Sunday, January 22, 2006

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PREVIEW!

Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos: The Steelers outplayed Peyton and pals in EVER phase of the game last week, they even outplayed a bunch of bumbling officials.
QB Ben Roethlisberger has gone from being a very "solid" Signal Caller to being an "excellent" Signal Caller. The D has completely flustered opponents... and not just last week. The front can bring pressure straight up or via stunts, and they are SO stout that running against them is as easy as playing Pool with a rope. The Steelers allowed 1-100 yard rusher all season; Colt RB Edgerrin James. Last week, Edge' was a mere ornament, the running game reduced to rubble.
Safety Troy Polamalu is a weapon. Dude can line up as a Linebacker, Corner', or Safety... and possesses a Wideout's speed. He hits like a Mack truck, and WILL snag at least 1 of Denver QB Jake Plummer's passes. Polamalu was on Manning like an over-coat, and he's got the speed to beat the Bronco line as well.
The "weak link" in the Steeler armor is the pass defense. The corners CAN be beaten. However, much as they did last week I think that Pitt' will bring it from EVERY direction, including straight up and straight down! They won't allow Plummer time to survey the field. Frankly, I don't think Pitt' will allow Plummer time to inhale more than twice. If the Steelers successfully take away RBs Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell... WRs Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie, and TE Jeb Putzier will have quite a job on their collective hands.
Honesty, the biggest factor could again be the thin air of Mile High. If Pitt's gassed early, the Broncs' will have a VERY significant advantage. However, I think the Steelers are up to the task, I think they'll pressure Plummer into mistakes once they rob him of a run game, and the Steelers will win by less than a TD. It looks like it could be one of those 20-16, 21-17 type of affairs. That being said the Steelers, with RBs "Bus" Bettis and "Fast Willie," and WRs Hines Ward, Randle El, and Cedric "The Entertaining" Wilson, and soft-handed TE Heath Miller (I told you that guy was special!) have the firepower to engage in a high scoring tilt as well.

But, given the mutual strengths of the respective teams... the game should be a tight-to-the-vest contest; Denver boasts a nice corps of sure-tackling and speedy 'backers and a brilliant talent in CB Champ Bailey .... the Steelers have a human-missile in Safety Troy Polamalu, a moster 'backer in Joey Porter, a human tackling machine in Clark Haggans, etc.

Either way... this game should be a helluva' lot of fun!

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