Getting to the Conference Championship games in the National Food-Ball League Playoffs is a lot like having a Soufflé in the oven. You have put a lot of work into this masterpiece of yours and you are just one step away from achieving either glory or gloop. This Sunday the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers will be putting their recipes to the test. And now I am here once again to give you some insights as to Who will win & Who will flop and what kind of food best goes which each team on this our final weekend of real football (the Pro Bowl NEVER counts) in the National Food-Ball League.
Last week in the Divisional Round my heart got one game out of four right while my head predicted the eventual winner in each game. The favorites all won, sorry Carolina fans – you really weren’t expected to win that game, and the National Food-Ball League got a final four teams that any combination thereof would be able to spin the resulting media out of control for two weeks. Ultimately what the National Food-Ball League will get is a matchup between one of the greatest old school quarterbacks versus one of the best new school quarterbacks. It’s almost like a battle of Comfort Food vs Nouvelle Cuisine and that’s how we are going to look at the matchups here.
AMERICAN FOOD-BALL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
New England Patriots at Denver Broncos
(If you only want to talk food, skip to the next paragraph) Just in case you have been hiding under a rock this past week, this will be the 15th time that Peyton Manning has faced off against the Walking Talking Touchdown Tossing Ken Doll and the 4th time that they have met in the playoffs. The Walking Talking Touchdown Tossing Ken Doll does hold the advantage in the playoffs and does hold a 3-1 lead in Super Bowl rings but all that goes out the window this coming Sunday when these quarterbacks quit facing off in the media and get to settling things on the field. Now football games aren’t won at just one position and it’s very true for these two teams. While New England may have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game, they also have a hoodie wearing coach who may look like he is down to his last dollar but he is one who knows how to stretch & get the most out of the talent he has available. At the beginning of the season, no one knew who was going to catch the ball. Now that they are one game away from the Souper Bowl, everyone knows that the Patriots have people who can & do catch the ball but they still don’t know their names. I don’t think the average football fan could have named even one of the Patriots running backs but last week LeGarette Blount scored 4 touchdowns and now everyone in Boston can’t forget him. The Patriots defense is forgettable in that no one is anyone you have ever heard of but they can be thrown on and throwing the ball is what Peyton Manning does best. He has four of the best pass catchers in the game and a 1-2 punch in the backfield with Moreno & Ball that led the Broncos to a record number of points this year. Scoring will not be an issue on Sunday for the Broncos. Stopping the Patriots may however be a little more troublesome. I haven’t been sold on the Broncos defense all year and with injuries to the line & secondary in the past few weeks, they have become even scarier to watch. No lead is safe.
But let’s get to the FOOD, shall we ? The Patriots really have been the equivalent of a boiled/steamed/broiled lobster for quite some time. Its that one dish that is always looked up to more for its pedigree than its actual taste. Then one day you realize that you are sick of lobster and it is not what you want anymore no matter how much someone tries to push it on you. That’s how the Patriots are with me and I am sure with a lot of you too. That is why I am going to pull out an old tried & true insults recipe that worked last year when the Baltimore Ravens beat the Patriots to get to the Souper Bowl. It seems that the Walking Talking Touchdown Tossing Ken Doll lives part of the year with his Barbie Doll wife in New York. That is almost as bad as having a Red Sox fan be the Mayor of New York (Looking at you Bill deBlasio). So when it comes to the Patriots (again this year), I am going to have a nice Manhattan Style Clam Chowder represent them at the table. As for the Broncos, well last week taking a bold dish that spoke for itself like Elk Chili worked as the Broncos vanquished those nasty catfish (thank you gderr) tacos also known as the San Diego Chargers. Well this week the Broncos are again going to need to be represented by something bold yet familiar. Something that is powerful in its ability to strike. This week my Denver Broncos are going to be represented by a big bowl of Rattlesnake Chili. (Quick – someone send me a recipe) It should be a great game but I am leaning (in a very biased fashion) toward Denver beating New England.
NATIONAL FOOD-BALL CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
There are some people I have heard say that this game is the real Souper Bowl and that the game in two weeks will be anti-climactic in comparison. I will say that this does line up to be one hell of a game. The two teams met twice during the regular season and each team won at home. This game is in Seattle inside a stadium that has been dubbed the loudest stadium in football. Even ESPN Sports Science looks into it this claim and found that during games not only does it get louder than standing next to an airplane at takeoff but that the fans have actually been responsible for a few minor earthquakes. (It should be noted that touchdown runs by Marshawn Lynch caused both of those) The 49ers however won’t be impressed or intimidated. This team has already gone conquered Mount Lombadi and thrown Cam to his own Panthers in his own den. The 12th Man & The Hawks Nest are just what the Niners want to see. They are essentially the same team that made it to New Orleans last year and Colin Kaepernick is playing like he wants to come to New York this year. Of course the Seahawks will have a lot to say about. Their quarterback, the undersized Russell Wilson, has won 15 of the 16 games he has started in Seattle. The Seahawks play like beasts at home and they have one of the more intimidating defensive secondaries in pro football. They do however have a small chink in their armor in that in recent weeks, Wilson has looked human and the Seahawks did lose at home. Will any of that matter though when they kickoff on Sunday night ?
The 49ers are more than just a San Francisco treat and Rice-a-Roni would never do as a food representative for this great city. When I lived in the Bay Area back in the late 1980’s & early 1990’s there was a great steakhouse by the name of IZZY’s that I would love to use here but I am saving the steakhouse references for the Souper Bowl. Instead, I am going to stick with what got the Niners where they are today – a nice complex bowl of Cioppino and some Sourdough Bread. The Seahawks need something a little more. Seattle is a home to some real groundbreaking cuisine and Pike Place Market is wonderful place to visit & snack. When I think of Washington, I think of Apples, Cherries, Coffee & Salmon. I love all of them. Maybe I’m missing it somewhere but while I love to rub my salmon with RUB WITH LOVE from Etta’s, I have yet to find a coffee rubbed salmon. So that is what I would love to have someone come up with for this game, a Coffee Salmon with some sort of apple/cherry dessert. As for who wins ? My head says Seattle but my heart, which I left there for a little while back in 1991, says San Francisco.
Am I right ? Am I wrong ? Do you have better foods to represent your team ? Are you starting to plan your Souper Bowl Menu too ? Let me know and we will be back next week and the week after to not only talk football but to more importantly talk FOOD-BALL.