NFL Playoff Update

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Snoozers this past weekend. The Conference Championships showed a lot of promise going in. Unfortunately both games wound up pitting one team that came to play against one that didn't.

Hats off to the winning coaches. Holmgren and Cowher didn't come to entertain us with nail-biters. They game-planned their opponents to perfection. As a result both games were effectively over by the half.

As they did last week, the Steelers jumped on Denver early and didn't let up. And with a big lead in the second half they turned to a conservative ball control offense to grind the minutes away.

Of course the return of old school Jake Plummer helped Pittsburgh's cause. Turns out that the most effective part of the Steelers' plan was to quickly maneuver into a position where Bronco hopes rested solely on the arm and decision-making of "the Snake." With turnover after turnover all the Plummer hype came crashing to earth.

Speaking of over-hyped, Steve Smith was relatively MIA in Seattle yesterday. For some reason Holmgren chose to pass on the Bears' strategy of literally laying down for Smith. With their secondary actually covering the Panthers' star receiver Seattle had quite a bit of success.
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Frankly, I'm already sick of the "Jerome gets to go home for the Super Bowl" story line. It's not like he's some poor gymnast transplanted from an Eastern Bloc nation. This is America and Bettis has millions of dollars. He can go to Detroit any time he wants.
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Finally, two weeks of ESPN hell are upon us. In the runup to this past weekend, with only a one-week gap and two games on the agenda ESPN still spent more time "entertaining" with comparisions of Jake Plummer and Ben Roethlisberger's beards than on anything of substance. Now they've got two weeks and only one game. There isn't likely to be one aspect of this game or these teams that won't be overexposed. It looks to be a great game if we can just survive two weeks without becoming irrepairably sick of both Seattle and Pittsburgh. Here are some things to watch for ...

- As I've already discussed, the "Poor little Jerome gets to go home," storyline will be beaten to death. Given two weeks, it seems inevitable that Campbell's Chunky Soups will pick up on this.

- When the pundits forecast the game, somehow the Steeler teams that won 4 Super Bowls in the 70's will be a factor. Mind you, there is no consequential linkage between the two other than city and uniform color, but that won't stop the idiots. When faced with a choice between thinking and drawing on irrelevant trivia, well ... we shouldn't expect too much.

- When the pundits forecast the game, many will resort to inane qualifiers. Example: "Well Jimmy, I think that if Shaun Alexander rushes for over 500 yards, Seattle has a good chance." Personally, I think that if Pittsburgh can manage to score more points than Seattle they could win this one.

- The gang will get out there on their little, green in-studio football field to teach us about the offenses. For my money, nothing adds to the enjoyment of football more than seeing former players in shirts and ties trying to get in and out of a three-point stance without losing their lapel mic's.

- Too much Terry Bradshaw with his Steeler history.

- Beautiful portraits of Detroit despite its high crime rate and a continuing string of bad news coming out of the auto industry.


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