"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, The Sports Network
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) --
We are down to it, the week when the Super Bowl participants are going to be known, the Sunday when the four teams still standing are going to do battle and determine who goes to Jacksonville for the big event. Places, such as Foxboro, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Atlanta, are delirious with hope and expectation. Paraphernalia and clothing of all sorts are being worn, displayed, put in glass trophy cases and generally emblazoned on bodies, cars, trucks, homes, signs, billboards and the front pages of sports sections in the local tabloids.
|A vocal fan in Atlanta shows the spirit evident in NFL playoff football.|
NFL frenzy is at a fever pitch.
It was an exultant and celebratory weekend for some, giant disappointment for others and expectancy for still others.
The Pittsburgh Steelers had to go to overtime to best a determined Jets team that had traveled to the west coast, beaten San Diego, possibly the hottest team in the NFL on that day, on its own turf, then returned home only to pack and move again to the unfriendly confines of Heinz Field. New York had the game won, it was over, time to go to New England and see if they could continue this "Who woulda thunk it?" trip to Foxboro, anticipating a New England win over Indianapolis. Then came the unnecessary roughness, a stupid personal "Let me ruin our playoff run" move, as the game was about to end. It was typical of something a Minnesota player might do. Dumb beyond words. A professional athlete with a vacuum for a brain. Please, do not tell me about the heat of the moment.
Compound that with Jets kicker Doug Brien missing two potential game-winning field goals in the final two minutes of regulation. The first, from 47 yards, hit the crossbar. The second went so far left as to not even be close. Overtime, Steelers drive down and Jeff Reed kicks a 33-yarder through the uprights. Destiny? Or, just bad luck and dumb playing by the Jets? No matter. Bring on New England, the same team that beat the Steelers in the AFC title game three years ago. Revenge this year, not quite complete, was the Pittsburgh win in week 8 of the regular season, snapping the defending Super Bowl champs? NFL record winning streak. It was 34-20.
|Jeff Reed celebrates after kicking the game-winning 33-yarder to eliminate the Jets.|
But, as Pats fans will quickly point out, Corey Dillon was not available then. He is now and he showed his importance this past Sunday. It is well to note that Tom Brady is 7-0 in playoff games. These are not the Steelers of old but neither can they be taken lightly.
Las Vegas odds-makers have installed New England as an early 3-point favorite and the projected total points for the game is 37. Pats are formidable but I like the home team to tough it out here with a very close win. Too arduous to call with the points or do anything more than enjoy. What sort of viewership will an all-Pennsylvania battle get in Florida?
Face it, you know little or nothing about Atlanta except that they dismantled St. Louis in the same manner they would have a high school team. After slaughtering the Rams easier than one might some lambs on their way to dinners at The Palm, Jim Mora and his minions are about as loose as a team can be. They are just letting the good times roll and that is not what the Philadelphia Eagles want to see. Philly was pleased as punch that the Vikings came to town because no one in professional sports can understand anyone retaining the coaching services of Mike Tice. If there is any mentor on the sidelines with less talent than he possesses that person is probably in the Pop Warner League, maybe. Or, it could be Mike Martz in St. Louis.
Atlanta operated on St. Louis like a heart surgeon...carefully and surgically, except that they took them apart and never sewed them up again. The Eagles encountered a Minnesota team that was about as motivated as a mouse exploring the potential of mating with an elephant. I had predicted, weeks ago, that no one in the NFC could stop the Eagles given the level of talent they would not encounter on their way to Jacksonville but that did not include a Vikings team that sent their uniforms, not players and helmets without heads.
Michael Vick is not Daunte Culpepper. Can Jevon Kearse contain Vick? That remains to be seen. However, he and his defensive compatriots will also have to contend with Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett among others.
The Vikings "contained" McNabb and he had a field day passing with almost 8-10 seconds to pick out his receivers each time. Heck, he could have phoned his mom to bring soup down on the field and still completed a pass. Nice choice, coach Tice!!! Donovan had 286 yards passing and two touchdowns but the fact of the matter is that he and his mates struggled to put away a mediocre team after leading 21-7. Only two field goals the rest of the game.
|Eagles' fans show their support as the Minnesota Vikings are defeated by the Philadelphia Eagles in an NFC divisional playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Vikings 27-14 to advance to the NFC championship game against the Atlanta Falcons.|
These are the Eagles that are 0-3 in championship games... against St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Carolina. They moved the ball against the NFL?s 28th ranked defense and one TD was a gift after a Viking knocked the ball loose from L.J. Smith, into mid-air and the hands of Freddie Mitchell. Talk about right place at the right time. And, this was following two pass interference penalties that moved the ball downfield. The other was a legitimate score.
Atlanta watched the same game we all did after annihilating the Rams. Winning will not be as big a hurdle as it was two years ago when they lost in Philadelphia 20-6. These Falcons are vastly superior to the defense the Vikings claimed took the field Sunday. Beating one did not prepare the Eagles adequately for the other. And, a Randy Moss that does not care, forgets plays and is operating on a sprained ankle is not a threat of any sort. You don?t shut him down. He takes care of that himself and could not care less. Rah, rah team!
Will coming out of the dome, as opposed to the closet, hurt the Falcons? What about the carpet that will no longer be under their feet? Yes, the Eagles are not the Rams but Atlanta is not Minnesota. It is not the Philadelphia offense that wins games, it is the defense, plain, pure and simple.
The Eagles are a 4? point favorite and the total number of points to be scored is projected at around 41? . Maybe on both counts. In this corner, I will stay with the Eagles and my original decision that they will make it to Jacksonville but like the Falcons with the points...as David Akers earns every penny they pay him. The over/under holds no interest at all.
The Super Bowl champ is coming from the AFC and that is the game that tells it all, no matter who wins at Lincoln Financial Field in south Philly. But, can you take that to the bank? You gotta be kidding!