Sunday, January 18, 2009

The dreaded pick

I've waited long enough, seeing that it's just 2 hours before kickoff of the NFC Championship Game between the Eagles and Arizona Cardinals.

I expect the Eagles to win. They are favored to win and they are the better team. And that's what scares me. What sticks in the back of my mind is that the Eagles were the better team in 2003 when they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and in 2004 when they lost to the Carolina Panthers. The Eagles were favored in those games, too, and they were at home.

The point spread opened with the Eagles as a 3-point favorite and by Friday the Eagles were a 4-point favorite. As of Saturday night, it was 3 1/2 points.

The turning point for the Eagles' season was the 48-20 rout of the Cardinals on Thanksgiving night. Since then, the Eagles have won 6 of 7 games. But don't expect that today.

The Cardinals limped into the playoffs, but have defeated the favored Atlanta Falcons at home in the Wild Card round, before routing the host Carolina Panthers last week to move into the NFC title game.

The Eagles' defense is playing at an incredible level right now, and I expect more of that today. The Cardinals have a more potent passing game than either the Vikings or Giants, but the Eagles should be able to contain it -- if they get pressure on Cards QB Kurt Warner.

The game is likely to come down to 2 things -- how many times the Eagles hit Warner, and who wins the turnover battle. I see the Eagles ahead on both counts -- and a few big plays from Brian Westbrook wouldn't hurt, either.

I see the Eagles winning 27-20 (I hope it's a bigger spread) and headed to Tampa to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl.




No comments: