There is more than one Harbaugh beaming this week. Jim may have led Stanford to an Orange Bowl blowout of Virginia Tech and set himself up for an NFL job, but brother John, head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, must be feeling pretty good himself.
John Harbaugh's team dodged the bullet that is Peyton Manning in the AFC wild-card playoff round. Instead of facing a quarterback that tears apart aggressive defenses and has won his last eight meetings against them, the Ravens get a game against untested Kansas City. Yes, Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to play. But the fans aren't actually on the field. Manning is.
"[Harbaugh] is never going to say it. He's going to give you all the coach speak, 'It doesn't matter,'" NBC football analyst Tony Dungy said. "But they had lost eight times to Indianapolis. They're ecstatic that they're going to Kansas City."
Dungy knows of what he speaks. First, John Harbaugh said exactly that when queried by reporters early this week, praising the Chiefs and reminding everyone how tough that place can be in January. It didn't hurt, either, that Dungy personally handed the Ravens one of their most painful losses ever -- a 15-6 Indianapolis playoff victory in Baltimore that put a stunning end to what had been a 13-3 season in 2006.
"They would have enjoyed the Ravens," NBC analyst Rodney Harrison said of the Colts getting the Jets instead. "But it's really the same type of situation for Peyton Manning, these blitzing defenses where you've got to make good decisions. I don't think you can beat Peyton Manning with a defense that's just trying to fool you."