destiny, as Eli Manning and the Giants do? The Giants had gone on the road and won in each of the previous two weeks, and fully intended to make it three-for-three, single-digit temperatures or not. In a mistake-filled first half, the G-Men struck first when Manning found Plaxico Burress for a 72-yard score. Brett Favre would respond quickly, hitting Greg Jennings for a game-tying TD as the 1st quarter came to a close, but the cold conditions were really taking a toll on the offenses as the game wore on. Punts and interceptions abounded in the 2nd quarter, although Lawrence Tynes did find the time to hit a 27-yard FG and give the Giants a 10-7 lead at the half. Mason Crosby started the 2nd half with a chance to tie the game at 10, but he pushed his 55-yard field goal attempt wide left, and N.Y. maintained their slim 10-7 advantage. After the teams traded punts for the rest of the 3rd quarter, Manning and the Giants weighed their options to start the 4th, and then made the biggest play of the game. Starting at their own 20 after a touchback, and having run the ball reasonably well in the cold weather, everyone expected New York to lead off this drive by pounding the ball with the punishing Brandon Jacobs. Instead, Manning froze the defense with a great play-action fake, and lobbed an 80-yard touchdown pass to Amani Toomer that gave N.Y. a 10-point lead. Favre and the Packers were not finished, however, as #4 led Green Bay down the field on a 50-yard drive that ended only when Ryan Grant found the end zone. But the Giants continued to prove that destiny was on their side... New York pushed the ball into the red zone on the ensuing drive, and Manning uncorked an ill-conceived pass headed right for Charles Woodson. Woodson was in position to make the pick, but the ball bounced right off of his hands, giving the Giants a second chance to capitalize on the field position. They would not disappoint, as Jacobs found the end zone on the very next play, giving N.Y. a commanding 24-14 lead with 1:25 on the clock. Favre tried to work his magic and lead a comeback, but he had run out of miracles, getting sacked twice by Michael Strahan and turning the ball over on downs. With the win, the cinderella Giants make it to their first Super Bowl since 2000, and once again they will be facing a ferocious team with a take-no-prisoners head coach. Does this fairy tale have a happy ending? Only time will tell... 24-14 Giants, final score. My Prediction: Green Bay 24, NY Giants 16.