Skip to comments.NFL Conference Championships LIVE THREAD (Final: Pittsburgh 34-Denver 17; Seattle 34-NC 14)
Posted on 01/22/2006 11:15:55 AM PST by MoodyBlu
Are you ready for some football? My predictions:
Denver 23/Pittsburgh 13, Seattle 24/Carolina 17
Denver's in a bit of trouble, for sure, but there's a lot of game left. They'd better start something going.
Wow, Polamalu (sp?) made a great tackle. He's just awesome! How many INTs do you think he'll get today?
Got the first, I think...tough effort!
First on a second effort on 4th and short.
I think they got in 4th down. Good call by Mike.
gutsy gutsy call
I'd go for it. They did. They got it. Quick snap didn't fool the Steelers, but nice second effort.
Cooper Carlisle needs to finish his blocks.
Second effort saved them. Similar to what Roethlisberger did last week against Indy on a 4th down.
Stillers had him in the backfield, but he got through.
If they didn't pick that up they'd big in a big mess.
A lot of times when guys get hit in the backfield the tacklers are off their feet and can't wrap them up.
Nice play-calling from the Broncos here...
Did you happen to see the pre-game when they interviewed Bettis and his parents? It was pretty cool.
The interviewer asked about Bettis' fumble last week toward the end of the Colt's game. His mom said she took her daughter and went down to the bathroom, she couldn't watch, and his dad said he "took it like a man" and then said he stood up and hung his head, he couldn't watch, either!
Nice third down pickup. If the Broncos get something, this is a game.
They needed to settle down a bit.
Broncos O is rolling now...
Kubiak is making good adjustments.
Even three points would be good.
Threaded the needle on that one!
Steelers have good red zone defense, though...
Jake the snake or Jake the flake? placemark
I know how you feel but that's what happens sometimes. I could have been at Gillette right now!
You've gotta watch. After the Super Bowl, it's no real football until August.
Indy got rolling in the 2nd quarter last week and the Steelers held them to three points at the goal line.
Yeah, this game comes down to which Jake plays.
Which is why I love the draft so much.
Porter ALMOST had Plummer back at abbout the 20!
Settle down! The Pats will always be known as one of the legacy teams of the 90's and early 2000's, almost two decades worth.
Nice to have a bit of variation, IMHO!
Held them on 3rd and 10, force the FG.
A run on thrid down?! I guess Shanahan didn't want to risk an INT.
Fourth and three. Field goal coming up. Good. 10-3
FG good! 10-3 Stillers!
Denver has to feel good about the drive but they can't get stopped in the red zone again.
Wow, Steelers held them to 3, with 1st & 10 on the 12. They've got a pretty great defense, I'll say.
I pretty much hate the Broncos.
Kept them to a FG. Good enough.
Now get another seven!
Good drive, but they did catch a break by starting at the 40. I bet Jeff Reed heard some gentle words about that from Cowher. ;)
Denver needs to adjust their blocking scheme. Porter is selling out on the blitz.
LOL, I have a sweatshirt that immortalizes that game! My Steeler's friend HATES when I wear it!
In case some of you haven't seen this - you might find it interesting:
Which Super Bowl matchup would be the best?
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Michael David Smith / FootballOutsiders.com
Posted: 12 hours ago
The folks in the NFL offices probably don't like the Carolina Panthers right now. The team representing the country's 28th-largest TV market (Charlotte) eliminated the largest market (New York) in the first round of the playoffs, and then eliminated the third-largest market (Chicago) in the second.
No matter who advances to the Super Bowl on Sunday, none of the teams representing the 10 largest television markets are still in the playoffs, and the big game will have the smallest pool of hometown viewers since 2000, when Super Bowl XXXIV featured the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans.
For real football fans, though, the small markets of that game were irrelevant. Super Bowl XXXIV is a fond memory because of its thrilling finish, with the Titans' late rally coming up one yard short. Could Super Bowl XL be a classic like that one? Or will it remind us of the 1990s, when one blowout after another made Super Bowl parties more about the commercials than the game?
