Two weeks ago, it was the battle of the beards. For the Super Bowl, though, it’s time for the moustache challenge between coaches Mike Holmgren and Bill Cowher. Of course, this duel is all an argument in semantics. There’s only one mustachioed coach in Super Bowl history that’s got the total package: Iron Mike Ditka. As Golas has pointed out, Da Coach is now lending his efforts to some interesting public service announcements.
Anyway, everyone this week has been complaining that there’s been no buzz about the teams in this Super Bowl at all. As a football fan, I take this as a good sign since the quality of the actual game usually has an inverse relationship to the amount of hype the game receives during Super Bowl week (i.e. two of the best Super Bowls in recent memory have involved the bland media market-challenged Tennessee Titans and Carolina Panthers – ‘nuff said). Plus, looking at how these teams match up with each other, I think it really is going to be a great game. If it’s not, at least there’s a new “Grey’s Anatomy” on right afterwards. Here’s how I break the game down:
1) Offense – The Steelers have a good and efficient offense. As a Bears and Big Ten football fan, I have a soft spot for the grind-it-out running game that Pittsburgh employs. Big Ben Roethlisberger has also improved to the point where he’s actually making great throws as opposed to just “managing” the game. However, Mike Holmgren is one of the best offensive-minded coaches in history. He has a stud quarterback in Matt Hasselback and the NFL MVP at running in Shaun Alexander. Other than the Colts, the Seahawks have the best offensive unit in football, so they have a clear but not huge edge on this side of the ball. Advantage: Seattle Seahawks
2) Defense – I have to admit that I don’t know much about the Seattle defense other than they’ve got a guy smaller than me playing at linebacker. They did a great job against Steve Smith, possibly the most dangerous player in football, in the NFC Championship Game. However, the Seahawks won’t be able to stack their defense against one Steelers player – Pittsburgh runs the ball too well and they have a great wide receiver in Hines Ward.
I do know, though that Pittsburgh has a championship-caliber defense. They’ve shut down some of the highest-powered offenses in football during the playoffs (Bengals, Colts, and Broncos). Troy Polamalu, when his hair doesn’t get in the way, is a spectacular safety. I’m all about the Steelers D. Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers
3) Special Teams – Pittsburgh can put in fellow Chicago south suburbanite Antwaan Randle El on special teams. That’s all you need to know. Advantage: Pittsburgh Steelers
4) Coaching – This is a tough one. Both Holmgren and Cowher are among the elite of NFL head coaches, which is why they’ve both been in the league for so long. I’ve got to give Holmgren the edge here – he’s won the Super Bowl before, while Cowher lost his only Super bowl appearance as well as having a history of his team melting down in the AFC Championship Game. I’ve got to give the edge to Paul Allen’s buddy here. Advantage: Seattle Seahawks
5) Prediction – This is just my gut feeling, but I think that Seattle is going to come out more fired up for this game. The Seahawks were the #1 seed in the NFC playoffs, yet are 4-point underdogs to the lowest seed from the AFC playoffs. Plus, all anyone seems to care about this week is that Jerome Bettis is back playing in his hometown. There’s a little too much favoritsm toward the Steelers when the fact of the matter is that these are two evenly matched teams. Therefore, my prediction is:
Seattle Seahawks (+4) over Pittsburgh Steelers, with the final score being 30-27 in favor of the Seahawks.
So, I’m taking the points and the over (the over/under is 47) in what should be a great game. Enjoy the pregame show that’s already started this Friday morning, the game, the Rolling Stones, an Illini basketball mauling of Penn State to exact revenge on how the football Nittany Lions scored 5 million points on us in our Homecoming game (it would have been even worse if JoePa hadn’t yanked his starters before the first half was even over – thank goodness game 1 of the World Series was going on at the same time), and the commercials!