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Saturday, January 19, 2008

17 Down, 2 To Go: AFC Championship Preview

Here we are again. Four times in the last five years if you can believe it. The AFC Championship is becoming second nature to the New England Patriots. And tomorrow, they set their sights on another goal: a trip to the Super Bowl.

As I stated last weekend, I can't believe their opponent is the Colts. I think Michael Felger of the Boston Herald put it best. Indy is a bunch of choking dogs. Bill Simmons thinks they pulled a "1986 Lakers" and copped out of the game. I won't lie that I would be much more nervous for tomorrow if it was the Colts. I just wanted to play them again. I don't like Peyton Manning and I wanted to watch the Pats knock him out of the playoffs. I thought we owed it to him after last year.

Last year's AFC Championship was a heartbreaker. For myself, it only comes next to the 2003 ALCS as heartbreaking defeats I've experienced (Born in May 1985, so I had no idea what was going on during Super Bowl XX and even worse the notorious '86 World Series.).

When I left Mass earlier this week, there was a feeling everywhere that there was no way the Pats are going to lose tomorrow's game. Granted I agree with them, but still I guarantee that most people thought the same thing about the Colts playing the Chargers. The big wild card in this game will be injuries. How healthy is Tomlinson, Rivers, and Gates? Even if they "play", it won't matter unless they can really "play". For example Gates played last weekend, but was mainly a decoy. That can work for a tight end, but will it be as effective for a running back or quarterback?

If Tomlinson starts off slow, Norv Turner should play Michael Turner much more. Turner is probably one of the best back ups in the league and there's a very good chance that he will be starting for someone else next year. Rivers is still overrated to me and Billy Volek doesn't scare anyone. If Rivers plays and is completely immobile than it could be a very easy day if the Patriot's pass rush is effective.

An interesting matchup for this game will probably be Randy Moss vs. Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie didn't even start in the week two game and has 10 interceptions this year. With Quentin Jammer on the opposite side, I will say that the Chargers have a very good secondary. Although, they have had some issues with covering slot receivers and that's where Wes Welker comes in. I actually wouldn't be surprised if Moss has another quiet game. I'm confident that Brady will throw to the open receiver and not get obsessed over forcing it to Moss.

Then, there's Brady and what can you really say about him without sounding like a homosexual? Last week's performance was amazing regardless of all the short passes. I've said it once and I'll say it again. I will never doubt a football team with Tom Brady on it. Add Belichick to the mix and there's no way in hell that the Patriots won't be playing in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona. This is their year and nothing is going to get in the way of 19-0.

Prediction: 38-21 Patriots

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