The Final Four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament is one of the most exciting championship events of the season.
How does it compare to the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl?
Mike: It's the same in one way. A champion is crowned in a tournament, not by a vote. The big differences are that there are true Cinderella teams in college basketball. There are upsets in the NFL playoffs, but no team really comes out of nowhere.
The colleges have alumni who are fanatical in support of their schools. With the pros, tradition and civic pride drive the fan base.
There's no reason to make a choice as to which is better, but no sport stops the country for a day the way the NFL does with the Super Bowl. About 130 million people watch the Super Bowl on television every year. Even the TV commercials and the halftime entertainers make news. It's the best one-day show in the country.
Tim: I love the true Cinderella aspect of the NCAA tournament. Teams like George Mason and Wichita State make the tournament special.
The Super Bowl is the grand daddy of all sporting events and the NFL puts on a great show – the entire week and on Sunday. It's a worldwide event.
But in my opinion, the Final Four and Championship Game comprise the best three-day event in all of sports.
Also consider this, the NCAA has bracket mania and the Super Bowl has the squares. I think those two aspects keep a lot of people interested who might not otherwise be sports fans.
Since we're on the subject, who's the way-too-early-that-we-shouldn't-even-be-talking-about-it favorite to win the Super Bowl in 2014?
Mike: You're right, it is way too early. The good thing about it, though, is that everyone will forget a pick made in the first week of April.
At this moment, Seattle and San Francisco are my favorites to meet in the NFC Championship, with Seattle moving on to the Super Bowl. I like Russell Wilson's game to hold up better over the long haul than Colin Kaepernick's will for the 49ers.
In the AFC, I'll take Denver. Losing Elvis Dumervil hurts the defense, but Wes Welker entered the building to give Peyton Manning a consistent slot receiver who chews up catches and yards.
Tell me where I'm wrong – and where the NFC North fits in the playoff picture.
Tim: For once, we might be of the same page on something.
The 49ers were one play (or penalty-no-call if you're a 49ers fan) from coming back to win that game in New Orleans this year. They've lost a couple nice pieces, but they have a lot of draft picks and I like them to make it back in the NFC. They have the offensive and defensive lines to do it.
The addition of Wes Welker is huge for the Broncos and Peyton Manning and I like them in the AFC, also. Manning will win one more title before his career is over.
When it comes to the NFC North and Super Bowl, any conversation starts with the Green Bay Packers. They've won a Super Bowl and two Division titles over the last four years and have the best player in football in Aaron Rodgers.
Is any other team in the North ready to threaten the Packers' rein?
Mike: The Lions have the furthest to go, but the way the standings were packed at the top last season means nobody can be counted out. The Packers finished first at 11-5, with the Vikings and Bears next at 10-6. The Lions were at the bottom at 4-12, but I don't see them repeating that.
The Packers separated themselves by dominating the NFC North. They were 5-1. The Vikings were 4-2 and the Bears 3-3. The Lions were 0-6 in the division. It's impossible to win the division if you can't win games in the division.
Aaron Rodgers makes the Packers the class of the North, but the other teams have improved themselves. It'll be tougher on the Packers. If the Lions are going to make a run, they have to hold their own in the division.
The question is whether they can do that.
Tim: The Lions weren't a 4-12 team in 2012 but they also weren't a 10-6 team in 2011. I think they were an 8-8 team that caught a few breaks in 2011 and didn't catch them last season.
I see this being a very competitive division with the Packers still the favorites. The Vikings, Bears and Lions are looking up at the Pack, but they don't need binoculars to spot them.
The Lions could certainly use a division win early in the season to get the taste of last year's 0-6 division record out of their mouths. They need to be much better in 2013, obviously, and that starts in the NFC North.
Finish this sentence: the Lions can win the NFC North if ______.
Mike: ... they finish first. Like that answer?
But the real one is if they're more efficient on offense, don't give up as many late go-ahead scores as last season and eliminate coverage breakdowns on special teams. That's a lot to ask for, and maybe too much.
Tim: If Reggie Bush means as much to the offense and Glover Quin means as much to the defense as the Lions think they will. They targeted both players early in free agency and went after them hard thinking they were the two most important pieces to make the team better.
The Lions also need to sure up the late-game lapses on offense, defense and special teams, and stay healthy, which might be the biggest key of all.
It's tough to go from worst-to-first when the Packers are in the same division.