Saturday, January 21, 2006

Conference Title Games

At the beginning of the year who would have thought Denver, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Carolina would make it to the final four....well, maybe Carolina.....

But think about it, there were grumblings that Denver’s Mike Shanahan and Seattle’s Mike Holmgren may be on the way out as head coaches.....and some thought the Steelers were getting a bit long in the tooth.....but here we are....

Carolina @ Seattle (-3.5) - the Panthers are the NFL’s true road warriors.....two years ago they went into St. Louis and Philly on their way to the Super Bowl.....if they want to make a reservation to another Super Bowl, the Panthers will have gone through New York, Chicago, and Seattle – all on the road....quarterback Jake Delhomme loves playing on the road....and he has that "it" that Peyton Manning lacks, so far, when big games roll around.....

The Panthers got beaten up in the Chicago game....running back DeShawn Foster is out with a broken ankle and stud defensive end Julius Peppers may be limited.....but this team is kind of like the New England Patriots, when someone goes down, they stick in the next guy....

Seattle was not impressive in its win over Washington last week....sure league MVP Shaun Alexander suffered a concussion early in the game, but even before that injury, the Seahawks did not look like the team they were a month ago....and even before his injury, Alexander did not look like a league MVP.....the only reason Seattle advanced is because of Matt Hasselbeck.....

Okay, the Seahawks are undefeated at home this year....but that stat is a bit deceiving....this team should have lost twice at home.....Dallas’ Drew Bledsoe handed them a game by throwing an interception with 10 seconds left that set up the winning kick for Seattle.....the Seahawks then survived Russian roulette against the Giants as Jay Feely missed three make able field goals....this is a tough call, but I am going with Carolina because I think they are a mentally tougher team – Carolina 23-17.....

Pittsburgh @ Denver (-3.5) - the Steelers can be the first ever sixth seeded team (the lowest seed in the playoffs) to make it to the Super Bowl.....both teams are very similar in their style of play – good offensive line, strong defense, non-flashy running backs and wide receivers.....

Yes, I know the Broncos are undefeated at home in AFC title games, but there is always a first time for anything....but here is a stat to counter Denver’s home record -- the road team has won the AFC title four out of the last six years....

Pittsburgh has been at this same spot too many times before only to stall out....and for some reason I think this team is not going to lose....and they don’t want to lose for number 36 – Jerome Bettis – Pittsburgh 24-14

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