Sporting Fools
Sporting Fools
Sporting Fools

Sporting Fools

The frequent and occasional humorous musings behind two of the World's greatest underappreciated sports minds.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

AFC Championship Breakdown: Offense

Much like the NFC game, the AFC Championship game is a pretty even matchup with the difference potentially coming in the location.

Quarterbacks: Both Jake Plummer and Ben Roethlisberger have solidified their reputation as tough, rugged quarterbacks from the old days. Neither will light up a scoreboard but both have been solid in the playoffs thus far. Roethlisberger has the highest passer rating and more touchdowns thrown in the postseason, Plummer wasn’t great against the Patriots, but he did avoid the big mistakes. In a game that could come down to one of these quarterbacks making a play, it seems like "Big Ben" might be the more reliable signal caller. Edge: Pittsburgh

Running Backs: The Steelers will use Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis to get a bulk of the yardage. Parker is the quicker, powerful back, efficient in running inside and outside. Bettis is most effective at the goal line or when the Steelers are ahead and looking to kill the clock. The Broncos bring the heat with Mike Anderson, but don’t be surprised to get a healthy does of Tatum Bell, especially if the altitude begins to effect the Steelers defense. Anderson is a 1,000-yard rusher with underrated speed. Bell almost reached 1,000 yards and has world-class speed. It’s even on both ends, but I think the Broncos combo packs a more explosive punch. Edge: Denver

Wide Receivers: Pittsburgh has a strong veteran starting core of Hines Ward, Antwan Randle-El and Cedric Wilson in three-receiver sets. Rookie tight end Heath Miller has quickly become an offensive threat, especially in the red zone. Denver is led by veteran Rod Smith, who is certainly no stranger to the playoffs, and speedster Ashley Lelie. Tight ends Stephen Alexander and Jeb Putzier are decent safety valve options, but strong blockers for the runner game. If Roethlisberger gets hot, the Steelers can do some damage with the pass. Edge: Pittsburgh

Offensive Line: Only the Kansas City Chiefs provide better run blocking than Denver. The Broncos offensive line isn’t full of big names, but it remains very effective against even the toughest defense. Pittsburgh’s line is led by a strong interior of Alan Faneca and Jeff Hartings, the best guard center combination in the league. Both lines are so talented that the game will come down to conditioning. In the Denver air, I like the leaner Broncos line over the bigger Pittsburgh one. Edge: Denver

Kickers: Denver’s Jason Elam has been amongst the best in the league for the last ten years. He’s accurate, with a huge leg and shares the NFL record with a 63-yarder. Pittsburgh’s Jeff Reed is a decent kicker who was 24-29 in one of the most tricky stadiums to kick in. In the end, Elam is a big-time performer along the lines of Adam Vinatieri and he’ll make the kick that counts. Edge: Denver

Posted by TPrincess 7:11 PM ||
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