By: Erica Mari
January 21, 2005

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski skip OTA
No Brady or Gronk, but plenty of storylines at Patriots OTAs
Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski not at the start of the team's OTA's today
NFL notes: Don't be surprised if Deatrich Wise Jr., Derek Rivers rise up for Patriots
New Patriots DL Danny Shelton preps to hit the hill

So here we are again on the cusp of another AFC Championship. I must step up first and admit that the NY Jets, St. Louis Rams and Minnesota Vikings were not victorious as I predicted. Just to point out I really thought I was on point with my predictions. Obviously I was not. However, one thing I am sure of is that the Jets will have open tryouts for a new kicker before next season.

The Rams were just unable to stop The Michael Vick experience and as for the Vikings, well maybe it's time for Randy Moss to cut that hair.

As for the winners, the Pittsburgh Steelers stole yet another victory and the Philadelphia Eagles proved they are still a hot contender. The Falcons will be well tested on Sunday and their worth will have to be proven.

The Patriots were quite another story altogether. As predicted, they were victorious as they made the supposedly lethal Colts look more like donkeys. Despite what nearly all the national "experts” said, the big scoring offense of Indy was shut down quite easily without cornerbacks Ty Law and Tyrone Poole in the mix. What does that say about Peyton Manning? Well I think enough has already been said about him. I think after a week of enhanced oats and big talk he found another chance to show that a big feed bag will only lead to choking. You can keep your touchdown record. I'll take another shot at a championship.

Meanwhile the Patriots offense moved with ease through an Indy defense that has not had to stop a drive to win the game all season. Corey Dillon proved his worth yet again with another 100 yard game, and when he was gassed Kevin Faulk stepped in to deliver, providing New England with a 1-2 punch combo against Indy's defense.

As for quarterback Tom Brady, he continued to show us why we love him. He made great choices on where to throw the ball, and a lot of those passes were unbelievable. You could really see it in his eyes that he was so happy to win this game. I think his drive to be great is what really makes this team feel like a team. He spreads out the ball to so many receivers, making it a real team effort.

All in all Sunday was awesome, and now we're getting ready for a showdown to remember. This will be a battle of The Bus vs. The Horse, and I look for Dillon to have another big game here. I also think that the unstoppable "Bus” will find that Rodney Harrison and his compatriots will be holding up the school zone signs and he will have to stop.

Duce Staley is another story however. He is younger and a bit more speedy than The Bus. Duce is however handicapped with a pulled hamstring in recovery so I think he may not be able to break many big gains. Our secondary will again be physical with the wideouts like Plaxico Burress and Hines Ward, and this should open up the opportunity for big Ben Roethlisberger to show his rookie status.

On offense Brady will be confident and smart, Dillon will run effectively, and Adam Vinatieri will be, well, Adam of course! This looks to be a close one maybe a three point game on the foot of Adam. Pittsburgh snuck away with one against New York but I think this week Pittsburgh will look Pitiful.

LAST WEEK'S STUD: The stud for this week is hard to pick. There were many great plays on both offense and defense and quite a few contributors. I almost want to say Tedy Bruschi because I love his cockiness. He is so aggressive, especially during the Colts' game. But I think I have to give it to Corey Dillon. He really was unbelievable. The whole game I found myself saying, "Oh my God, look at him go!". He ran for 144 yards on 23 carries and through his dominance in the running game we held the ball almost double that of the Colts (38 minutes to 22). Corey was also the second highest receiver with 5 receptions for 17 yards, second to David Givens.

A girl that knows what is going on. Watch out!

Corey brutalized the Indy defense and found a away to make yards when there seemed to be a loss. His superlative rushing effort tightened up the defense, creating plenty of opportunity for our quarterback, who still gets no respect, for the play action pass. This was Corey's first NFL playoff game and with that the honors of stud of the week are his!


Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles: The only other game in town is the Atlanta Falcons facing the Philadelphia Eagles, and it will be a shootout. Michael Vick will run but then again so will Donovan McNabb. But the difference will be that McNabb will pass while Vick will try, and I think this one runs away from the Falcons.

Vick is great but McNabb is that much better, and my reason is because I think he is so well- rounded. Vick is obviously a terrific athlete, but he has a long way to go before he is a proficient passer. Unfortunately the big difference here is that McNabb is already there. If the Falcons can hold onto the ball by running it successfully then they may have a shot, but I think the Eagles defense will be too much to overcome.

Well until next week when we are AFC champs again, this is Miss Mari, signing off.