I’m very excited about both of today’s NFL Conference Championship games. They both provide match ups with plenty of intrigue. I’m going to do my best to predict them both right, along with providing my reasoning behind it.

New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts
Last weekend the Jets proved that traveling to the West Coast didn’t bother them, neither did a really good QB (Philip Rivers) nor a good running game. They’re probably not going to be intimidated at all at having to go to Indianapolis, and from all the “Revis Island” stuff I’ve seen on television, the Jets and their fans seem to think that Darrell Revis is going to be able to slow down a portion of the Colts’ passing attack in addition to everyone else’s assumption that the Jets defense is going to be able to significantly stop Joseph Addai, Donald Brown and any other RB the Colts use.
I say it’s not going to be enough.
Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie are going to be able to cause enough havoc and catch enough footballs to move the ball down the field and score enough points to put the Jets on their heels. If San Diego can be winning 7-0 against the Jets after the first half, I don’t see ANY reason why Peyton Manning and the Colts can’t get at least 10 points on the board. The Chargers WR / TE aren’t any better than Indy, and I would argue that Peyton Manning is in a significantly better situation this game than Rivers was a week ago. Peyton loves to study game film and his playbook and strategize how to defeat an opponent. When Indy and the Jets last met a couple weeks ago, the Jets were doing everything they could to get to the playoffs, and it took a strip/sack/fumble recovery for a touchdown by the Jets on a backup QB named Painter to get a victory. Not impressive, Jets.
Sure, they’ve been playing good football since then, but there’s a reason that the Colts won every single game this season in which they were putting forth their best effort. The Colts find ways to win. They don’t get discouraged by late-game deficits. They find ways for the passing game to open up for their rushing game. They make turn-overs on defense.
This game has the potential to be like the game between Miami and the Colts from earlier in the season, where Miami controlled the clock for most of the game, but the Colts were still able to score enough to get the win.
Need a key to this game? Mark Sanchez. 100 yards passing and 1 TD against the Chargers last week. That’s not going to be nearly enough, and if they need to rely on Sanchez, the Jets are going to find them on the wrong side of the turnover differential.
Prediction: Colts win

Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints
The key to this game is Darren Sharper.
Drew Brees is going to be able to find his WR and the end zone. The Saints’ running game will find ways to be at least moderately productive, even though the Vikings have a good run defense and one of the best pass-rushers in the league (Jared Allen).
Brett Favre is going to have to throw the ball, even as I expect Adrian Peterson is going to have a productive day. The Vikings are going to need to try to keep up with the Saints in scoring points, and Favre is going to have to go into Gun Slinger mode.  That’s where Darren Sharper comes in.  He had 9 interceptions this year, 3 of them returned for touchdowns.  Then you have the fact that he knows the Vikings – having played there four seasons prior to going to New Orleans.  He’s seen their offense AND defense work. 

What’s that, you say?  “He didn’t see Brett Favre run the Vikings offense.”

He’s got plenty of history with Brett Favre, as a member of the Packers from 1997 to 2004.

The other big factor in this game is going to be the City of New Orleans.  Not only are the Saints fans going to be rabid for a win, but the fact that this game isn’t being played in a stadium with loud Viking horn calls to signal a first down is going to work against the Vikings just as it has all season.  While playing up in Minnesota, the Vikings have been a perfect 9-0 this season including last weekend’s victory against Dallas.  Away from their home dome: 4-4.  That fact alone is enough to make the case for me. 
Prediction:  New Orleans Saints

Sure, it’s not a daring prediction to go with the two top seeds, but I have laid out some compelling reasons for why the Colts and Saints are going to meet in the Super Bowl.  Doubt me if you want, but I want to hear your reasons.