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Fantasy Football Feature
Conference Championships: Lancaster's Locks
Jimmy Lancaster
January 18, 2008

Greatest Day Ever 2008: Sentiment and Karma

Those of you who have followed the Lancaster for the past near decade know that he commonly refers to this Sunday as simply, �Greatest Day Ever.� Always less glorified and often more intense than the Super Bowl, the drama is multiplied on Championship Sunday. For this year�s stanza, it�s also time, to paraphrase Mr. Rogers, for somewhere in the darkness, the Lancaster to break even. And with a 5.5 to 1 money line, what a great chance to bang a live dog and breathe life into your handicapping season.

Let�s be serious. The Patriots are the representative evil in the world of sports, due some shockingly bad karma at some point. They are the cheaters who steal plays, synonymous (to those of us paying attention) with the blind post-911 nationalism that wreaks havoc on independent thought; after all, they�re the ones who beat the Rams not too long afterwards to commence their reign. Their coach�s terribly arrogant dealings with the press and public bring them just enough hatred to fuel the drama we used to see in the Cowboys, 49�ers and the Steelers. They are, with or without this year�s exclamation point, the team of the decade. And they are just that, an incredible model of a team, with old, slow white guys and role players abound.

But could it be possible that they have turned, ever so slightly, due to the actions of Mr. Bad Karma himself Phillip Rivers, to the sentimental favorite in the AFC? Rivers not only beat Manning and talked junk to the Broncos in front of a huge Christmas crowd, but last week again refused to conduct himself with class in Indianapolis. Enter Billy Volek after Rivers� karma injury, about who the casual NFL fan knows roughly nothing. But Volek single-handedly ruined the Titan�s season last year by not being mentally prepared for his assumed starting role, and Tennessee had to go with a green Vince Young before they were ready. Volek was subsequently released, catching on with San Diego for a last chance. I am, therefore, confident that Volek learned his lesson and as a result, the offense, so if San Diego has to go with him, he should be a fine surprise.

San Diego is the only one of the final four with the special teams to make a difference. With Sproles and Cromartie, they can make big plays at auspicious times, and can score from multiple angles, just like the Patriots. Cromartie should be able to cover Moss one on one, thus limiting the Patriots� offensive scheme and tightening things up on Ben Watson and Will Welker, who cut through the middle thanks to the attention defenses pay to Moss (attention �under-takers�). I should ask, on the other side, how New England is going to cover the Charger�s wide outs. San Diego would benefit if Jamal Williams goes, although he hasn�t practiced all week; back-up Ryon Bingham, however, has proved effective.

The time has come for the Republicans to be ousted from office, the word is out that the intelligence was manipulated; and just like the Pat�s initial big payday at the expense of the Rams, big turns tend to take on audible form. So, I am ready for a change, and ready to harvest the benefits from such a legendary day. In the end, I am going for it, with San Diego and the money line at +550, and the under, which opened at 51 (last week�s Pats/Jags exact total, a push), and is now 46, I would argue, barely keeping this game under.

When speaking of sentimental favorites, Favre transcends us all. The two things that scare me about Green Bay, however, are that the money is consistently coming in on them, and, from a purely football standpoint, the one team that is built to compete in Wisconsin January conditions is the one visiting this week. Not much going on with the injury report here, except that Favre needs to be able to exploit a depleted New York secondary that Romo couldn�t, due to some complex blitz packages that covered up the holes. Even if Madison plays, let�s not forget that he is a shell of his old self, barely cracking the starting line-up the past two year and seemingly not able to keep up with Jennings or James Jones. The referees helped Dallas lose that game last Sunday, but I suspect this won�t be the case in Lambeau, even if the incomparable Bill Carullo is in control. I�ll take Green Bay and the money line at -330, and likewise, I like the over, at 41, in a game that has the potential to reach at least the mid-40s, even on the �frozen tundra.�

Go for it baby, take San Diego to pull it off. If you are going to take a dog with you on your journey, why not run with a live one? And after the rest of them are cleaned out after laying 8 to 1, now you�ll have some cash to put out on the sentimental favorite, and that�s good karma.

Last week: 0-3-0
Season: 33-44-1

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