We present here the four possible Super Bowl pairings ranked in order of how likely they are to be a great game, starting with the most enticing and ending with the least exciting.
1. Steelers vs. Seahawks
Why it would be the best game: It would have something for everyone. For casual fans, there are the big stars at running back and quarterback on both teams. Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis is the respected veteran playing the last game of his career, and Ben Roethlisberger is the young gun looking to establish himself as one of the league's elite. Seattle's Shaun Alexander is the league's most valuable player and the owner of the record for touchdowns in a season, and Matt Hasselbeck is the quarterback so brash he once won an overtime coin flip, leaned into the referee's microphone, and said, "We want the ball and we're gonna score."
For hard-core fans, it's the pass-rushing Pittsburgh defense against Seattle's great offensive line. Seattle's Walter Jones is the league's most powerful left tackle, but the quickness of Pittsburgh outside linebacker Joey Porter could give him fits. With guard Steve Hutchinson and fullback Mack Strong joining Jones in the Pro Bowl, Seattle has three players going to Hawaii for their blocking. They'll need them against Pittsburgh.
Why it could be a dud: Penalties. All four teams in the conference championships are among the league's least-penalized, but Pittsburgh and Seattle had about 100 more penalty yards apiece this year than Denver and Carolina. If there's anything NFL fans agreed on last weekend, it's that the officials left something to be desired, so a 20-penalty game like the one New England and Carolina gave us two years ago is the worst-case scenario. Joey Porter and Troy Polamalu are excellent defensive players, but they've been known to pick up a stupid penalty from time to time. Pittsburgh would be the underdog against Seattle and can't afford to give Seattle a free 15 yards.
2. Broncos vs. Panthers
Why it could be great: Denver's 35-year-old Rod Smith would return to the Super Bowl. Smith is still one of the best receivers in football, but he'd have a major challenge on his hands against the Panthers' secondary, which is among the best in the league at stopping opposing wideouts. Smith would likely be matched on almost every play against Ken Lucas, one of the league's top cornerbacks. Lucas has a tendency to line up in deep coverage to avoid allowing the long pass, which means he could struggle against the short-passing West Coast offense that Mike Shanahan runs in Denver. Seven years ago, Smith caught five passes for 152 yards as the Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. Can he turn in another great game on Super Sunday?
Smith against Lucas wouldn't even be the game's best receiver-cornerback matchup. Denver's Champ Bailey would spend the day covering Carolina's Steve Smith, the best receiver in football. Bailey's 100-yard interception return against New England was the single biggest play of the divisional round of the playoffs. Smith's 12-catch, 218-yard performance was the best individual game. Who would get the better end of a one-on-one matchup between the two? And how much help would Bailey need from the crafty veteran safety, John Lynch?
Julius Peppers, the only Pro Bowler on the Panthers' defense, would be a great matchup against Denver right tackle George Foster, who at 6-foot-5 and 338 pounds is by far the biggest member of a Denver offensive line that is known more for its technique than its power.
Why it could be a dud: Of the four possible matchups, this would probably have the largest point spread. Although the Panthers have played very well in the regular-season finale and their first two playoff games, the Broncos have been significantly better than the Panthers this year and would be expected to win by at least a touchdown. Carolina's offense, despite the presence of the incomparable Smith, might not be good enough to move the ball consistently against the Broncos. This game wouldn't be a 55-10 blowout like the Broncos suffered against San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIV, but Denver could keep Carolina from making it interesting down to the last minute.
3. Broncos vs. Seahawks
Why it could be great: Of the four potential pairings, Denver-Seattle is the most likely to be high scoring. The game would be a coaching rematch of Super Bowl XXXII, when Mike Shanahan's Broncos shocked Mike Holmgren's Green Bay Packers. Both coaches are disciples of Bill Walsh, and both teams use the West Coast offense to take advantage of the accurate arms of Jake Plummer and Matt Hasselbeck.
