Sun Jan 11 16:50:00 PST 2009
3 Underdogs and the Steelers
Jim Blogs on the NFL conference championship matchups.
The road to the Super Bowl runs through Pittsburgh.
Former Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips said that more than 30 years ago, but it is still true today.
And if you're a Steeler fan, you have to like your chances of adding a 6th Vince Lombardi Trophy to Black and Gold's collection
Sunday the Steelers bucked the upset trend of the Divisional Playoff weekend by taking care of the San Diego Chargers in convincing fashion. Ben Roethlisberger answered all questions about his health with pinpoint accuracy with his passes and good decision making in the pocket.
So the stage is set for next weekend's conference finals. The Steelers head up a field that has a definite avian theme to it with the Ravens, Eagles and Cardinals.
AFC: Steelers vs. Baltimore
The AFC North division rival Steelers and Ravens will meet for the third third time this season. The Steelers have beaten the Ravens twice already this year with an average margin of victory over 3 and a half points.
I don't think the outcome of the third game will be any different...except maybe for the margin of victory. Both teams have outstanding defenses. But I think a Ben Roethlisberger and the weapons he has at his disposal, are much more likely to put points on the board than a Joe Flacco lead Ravens offense.
The Steelers have have the home field advantage and are rested and reasonably healthy. The Ravens haven't had any time off since the middle of September, and their adrenaline tank has to be running out
The pick: Pittsburgh wins it 17-3
NFC: Cardinals vs. Eagles
You can't root for the underdog in this one, because both of them are underdogs. They both came in with the worst records in the playoff field, but they've gotten hot when it counts
Until the Raiders recent slide, the Cardinals franchise used to be the biggest joke in the NFL. But the quarterback Kurt Warner is still capable of flinging it, and he has some of the best receivers in the NFL who are a threat to score every time they get it. And former all pro running back Edgerrin James has shown lately that he still has something left in the tank.
The Eagles, shouldn't even be in the playoffs, but some teams coughed up their playoff chances on the final Sunday of the season. and the Eagles said thank you very much.
The new life rejuvenated the Eagles, Donovan McNabb, passed for 300 yards in Philly's playoff opener against Minnesota. Then he passed for one touchdown and ran for another to lead the Eagles to a 23-11 upset victory over the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in the Divisional Playoffs.
The NFC Championship is a match up of a Cardinals team that has never been this far before against a Philadelphia team that is looking for redemption after coming up short in the Super Bowl 3 times in the last decade.
The pick: Eagles win it 31-17
So its an all Keystone State Clash in Super Bowl 43 in Tampa.