Sunday, February 05, 2006

Conflicted or Indifferent? One Never Can Tell...
By Bryan Koch

I’ve been thinking long and hard about this all week long, and… I just can’t. I’ve broken everything down. There’s no clear winner. I don’t even have a gut feeling; any sort of intuition whatsoever.

This game, in my mind (as in one T-Bone Mussa’s), truly is the equivalent of a flip of a coin.

Something of a recurring theme in my mind is the superiority of the AFC over the NFC, as evidenced by inter-conference records, and by the fact that the Steelers, the lowest seed in the AFC, are four point favorites over the Seahawks, the best the NFC has to offer. However, hardly would I assert that I ought to entrust my destiny as a premonitory figure to the oddsmakers.

Then again, I also think about Jay Feely’s kicks, and how Seattle’s fate may have somehow hinged on them. Is that really the team I want to support?

Then again, I think about the first play of Pittsburgh’s postseason. If Carson Palmer doesn’t get knocked out, do the Steelers even survive? I’m hardly convinced. Although the Steelers defense can force turnovers, they also seem quite susceptible in the secondary. Obviously this plays into one of the Seahawks’ strengths.

And also, the Steelers run game isn’t going to do much of anything today. I don’t expect Shaun Alexander to eclipse the one hundred yard mark or average more than four yards per carry, but I expect Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis to be particularly ineffective. Alexander should at least be a factor.

Maybe it would best serve our needs to return to this comparison-by-conference for a second. In the end, it seems to me that we know what the Steelers are; we’ve watched them play against stiff competition and prevail. We all know that their front seven and their air attack have been their most impressive attributes.

This isn’t really true for Seattle. I don’t mean this as a knock, but the competition offered by the rest of the NFC is simply inferior in every aspect to that offered by the AFC. In short, I really can’t discern Seattle’s overall talent with any real exactitude. The Redskins and Panthers demonstrated glaring weaknesses. Pittsburgh is hardly a flawless squad, but will not as easily be exposed. Still, the truth is that I can’t determine with any certainty how capable – especially on defense – Seattle is of exploiting those fallibilities.

So what? Am I supposed to pretend to be confident, make a pick when I honestly believe the teams are evenly matched? Sure, Pittsburgh is overachieving on third down, but Seattle still hasn’t beaten a complete team.

I guess I’ll choose the stronger conference. Hey, if Roethlisberger had remained healthy, Pittsburgh may have been a #2 or #3.

But don’t hold me to it.

Steelers 24, Seahawks 23.

Good luck, Mr. Geballe.

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