Who will step into the Super Bowl?
Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 18, 2004
Indianapolis 35, New England 10. Why am I choosing a blowout in this one? Because everyone thinks it’s too close to call – and they’re right. The NFL’s hottest player meets the league’s hottest team when Peyton Manning heads to Gillette Stadium to take on the Patriots. The Boston squad has a chance to be only the second team in league history to win 14 games in a row today (the 1972 Miami Dolphin squad went a full 17-0). Considered by many to have the best defense in the NFL, the Patriots allowed an league record-low 68 points and recorded three shutouts at home this season. On the other hand, they’ve never had to face an offense like the one Manning brings to the table today, the same one that has racked up 79 points in the past two weeks, scored 10 touchdowns in a span of 17 possessions and hasn’t had to punt. But back to the other hand, that was against Kansas City and Denver, both of which combined don’t have the defense that the Patriots employ.
Philadelphia 28, Carolina 20. I want to make something clear – the winner of this game is going to have to play much, much better that they did last week if they want to have any chance to beat the AFC titlist. Hampered by the loss to Stephen Davis, who may or may not return today, the Panthers blew an 11-point lead in the final 2:29 and only scrapped by St. Louis on a double-overtime touchdown. Philly, on the other hand, nearly lost to Green Bay before Donovan McNabb completed an already ‘legendary’ fourth-and-26 pass to Freddie Mitchell and David Akers kicked a couple of field goals. If Davis doesn’t show up, DeShaun Foster has a chance to become Carolina’s newest darling, especially against a defense that’s less-than-stellar against the run. McNabb gives Philly the Pick, but these two teams need to get better fast if they’re going to win the big one.