Although the Broncos and Seahawks generally aren't thought of as rivals, AFC West fans will remember when these two teams battled twice a year, from 1977 to 2001. In 1983, when both teams finished 9-7 and made the postseason as wild cards, Seattle crushed Denver 31-7 in the opening game of the playoffs. But overall the Broncos have the advantage, having won 33 of the 50 regular-season meetings between the two teams.
Why it could be dull: Seattle relies heavily on its MVP running back, Shaun Alexander, while Denver relies on its pair of running backs, Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the most exciting games often feature more passing than running.
Great games are usually a study in contrasts, with two teams that employ different styles taking each other on. But the Broncos and Seahawks are like mirror images of each other. Holmgren and Shanahan use the same Walsh offense. Plummer and Hasselbeck both have been criticized in the past for making too many careless mistakes, but both have turned into effective and efficient quarterbacks. Both teams have strong offensive lines. Both teams have a very good middle linebacker (Al Wilson in Denver, Lofa Tatupu in Seattle) who leads the defense. Two teams so similar might run simple, vanilla game plans against each other.
4. Steelers vs. Panthers
Why it could be great: Jerome Bettis, playing his final game and his first Super Bowl in his hometown, Detroit. If the Steelers beat the Broncos, get ready for two weeks of media tributes to Bettis. He's earned those tributes with his play on the field, but his status as the most press-friendly player in the league will ensure nothing but glowing coverage. In the Super Bowl, Bettis would have Jeff Hartings and Alan Faneca, the Steelers' only two offensive Pro Bowlers, blocking for him against the excellent Carolina defensive line.
Pittsburgh-Carolina would be an all-wild-card Super Bowl, and that would make next year's playoff race all the more exciting. In previous years, when the No. 6 seed had never made it to the conference championship game, let alone the Super Bowl, the end of the regular season hasn't seemed as intriguing because wild-card contenders aren't given much of a chance to win three straight road games to get to the Super Bowl. If the Steelers and the Panthers add to the intrigue by advancing to the big game as a No. 6 seed and a No. 5 seed, next year's playoff race will give fans of even the lowliest wild-card team hope.
Why it would be a dreary day: These teams were wild cards for a reason. Pittsburgh and Carolina have played two great games in the playoffs, but they're not as good as Denver and Seattle. Successful wild-card teams will make future playoff races seem more exciting, but the Super Bowl is supposed to be about the two best teams in football, and it's hard to make the case that Pittsburgh and Carolina really are the best teams in each conference.
Steelers coach Bill Cowher loves to run, so fans would more often see Bettis take a handoff for three yards and a cloud of FieldTurf than Roethlisberger passing to Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El. Panthers coach John Fox loves to run, too, and that's even less exciting because the Panthers aren't even good at running. Without their top two running backs, Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster, the Panthers will turn to career backup Nick Goings. Even when Davis and Foster were healthy, the Panthers didn't run particularly well, averaging only 3.4 yards a carry.
Carolina and Pittsburgh have the two top defenses still in the playoffs, which means it would probably be the lowest-scoring game. Low-scoring football excites traditionalists, but most fans prefer high-scoring games, and Steelers-Panthers isn't likely to break any offensive records.
February in Detroit isn't the most alluring locale for the biggest sporting event in the year. But if the game is a classic, the site won't matter. All four possible matchups have the potential for greatness, but if you just want to see a good game, Pittsburgh and Seattle is the game you should want.
Re: my Steelers 28 - Broncs 27 prediction...
Now Steelers 10 - Broncs 3
On track, yet the Steelers still have go to go for 2 sometime...
I can understand why. Not to bring up bad memories but was the Drive or the Fumble more painful?
It amazes me how NFL kickers can do that.
Uh-oh. Tuck rule. ;)