Weekend#039;s NFL Predictions

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 3, 2005

And then there were eight teams left playing professional football.

This weekend, the football season comes one bracket field closer to it's conclusion.

The divisional titles are up for grabs when the New York Jets travel to Pittsburgh to face the hot Steelers.

The greatest show on Turf makes the trip to the ATL for a meeting with the Falcons. Philadelphia plays host to Minnesota and in what would be a Super Bowl match-up if the teams weren't in the same conference, Peyton Manning and his Indianapolis Colts will leave the dome to face New England in Scottsboro.

If you break down the match-ups, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Indy and Minnesota look to be the favorites.

In the AFC, Pittsburgh is no doubt the team to beat in the NFL. Ben Roethlesburger had said all along that he should have been the No. 1 pick in the draft, not Carson Palmer. Had Big Ben not played at Miami(OHIO) and played at a Big 10, SEC or Big 12 school he would have been.

This guy is good. Since he has taken the reigns of the Steelers he is unbeaten. That's the best record a rookie quarterback has ever had in the National Football League. Some pay their dues and other's luck up into situations like this. But, this weekend, they will have to face the New York Jets.

Herman Edwards will have his troops ready, but, this writer thinks that they pulled the only rabbit they had last week when they upset the equally hot San Diego Chargers. Chad Pennington proved what he can do when starts focusing on the game and not worrying about the media.

But Marshall University's glory-boy has been battling a stomach flu this week and did not practice but for five minutes.

There is a school of thought that when people are sick in big games that's when they perform their best. Tommie Frazier from Nebraska, Dan Marino, Brett Farve have all had stellar games when they were hacking up their lungs.

But, after watching the Jets and the Steelers play, the Jets just don't have the magic.

Flipping the coin for a second Minnesota travels to Philadelphia.

The Eagles had the best record in the NFL and clinched homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. But injuries have Andy Reid scratching his head. The Eagles dropped their last three games of the season and it shows how heavily this team depends upon Terrell Owens.

This writer's feelings aside about Owens, this guys is good and he is a big aspect of a team. but, when you take him out of the equation the Eagles are left with receivers that are afraid to be hit.

That's going to be the downfall of this team.

Minnesota is hot right now.

Randy Moss is catching passes that no person short of a video game should be able to catch. Dante Culpepper is just a freak, no man that big should be able to move that quickly. The Vikings didn't win their division and knocked off the Packers in the Wildcard round.

They will continue their victory roll this weekend when they roll over the incredibly overrated Philadelphia Eagles.

Atlanta plays host to St. Louis.

It's the ATL versus the STL.

St. Louis is currently thriving under the second coming of Mark Bulger who has revived this offense and has them scoring touchdowns. Marshall Faulk is stepping back to his role when the Rams were dominant and when Kurt Warner was good. But, the Falcons and Michael Vick are just too much for this team.

Atlanta will win by at least two scores.

In probably one of the best match-ups of the Divisional series, Indianapolis travels to New England.

This game is going to be fun to watch. Bill Belicheck and his workman style defense will lineup against the audible, audible, audible offense of Peyton Manning.

The Colts have Manning, Reggie Wayne and Edgerin James.

This writer thinks that is going to be too much for the defending champions to overcome.

Indianapolis will pick up the victory, but it will be due to some late quarter heroics by the signal-caller from the horseshoes.

The predictions for the Conference Championships are that Indianapolis will face Pittsburgh. Big Ben versus Peyton.

This match-up should be one for the ages and it might be the game in which Manning passes the torch.

Atlanta will face Minnesota in the battle of the Dome teams. The sad thing about it is, whoever wins the NFC will come up short in the Super Bowl.

The AFC is by far the tougher conference this year.

Mark it.

It's that simple.

Griffin Pritchard is the sports editor of the Greenville Advocate, he can be reached by phone at 382-3111 or via email: griffin.pritchard@greenvilleadvocate.com