One more week until the Big Bowl!

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 20, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Philadelphia 21, Tampa Bay 20. Man-oh-man-a-schewitz, this is going to be a brawl. The Bucs have been unceremoniously dismissed from the playoffs by the Eagles in the past two years, and they’ve lost to Philly four times in a row (including last October). On the other hand, the Eagles are playing their last-ever game at Veterans Stadium, so anything other than a blowout win will be unacceptable to the City of Brotherly Love and Rock Balboa. Donovan McNabb and Brad Johnson returned from injury last week to lead their respective teams to big victories, and Duce Staley is ready to battle the Bay’s Mike Alstott and Michael Pittman for the day’s rushing honors. Even the defensive coordinators — Philadelphia’s Jim Johnson and Tampa Bay’s Monte Kiffin – are ready to lock horns. Kiffin’s defense this year ranked first in the league, Johnson’s fourth. There’s only one problem with this game – after all this intensity and buildup, whoever wins might be so worn out next week that the AFC titlist could have an easy time of things.

Oakland 28, Tennessee 24. Tennessee has been singing the Rodney Dangerfield mantra of &uot;We don’t get no respect!’ all season. Today, they have a chance to show why they deserve it. A day after his team was slaughtered by Oakland 52-25 on Sept. 29, Titan coach Jeff Fisher said that his one goal was to get another shot at the Raiders. Today, he’ll get his chance. The Oakland offense might be the second coming of the &uot;Over the Hill Gang,&uot; what with Rich Gannon, Tim Brown and Jerry Rice (whose combined age is 113) bringing the AFC’s most prolific offense to the table. On the other hand, Steve McNair overcame a multitude of injuries to lead his team to the title game (helped along by Derrick Mason, Drew Bennett, and Frank Wycheck). Oakland’s Charlie Garner and Tennessee’s Eddie George can take control of a game if they get loose, so this one boils down to the team whose defense comes out on top.

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