Super Bowl Prediction If you look at off-the-field warning signs, everything is pointing toward a Seattle victory. Pittsburgh, which has gotten by as an underdog in its past two games, is now a favorite. Bill Cowher, who has been refreshingly low-key during the team’s three-game winning streak, is showing signs of the overcoaching that has doomed the team in the past. He’s gone with white jerseys as the home team (remember that he went with black jerseys in Super Bowl XXX as the home team, and that game wasn’t in Pittsburgh either) and has been protective of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And linebacker Joey Porter, who kept relatively quiet on Media Day, has gone off the deep end since Seattle’s Jerramy Stevens essentially said the Seahawks would win by declaring that Jerome Bettis would leave Ford Field without a trophy. So does Pittsburgh, which has played incredibly loose for a Cowher-led team, come out tight? Don’t bet on it. The Steelers realize how privileged they are to be in the Super Bowl. Roethlisberger is playing the best football of his career. And Porter is one of those athletes whose mouthing off seems to motivate himself more than the opposition. Every good defense needs one player who seems at least a little crazy. So Pittsburgh will be ready. The matchups favor a high-scoring game. Pittsburgh will face an undersized Seattle defense that has great speed but could be handled by the Steelers’ powerful offensive line. Likewise, Seattle’s offensive front and strong running game can neutralize the Pittsburgh blitz. And if Troy Polamalu's ankle injury limits his speed and movement, the Steelers defense can be had.
The stories this week have focused on Bettis, likely playing the last game of his career in (all together now) his hometown, but I say keep an eye on the other Pittsburgh running back, Willie Parker. If his linemen can give him the holes, Parker will show the speed that made him a 1,000-yard back, and that will open up the field for Roethlisberger. While Pittsburgh has passed early to set up the run in their previous three games, I look for them to try to overpower Seattle early and keep Matt Hasselbeck and Shaun Alexander off the field with their running game. I also expect them to let off the blitz early to feel out the Seahawks’ running game, because the West Coast offense that Seattle runs was built during an era of 3-4 defenses who used rushing linebackers like the Steelers do. It comes down to the fourth quarter, and the strength of the Steelers offense prevails in a close, terrific game. Steelers 27, Seahawks 24