Thursday, February 02, 2006

Super Bowl XL - Time to LOCK IT UP!
By John W. Schmeelk

Count yourselves fortunate. This was going to include a “Jerome Bettis is overrated” rant but our prehistoric blogmaster did such a fine job with it, especially detailing why he is not a Hall of Famer that you will be spared from it. Thank him profusely.

Now, I have six reasons the Seahawks are going to win this football game. Here they are:

Walter Jones
Steve Hutchinson
Reggie Tobeck
Chris Gray
Sean Locklear
Mack Strong.

Who? Would be the quick response from most of the dopes that are going to watch this Super Bowl. But it will be because of these fine gentlemen, the Seattle offensive line and fullback, that the Seahawks will win this game.

The Steelers strength on defense is their pass rush and front seven. They force third and longs, and then pressure quarterbacks that turn into turnovers. Unfortunately for the Steelers the Seahawks have the best leftside of an offensive line in football, the best blocking fullback in football and the NFL’s MVP in Shaun Alexander.

Will Alexander rush for 150 yards? Maybe not. But him rushing for 100 yards on 25 carries is certainly not out of the question. That consistency will keep the Seahawks out of third and longs. And when the Steelers blitz on third down the o-line will pick it up with Mack Strong’s help to give Hasselback the time he needs to pick apart the Steelers weak secondary.

And please remember that with the type of offense the Seahawks run, with so many short throws and hot routes, it is difficult to blitz effectively. And Matt Hasselback is a SMART quarterback, one of the smartest in the league. He rarely makes mistakes, as shown by his single digits in interceptions (despite the fact his top two receivers were out for some time) and he will not lose his poise even against a tough Pittsburgh defense. Despite all the Roethlisberger hype, Hasselback is the more consistent quaterback and less prone to mistake. You know what they say about the turnover battle….

That being said, there is one worry in all this. I go back to the one Seahawk game I watched closer than any other, against the Cowboys. Now, it is important to note that in that game the Seahwaks didn’t have Darrel Jackson or Bobby Engram, but the Cowboys completely shut down the Seahawk offense. The Cowboys play the 3-4. The Steelers play the 3-4, and a lot better than Dallas. After the game Hasselback and Alexander talked about how the Cowboys mixed up their formations and really confused them. If the Seahawks haven’t adjusted and the Steelers go to school on what Dallas did Seattle will be in for a long afternoon on offense.

But don’t underestimate the absence of those receivers. Darrel Jackson is very underrated, every bit as good as Hines Ward, and is a serious threat in this game. He runs good routes and has finally stopped dropping passes. Koren Robinson took that disease with him when he left town. And Jurevicius and Engram are a good 2-3 punch.

And yes, we know Troy Palamalu is crazy with his hair and he makes big plays. Easy to make big plays against John Kitna and Jake Plummer… and a rusty Peyton Manning in a playoff game (the last one is a stretch but what the hell). It will not be so easy against Matt Hasselback.

And the Steelers are a flawed team, they’ve played with a lead for much of the postseason allowing Roethlisberger to stay within himself. I think the Seahawks can shut their running game down without bringing an eighth man into the box, forcing Roethlisberger to make some bad throws. I’ve spoken to a number of experts that have watched film of his last few starts, and they tell me he has actually made some bad decisions and only because of a couple absolutely spectacular throws and a stumble or two on defense has he avoided a costly pick in many instances.

And let’s say this about Bill Cowher. He is spotty in big games. Holmgren is far from a sure thing but his track record is better. Cowher has especially struggled in home games, and believe me, the way Steelers fans travel this game will seem like a home game to Pittsburgh. Not to mention Pittsburgh fatigue – it takes a lot out of a team to win three straight road games, beating the 1, 2, and 3 seed. The Seahawks got to stay home, and relax against a five and sixth seed.

Finally, look at the pressure. Where is the onus? The Steelers. No doubt about it. Between Cowher, Bettis and all the Steelers history they need to win this game. No one is picking the Seahawks despite a measly four point spread. The classic underdog… that had a better record than the favorite and was a one seed as compared to a SIX seed.

This has upset written all over it.

Seahawks 24
Steelers 20

Triple lock it.

Schmeelk’s tidbits:

- Jerome Bettis is from Detroit – did ya hear?
- ESPN is planning a reality series based on Barry Bonds – does this mean we actually get to see Pedro Gomez wipe his ass?
- Is anyone else thinking Larry Brown is trying to lose on purpose to get Isiah to trade these stiffs? Let’s just hope he doesn’t get a bunch of stiffs back making twice the money in twice the time.
- If Vince Carter doesn’t play well, the Nets don’t win. That simple.
- Mike Martz would have been a GREAT fit in Detroit. No really, I’m serious.
- Which one of these guys will make a big play on Sunday – Randle-El or Seneca Wallace?
- Jerome Bettis is from Detroit.
- Who wins in a chin off – Leno or Cowher. I feel Leno’s is bigger, but Cowher has a lot more agility. Talk about a toss-up.
- If the Mets team is primarily Hispanic, is that wrong on the part Omar Minaya? It depends. Are they doing it because they are the best player available? If so – no problems here. If not… well… QUE LASTIMA! In all seriousness, I think he is only doing the former. That being said… Jorge Julio? Anna Benson wasn’t THAT annoying. Well maybe she was.
- Can I please get more than three straight episodes of Lost without a repeat? This is ridiculous.
- Im reading this book on Genghis Khan and the Mongols – great stuff – and their entire civilization was more organized than the Red Sox front office… and John Henry is NO Genghis Khan.
- I was shocked when I heard Jerome Bettis was from Detroit!
- Some high school girl put up 113 points today – no word on whether she has ever been seen in a Colorado hotel trying to take advantage of an immature bellhop!
- Yes Joey Porter likes to talk trash. I feel bad for Jeremy Stevens – such an innocent comment blown out of proportion. The dude has been grilled only because he refused to get in line and kiss Jerome Bettis’ rear end.
- Speaking of the lovefest – do you think the team would love him so much, and put on his green Notre Dame jersey if Nick Harper had went sideline and scored the game winning touchdown after Bettis’ fumble. Somehow… I think not.
- One thing everyone missed during Porter’s presser today was when asked if Shaun Alexander was soft, he answered simply: “I don’t feel the need to answer questions, when you all already know the truth.” Wow. Let’s see if he thinks that after Walter Jones runs him over and Shaun Alexander is running into the endzone.
- And some late breaking news for you out of Detroit: It’s Jerome Bettis’ hometown.

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