SHEILAH KAST, host:
This weekend, eight teams will meet in the NFL's divisional playoffs. Those eight teams will become four, then two. Who will play between the beer commercials in Super Bowl XL? That's Roman for 40. Our own sports commentator Ron Rapoport joins us.
RON RAPOPORT reporting:
KAST: First up, it's the Redskins vs. the Seattle Seahawks.
RAPOPORT: Sheilah, I got to tell you, there are eight really good teams who have either established themselves as division champions or fought their way through a wild card playoff game to get into position. But I was going to say there were eight, but there really are seven; the Redskins don't belong. They could barely move the ball at all last week.
KAST: You're speaking to someone who lives within the Washington Beltway. How can you do that?
RAPOPORT: Yeah, I know. It's painful. It's painful, but they barely gained a hundred yards against Tampa last week. The Seahawks are a very explosive team, particularly good at home, and I think they're just going to kill Washington, honestly.
KAST: OK, move on. The New England Patriots are facing the Broncos in Denver. Now New England has made it to the last two Super Bowls. Can they get past the Broncos?
RAPOPORT: It's kind of hard to think of the Patriots as underdogs. They needed to win a wild card game just to get here. And with their record and their three Super Bowl wins, maybe they're really not underdogs at all. Denver is a very fine team. This could be a good game. I look for Tom Brady and Jake Plummer to throw a ton of passes and for the Patriots to win.
KAST: And on Sunday, can Peyton Manning deliver a victory for the Colts when the Steelers come to town?
RAPOPORT: Yeah, I really think they're going to win that. You know, the Colts were the talk of football all year long, threatening to have an undefeated season before they lost two in a row. The Steelers struggled early, have played very well lately. But I expect Manning to show why he's been the best quarterback in the league this year and for the Colts to win this one.
KAST: And last but not least, your Bears.
RAPOPORT: Well, I got to tell you, Sheilah, this is the game we've been waiting for for 20 years, since the Bears went to the Super Bowl, the Panthers against the Bears and hopes are very high here. The Bears' defense has been very good. They beat the Panthers earlier this season before they had a quarterback who could actually move the ball. But I've got to tell you that Carolina really worries me. They're coming off their two best games of the season. I think this game is going to come down to two great defenses and whether either of the running backs, Thomas Jones of the Bears or DeShaun Foster of the Panthers, can get through. Don't tell anybody in Chicago I said this, but I think the Bears are going to lose this one.
KAST: In the playoffs, is it more important to be good or to be lucky?
RAPOPORT: You know, there was a famous Fog Bowl here when the Bears beat the Eagles in a playoff game where neither team could see to the other side of the field; that made a big difference. So if weather were to assert itself, a bounce of the ball; the Bears, for instance, have been a very opportunistic team in terms of take-aways and turnovers, the opportune fumble, a little bit of both.
KAST: Thanks, Ron.
RAPOPORT: Thank you, Sheilah.
KAST: Ron Rapoport is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times and our sports commentator here on WEEKEND EDITION.
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