Picking the Winner for the Super Bowl

The road to the Super Bowl stop in Detroit, and there are only four days remaining until the Pittsburgh Steelers square off against the Seattle Seahawks. Both teams took very different roads to make it to the final game of the season. The Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) struggled early in the season but made a relentless run at the end of the season to squeak into the playoffs with a wildcard spot. With three straight road games in the playoffs, the knocked off the Cinncinati Bengals, the heavily favored Indiannapolis Colts, and the Denver Broncos to advance to their sixth super appearance in franchise history. The Steelers plan on bringing another Vince Lombardi Trophy back home to Pittsburgh this weekend.

Their opponents are the Seattle Seahawks, the most unknown and underrated team in the NFL. Unlike their Super Bowl Opponents, Seattle steamrolled through the NFC with a outstanding 13-3 record. They earned homefield advantage at arguably the loudest stadium in the NFL, Quest Field. The Seahawks won their very first game since 1984 when they survived against a very tough Washington Redskin team to advance to the NFC Championship Game with the Carolina Panthers. Carolina was no match for Seattle as they were utterly destroyed 34-14, giving Seattle their first Super Bowl trip in franchise history. It is a mystery to me why the Seahawks do not receive much respect from the media and long time football fans. They look to prove the doubters wrong on Sunday by defeating the Steelers.

Each team has advantages and weaknesses that can be monumental in who is holding the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the game. I will break down and compare both teams as well as give my insight on who has the advantage:

QUARTERBACKS
Ben Roethlisberger
The Second year QB has really became a leader for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Last season, Roethlisberger was’nt for to win
the big games because he could rely on his relentless running game of Jerome “The Bus” Bettis and Deuce Staley to carry most of the load. This year, Big Ben has become more patient as well as accurate with his passes. He is a big tough guy that can stay in the pocket without being rattled by a menacing defensive pass rush. He can scramble for yardage if necassary, which makes him a pretty dangerous quarterback. Roethlisberger has above average arm strength that can make the deep throw if the offensive line gives him adequete time. The problem that Ben Roethlisberger faces is inexperience in the big game. There is no doubt that he will be a great quarterback in the future for the Steelers, but the big question is whether or not he can control his nerves on Sunday against a smart Seattle Seahawk defense.

Matt Hasselback
Hasselback has to be the most underrated pro bowl QB in NFL history. The beginning of his career started off in rollercoaster fashion. Often Matt was criticized by the media for his inconsistent play, but has matured into one of the best QB’s in the NFL this season. Like Roethlisberger, Hasselback has never been to the Super Bowl and the big game will be
a test of his nerves. The NFC pro bowl signal caller is a true field general. He has great vision, able to quickly scan the field and make the big passing plays on a consistent basis. Hasselback is not known for his scrambling abilities, but he has just enough quickness to move around in the pocket and get away from blitzing defenders.

Advantage: Both QB’s have what it takes to lead their teams to a Super Bowl victory, but I think that NFL experience will be
key factor in this game. I give the nod to Matt Hasselback.

RECEIVERS
Pittsburgh Steeler receivers
If there is one receiver in the NFL that plays the game with the mentality of a defensive player, it’s Hines Ward. This six
foot, two hundred fifteen pounder is the best blocking receiver in football, constantly punishing defenders with key blocks
every week. Ward is also one of the most reliable receivers in the league. He is the teams best deep threat and their best chance for making the big yardage in the air. Antwaan Randle El is maturing as a reliable No. 2 Receiver. Randle El is the fastest receiver on the team. However, he is inconsistent and will need to step up big time to help his team on Sunday. The receiver to look out for is Cedric Wilson. In the AFC Championship game against the Denver Broncos, Wilson stepped up to make a major contribution in helping his team advance to the big game.

Seattle Seahawk receivers
Bobby Ingram and Darrell Jackson are reliable wide receivers for the Seahawks. They both have the ability to get open and
stretch defenses for major gains downfield. What they lack in size, big Jerramy Stevens and Joe Jurevicius makes up. The Seahawks have lots of targets downfield, as well as Shaun Alexander coming out of the backfield on passing plays.

Advantage: Hines Ward will be the most talented receiver on the field in the Super Bowl, but the Seahawks have more than one reliable receivers that can make plays downfield. I’m picking them to have a good day.

RUNNING BACKS
Steelers Running Backs
Jerome Bettis is going home to Detroit, and will need no introduction when he steps on the field Sunday. The future Hall of Famer is at the end of a great career, but still has some gas left in the tank to move bodies and make the tough yardage. Look for “The Bus” to make the tough yardage in the red zone and wear down the small Seahawk defenders. Willie Parker is a young homerun hitter that can explode on any giving play. He will most likely be the starter over Bettis, but the two backs will definately share the load.

Seahawk Running Backs
No other NFL player has ever rushed for more touchdowns (28) in a single season than Shaun Alexander. The NFL MVP has the quick moves to make most defenders miss and Seattle will look for their star running back to make the moves on a physical Pittsburgh Defense.

ADVANTAGE: If I had to pick a backfield between the two teams, it would be the Steelers’ running backs. Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker are a great combination with speed and power. Shaun Alexander is a great running back, but may have some trouble against one of the meanest defenses in the NFL.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Steelers Offensive Line
Offensive line coach Russ Grimm – an all time great linemen and one of the “Hogs” for the Washington Redskins in the 80’s – has build a line that is built for punishing defenders. They move the piles well and open holes big enough for a BUS to run through.

Seahawks Offensive Line
Walter Jones may be one of the best offensive tackles in the league. He is very athletic for his size as well as powerful.
Not many defenders get pass him. Jones is a critical part of the offense, and he makes all of the other player along side of him better.

ADVANTAGE: The Steelers have the best backfield in my opinion and one of the biggest reasons is the big guys up front. I like the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line on sunday.

DEFENSE
Pittsburgh Steelers
The #4 ranked defense is one of the nastiest of the NFL. They attack on every single play with intent on destroying the ball carrier. Their pass rush is one of the best with linebacker Joey Porter leading the way. Porter is a pro bowler with good speed to get in the backfield. He is also a pretty good cover man as well, jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. Troy Palamalu is one of the best young defensive backs in the game. He has great speed and change of direction. Palamalu is very smart and he is able to read the opposing QB to make a big play for his team. Did I mention that he is a vicious hitter?

Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have the most sacks in the NFL. They are ranked #17, but do not be deceived by that number. They are a fast and aggressive unit that is build on speed and finess to get to the ball carrier. Led by undersized rookie linebacker Lofa Tatupu, the Seahawks fly to the ball in hopes of making turnovers.

ADVANTAGE: The Seahawks are good, but the Steelers defense is better and more of a mean streak.

FINAL PREDICITON: The Pittsburgh Steelers are the tougher team, but look for the more experienced Seattle team to open up the passing game with a healthy dose of Shaun Alexander. Do not be surprised if Matt Hasselback is the game’s MVP. The Seahawks struggle early, but find a their rythym later on and win 31-17.

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