January 22, 2005

Of Snow Flurries, Ted Kennedy, Teased Unders and the Final Four

by CHRIS LYNCH , American Digest Sports Editor

It's down to the final four. Just two more games until we have a Super Bowl Champion.
I'm so excited
and I just can't hide it.
I'm about to lose control
and I think I like it.

Atlanta at Philadelphia

The line opened with the Eagles giving 5 points. It went to 5.5 mid-week and it is now at Eagles giving 6.

When I first saw the line I thought the Falcons were the pick. I'm a big believer in sticking with first impressions but here I'm going to make an exception. Let me explain my thinking.

Both teams have excellent defenses. They're about equal as far as I'm concerned.

Both teams have MVP-caliber quarterbacks but here I was giving the edge to Atlanta. Face it -- if the draft was tomorrow Michael Vick gets picked ahead of Donovan McNabb.

My last impression of Vick was of him looking great against the Rams. But that was against the Rams and it was inside at the Georgia Dome. Tomorrow's game is outside against the much tougher Iggle defense. Being against the Eagle D is key but playing outside is keyer (Hey - just trying to add a word to the lexicon).

It will be cold. The ground will be frozen and slick and there may even be some snow flurries remaining from today's big storm. At the very least the wind will whip snow from the stands and sidelines onto the field. These kinds of conditions do not favor the quick-muscle twitch QB's. These conditions are perfect for bottling up the lightning in a bottle Michael Vick. These conditions are much better for the home town Donovan McNabb.

With Vick neutralized - what do the Falcons have left? Nothing. Thus the change of heart.

Take the Eagles and give the six points.

New England at Pittsburgh

The line for this game has the visiting Patriots giving the 16-1 Steelers 3 points. Incredible.

This game is being touted as the "game of the year" and one of the "all-time great matchups". All the angles on this game are being examined. Except for the two angles I really want to hear about.

I'm from Massachusetts and I want to read about how my Senators feel about this game.

First Ted Kennedy. Since this guy couldn't pronounce "Barack Obama" - somebody has to stick a microphone in his face and ask him to pronounce "Ben Roethlisberger" or "Troy Polamalu." Kennedy couldn't even handle "Sammy Sosa" (Sammy Soooo-zah). I'd chip in $50 to make this happen. Secondly, Mary Jo Kopechne was from Pennsylvania and many people there still haven't forgotten. Senator - are you attending the game?

Then we have John Kerry who is married to Teresa Heinz-Kerry. Did I mention that Heinz Field is named after the Heinz family? The burning question here is, will Teresa let John into the family box only if he roots for the Steelers?

Oh, yes, football....

The teams are very evenly matched. The defenses are about equal. The running games for both teams are about equal. The Patriots have the clear edge at QB but that could be cancelled out by the Steelers home field advantage and the crowd factor. That leaves two decisive factors.

First - head coach. With a win Bill Belichick ties Vince Lombardi for the best playoff record in history. On the other hand - Bill Cowher is trying to avoid being labeled as a coach who can't handle the pressure of the big game. Ask yourself - if you could choose a head coach for your team - do you take Cowher or Belichick? Advantage Patriots.

Secondly - with good defenses come red zone stops and field goal attempts. Both teams have good defenses - so I expect about 6-10 field goal attempts for the game and who has the best bad weather field goal kicker in NFL history? Adam Vinatieri will most likely be the difference in this game. Big advantage for the Patriots.

One last observation about the game. I can't tell you how lame I think the "Terrible Towels" are. What's terrible about a towel? I see all those Pittsburgh fans waving those yellow towels and I don't think "what great fans" - I think "look at the lemmings".

Take the Patriots and give the 3 points.

Bonus Pick

The over for the Atlanta/Philly game is 37 and the over for the Patriots/Steelers game is 35. These are low numbers but given the weather conditions and the quality defenses involved. The under may be a good choice.

Now I know that one of the 10 Commandments of betting football is "Thou Shall Not Tease" but I'm recommending you tease the unders for both games. The extra six points bumps the unders up to 43 and 41 respectively and I think that's enough buffer for the teased unders to come in.

