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Sunday, February 05, 2006

101000

It's Super Sunday! Later on today I will be watching some movie on DVD or other, followed by watching the Big Game (tm) on our local ABC affiliate, whilst I nosh on chips and dip and some other junk-foody goodness. I won't pay a whole lot of attention to the commercials, because, well, I find that each year there are only one or two commercials that are actually memorable; mostly they're just a let-down.

Anyhoo, howzabout the game itself?

Since the Steelers are my second team in the entire NFL -- I only root against them if they are actually playing the Bills, or if a Steeler win somehow hurts the Bills significantly -- I am naturally going to be rooting for them. I don't think Bill Cowher gets the credit he deserves for being an awfully good coach; hell, in these parts, he gets practically vilified for some reason. But here's a guy who's fielded competitive teams pretty much his entire tenure; who's reached the AFC title game a bunch of times and the Super Bowl once with a bunch of guys at quarterback who wouldn't be on anybody's list of guys to build a franchise around; et cetera. This guy's come close to getting it done with Neil O'Donnell and Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox, and I think that's pretty damn impressive.

But I do think that the Seahawks aren't getting quite enough love, either. Sure, they've never been to the Super Bowl before, but that offensive line of theirs is amazing, as is their running back, so I don't think the Steelers are going to be able to dominate the line of scrimmage on defense. They may slow Alexander down, but he's going to get his yards. The question seems to me to be how the Seahawks get the rest of the yards they're going to need. If the Steelers can contain Seattle's receivers and either force them to drop passes or come up short on yardage, I think they'll win. I haven't seen a whole lot of the Seahawks in recent years, but when I have seen them, Matt Hasselbeck seems to make good throws that for some reason aren't caught as many times as they should be. So I think the key matchup today will be the Seahawks' receivers versus the Steelers' secondary.

(I'm assuming, of course, that the Steelers will be effective themselves on offense, since they've been effective in three playoff games on the road against at least two very good defenses.)

I frankly expect a fairly close game -- one of the closer ones, actually. One aspect of the NFL's trend to parity in the last ten years has been that the Super Bowl has been a good game much more often than before, with blowouts now being the exception rather than the norm. Of the last ten Super Bowls, I consider only two to have been actual blowouts*, while every other one has been either competitive for a good part of the game to downright close. Therefore, I don't expect a blowout today, either. My prediction is Steelers 24, Seahawks 20 (or something similar).

* The games I consider blowouts are the Ravens' 34-7 win over the Giants in SB XXXV, and the Buccaneers' 48-21 dismantling of the Raiders in SB XXXVII. Denver's 34-19 win over Atlanta in SB XXXIII may have been a blowout, but I don't recall Denver's performance in that game being really dominating -- just unquestionably better.

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