The NFL conference championship round is set, after Tom Brady’s Patriots and Eli Manning’s Giants brought harsh and decisive ends to special seasons for the Denver Tebows and Green Bay Packers, respectively. In its first home playoff game of the Harbaugh era, the Ravens won a close victory over the Texans thanks, as usual, to their defense, but it was the other Harbaugh whose team played the game of the weekend at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, defeating the Saints in a game that saw twenty-eight points scored in the final four minutes alone, when each touchdown also was a lead-change. While fan favorites and media darlings Green Bay and Denver are out, along with popular championship pick New Orleans, the final four teams offer a lot of excitement. The NFC championship features two teams (SF and NYG) that are peaking right now, and the AFC features a traditional, compelling offense vs. defense matchup (NE and BAL).
The college basketball national picture remains mixed, with Northwestern taking Michigan to overtime and then ending Michigan State’s fifteen-game win streak. Duke, Kentucky, and Georgetown all have shown weaknesses, while Syracuse has maintained a perfect record atop the Big East (ditto for Baylor in the Big XII). Vanderbilt, a top team in preseason rankings, appears to have found its way after falling out of the top 25, although a backloaded schedule means its toughest tests are yet to come.