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FANTASY FOOTBALL WEEKLY FEATURES

Bob's Breakdown - Super Bowl
Bob Cunningham
January 26, 2006

Remember my line last week about how unpredictable the NFL is and that’s a big reason why we like it so much?

Well, I hate it… at least, when that unpredictability again makes me look stupid.

Two weeks ago, I made my picks for the divisional playoffs in large part utilizing my gut instincts, even when they went against what the numbers said. I went 2-2, but if I had trusted the numbers, I’d have been a perfect 4-0.

So last week, of course, I ignored my intuition which was pushing me toward Pittsburgh and went with Denver because the stats said to. My preference is to base my predictions to some degree on QBs. I didn’t like Jake Plummer’s chances of beating Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger in consecutive weeks, but ignored my hunch.

The numbers also said Seattle and Carolina was a virtual toss-up, and when I factored in Jake Delhomme’s postseason success (by the way, he was 5-1 in his postseason career going into last week, not 6-2 as I quoted in my preview), it compelled me to go with the Panthers. Whoops.

The result was an 0-2 Title Game week for my prognosticating for the second time in three years. Essentially, I double-crossed myself… twice. The ol’ double-double-cross.

Ah, but relief is in sight… because the numbers AND my gut point to the same club in Super Bowl “Extra Large.” At least if I’m wrong this time, I won’t question where it went bad.

Check out my preview below…

OVERALL PREDICTIONS, 2005
Straight-Up: 176-90 (66%) ATS: 143-113-10 (56%) Over/Under: 120-140-6 (46%)

LAST WEEK
Straight-Up: 0-2 ATS: 0-2 Over/Under: 1-1


SUPER BOWL XL - Pittsburgh Steelers (14-5) vs. Seattle Seahawks (15-3)

Line: Steelers favored by 4 (total points line is 47)

Series: Seattle won the most recent meeting, 23-17, at Seattle in 2003. The Seahawks have won four of the last five meetings dating back to 1990, and are 5-0 ATS in that span.

Steelers Status Report: Pittsburgh has won seven straight after its decisive 34-17 victory at Denver in the AFC Championship.

Seahawks Status Report: Seattle dominated Carolina from the opening kickoff in the NFC Championship Game, winning easily, 34-14.

2005 Common Opponents: Both teams lost to Jacksonville and beat both Tennessee and Houston. The Steelers lost to Indianapolis big on a Monday night but gained revenge in the AFC divisional playoffs, Seattle whipped the Colts at home in between. Both teams traveled to Green Bay this season – Pittsburgh won, but Seattle lost while resting some regulars in Week 16.

Super Bowl History: In this category, the Steelers have all the history. This will be their sixth Super Bowl appearance. They won their first four, all in the 1970s – although their last title was for the 1979 season but the 31-19 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV was actually played in January of 1980. In their last appearance, they lost to the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXX, 27-17. In addition to the victory over the Rams, the Steelers have also beaten Dallas twice and Minnesota to win titles… This is Seattle’s first Super Bowl appearance.

Game Summary: That Pittsburgh is the first No. 6 seed to reach a Super Bowl is, of course, ultra-impressive. But the Steelers aren’t really a true No. 6 seed, as evidenced by the odds-makers’ establishing them as 4-point favorites. The AFC’s lopsided advantage over the NFC this season in number of quality teams would realistically put Pittsburgh around No. 3 in the NFC. What’s even more amazing is that the Steelers went through the AFC’s three top seeds, all on the road, to get to Detroit. Facing the NFC’s top seed, on a neutral field, is downright easy by comparison. Admittedly, I haven’t given the Seahawks their due. They are legitimate participants in this game, with the league’s highest-scoring offense and a defense that is much, much better than advertised. Still, I believe the Seahawks are very reliant on the homefield edge… more than most teams. The Steelers are better-built for this kind of showdown game, and QB Ben Roethlisberger is definitely the real deal. In the clutch, he’s been consistently outstanding. His poise reminds me of three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady.

The statistical system I utilize to analyze matchups, which had been pretty doggone reliable until the conference title games, gives Pittsburgh a slim edge. Well, so do I. But for the first time in a while, there’s no definitive favorite in this game. The Steelers are favored but truth be told if Seattle wins it can hardly be classified as an upset. Nevertheless, give me the Steelers to finally get that fifth ring that has eluded the franchise for the last quarter-century.

Prediction: STEELERS 27, SEAHAWKS 21