It’s down to the final two. The Patriots and the Panthers outlasted the rest and on Sunday only one team will be leaving Texas with the Vince Lombardi trophy in tow. Hopefully, you’re still reading this which means you probably still have a shot in your playoff pool. Good luck!
Tom Brady, New England: We all know the Pats offense lives and dies by the short quick pass. Carolina also knows this, but I’m still not convinced they’ll be able to stop it. While the front four of the Panthers should do a fine job at containing the Patriots running game, they’ll be hard pressed to shut down Brady all game.
Jake Delhomme, Carolina: While the Patriots will be prepared to stop the run and force Delhomme to beat them, don’t expect Carolina to take the bait. They know the best shot of winning this game is putting the ball in the hands of Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster. Sorry Jake, but your role will be limited to the 9-14 for 101 yards range of two weeks ago.
Stephen Davis, Carolina: For those of you that picked Davis in your fantasy playoff pools, my condolences. The injuries Davis has suffered has allowed DeShaun Foster to play and he’s thrived in the role. Davis will be the workhorse this week and that will translate into decent numbers as Foster will return to a change-of-pace back letting the big man control the clock.
Kevin Faulk, New England: With the resurgence of Antowain Smith, Faulk’s duties have been extremely limited. With this Super Bowl shaping up to be one of the best defensive matchups in recent history, a scat-back such as Faulk doesn’t stand much of a chance trying to finesse around the likes of Julius Peppers and Kris Jenkins.
Troy Brown, New England: As mentioned in the last Hot/Cold list, the likelyhood of Brady finding his old buddy Troy Brown in the big games was going to be very high. Brown’s 7 catches for 88 yards against the Colts proved just that. If Ricky Manning Jr. wants to continue his strong playoff run, he better be very familiar with #80 as he’ll once again be the main target.
Steve Smith, Carolina: With the very limited action that Delhomme will see in the passing game, it’s difficult to include any Panthers on this list. The only reason Smith appears here, is his ability to take a 5-yard slant pattern and turn it into a 70-yard TD quicker than you can say Ty Law. Will it happen on Sunday? Maybe not. But if it does, remember you heard it here first.
Mushin Muhammad, Carolina: As mentioned above, Delhomme simply will not see much action in the passing attack unless it’s in garbage time in a losing effort. With the toughness of the both defenses, I don’t think this game will be a blowout in either direction. Those factors do not bode well for Muhammad and the rest of the Panthers passing attack.
Deion Branch, New England: With the recent solid play out of Troy Brown, Deion Branch has found himself sitting at #3 on the depth chart behind Brown and David Givens. With Brady’s penchant for spreading the ball around, this could change on any given day. MY guess is Brady sticks to what has been working and that plan currently does not highly involve Branch.
Kris Mangum, Carolina: Okay, Mangum hasn’t been “hot” all year, but I drew his name in two separate pools as the first guy to score. If he does, I win. Mangum, Mangum, Mangum!! Throw it to K-Man!! He’s wide open!!
Daniel Graham, New England: Graham hasn’t even caught a cold in the last three weeks. Don’t expect much to change in the biggest game of this young buck’s life.