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This is a good read from Fox Sports

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  • This is a good read from Fox Sports

    I think people will apprecite this. I hope it has not been posted before.

    Steelers at Broncos: The Rundown staff is confused. Apparently, the Broncos didn't beat the Patriots last week. The Patriots beat themselves.

    The final score wasn't Broncos 27, Patriots 13. It was Patriots Mistakes 27, Patriots Achievements 13. Or maybe Blown Calls 27, Patriots 13. So Plummer, Champ Bailey, and the Broncos aren't moving on to face the Steelers. Nope. Bill Cowher must get his team ready for the real winners last week: Tom Brady interceptions, Troy Brown fumbles, and Adam Vinatieri missed field goals.

    Or maybe, just maybe, the better, more talented, more prepared team won. "We definitely made more plays than they did," Bailey said after the game. "We accepted the pressure. This was a bump in the road for us."

    That road rose to meet the Broncos again on Sunday, when the Steelers upset the Colts. The Broncos aren't traveling to Indy to face a team that has beaten them 91-34 in the last two postseasons. Instead, they are facing a Steelers team with a knack for coming up just short in the AFC championship game. "I've got to get the Terrible Towels out to root for the Steelers so we can play at home," Rod Smith said before the Steelers beat the Colts. Hey Rod, while you have the towels out, get them nice and hot, put them on Plummer's face, and ... oh, never mind.

    So the Broncos are now four-point favorites at home and are suddenly getting 3-to-2 odds to win the Super Bowl. Not bad for a team that nearly everyone assumed would be sitting at home this week.

    Ben Roethlisberger has proven that he can win games with his arm. (Andy Lyons / Getty Images)

    Of course, count the Steelers out at your own risk. With their first quarter offensive ambush of the Colts and their day-long bullying session on Peyton Manning, the Steelers showed that they have a game plan for any occasion. Their devastating blitz made short work of the inexperienced Bengals before hitting the unhittable Peyton. When their front seven aren't harassing quarterbacks, they are holding opponents to a regular season-best 3.4 yards per rush. But this week they face the ultimate test: the best offensive line in football.

    Perhaps you've heard of the Broncos' line. Left tackle Matt Lepsis, left guard Ben Hamilton, center Tom Nalen, right guard Cooper Carlisle, right tackle George Foster. The current starting five came together in 2004, when Foster won a starting job in camp and Carlisle replaced Dan Neil. But this line is a direct descendant of the one that blocked for Terrell Davis and John Elway. Nalen is a holdover from the Super Bowl era, Lepsis was a backup on the 1998 team, and the others took over starting jobs through the years in a smooth, gradual transition. If ever there was a match for the Steelers' front seven, this is it.

    The Broncos linemen are smart, athletic, and very experienced. They love to run block, and they are masters of creating running lanes by trapping and cut-blocking defenders. Steelers linebacker Joey Porter didn't like the intellectual challenge of playing the Colts last week. Joey, if you are reading, get ready for some straight-ahead football. (You can read, of course, to Porter, but you can't make him think.)

    So the Steelers can't count on another five-sack day. They'll slow Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell, but they won't stop them. Offensively, they won't benefit from any easy turnovers and will have to sustain drives. They'll need more than 2.7 yards per carry from Willie Parker and Jerome Bettis, but the Broncos' run defense is also pretty stingy.

    The equalizer for the Steelers will have to be Big Ben, the most poised, polished second-year quarterback to step onto the field since John Elway was a sophomore. As great as the defense has been in the playoffs, the Steelers have won because Roethlisberger had the chance to throw the ball early (if not often). He threw for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the first half against the Bengals to keep the game close. Two first quarter touchdowns against the Colts made life easier for the defense. Some people call Roethlisberger a "game manager" because his raw stat totals aren't great. Watch carefully. He's a playmaker whose stats are low because he hands off a lot when the Steelers have the lead. He can win games with his arm.

    Unfortunately, Big Ben and the defense won't be enough this week. The Broncos' secondary will contain Hines Ward and shut down the other Steelers receivers. The Steelers will struggle to run the football. Offensively, the Broncos will do enough. And while Steelers kicker Jeff Reed has been as good or better than Broncos kicker Jason Elam this year, which one would you rather have on the field with the game on the line? Put your hand down, Tony Dungy.

    Two tough teams, two solid organizations, two excellent and long-tenured coaches. There are no easy answers in the AFC. But at Football Outsiders, we took a lot of heat when we listed the Broncos ahead of the undefeated Colts in the power rankings in midseason. Even we were wary of our calculations. It turns out that we may have known what we were talking about.
    Last edited by Medford Bronco; 01-18-2006, 01:43 PM. Reason: Change in Title to get responses
    NHL Blog at:NHL Blog by Medford Bronco!

  • #2
    But at Football Outsiders, we took a lot of heat when we listed the Broncos ahead of the undefeated Colts in the power rankings in midseason. Even we were wary of our calculations. It turns out that we may have known what we were talking about.
    Hey FOX, don't go patting yourselves on the back to hard now. If you remember, as soon as Denver lost their 3rd game, you stuck the Colts right back on top. Where are the Colts these days


    • #3
      "Put your hand down, Tony Dungy."


      TRAINING CAMP 2005

      I met the surgeon general - he offered me a cigarette.
      - Rodney Dangerfield