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Packers favored

Jan. 24, 1997

Kevin Allen

Lariat Sports Reporter

A large sign outside a Catholic church in New Orleans tells the story of what this weekend will hold for people in southern Louisiana. It simply reads, 'There will be no 6:00 mass on Sunday, January 26.'

The Big Easy will host its eighth Super Bowl this weekend, as the Green Bay Packers face off against the New England Patriots.

The Packers enter the game as 14 point favorites. However, the Patriots have been on a hot streak since their 34-8 defeat to the Denver Broncos on Nov. 14. In seven games since then, the Patriot defense has allowed only 73 points, and they have not allowed a touchdown in the past 10 quarters of play.

The Patriots come into the contest led by quarterback Drew Bledsoe, one of the premier young quarterbacks in the NFL. He threw 27 touchdown passes during the regular season, but has struggled in the playoffs, throwing only one touchdown pass and three interceptions.

Bledsoe will get help from second-year running back Curtis Martin. Martin has been the spark on the Patriot offense, gaining 225 yards rushing and four touchdowns in their two playoff games.

New England's offense will have to be at its best, as it faces the top ranked defense in the NFL this season. But it is the Green Bay offense that steals the show for Pack fans.

Brett Favre leads the Packers to the Super Bowl for the first time since the team won back-to-back championships in the first two Super Bowls. Favre, who led the league with 39 touchdown passes, was chosen as the NFL's Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row.

His receiving corps had its ups and downs during the regular season, with injuries to starters Robert Brooks and Antonio Freeman. However, Freeman returned to lead the team in receiving, and the free-agent acquisition of Andre Rison has given Favre another threat on the outside.

I look for the Patriots to keep the game close through the first half, but they will not pull off the upset. The Packers have been the best team in the NFL all season long, and they will prevail on Sunday. Martin will be ineffective running the ball inside, which will force Bledsoe to try to win the game. Favre will throw three touchdown passes to seal the fate of the Pats.

Cheeseheads in Green Bay will camp outside of Lambeau Field until next season's training camp. And, most importantly, a new breed of bandwagon Packer fans and psuedo-Cheeseheads will appear across the nation.

I like the Packers 38-25.

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