The storylines are written: the new Dynasty v. the Breakthrough Eagles who finally escaped the deathtrap that had been the NFC Championship. So who wins? Let's look at some factors:
1) Last meeting: In the second-ever game at the Linc in Philly, New England was one week removed from a 31-0 beating BY Buffalo and the Lawyer Milloy release fiasco; Philly had only been smacked by Tampa Bay in the Linc's inaugural game six days previously, 17-0. Donovan McNabb had a sore thumb, the Eagles had a sore spot after a 31-10 beatdown by the visiting Pats. It was the second-straight year that the Iggles had completely honked at home against a visiting AFC team that came in to the game struggling (in '02, the Iggles were thumped by the Colts, 35-13). Since that game, Philly is 28-6; since its loss to Buffalo in Week 1 of 2003, the Pats are 33-3.
2) Common team: The Pats lost to Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh during the '04 regular season while missing Deion Branch (best deep receiver) and Corey Dillon. Yesterday, with Dillon and Branch both putting in big performances, the Pats rolled the Steelers. Right after they whacked the Pats in October, the Steelers beat the Eagles even worse: 27-3 with no excuses because the Iggles had a healthy Bryan Westbrook and healthy Terrell Owens.
3) The coaches: Bill Belichek completely outcoached John Fox in last year's Super Bowl and the Pats had the better team . . . yet they barely won (32-29, last-second field goal). Explanation? Great efforts by Jake Delhomme and DeShaun Foster and lots of big plays for Carolina against the Pats' secondary. Andy Reid has had the uncanny ability to honk against inferior teams in the '02 and '03 NFC title games.
4) X factors: Does Donovan McNabb plus (potentially) a semi-recovered Terrell Owens exceed Peyton Manning plus Marvin Harrison plus Reggie Wayne? Can Andy Reid be beaten off a bye week for the first time ever? Can Belichek plan for an equal as well as he planned for a superior opponent in SB XXXVI and as he did for an inferior opponent as he did in SB XXXVIII? Do the Iggles have the unrelenting will to win that the Pats have and that the Panthers showed last year?
The Monk says the Pats win, but he won't put money on it. Personally, The Monk just hopes for the first-ever OT Super Bowl.