The sixth seeded Steelers are slight favorites against the underrated Seahawks and when you consider the road traveled by both, it’s probably correct. The football cynic would call Holmgren’s Heroes the best of a mediocre bunch. But please, don’t believe that misguided hype.
The Birds not only have the league’s MVP in Shaun Alexander, but their defense (ranked 2nd overall) led the NFL with 50 sacks. They may not have the headliner names like Porter and Polamalu, but veterans like Michael Boulware and rookies like Lofa Tatupu haven’t been slouches.
As for the Black and Gold, they’ve parlayed three straight road wins into a feeling of invincibility.
And why not, Pittsburgh has shown that they can win a game with either a sometimes dominant, bruising running game or a sharp passing attack featuring a quickly maturing Ben Roethlisberger and an underrated receiving corps.
We’re going to do something a little bit different for this year’s Super Bowl pick. We’ll take a look at what we feel are some of the main keys to Sunday’s battle. This way it will give you a different perspective of the game and the teams. These keys will come in no particular order.
A LEFT-HANDED COMPLIMENT
You old school folks remember the Packers’ power sweep running attack during their glory days of the 60′s. You knew it was coming, but you still couldn’t stop it. While we’re not sure if Walter Jones, Robbie Tobeck and company are ready for Canton, we do know that despite having the whole league knowing that they always run to the left, no ones really found a way to stop it.
To me, the battle in the trenches with Seattle’s offensive line against will be one of the most intriguing and telling match ups on Super Bowl Sunday. You know Dick LeBeau will have the Steelers blitzing from the hotel room, but will all that blitzing play right into Seattle’s hands? And if you think that Seattle will panic if Pittsburgh shuts down the run, think again. When Alexander went down in the divisional playoff game, they were still able to defeat a good Washington defense.
EXTRA BUS FARE
Jerome “The Bus” Bettis is more than likely playing in his last NFL game Sunday. While the future Hall of Famer has justifiably received a lot of attention this week. the real key to the Steelers’ running game way be the fella that starts in front of this. After a relatively quiet rookie season in 2004, Willie Parker made more than a good name for himself.
The former Tar Heel had a breakout season in 2005 with 1,202 yards (4.7 ypc) on the ground. In many ways, the emergence of Parker helped speed up the gradual growth of Ben Roethlisberger. Parker also caught 18 balls as well and is one of the many budding stars on this Steeler roster. What a better way to have a breakout day than on Super Sunday.
THE RING IS THE THING
While this is Seattle’s first trip to Super Bowl Sunday as an organization, there are many Super Bowl rings floating around the Seahawks’ brain trust. Of course you know that this is old hat for Head Coach Mike Holmgren. He already has three Super Bowl rings (two as an assistant with the 49ers, one as Packers’ head coach). However, he’s not alone.
While Grant Wistrom is the only active Seattle player with a ring, Holmgren’s support staff includes former Niner assistants like Ray Rhodes and Dwaine Board along with former Packer assistants Nolan Cromwell and Gil Haskell. These four men have combined for over a dozen of stops on Super Bowl Sunday either as a player or coach. Yeah, I know that they can’t suit up (don’t tell that to coach Rhodes), but it’s safe to say that the Seahawks aren’t your typical Super Bowl newbies.
Even though this is my fourth season of making picks for BASN, the Super Bowl has been my albatross.
Yours truly is a whopping 0-3 in picking a Super Bowl winner. Now before you walk away laughing, you should at least hear my pick so you can either go with it or go against it.
For the two of you that are still reading this, here’s what I think will happen. These two teams are a helluva lot more in common than most folks think. Both have versatile offenses, tight defenses, and most importantly are very young at key positions (i.e, quarterback, secondary, etc.).
Before Mr. Stephens opened his mouth earlier this week, I was leaning slightly toward the Seahawks.
Since unimportant big talkers usually don’t make much of an impact in these games (i.e. Fred Williamson, Thomas Henderson, Ray Crockett), the Rooney family should probably be ready to get “One For The Thumb”.
Pick: Steelers 35, Seahawks 21.