After last week's fun, NFL can only go downhill

This week's electronic conversation between Times sports columnists Gary Shelton and John Romano:

By GARY SHELTON and JOHN ROMANO, Times Columnists
Published January 20, 2008

JR: Gary, I hope you weren't snoozing last weekend because that might have been the best football we'll see this month. Upsets, drama, story lines. Unless Ashlee Simpson crawled through Tom Brady's window last night, I can't imagine anything similar in the conference championship games. Do you concur?

GS: What? Your bracket doesn't have the Giants and Chargers playing for the Super Bowl?

JR: My bracket didn't have the Chargers and Giants playing today. C'mon, Bill Belichick vs. Norv Turner? Brett Favre vs. Eli Manning? Me vs. a cannoli?

GS: Yeah, you're talking about lopsided matchups, all right. A lot like the women Brady actually dates vs. Ashlee Simpson. Remember that in Week 2, the Patriots beat the Chargers by 24 points. That same week, the Packers beat the Giants by 22. Why should I believe the games will be any closer this week?

JR: Because you still read fairy tales to your daughter Tori at night?

GS: She really likes the one where little Billy Volek rescues the princess from the evil troll named Belichick. And the one where Manning the Lesser melts all the snow and surfs out of town. But I don't think either one of them is going to come true.

JR: How about the one where the nasty commissioner wipes out an entire generation of fans by making them sit through a night game in Green Bay in January? I hear Disney is considering a PG rating for that one.

GS: Ah, be honest. Are you really concerned about the Packer fans? Or are you concerned about your toes freezing off and falling out of your shoes after you cross the parking lot?

JR: Workman's comp, baby. I'll trade three toes for a time-share in Vail. Four for a hot tub in Aspen.

GS: You'll need it. It's going to be cold in Foxborough, but I've been at a playoff game in Green Bay in January, and I know what Jethro Pugh felt like. Still, if anyone is going to pull an upset this week, I have to believe it will be the Giants. Do you disagree?

JR: The gap in talent in the NFC is not as great, and the weather can certainly cause unpredictability. So, yeah, I suppose the Giants have a shot. San Diego's only chance is if defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell figures out a way to get to Brady that no one else has discovered.

GS: The only guy to slow down Brady has been Lloyd Carr, and that was when Brady played for him at Michigan. I don't think the Chargers have a good time storming the castle. I'll predict New England, 47-13, and when it's over, I'll be writing about Belichick running up the score again.

JR: I'm guessing Green Bay 6, New York minus 3, and when it's over, I'll be looking for a St. Bernard to get me home.