posted on Jan, 21 2006 @ 04:57 PM
When people debate who the best wide receiver is in the NFL today, the three names you tend to hear are Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison
in some order. Make no mistake; all three are outstanding football players. But they are all sitting in front of TV sets at the moment and Steve
Smith is taking center stage and making a case that he belongs in the conversation when the topic is "Elite Wide Receivers in the NFL". Smith has
been in six postseason games; he has caught 40 passes for 6 TDs and 708 yards. Ladies and gentlemen, that is what you call coming up large when it
If there really were a league-wide conspiracy to set up a glamorous Super Bowl match-up, you'd have to think that the city fathers in Detroit are
wondering what has gone wrong. The "glamour teams" are gone. The teams that are left are fine teams but they are not the ones that have huge
national followings nor are they from huge markets. And according to an AP report, some of the travel companies who arrange Super Bowl jaunts for
fans are looking at a down year. Surely, the anticipated weather conditions in Detroit in February have something to do with that, and let's be
candid here; Detroit is not on everyone’s "A-List" of places-to-go-before-I-die in North America. Detroit is kind of like Newark NJ - - but without
the joie de vivre.
The part of the AP story that really has to cheese off the Detroit Super Bowl organizers is that tour companies said that some clients preferred to
travel to Vegas or to an island resort this year and to watch the games from there instead of heading off to Detroit to be part of the actual
festivities. And now with the "glamour teams" sitting at home, it can only get tougher to sell fans on going to Detroit and leaving some heavy money
behind before they leave.
Next year's Super Bowl will be in Miami. Just a guess here, but after two consecutive years of seeing the game in Jacksonville and then Detroit, I
think that the high-rolling fans will be most anxious to have their reservations in order for Super Bowl week.
Pittsburgh at Denver - 3 (41):
Maybe the Steelers are a "Team of Destiny". I wouldn't know about things like that because "Destiny" gets
handled way beyond my pay grade. For the last six weeks, the Steelers have been playing exceptionally good football and the combined record of their
two vanquished foes in the playoffs this year is 23-9, so it's not like they have backed into this conference championship game. Critics point out
that Bill Cowher is 1-4 in AFC Championship Games (all in Pittsburgh by the way); that statistic has precisely no bearing on what will happen Sunday.
Remember back only to last weekend; the Seahawks had zero wins in 21 years in playoff games whilst Joe Gibbs took a 17-5 playoff record into the game
against those Seahawks. Need I remind anyone who won the game last weekend? And that they won handily? Denver has the better offense here - even
with Jake Plummer who I trust as far as I can throw a piano - while Pittsburgh has the better defense. Someone once said that defense wins
championships and this is the AFC Championship game and so I'll take Pittsburgh with the points. I'll also take the game OVER 41.
Carolina at Seattle - 3.5 (43):
This game just doesn't have any "juice". It's not a case of the teams not garnering the proper respect; it's
a case of many people seeing this game as an after-thought. That's a shame because these are two good teams with two good coaches at the helm.
Carolina has won four consecutive playoff games on the road; the NFL record for consecutive road wins is four and the Panthers share that honor with
the Dallas Cowboys who pulled off their streak between 1975 and 1980. In the NFL playoffs, road teams win less than 40% of the time so the Panthers
accomplishment is nothing to be sneezed at. Mike Holmgren rebuilt the Green Bay franchise from the second tier of the league and took them to the
Super Bowl twice; now he has rebuilt the Seahawks franchise from next to nothing to stand on the doorstep of the Super Bowl. John Fox took over a
team that had been 1-15 the year before he got there and he is now in his second NFC Championship game. I have no doubt that Steve Smith will cause
problems for the Seahawk defense but I don't see how the Panthers’ running game is going to be good enough to control the game and keep the
Seahawks' offense on the bench. This will be a tight game and one that should be in doubt late into the 4th quarter. And because that's my model for
the game, I'll take the Panthers with the points here.