Fans treated to best of best

TREVOR BUNKE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

With Peyton Manning and the Colts off to the slaughterhouse; with the Jets' Doug Brien and his crooked toe grounded; with the Vikings' Randy Moss and his buttocks covered like a blanket; and with the Rams' run defence run out of town ... what are you left with?

How about the four teams with the best records in their respective conferences.

So while the Steelers, Patriots, Eagles and Falcons all reaped the rewards of playing on their own fields last weekend, so too will NFL fans who should be treated to two entertaining conference championships this weekend.

Without further ado, here are the picks for the AFC and NFC title games:

Atlanta (+5) at Philadelphia: The first question here has to be: Can the Eagles, playing in their fourth straight NFC title game and third straight at home, finally conquer their demons and reach the Super Bowl for the first time since drinking Molson Golden was still in vogue? (Hey, it's the first beer I ever ordered at a bar.) The second question is: Can they stop Falcons quarterback Michael Vick? To answer the first question: If not now, when? The Eagles allowed the fewest points in the NFC, and shut down the Vikings' potent offence with relative ease last week. That has to count for something. And quarterback Donovan McNabb is one of the best in the league, a Pro Bowler in fact. To answer the second question: No, but Philadelphia can contain Vick. The Eagles' run defence has improved dramatically since Jeremiah Trotter took over the starter's role at middle linebacker at the midway point of the season. If he keys on Vick, it could force the multi-talented quarterback into more passing situations than he likes. And in the end, that's how Philadelphia will win this game, but it won't be without a ferocious fight from the Falcons, who are too good pass on getting five points. The Eagles in a squeaker. FALCONS

New England (-3) at Pittsburgh: Simply put, the Patriots are road favourites because they humiliated the Colts last week, while the Steelers needed a pair of missed Jets field goals and overtime to beat New York. The other key factor has to be New England quarterback Tom Brady's 7-0 all-time record in the playoffs going up against Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's 1-0 and very shaky career playoff record. Big Ben very much looked like a rookie last week while Brady just led the Pats to victory with another workman-like outing. When the Steelers ended the Patriots' 21-game winning streak with a 34-20 victory back on Hallowe'en, New England played without RB Cory Dillon. Well, he'll be there this time and he's coming off a 144-yard rushing performance in last week's 20-3 win over Indy. If Brady and Dillon can combine for the monster, time-consuming drives like they did against the Colts, it will force Roethlisberger to pass, which he hasn't looked comfortable doing for a little more than a month. The most interesting factoid heading into the AFC championship game is this: Since 2001, when facing a new quarterback for the second time, the Patriots are 13-0. That's good enough for me. PATRIOTS

Last Week: 2-2.

Playoff Record: 5-3.

Regular Season: 116-133-7.

Best Bet: New England.

Best Bets: 9-10 after 8.5-point underdog Minnesota lost 27-14 to Philadelphia.

Suicide Pick: New England.

Suicide Picks: 16-3 after Pittsburgh beat the New York Jets 20-17 in overtime.


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