Make it so.

AMERICAN DIGEST SPORTS EDITOR Chris Lynch serves his own brew daily at A Large Regular , and contributes to SportsPages.com. Lynch can be reached at chris.lynch@gmail.com

Posted by Vanderleun at January 22, 2005 8:18 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Y'know, I can't argue with any of that.

I'd like to see the Steelers win, but that won't happen. This isn't their year.

Posted by: P.A. Breault at January 22, 2005 9:38 AM

Snow slows down Vick?

Tell that to the Packers.

Posted by: Harvey at January 22, 2005 10:30 AM

Harvey - the Falcons didn't play the Packers this year so I'm not sure what you're talking about.

The Packers lost to the Vikings in the playoffs but it was Farve's mistakes that really did them in that game.

Posted by: chris at January 22, 2005 11:09 AM

Atlanta has much more than Vick, with a fantastic defense that's gotten better as the games get bigger and every kind of running threat that exists. If Vick can't scramble, you can't get to him fast, and he can throw the living shit out of that ball from the pocket. Whatever the conditions, he's still Superman and no one else on the field is. And he did smoke the Pack in the snow last year in Lambeau during the playoffs, 27-7. Beware of southerners in cold-weather games, remember Ricky Williams the first time he saw snow in person? 228 yards, two touchdowns.

Pittsburgh is better than you think, or remember from the earlier matchup. New England didn't get the job done with Seymour and Law and could easily be beaten without them. Ball control and great defense often beats everything else, as Lombardi, Gibbs, Parcells, and even Brian Billick can tell you, and while the Patsies have it too, the Steelers are even more intense and inspired on defense.

Plus I'm starting to hate the Pats, they are the new Yankees. Literally. I can't stand another year of Bruschi, Vrabel and their homeless coach (can they not get some decent clothes on the man, or at least something waterproof?) glopping up the airwaves with their irregularly shaped heads. Tom Brady may be a cool cat but I think there's some savant behavior going on there. He needs to lose the Jake Plummer look before he starts playing like the Snake.

Finally, those towels were pretty damn terrible in the '70s, and they have been powerful presences at some away games this year, and Heinz Field may afford more home field advantage than you expect. Don't dis the towel, you might live to regret it. . . . That said, logic dictates that you take the Pats and the points. I wouldn't, because I hate them, but it's logical. Go Steelers!

My dream is that the Steelers win the Super Bowl, the Cowboys get Phillip Rivers from the Chargers and get really good, and my childhood replays itself on the football field over the next decade or so. God willing.

Posted by: Uncle Mikey at January 23, 2005 7:51 AM

Well that was dumb. I meant to say take the Patsies and give the points, sorry, but either way I curse all of New England and especially Hobo Belichick. Someone slip that guy an Ecstasy, he needs to relax and smile like a human being more than he needs another Super Bowl ring.

Posted by: Uncle Mikey at January 23, 2005 8:57 AM

Uncle Mike - I too grew up with cordoroy Levi's and a Bradshaw # 12 jersey from Sears. Those days are gone. Time to move on.

Philly's D is every bit as good as Tampa Bay's and the Bucs shut out the Falcons. I used to think the same way you do about Belichick's wardrobe but not any more. It is part of his mystique. All he cares about is football. Let the other guy be the fashion statement.

Posted by: chris at January 23, 2005 9:08 AM

Actually, my favorite player was Jack Tatum of the Raiders, who hated Bradshaw, then Jack Ham of the Steelers, and I refuse to move on. Last year over Christmas I caught a replay of a Steeler/Cowboy Super Bowl and after watching it a while I realized there were more interesting people on those two teams, more men with distinct personalities, than there are in the whole league today, and for that matter the Raiders of the '70s had more personality than all of the major sport professional teams today put together.

I'm not at all sure Belichick is human, but he is a fine coach. Either way, you were right. Good picks.

Posted by: Uncle Mikey at January 24, 2005 8:36 AM

My favorite was Ted Hendricks. Can you picture any player being called "the mad stork" today?

Posted by: chris at January 24, 2005 10:54 AM