(for the guy on the left, this was as close as it gets to dressing up)

Patriots 21, Chargers 12

There’s no greater proof the Hooded Casanova has a pact with Satan than the circumstances surrounding New England’s 6th AFC Championship victory. A huge 2nd half by second-year RB Lawrence Maroney and a number of key catches by Kevin Faulk helped the Pats punch their ticket to Glendale, despite a poor afternoon for Tom Brady (3 interceptions) and Randy Moss being held to one reception. For a Bolts franchise still seeking their first Super Bowl win, they’ll spend the offseason knowing they hung around until the fourth quarter despite getting almost nothing out of the injured LaDanian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates.

(even Marty Schottenheimer attended the game, albeit incognito)

It’s pretty tough to quantify the massive competitive disadvantage faced by the Chargers. Trying to end a historic winning streak in frosty Foxboro would’ve been a considerable challenge no matter what, but to do so denied the tailback who is arguably the game’s most exciting offensive force, not to mention Philip Rivers playing the entire game with damaged knee ligaments, would’ve been an even bigger mindblower than last Sunday’s upset in Indy. Can someone award the Spanos family and Shawne Merriman a tiny trophy for beating the spread?

I thought I’d get some kind of sadistic charge out of watching Jimmy Johnson and Terry Bradshaw nearly freeze to death during the Giants/Packers pregame show, but any scenario in which Howie Long is mostly likely survivor is just lousy television.