Sunday, January 23, 2005

Conference Champinship Predictions

Yeah, first game is in 1/2 an hour. Here are the official LTDMK predictions:

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles have been in this position before. The last three years, in fact. This time, however, Philadelphia hopes to get it right after losing three straight NFC championship games, the last two at home. But while the Eagles will be the first NFL team to host three straight conference title games, the Falcons are no strangers to pulling off the upset on the road. They beat the Vikings in Minnesota in the 1998 NFC Championship Game to get to their lone Super Bowl appearance.

The Falcons are an attractive upset pick, with the X factor, QB Mike Vick. However, the Eagles defense will not allow for RB's Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett to control the game. Vick will have to win with his arm by passing, something the Falcons as a whole are far too inconsistant to do against such a great secondary as Philly's. The Falcons will also be bothered constantly by D-Cordinator Jim Johnson's famously exotic blitz packages, especially with FB Fred McCrary still familarizing himself with Atlanta's blocking schemes. Philly's RB Brian Westbrook underrated running and QB Donovan McNabb leadership seals the deal for the Eagles.

--Pick: Philadelphia---

New England Patriots at Pittsburg Steelers

The Patriots are a game away from their third Super Bowl trip in four seasons. Standing in the way, however, is the same Steelers team that halted New England's NFL-record 18-game winning streak -- 21 in a row including playoffs -- back in Week 8. This time around, however, the Patriots will have RB Corey Dillon. But New England isn't the only team looking for redemption. The Patriots and Steelers tangled in the 2001 AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field -- and New England got the better of its hosts.

The Steelers are the obvious choice - they seem unstoppable. Howeveer, I think you can never count out the Patriots. They are a team with a brilliant head coach that knows how to win. The defense, with or without howmever, can stop anyone. They proved that last week. Even without their top DL man, E/T Richard Seymour, and without their best cover man, CB Ty Law, they beat the top ranked passing team in the league, and contained record-shattering QB Peyton Manning to 0 touchdowns and contained star RB Edgerrin James to 46 yards on a 3.1 average with no touchdowns and no first downs. A rookie, Steelers QB Ben Rothelisberger, as good as he is, will have trouble against a Bill Belichick D. Plus, there has been more games to study Rothelisberger's play. RB Corey Dillon will be the difference maker in this re-match, his powerful running will allow New England to pass more freely.

--Pick: New England---