Playoff Pie: The Championships

AFC: Indianapolis at New England<br> NFC: Carolina at Philadelphia

AFC Championship Game

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots
3:05pm at Gillette Stadium
Weather Forecast: Mostly cloudy with snow showers. Highs in the low 30s and lows in the mid teens.

Announcing Teams
CBS: Greg Gumbel, Phil Simms, Armen Keteyian (Field Reporter)
CBS Radio: Marv Albert, Boomer Esiason, John Riggins (Field Reporter)

The Colts can win if:
1. Brandon Stokley keeps making clutch catches.
2. Peyton Manning can keep from throwing an interception.
3. Edgerrin James gets 80 yards.

The Patriots can win if:
1. The defense can once again give the offense great field position.
2. Tom Brady can make enough big throws vertically.
3. The defense forces Manning and the Colts to punt more than 3 times.

Key Match-up: Manning vs. Patriots Secondary

Outlook: The run stops here for the Patriots as the Colts and Manning go to the Super Bowl for the first time since Joe Namath shocked the world.

NFC Championship Game

Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles
8:00 pm at Lincoln Financial Field
Weather Forecast: Snow showers at times. Highs in the mid 30s and lows in the low 20s.

Announcing Teams
FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Cris Collinsworth, Pam Oliver (Field Reporter)
CBS Radio: Joel Meyers, Bob Trumpy, John Dockery (Field Reporter)

The Panthers can win if:
1. They jump on the Eagles early.
2. Steve Smith and the receivers outplay the Eagles receivers.
3. They force Donovan McNabb into bad decisions.

The Eagles can win if:
1. They keep it close down the stretch, allowing McNabb to work his magic.
2. They shut down Stephen Davis.
3. They rattle Jake Delhomme early in the biggest game of his career.

Key Match-up: Carolina Receivers vs. Eagles Defensive Backs

Outlook: I'm so tempted to pick the Panthers, but I think the monkey finally falls off of Andy Reid's back. Third time's a charm for the Eagles.

Thoughts Assisted by Yuengling

  • With Mike Mularkey taking Tom Clements with him, the Steelers may have lost their two best offensive minds with one fell swoop. Donahoe strikes again.
  • For a coach who has lost his identity over the past two years, going back to the familiar is the best medicine. Hiring Dick Lebeau is a fantastic decision by Bill Cowher.
  • Maybe Lebeau will get Kendrell Bell playing mean again.
  • Lebeau and Darren Perry on the defense in Pittsburgh. What is this, 1995?
  • Don't expect a return to Blitzburgh, but expect a much angrier defense.
  • Take the franchise quarterback, Bill. Take the franchise quarterback.
  • I think Mike Mularkey will do well in Buffalo. He has a great running back tandem in Travis Henry and Willis McGahee. He's got a talented receiver in Eric Moulds, and a strong quarterback in Drew Bledsoe. He's got weapons. He'll make use of them.
  • Perhaps the new offensive coordinator will use the tight end.
  • If he does, what do you say to Mark Bruener? Sorry, you were too early.
  • I'll have the announcer grades in soon, but at this point it isn't even close. Joe Buck would have to lose his marbles pretty quickly.
  • The New England Patriots are fast becoming the most consistently over-exposed team in the NFL. That title used to belong to the NY Jets.

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