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| THE WAY I SEE IT!
By Bob Acton
Last week this time we were all making plans to watch the semifinals in both conferences as the Steelers hosted the Jets, theFalcons welcomed the Rams, Minnesota invaded Philadelphia andPeyton Manning and his offensive machine headed to Foxboro fora date with the Patriots.
If you recall the Steelers were a rested team and had rookiesensation Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, facing a Jets teamwho was on the road for the third time in 3 weeks. The Steelerswere 8 ½ – 9 point favorites and most fans figured theywould roll. Special team’s breakdowns and poor quarterbackingalmost got the Steelers beaten and had it not been for kickerDoug Brien, we would be talking about Curtis Martin today andnot Jerome Bettis.
In the Rams-Falcons clash, people were focusing too much on theindoor setting that would enhance the Rams chances and less onthe fact that this team was one Bobby Enghram dropped pass frombeing eliminated in Seattle the previous week. The Falcons hadended up 11-5 while the Rams had crawled into a playoff pictureand with the line at Atlanta -7, people actually lined up to beton St. Louis. Wrong!
Sunday we had the Vikings fresh off an emotional victory againstdivision rival Green Bay traveling to face the Eagles minus theiroffense supposedly. Minnesota actually moved the ball quite wellin the first half, but major blunders in the red zone hinderedtheir chances. The Eagles also got a couple of fortunate bouncesand their defense played great in the second half. The spreadof -9 was too rich for my blood, but I thought the under was agood play and was rewarded quite handsomely.
In the late game and this is the one that I could not figureout, the Patriots defending Super Bowl champs and winners of 19in a row at home, were home to the Manning led Colts. Manningwas 0-5 his last 5 trips to Foxboro, but everyone bought intothe high powered offense of Indy. I scooped up the Patriots at-1 and laughed all the way to the bank.
This weekend the focus in the NFC title game is on Michael Vickand what he brings to the table for his Falcons. Similar to lastweekend when all the talk was on Manning and not 2-time SuperBowl MVP Tom Brady, I felt Brady must have been just itching toshow fans who was the money quarterback. This weekend you haveall the praise being showered on Vick and people seem to forgetthat McNabb has led Philadelphia to 4-straight NFC title games.I also look at two games one against Kansas City and the otheragainst Tampa Bay, where the Falcons got trounced on the roadthis season and neither of those teams can hold a candle to theEagles.
In the AFC I cannot ignore the 5-9 lifetime mark that the BillBellechick led teams has against the Steelers. The Patriots playeda perfect game last weekend and that very rarely happens 2 weeksin a row in the NFL. I’m not convinced that Roethlisbergerwill be around to lead the Steelers, as veteran Tommy Maddox maysee action. Maddox is a veteran and was superb in Buffalo to endthe season against a very good Bills defense.
I look for an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl!