The Opening Pitch: I was so excited to vote in the SN poll about which Super Bowl matchup you wanted to see. It seemed obvious to me:
It's GOT to be Saints-Jets, right?
After all, the Saints in the Super Bowl would be one of the best sports stories ever -- the NFL's historical exemplar of failure finally making it to the pinnacle. (Beating Brett Favre to do it? Just a bonus.)
And the Jets in the Super Bowl means that they would have beaten the Colts in Indianapolis, among the more crushing defeats you will ever see -- but not undeserved, given the way the Colts decided, institutionally, to throw the game in Week 16. (Plus: Can you imagine Rex Ryan during Super Bowl week? It would be a feast of entertainment.)
Well, I voted ... and my must-see pairing came in last, with a piddling 8 percent of the vote. The most popular matchup: Colts-Vikings.
Really? You really want two weeks of Favre? You really want two weeks of Manning? By the end of the first week -- that's before we've even gotten to Miami -- you will be so sick of them. (As if you aren't already!)
Saints-Colts? That's what Tunison predicts will happen, and at least that gives the Saints their Super shot and includes what is arguably the NFL's best team. (See: I'm not entirely a Colts-hater.)
But it's not just about who is most worthy -- it's about who you want to see.
And I can't help it: As much as I want to see the Saints in the Super Bowl, I want to see Favre and Manning lose this weekend.
How about you? Vote in the poll and leave your preferred matchup in the Comments below.
NFL Conf Champ Week: The Jets' D is getting all the love right now, but when you read the scouts' take for SN, you are reminded that the Colts' D is pretty good, too. And are coming off stifling an offense not unlike the one the Jets run.
Rex Ryan speaks (again): "We are built to last the whole fight." No coach in the NFL gives better quotes than Rex Ryan. As it was against the Chargers, if the Jets can keep it low-scoring and close early, they will have a chance. (Still: Doesn't take much for Peyton to put up a quick TD or two.)
NFL Good Read: Was Chan Gailey a dud hire for the Bills? Florio makes the argument it was a solid call by the team.
CBB Mania: Wichita St gets a huge win over mid-major flavor of the month Northern Iowa. Could the Missouri Valley Conference be angling to get both teams into the NCAA Tournament?
Jim Calhoun taking L.O.A.: It may only be "temporary," but he wouldn't exit in the middle of the season if it wasn't serious. Getting past the health issues, the question is: How much will the team be impacted by it?
NBA Talking Points: I like Shaq's idea of bringing together LeBron, Kobe and VC for a dunk contest to benefit Haiti. What feels strange is that Shaq wants to divide the prize money: Half for Haiti, half for the winner. Like a couple million bucks would matter to any of those players? Or that they could ever take that money? The entire pot of cash should go to Haiti -- in fact, that would make it a lot harder for the three of them to say no. (But guaranteed: They'll say no. How about just a dunk exhibition?)
All-Star Voting: AI has every right to play in the game if he is voted in by the fans as a starter -- all the more so if this really will be his final year in the league. He has earned the All-Star swan song. (So "Boo" to you, Billups.)
Arenas Update: I find it hard to believe that the team has had no discussions yet about voiding Gilbert's contract. I suspect that they know it is in their best interests that the perception be that they have had no discussions yet about voiding Gilbert's contract.
MLB Hot Stove: If any player is worth a record value in arbitration, it would be Tim Lincecum.
Good Read: SN Q&A with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik, who has been at the helm of the most active team of the offseason -- from Figgins to Felix.
Lane Kiffin Watch: You knew that there had to be something like this that Kiffin left behind in Knoxville.
The Last Word: The hottest name in basketball? Ayla Brown. That's the daughter of Massachusett's Senator-Elect Scott Brown. She was formerly known for her run on "American Idol," but last night, her dad was boasting about her hoops ability.
Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff.
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