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Patriots Rock Colts, Panthers Kill Eagles in Championship Games

By Brian Chase

COLUMNIST

Well, let the mocking begin. I went out on a limb and predicted the Patriots would lose their AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts, and the Pats made me pay for it. I’ll tell you just how they did it and how the Carolina Panthers easily beat the Philadelphia Eagles, in addition to making my pick for the Super Bowl in today’s column.

Indianapolis at New England:

Everyone going into this game thought that the extreme cold weather would hurt the Colts. Well, the weather was a factor, but not in the way everyone thought. The game wasn’t that cold, but there was a wet snowfall that made both the field and the ball very slick, leading to an increased number of turnovers. But the real story of this game was the New England pass defense.

The Pats absolutely shut down the Colts receivers from star receiver Marvin Harrison on down. This meant that Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was forced to spend more time holding onto the ball, to the point where his pass protection broke down, and he was forced to lob badly-thrown passes. Four of those passes were intercepted, and over half were incomplete, giving Manning his worst showing this year as a quarterback. These interceptions shut down promising drives for the Colts, and they ended up being the difference in the game. All in all, it was a very impressive, dominating performance by the Patriots defense, leading their team to a 24-14 win.

Carolina at Philadelphia:

The Eagles are cursed. They simply cannot get past the NFC Championship Game. For the third straight year, they lost one game away from the Super Bowl, this time to the Carolina Panthers, 14-3. This game, interestingly enough, shaped up almost exactly like the Pats-Colts game, in that the Panthers secondary shut down the Eagles receivers, who dropped passes and didn’t get open all night. This led to Eagles QB Donovan McNabb getting hurried, sacked, and eventually forced out of the game with a rib injury, but not before he had thrown three interceptions to end three consecutive drives, all three by Panthers cornerback Ricky Manning. The Panther’s offense ran the ball as they always do, and while they may not have been as effective as they wanted, they were effective enough to score twice, once off of one of Manning’s interceptions, and that was all that was needed.

And here we are, at the Super Bowl. All season I have been 1-1 for each pair of games I picked, so this game will determine if my prediction record is a winning or losing one. My current record is 7-7.

Superbowl -- Carolina vs. New England:

I am almost tempted to pick the Panthers in this extremely defensive game. They have a defense comparable to the Patriots, with a bruising defensive front and effective pass defenders. Their offense is the opposite of the Pats, because they have running with a little passing, and the Pats have passing with a little running. But, I was taught a lesson by the Patriots last weekend, and while erring might be human, erring the same way twice is pretty darn dumb. The Patriots came out last Sunday with a defensive game plan that absolutely destroyed Colts’ QB Peyton Manning, and they will do the same to the Panthers’ offense. This leaves the burden on Patriots offensive coordinator Weis and QB Tom Brady to score on the Panthers’ defense, which I think they can do. After all, when the defense is this good, all you need is one touchdown. Final score: Patriots 13, Panthers 6.