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May 12, 2006 |

By Dustin Rowles | | May 12, 2006 |

The publisher of Pajiba asked me to make a brief introduction before starting this once-in-a-lifetime article. Although I have never before acquiesced to substantive editorial suggestions, I am willing to make an exception here for reasons that are discussed below, namely, the one-shot nature of this column and the rather large paycheck that I am receiving as a result of this one-shot column.

So first, the publisher wanted me to assure the readers that this article — which is a Super Bowl prediction column by the way — is not any indication that the site intends to begin covering sports. Apparently, many of the regular Pajiba readers are of a particularized mindset and the publisher worried that this article would be “flamed” if the readers thought Pajiba was going to be regularly mixing sports into its coverage of movies and television. Well, to those of you who would be irked by the inclusion of a sports article on this site, I say unto thee: Go Fuck Yourselves. Sports are more important to the daily fabric of life than any television show or movie could ever be, and if you are not an avid fan and follower of all things football, you should barely count yourself as an American (unless you’re a hot broad — then you’re welcome to stay in my country any time).

Now that being said, the publisher also wanted me to explain the reason for the inclusion of this article on the site. I guess Pajiba has recently expanded into the coverage of television, and since the Super Bowl is the single largest and most watched thing on television, I guess it made sense to them to include some Super Bowl coverage. As to why the publisher did not have any of Pajiba’s regular writers tell you about the Super Bowl? Because I’m the best, baby!

Which brings me to the last thing the publisher wanted me to mention — me. Simply put, my name is Ron Gold, and I am the best sports prognosticator in the game. This is the first time I have actually published a public column in a forum like this because I generally provide my football thoughts to a selective group of individuals who pay an extreme premium for my knowledge and insight. The publisher of Pajiba is among the chosen few and is therefore familiar with my work, and he was amazed by my record for the past season — an unheard-of-in-the-modern-era 87 percent accuracy, which makes me akin to a golden god. Anyway, long story short, the publisher and I agreed to a mutually beneficial arrangement, and as a result, you Pajiba readers are the extremely fortunate beneficiaries of the rarest of rare privileges — free football insight from Ron Gold.

Ok, Pajiba publisher, I have addressed your introductory crap, so if you do not mind, I am going to get down to some damn football already.

As I should hope you know, this weekend gives us a face-off between the Pittsburgh Steelers, who some call a team of destiny, and the Seattle Seahawks, who some call a team from Seattle. For the Steelers, this is the first time that a six-seed has hiked all the way to the Super Bowl, plowing through the one, two, and three seeds in the process. (Hey Peyton, how’s that bowl of homemade chili coming?) Meanwhile, for the Seahawks, this is the first time that the franchise has even been to the Super Bowl, although Coach Walrus McStachy is no stranger to the big game. In the unbearable gap between Conference Championship games and the upcoming event, between these stories and a handful of others, you’ve had more garbage stuffed down your throat than that night at Mardi Gras a couple of years ago (you remember the one, you hussy — I was number 17). You’ve heard about the “unprecedented” move by the Steelers to wear their road whites instead of the black and gold home uniforms. You’ve heard about the end of Jerome Bettis’ career and his Detroit homecoming. You’ve heard about the Texas A&M stink over the 12th Man. You’ve heard a lot of rambling. But here’s something you haven’t heard — the genius of Ron Gold.

It should not be any great secret that the key to this game will be the ground game. This extra-large Super Bowl is all about smash-mouth football. Right?

Maybe not. Sure, league MVP Shaun Alexander has had an absolutely stud-tastic season, running all over everybody like a meth-head fleeing an about-to-explode trailer. Last week, he was only seven days removed from being concussed, and facing an up-till-then decent Carolina D, and the man still managed to throw up 130-odd yards. Now he is three weeks removed from that concussion, playing in the Super Bowl and, perhaps most importantly of all, playing for a payday contract (remember, he’s an unrestricted free agent after this season and, per his pre-season agreement with Seattle, he will not be getting slapped with the franchise tag). But the thing is, while the Seahawks had one of the top rushing offenses all season, Pittsburgh had itself one of the top rushing defenses all season. And more importantly in my mind, the Pittsburgh D is a tougher group of sons of bitches than Seattle has faced in its playoff run so far. While Shaun-Shaun will probably find his way into the end zone at some point during the game, don’t be surprised if he is kept under the century mark on yards, placing the burden of winning on Seattle’s air game, which I’ll discuss in a minute.

