What an exhilarating end to Championship Sunday, as Seattle edged San Francisco, 23-17, on the strength of forcing three Colin Kaepernick turnovers in the fourth quarter. That dramatic game made up for what was sort of a yawner in the AFC title game, as Denver led the entire way and beat New England, 26-16.
So let us look ahead to Feb.2nd, when Denver and Seattle -- No.1 seeds in their respective conferences -- face in what should be a very entertaining Super Bowl in (yes, it's actually happening) New Jersey.
1. The most compelling storyline will be Peyton Manning vs. Seattle's "Legion of Boom" secondary. That's Denver's No.1-ranked scoring offense vs. the Seahawks' No.1-ranked scoring defense. That's cornerback Richard Sherman -- who made a great play to tip the ball on the decisive interception vs. the 49ers and then acted about as classlessly as you possibly can in his celebration and interview -- vs. Denver's big-time trio of receivers. That's going to be a barnburner.
2. Former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson will start in the Super Bowl in only his second season as a pro. Wilson has had an absolutely stunning pro career thus far, even though he did have a number of shaky moments Sunday. Look for his rise -- and his parting of ways with former N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien -- to be dissected once again.
3. John Fox has been very close to a Super Bowl win a couple of times, most notably with the Panthers in the 2003 postseason. Now he has Manning playing as well as any quarterback ever has. Denver scores points in bunches, and it needs to because its defense remains somewhat vulnerable.
Here's a note to the Panthers: There have been 10 postseason games so far. The winning team has scored at least 23 points in every game. So 10 points -- what the Panthers scored in their loss to San Francisco, and their win vs. the 49ers in November -- just doesn't cut it. The offseason has to be about improving firepower for Carolina, both with a better offensive line and a better corps of receivers.
Fox already has all that, though. And I think the coach who still owns a house in Charlotte -- and who rehabbed there after his midseason health scare -- is about to get his first Super Bowl ring. I called both the title games right in my previous blog post, and for the Super Bowl I'm going with: Denver 31, Seattle 23.