Sunday, February 05, 2006Super Bowl XL: Breakdown and Pick
Quarterback: Almost too close to call. Matt Hasselbeck has been the best quarterback in the NFC, Ben Roethlisberger has been the best quarterback in the playoffs. Both have playoff experience so neither should have the nerves for too long. Roethlisberger has the experience of winning in the hostile environments, but Ford Field should be a friendly place. Hasselbeck's rating is lower on the road as is his production. Slight Edge: Pittsburgh
Running Back: Shaun Alexander is the league's MVP although he probably isn't the team MVP. Nonetheless he broke the touchdown record and when the Seattle offense is on the field, he is the best player on the Seahawks' offense. Pittsburgh has Willie Parker and will feature Jerome Bettis, a formidable pair but they cohesively don't have the ability to do the damage that Alexander can do separately. Edge: Seattle
Wide Receivers: Seattle is getting healthy again and should have its full compliment of guys (Darrell Jackson, Bobby Engram and Joe Jurevicius) and Jerramy Stevens should be a threat at tight end as long as he isn't looking for #55. Pittsburgh has the better known group with Hines Ward, Cedric Wilson and the guy who I believe will be the X-Factor tonight -- Antwaan Randle-El. Rookie tight end Heath Miller is money at the goal line and on third down. Edge: Pittsburgh
Offensive Line: Bill Simmons said anyone with two arms, two legs and a head can rush for 1,500 yards behind Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. It's a little disrespectful of Shaun Alexander but the point remains, it's a good brick wall of talent. Pittsburgh has the best guard in football, Alan Faneca, and a strong supporting cast, but they don't have Jones, the best tackle in football. Edge: Seattle
Defensive Line: The Steelers have had one of the best defenses in the league over the last four years so they will score big here. Seattle's group is underrated and look out for tackle Rocky Bernard, a bull in the middle. Pittsburgh employs a 3-4 and needs a lot of pursuit from Kimo von Oelhoffen and tackle Casey Hampton. Hampton takes up a lot of space and is extremely difficult to run on. Slight Edge: Pittsburgh
Linebackers: Seattle is young and quick led by rookie tackling machine Lofa Tatupu and Jamie Sharper provides a strong veteran presence. Safety Michael Boulware played LB in college and has the ability to blitz. Pittsburgh has sack specialist and emotional leader Joey Porter, who is so important to their blitzing scheme. James Farrior covers a lot of ground and doesn't let anything slide past him. Larry Foote adds to a deep group. Edge: Pittsburgh
Secondary: Seattle has much of their group back and they did a solid job on Steve Smith two weeks ago. Michael Boulware is a great safety, a pro bowler now I believe and Andre Dyson is effective now that he's at full health. Pittsburgh has a youthful, improving group with Bryant McFadden among others, but the 'X' factor is safety Troy Polamalu, or is it linebacker Troy Polamalu? or is it the blitzing Troy Polamalu? The Steelers go as far as his ankle. Edge: Pittsburgh.
Special Teams: Seattle has the better kickers. End of story. Edge: Seattle
Intangibles: Not a coaching matchup for the weak at heart. Bill Cowher is notably uptight and chokeworthy in big games that he's a favorite in. Mike Holmgren has one ring as a head coach and a few others as an assistant, but he's also the guy that said "Let Terrell Davis score" in Super Bowl XXXII. Seattle is boosted by its famed 12th man home-field advantage...this isn't Seattle though as Pittsburgh will have the 12th man, 13th man, 14th man, 12th boy, 12th girl, 12th guy, the R&B group Guy, the three guys down the street. You get the point. So Coaching Edge is Seattle and Home-Field goes to Pittsburgh.
Pick: No B.S. -- Steelers 34, Seahawks 28, my loyalties lie to the Jets :)