Before we get to passing games, let’s take a look at Pittsburgh’s running game, brought to you by Willie Parker and The Bus. Obviously, everyone expects Bettis to be like a Greyhound, while the Seattle fans hope he is more like the short bus (drooling and confused). But really, Pittsburgh’s running game will be more about Parker. They’ll use the Bus in end-zone situations, and to try to tire the Seattle D, but the key to their running game is Parker being able to get outside and turn the corners. Early in the game, he won’t see none of that. If Pittsburgh can take a strong lead, or keep the game close, expect to see them use the Bus as much as they can to tire the Seattle D down. And I don’t see the Steelers getting blown out, so they’ll have an opportunity to play the wear-down game. And while Parker may not have any great game, he’ll bust a big one at some point in the second half, taking advantage of a tired D.

All said, I would say the running games are pretty much a draw. Seattle has the better running game, but that’s tempered by Pittsburgh having the better run defense. Which means we have to look at the other half of the equation.

Seattle’s air play is captained by Matt Hasselbeck, who seems to have finally gotten a solid foothold on this whole West Coast Offense thing that Coach Walrus McStachy likes so much. Of course, the success or failure of Hasselbeck’s game is largely dictated by his receivers. Darrell Jackson is fighting a sore knee, but looks like he’ll be fine come game time. Ditto for Bobby Engram (hip, not knee). These guys are both solid, and I expect their injuries won’t hamper them too much.

But Seattle also has Joe Jurevicius. Now personally, I can’t stand Mr. Jurevicius — a source told me that little Joe once belittled me for derogatory statements I made about little Joe’s receiving capabilities when he was with Tampa, and I don’t easily forgive. But when needed, he has stepped up this season, and he’ll be a viable threat if Seattle has to look his way. But the bigger threat will probably be Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens. He’s a threat on the English language for the ridiculous way his first name is spelled, and he’s a threat on the Pittsburgh D because Seattle hasn’t actually used him much in their previous playoff games, so they may be able to fold him into the offensive scheme in some ways that take Pittsburgh by surprise. I would expect him to get several look-sees from Hasselbeck. None of this is to say that the Steelers defense is easy to throw on, ‘cause it ain’t. But being forced to focus on Shaun-Shaun, I just don’t see anyway that they can consistently contain the Seattle air game, team of destiny or no team of destiny.

But let’s not forget that Pittsburgh has got a little air of its own. The strongest statistic about them is that Big Ben is a retarded 14-1 in road games. And this year’s one-two-three seed march has shown that he can play in the big game. So he’ll clearly be looking for Hines Ward all day. Of course, Seattle was able to shut the shit down out of Steve Smith when they played Carolina, so they will likely be able to shut Ward down, right? Probably not nearly as successfully. Remember, Carolina’s run game was as potent as David Gest, considering they were on their fourth-string back for most of the game, which allowed Seattle to divert its attention to the pass. Here, there is some run to worry about, and they need to worry about the outside (Parker) as well as the inside (Bettis). So the Seattle defense is going to find itself stretched and Hines Ward is going to get the upper hand. And expect rookie tight end Heath Miller to show his stuff too.

While the passing games look more or less evenly matched, I would actually give the edge to Seattle. Except for one other thing. The talking heads love to say that turnovers are a key element of the game (the sharpest of insights as always, fellas!). Here, both offenses have been relatively good at keeping the ball. But I think that Pittsburgh’s D is going to step it up and make one or two key turnovers that are going to impotize the Seattle offense just enough to help give Pittsburgh that edge it needs.

And I don’t give a shit if “impotize” is not a word — it sounds good, and you knew exactly what I meant.

Now, truth be told, all of the above analysis is crap. There’s only two things to look at. First, Seattle is a choke team. Always have been, always will be. The fact that they haven’t choked in this playoff run, yet, simply means they’re setting up for a grander scale of choke than they are previously accustomed to. But second, and more importantly, look at how these teams got to Detroit. Pittsburgh marched through Cincinnati, Indianapolis (seriously Peyton, where’s my fucking bowl of chili?), and Denver. Seattle sat at home and faced off against a Redskins team that was, quite frankly, overachieving, and a Panthers team that had been utterly schizophrenic all season and turned out to be a one trick (Steve Smith) show. There’s a reason Pittsburgh opened as a 3.5-point favorite, and a reason that the spread has moved a half-point up since then — everyone knows Pittsburgh is going to win, and as much as I would love to tell you that everyone is wrong, they’re not. Factor in the fact that Seattle may be without their Twelfth Man, thanks to Texas A&M’s attempt at an injunction, and it’s just a no-brainer that Pittsburgh (-4) is the bet to make. The Steelers will have opened things up by at least seven come 0:00.

Ron Gold doth declare it so, motherfuckers.

Ron Gold is a Pajiba guest prognosticator.

Super Bowl XL / Ron Gold

May 12, 2006 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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