After an exciting and somewhat surprising weekend of football, the NFL audience is left with only four contenders for the game's richest prize, The Super Bowl. Every team left has something about them, almost a championship quality.
The NFC Championship
Led by the veteran star, Kurt Warner, and the almost unstoppable Larry Fitzgerald, the Cardinals have looked really impressive throughout the playoffs thus far. Their defense is the really shocking part. I have never been a fan of anyone on there defense, and personally I think Adrian Wilson is overrated, but that's just my opinion. After the total beatdown they gave to Adrian Peterson, I am thoroughly high on them right now, but they will have a huge test this week.
The Eagles came into the playoffs with the "team with something to prove" label, and have delivered so far. They have two games to go, and it's going to be a tough ride.
The Eagles also have the most to lose. It seems as though if the end result isn't a Super Bowl this season, that veteran quarterback and unsung leader Donovan McNabb, and senior coach Andy Reid, will be handed pink slips.
This week the Cardinals will host the Eagles in the NFC Championship.
Key match up -
Asante Samuel vs Larry Fitzgerald.
It's this simple, if Asante can shut him down, book the plane tickets, Philadelphia.
Projected score -
Eagles - 17
Cardinals - 3
The AFC Championship
The history of the AFC championship game through the past decade or so is a rich one.
The AFC title game is known for physical games, and surprising endings, look for this one to be no different. Arguably the hottest rivalry in the NFL right now, the Ravens head to Pittsburgh to try to redeem themselves for earlier losses to the Steelers this season.
On paper, these teams are really similar.
- The best defenses in the league
- Both defenses run a 3-4 system
- Smart, talented quarterbacks who minimize turnovers.
- Workhorse running backs.
- Powerful, dominating safeties.
Most people think this game is going to be a low-scoring, pounding game. I have to differ.
Key match up:
Willie Parker vs Ravens' front-seven.
If Willie Parker gets more then 90 yards rushing, count on the Steelers marching into Tampa Bay.
Steelers - 20
Ravens - 14
The Super Bowl. *If it's Eagles vs Steelers, like I predict it to be
The Super Bowl is about who wants it more. The Eagles, while having the most to prove, are also the biggest chokers of the decade. Which begs the question, can they win the big one?
Key match up:
[Donovan McNabb] Mac5 vs himself.
Steelers - 37
Eagles - 14
In the end I think the pressure for McNabb will just be too much. Expect him to be out of Philadelphia by summer.