Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Title Games

Here it is...we're finally at the NFL Conference Championship games. When I was growing up, they were called the 'Title' games. The first one that I can recall was in January of 1982. Dallas lost to San Francisco, 28-27. There was a little pass to the back of the endzone thrown by one Joseph Montanta to one Dwight Clark over the (futily) outstretched arms of Cowboy rookie corner Everson Walls. The rest is history. I cried for a week.

There have been better days when it came to the Title games. I remember fondly in '86 when the Bears won and the snow started to fall in Chicago as they Super Bowl shuffled all over the then Los Angeles Rams. And who could forget 'The Drive', while Cleveland broke my heart and lost to Elway's Broncos in the snow.

But the best title games I can remember were in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 1996. Because my hometown team, the Dallas Cowboys played in all four of them. In January 1993, while I was on a plane heading from Washington to Dallas, the captain informed us that the Cowboys had defeated the Niners 30-20 and were headed to Pasadena for Super Bowl XXVII. In January 1994, while I was a freshman at Howard, I remember fondly as the Dallas Cowboys defeated those same Niners, this time at home to go to Atlanta for Super Bowl XXVIII. In January 1995, while I was a sophomore at Howard, I remember bitterly as the Dallas Cowboys gave the game away in the first quarter but fought valiantly the rest of the game on their way to losing to the Niners, denying the Cowboys three straight Super Bowl appearances. But then there was 1996, sitting in our den, my father, my brother and me eating well cooked steaks and potatoes and drinking frosty Coca Colas as we watched our beloved Cowboys beat the hated Packers and go to their third Super Bowl in four years. All of that nostalgia leads me to today...

I live in Atlanta, where they love their Braves and nothing else. But lately 'Falcon Fever' has gripped the city something terrible, and I do believe that 'Fever' is rightfully contagious.

Atlanta will win on Sunday, and this is why...
A) Mike Vick will be too much for Philly to handle.
Right now, he is at the very top of his game. If he runs, not wildly, but gets good yardage and still makes good reads and throws some good passes, Philly won't know what to do with him. I also believe that Atlanta will have a few wrinkles that Philly hasn't seen from them and it will show up in a big way on Sunday.

B) Atlanta's D is just as good if not as tough as Philly's.
It's not hard to look and see that both of these defenses are two of the best in this league. To win consistently on this level, one's defense must be of paramount importance (Steel Curtain, Doomsday Defense, Baltimore Ravens '00, '85 Bears). I feel that Atlanta's youthful exhuberance will at first test them, but they will eventually settle down and have a big game and make big time plays. They're defensive leader, Keith Brooking, has been here before, and he won't let them down on Sunday.

C) Without T.O. it simply can't be done.
Freddie Mitchell and Todd Pinkston are awesome. I know this. I play with Philly on Madden. But T.O. got them where they are, and without him, it's not gonna work.

D) History is on Atlanta's side.
The only time Atlanta went this far in the playoffs, they won, on the road in a hostile environment. Granted Minnesota is no Philadelphia, but Philly's lost three of these games in a row, and two at home.

If Philly wins it is because...
1) The elements got to Atlanta.
Being a dome team from a warmer climate can eventually take a toll. And if the Falcons don't adjust, it will be a long, cold Philly night.
2) Dunn, Duckett and Vick were shut down.
3) Jeremiah Trotter has a big day.

Final Score:
Atlanta Falcons 30 - Philadelphia Eagles 24

All we keep hearing about is how Big Ben choked last week. Was it the thumb? Was it because he is a rookie? Who knows. What I do know is that though it all came down to Doug Brien last week, if the Jets had done anything offensively in the first half, they would have won the game. Now, on to the Pats. What a classic meltdown of immense proportions. The Colts were dismantled, disoriented, just plain dissed. It was particularly sad to watch that, but someone's gotta win and someone's gotta lose. Either way, for Peyton to go to the Super Bowl and represent his conference, he'll have to either A) Play at home. B) Play in a warm climate. C) Play anyone but the Pats. They need a D in Indy, and they need one RIGHT NOW. Having said all of that, here we go...

The Pats will defeat the Steelers and here's why...
A) Bellichick is the wizard.
I like Bill Cowher very much. He never quits. In Super Bowl XXX he kicked an onside kick that Pittsburgh recovered, right after scoring a TD. That takes guts and heart, and that's what he's got and so do his teams. However, the Pats only lost two games this season, and have been playing superior ball ever since losing to the Steelers. Bellichick is ready, and he's got his team ready.

B) They will rattle and expose Big Ben.
If you think that the Jets came at Roethlisberger, wait till you see what the Pats have cooking for him. He will be challenged early and often. He will be punished, pounded and beaten up by the end of the game. Even when they go deep in the new 5 wide package, he will pay. He will not be able to make the necesary decisions in time, and it will be to his disadvantage.

C) Corey Dillon.
He will be a very important piece in this game.

D) Tom Brady.
Courage under fire. Cool, calm and collected. He's been there before, and will do all of the right things to win.

If the Steelers win (and I sincerely hope they do) it will be because...
1) Burress had a huge game.
2) Big Ben is the real deal.
3) Home field advantage.
4) Cowher's got something up his sleeve.

Final Score:
New England Patriots 30 - Pittsburgh Steelers 27


At Friday, January 21, 2005 2:22:00 PM , Blogger The Killa Himself aka Ron Mexico said...

For what it's worth I agree with your analysis 100%...

I was talking to Eulus last night about how we actually wouldn't mind seeing McNizzle get him a Super Bowl ring...just not at the Falcons expense....

I still feel bad about the 98 Falcons taking the OFFICIAL NEGRO TEAM of all time's Super Bowl Berth....

I mean think about that 98 Vikings Team...Black Coach, Black QB, Cris Carter, and Randy Moss as an angry rookie! Who knew that would be the last year Randy gave it his all in just about every single game....


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