That was a fine Sunday of football, if you didn't have a rooting interest and are talking strictly about the game played at a high level by four very good teams.
I don't have a rooting interest, so I was free to watch "Championship Sunday" objectively and came away believing that the two teams that were clearly the best won the NFC and AFC title contests. Neither Green Bay nor Pittsburgh ever trailed in their respective championship games, and both of them earned the right to play in the Super Bowl Feb.6 in Texas -- Green Bay beating Chicago 21-14, and Pittsburgh holding off the Jets, 24-19, after nearly losing all of a 24-0 lead.
My pick for the 45th Super Bowl? Pittsburgh, 20-16.
I think the teams are close to even, but to me the Steelers' version of the blitz-happy, in-your-face, 3-4 defense is slightly better than the Packers' version of the same thing.
And despite how well Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers has been playing throughout most of these playoffs, there's not much sense in picking against Big Ben Roethlisberger in big games.
Big Ben's stats were thoroughly unimpressive Sunday (only 10 completions and two interceptions) but he still made the biggest play of that game with the third-and-6 rollout completion late that kept the Jets, trailing by only five, from getting the ball one last time.
If it turns out the other way, I'll be happy for Dom Capers. The Panthers' first coach is now Green Bay's defensive coordinator and has done a terrific job there. Would be glad to see him get the ring, for Capers is a great guy.
But I think the Steelers (6-for-7 in previous Super Bowl appearances) will win the big game for the third time in Roethlisberger's tenure as starting QB. You can understand why Panthers owner Jerry Richardson says he tries hard to model his franchise after the one the Rooneys run in Pittsburgh -- although the Panthers have been nothing more than a pale imitation of the Steelers for the past couple of years -- because the Steelers have done it the right way for a long, long time.
Incidentally, the ticket scalpers have to be really happy about this one. Pittsburgh and Green Bay are two of the NFL's most storied franchises and boast incredibly rabid fan bases. Even in this economy, I can't imagine the markup the seats in Texas are going to get.
6 months ago