What's Gonna Happen: Championship Edition

<B>(Home of Presidential Training)</B><BR><BR>Brian Tarcy looks at this week's upcoming game, in with his eerily prescient What's Gonna Happen column. Which, it should be pointed out, pretty much nailed three of the four games last weekend. Here are this weekends results, in advance...

As we begin the long process of choosing our next President, two aerosol cans are spraying in my house at all times yet it is 4 million degrees below zero in New England. Where is the global warming that Al Gore promised me?

Presidential politics, cold weather and football are related, of course, because neither the sitting President nor any of his would-be opponents has ever shown the ability to operate a two-minute offense in a blizzard. And, let's face it - that's what leadership is all about.

Tom Brady and Donovan McNabb are two natural choices and the Super Bowl, if they get that far, could be a predecessor to an election two decades down the road. You know it's coming – the first quarterback president. Jack Kemp tried, but he was, well, Jack Kemp. In fact, if a legendary quarterback were to run now, George Bush, Howard Dean and all the others wouldn't stand a chance. How's this for a slogan: "Joe Namath – he'll tell you what he thinks, even if he just wants to kiss the pretty girl." It worked for Bill Clinton.

COLTS AT PATRIOTS – This week, the Colts will punt. And then they will do it again. So will the Patriots and there is the beauty of this weird game. Last time Ken Walter had to punt against the Colts, beer bottles were being tossed through televisions in New England. He had that kind of day. Yet the Patriots won, stuffing Indy four times on the 1-yard line. It's been that kind of year for the Patriots. And it will continue this weekend. What? Peyton Manning played a couple of great playoff games so now he can just amble into Gillette Stadium like some old-time gunslinger and just take the place apart? Um, no. It will be close, because all Patriots games are but this week the Colts will punt and punt. Oh sure, they'll score, but not nearly enough. I promise. By game time, temperatures have risen to near freezing, making this game downright balmy by recent New England standards. So Tom Brady will outplay Manning because Brady is the best quarterback in the NFL – despite not getting to share an MVP. Finally, the last time a Bill Belichick team played an offensive juggernaut in a huge post season game it was the Super Bowl and the Rams were beaten. Those Rams were better than these Colts. And these Patriots are much better than those Patriots. Patriots 27, Colts 17.

PANTHERS AT EAGLES – Before I rev up the crystal ball on this game, Mike Martz has a cabbage brain straight out of the compost pile. Geez, what a moron! Oh, and one other thing: how is it that the Cleveland Browns decided not to draft Donovan McNabb? I feel better now, thanks for listening. A night game in Philly with the wind chill below zero would seem to favor the Eagles, except I am the only person who will tell you this favors the Panthers. Carolina will somehow feed on the blistering cold and the crowd's venom. Watch Julius Peppers run right past Jon Runyon at least once to sack McNabb. And watch as the running-back punch of the Panthers (Davis and Foster) plays exactly the kind of game that should be played in brutal conditions. Power football and tough defense will win this game, and the Panthers bring the right mix, along with a surprisingly efficient quarterback. Still, Donovan McNabb will again be answering questions about "almost." With apologies to the boss, McNabb is becoming the Bernie Kosar and Dan Fouts of his generation. The difference is that Kosar competed against John Elway, and Fouts competed against Terry Bradshaw and Ken Stabler. McNabb on Sunday is scheduled to lose to Jake Delhomme. That's not a knock against Delhomme but – yeah it is. Panthers 19, Eagles 13.

If you can forget you are a Cleveland Browns' fan and just remember that you are a football fan, this is the best Sunday of the year. It's better than the Super Bowl. It's not an "event." It's just pure football. Enjoy.

This column is sponsored by bookies taking bets on whether Pete Rose gets reinstated to baseball.

Brian Tarcy collaborated with Joe Theismann on the Complete Idiot's Guide to Football. He also wrote The Adventure of Leadership with Hap Klopp, who founded The North Face.

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