Denny the Dog: Home team dominance continues in conference finals

Jan 18, 2005 8:58 AM
Freddie Mitchell stepped up to fill Owens’ shoes, catching five passes for 65 yards and a TD. McNabb has been there before, as the Eagles have dropped the last three NFC title games. And, Philly has defeated Atlanta the last three times they’ve met. In each cases, the fourth time will be the charm! I think the real key will be the great Eagles defense. The Vikes couldn’t run a lick and the Falcons will also find the running lanes closed down this Sunday. Jim Mora said the best player on his team is the team. Who is he trying to kid? The best player on the Falcons is Michael Vick. If the Eagles stop Vick they’ll stop Atlanta. I’m throwing my chips on the Jimmy Johnson side of the table. His defensive scheme will find a way to slow Vick and shutdown the big running game displayed against St. Louis. EAGLES. Patriots -2½ at Steelers: The once proud home dawgs were silenced all season. The puppies floundered right around .500 the entire year and never jumped out big. Could there be a better time to bring the home dog back than for an AFC title game? I don’t think so. I think Pittsburgh should be a two-point favorite over the Pats. Big Ben is definitely a rookie and played like one last weekend versus New York. But like we’ve said all season, Cowher doesn’t ask Roethlisberger to beat anyone by himself. The Steelers offensive line is like the Steel Curtain of their defensive glory days. Bettis and Staley are great runners but sometimes I think Fat Albert could run through those holes they slice open. I think Big Ben will learn from his poor performance in his first playoff game and come back strong. He had a great performance in Week 8 (18-of-24, 196 yards, 0 INT). If he has another day like that, it will be good enough to propel Pittsburgh into the Super Bowl. It’s not going to be easy. Tom Brady is a smart and gifted QB. But I honestly feel like Big Ben has the better supporting cast in all areas, including offensive line, receivers and running backs. Roethlisberger is certainly the key element in this game. If he performs like he did earlier in the season, the Steelers go on to the big dance. If he bombs, the Pats go the dance for the third time in four years. I realize that Patriots backers will trumpet the fact that Corey Dillon didn’t play the first time around. I don’t think it would have mattered. I believe the Steelers would have shut him down. The defense played extremely well and has no solid reason not to repeat that performance. The Jets offense couldn’t find their way to the end-zone one time! STEELERS. Last week: 1-3 Season: 143-113