The Divisional round of the NFL playoffs is over, and frankly, it was a damn good one. Out of the four games, three were exceptional, and the one that wasn't at least had a super-pissed off Mother Nature. And that's always fun.
What we know is this: for this year, at least, we have again been spared what would be the most over-hyped, over-played, over-saturated, over-covered, overbearing event in the history of sports - a Super Bowl in which the Manning brothers square off against one another.
On the Monday after the conference championships, we would get the basics: older brother Peyton shuns father's Ole Miss legacy to Volunteer it alone, sets all kinds of records. Oh, they happen to win the National Championship the year after he leaves. Hmm. Regardless, Peyton goes on to Indy, where he again puts up huge numbers, only to fail spectacularly in the playoffs - until last year, when he exorcises his Nor'Easter demons, then beats a team with a man nicknamed "Sex Cannon" at the helm. Younger brother Elisha, who is obviously not the talent of his elder sibling, follows in his father's Rebel footsteps, and trips. Repeatedly. He refuses to play for a mid-market-sized team with a stacked roster in order to play in a plus-sized market with a mediocre roster. He trips. Repeatedly. Finally, summoning the Squash Succubus, his failures succumb to his skills (sorta).
On Tuesday we'd get a recap of their extensive endorsement deals - Double Stuf, anyone? - and endless repeats of the ESPN commercial where the Mannings visit the set. On Wednesday we'd get Zapruder film of them playing catch in the backyard in New Orleans as junior high prodigies. On Thursday we'd get awkward interviews with their father, Archie, and their mother, Olivia, giving bullshit answers about how they'll roshambo to see which one wears which son's jersey during the game. On Friday we'd get a quick recap of Peyton hosting SNL, and maybe even a bit by Kenny Mayne about how eldest bro Cooper was a talented receiver but unfortunately had the spinal canal of a canary. On Saturday we'd get a heart-warming look at how the Mannings helped the people of New Orleans in the days and weeks and months following Hurricane Katrina, and how they continue to help rebuild their hometown.
And then - and only then - would they maybe start to talk football. And there's a whole 'nother week of that!
Unless you have a deep, deep rooting interest in one or both of those teams - or perhaps you're a sadist, and own an extensive collection of leather, chains, whips, torture devices, etc. - then you can see how this scenario needs to be avoided at all costs.
But there are still four other possible match-ups, and all will present their own storylines that will be absolutely, positively, point-blankedly driven to the ground.
The inevitable: New England vs. Green Bay
Actually, this one might even be worse than the Manning Bowl (just kidding). Despite the ever-abiding man-love that every journalist from Honolulu to Hanoi showers upon Brett Favre, the fervent fellatio thrown the Dreamboat's way may be even worse. Throwing for 50 touchdowns and winning a near-unanimous MVP award will do that. Still, the "will he or won't he?" talk regarding Favre's impending-on hold-impending-not true retirement will get mega-old, mega-fast. And despite his solid career, Favre is 1-1 in Super Bowls. That one win? Oh yeah!
The bias continues: New England vs. New York
This has to be the second-likeliest only because the Patriots look unbeatable, and the Giants D is playing out of their mind. Expect the Boston vs. New York angle to get turned on its head, with many references to the Yankees and Red Sox (and their dramatic 2003 and 2004 ALCS battles, no doubt) sprinkled in. Also, did you know Bill Belichick used to coach the Giants' defense in the 80s? Did you? Oh, you did. That's right. I can also imagine side-by-side comparisons of Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress - but done in a cheap, suspended-animation rotate-the-players-360 degrees-type of way. By the end of the two weeks, there won't be anything "New" about this - unless you're one of the eight people on the planet who don't know the Pats are gunning for a perfect season.
MarmaFavre: San Diego vs. Green Bay
Many thanks to Big Daddy Drew for dubbing Philip Rivers "Marmalard." Anyway, this is probably the least-interesting potential match-up, story-wise. They'll talk about Favre. A lot.
The trade: San Diego vs. New York
It's mentioned above, but you remember: the Chargers had the first pick in the 2004 NFL draft, and Eli Manning informed them he did not like warm weather and bikini-clad women and tough intra-conference opponents. So the Chargers selected him and traded him to the Giants for the Giants' choice three picks later (Rivers), their third-round pick in that draft, and a first- and fifth-round pick in 2005. The rest, as it's wrote, is history. Albeit boring history that will be talked about, explored, analyzed, discussed, graphed, mapped-out, dissected and thoroughly detailed so much you'll want to cut away your frontal lobe with a nail-clipper file. Anyway, this is the least-likeliest option, as both road teams winning (especially one as hobbled with injuries as the Chargers) in the conference championship is pretty rare.
These are your choices, America. One of them is about to come true - and then shoved relentlessly down your throat. Luckily there will be, at most, only one Manning involved. No Double Stuf-ing necessary.