Do more surprises await in NFL playoffs?

Leave it to the NFL to turn its playoffs into sports' biggest surprise party.

Surprise: Eli Manning has led his New York Giants further in these playoffs than his older brother, Peyton, led the defending Super-Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.

Bigger surprise: With Philip Rivers and running back LaDainian Tomlinson injured and on the sideline, San Diego quarterback Billy Volek and running back Michael Turner helped propel the Chargers past the Colts in the playoffs' biggest upset.

Surprises come from everywhere. Green Bay can fall behind 14-0 against Seattle before some fans even tune in on TV, then watch running back Ryan Grant -– who opened the season as the fifth-string back on the Giants depth chart -– ring up the first 200-yard rushing game in Packers' playoff history.

It's a surprise when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws a single incomplete pass. Were it not for what easily could have been pass interference on Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson and an incredibly rare dropped pass from wide receiver Wes Welker, Brady would have thrown football's first perfect game, a Don Larsen, a game without any incompletions against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Now comes championship Sunday, which would seem predictable. But often in this league, little is. Whenever no surprises are expected, plenty ensue -– just see January 1999, when Gary Anderson missed his first field goal of the season in a stunning loss to Atlanta that cost the 16-1 Vikings a Super Bowl trip.

More surprises still await. There's one that, if it were to occur, would top all others. We wait to see whether the Chargers, Giants or Packers can crash the Patriots party -- and surprise the world.

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