Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The NFL is heating up this winter.

In my defense, I wasn’t the only one who liked the New England Patriots. So, we have our final four in the NFL Playoffs. Seattle beat a hot Washington team this past Saturday. When I saw running back Shaun Alexander go down for the Seattle Seahawks, I was sure that would be the opening the Washington Redskins would need, but the Seahawks showed some heart and kept after them and put the game away.

The Seahawks will face the Carolina Panthers, a team that seems to play better on the road than most teams do at home. The Panthers beat a very defensive Chicago Bears team, at least up until last Sunday’s game the Bears were a defensive team. The Bears switched philosophies and put up points instead of keeping the other team from scoring them. Wide receiver Steve Smith is a monster for the Panthers, he will not be stopped. I have never seen so many defenders get twisted and tangled trying to cover one man. It makes you wonder why only one man was trying to stop Steve Smith.

The NFC championship game is at Seattle and for those of you who don’t know, Seattle has not lost a home game this season. The Carolina Panthers on the other hand do not seem to be worried about playing on the road. Ask New York and Chicago how the home field advantage worked out. I have questions about Seattle, mainly, “How can Seattle be trusted to win this big of a game?” They are the Seahags for crying out loud.

I would have more confidence in the Panthers if it were not for the fact that their two best running backs will be out for this game on Sunday. Deshaun Foster who was the primary back against the Bears broke his ankle and will not be able to compete; leaving someone named Nick Goings to be the man. This means that Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith are going to have to be brilliant again.

If Seattle watches any game tape, I have to believe that they will try to come up with a plan to stop or at least contain Smith, unlike the Bears. I am also concerned about an injury to Carolina’s defensive end Julius Peppers. He is a big part of that Panther defense and if he is not 100% then that should cause some concern for Carolina.

In the end I see the Seattle Seahawks finally putting the nail into the coffin of the Carolina Panthers and moving on to the Super Bowl. I know they are still the Seahawks and they are known for not doing anything, ever, but I believe this is their year. Shaun Alexander is almost certain to play and quarterback Matt Hasselback has shown himself to be a very good quarterback.

While Seattle has both a great running back and a very good quarterback, we are not sure about Carolina’s running back situation. I also believe that Seattle will be ready for Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith, which could be the Panthers’ only way of scoring. I still believe that game will be close because of the Panthers defense. Seattle 21 Carolina 17

In other games this past weekend we had some questionable calls made by the referees. In my big game of the week, New England at Denver was not a very good game to watch or to play in if you were a Patriots fan. Had I known that the Patriots would turn the ball over 33 times I would have never picked them to be my Super Bowl champion. That was their fault, the referees helped out by making some questionable calls including a pass interference call that probably should have been a no call. That being said, Denver proved they were the better team and showed why they have also gone undefeated at home this year.

In the other game, the Pittsburgh Steelers went into the dome in Indianapolis to take on the Colts in a game most people gave the Steelers no shot in winning. I had my doubts about the Colts but I thought they would win and apparently so did the referees. I have never seen a bigger blown call than the interception and fumble play by safety Troy Polamalu.

The referee watched the same tape we all did and determined that it was an incomplete pass and not an interception and fumble, overturning the call on the field. I am not saying the refs were “cheating” for the Colts, but this wasn’t just a blown call, this was a call that was so insane you had to question the motives of the officials. I couldn’t believe what I saw and a little piece of me hoped that the Colts would win the game just to see the fallout over this whole thing, but that did not happen.

The Steelers made the Colts, especially Peyton Manning, look rushed and hurried and got them out of their comfort zone. Unfortunately for the Colts, their coaching staff didn’t make the necessary adjustments until it was too late. That more than cornerback Nick Harper’s boneheaded fumble return and kicker Mike Vanderjagt’s miss was what decided the game. The Steelers adapted and changed their gameplan after their first meeting with Indianapolis and the Colts did not.

This brings up what I believe will be the best game this coming Sunday, Pittsburgh at Denver. Denver as I said earlier has not lost at home this season and Pittsburgh much like Carolina has won all their playoff games on the road. I know I should pick Denver; I already made a fool of myself by continuing to drink the New England clam chowder Kool-Aid. I will however pick the Pittsburgh Steelers. I have several reasons for this, none of which are really football reasons.

The Steelers beat my team, the Cincinnati Bengals, and I am of the belief that if the team that knocks you out of the playoffs wins it all, it doesn’t hurt so bad to lose to the eventual world champs. I also like running back Jerome “The Bus” Bettis. I would like to see him go out with a Super Bowl win as it is rumored he will retire at the end of the season.

As for real reasons I think they will win? I believe that Pittsburgh is the tougher team. I think that Troy Polamalu makes plays every game and this game will not be different. I think that Pittsburgh’s run, run, and run again style will keep Denver’s defense on the field a long time while the Steelers’ defense can grab extra rest. I believe that it is Bill Cowher’s time and he will show why he is one of the best in the game. While I do think Denver quarterback Jake Plummer has a better beard than Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he will do something that will make Denver fans scream and pull their hair out.
Pittsburgh 28 Denver 20

This gives us a Pittsburgh and Seattle Super Bowl. I am holding off on my thoughts on this game because I have a feeling that those two teams may not even be in the game by looking at my past performance. I will predict that this year’s game will be better than the commercials and that’s all anyone really cares about.

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