USA Today Sports/Jason Bridge photo
Now that the actual Super Bowl is over, we have some head-to-head data to look at. So while this is still pure speculation, we have a bit more meat to base any conclusions upon. (If you’re wondering what conclusions I’m talking about, Part 1 focused on the quarterbacks, Part 2a and Part 2b on the offense in general.)
As we look at what actually transpired last Sunday, the phrase “Defense Wins Championships” certainly comes to mind, but perhaps more strikingly than has been evident for quite some time. For one thing, when is the last time a defensive player was the Super Bowl MVP?
I asked myself this question, and it turns out the answer is, “not all that long ago.” Malcolm Smith of the Seahawks was the MVP two years ago. But in the last 20 Super Bowls a defensive player has only been the MVP two other times—Ray Lewis was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV and Dexter Jackson of Tampa Bay was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII. All Steelers Super Bowl MVPs were offensive players: Terry Bradshaw twice, Lynn Swann and Franco Harris once each, and Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes in the 21st century.
AP Photo/Jack Dempsey
The last time the Steelers played the Broncos seems like a very long time ago, but it has actually only been about a month. Despite the fact the Broncos were playing with their back-up quarterback, Brock Osweiler, at Heinz Field, many had this down on their calendars as a Steelers loss. The main reason for this was the more-than-adequate offense coupled with a ferocious defense.
The rematch is, of course, in Denver. It features a Broncos team at close to full strength, Peyton Manning back under center, and a whole lot of question marks on the Steelers’ side. As Mark Kaboly of the Tribune-Review tweeted:
I’m guessing that if any of us had known this on September 8th, the day after Fitzgerald Toussaint was signed to the Steelers’ practice squad, we would have been completely shocked to discover it was a second playoff game in which this scenario might take place. And it doesn’t look very good when you lay it out that way.
So despite the come-from-behind win over the Broncos in December it is hardly surprising Denver is favored by a touchdown. In fact, the surprising thing is that they aren’t favored by more. Yet. Should it become evident that Antonio Brown can’t play, I’m guessing that will go up. [UPDATE: Antonio Brown has been ruled out.]. And if it looks as if Ben Roethlisberger can’t play, I’m guessing you will hardly be able to find anyone who is taking the Steelers.
Which is just how our guys like it. They like to be the underdogs—to be overlooked. So there’s that. But I haven’t got a lot of good news otherwise.
via Denver Post/ Steve Nehf
Another Sunday, another ferocious defense. I hope Capt. Villanueva, The Big Ragu, Dr. Wallace, David DeCatastrophe, and Marcus Gilbert (pronounced “Jeel-ber”) have been eating their Wheaties or whatever their breakfast of champions may be, because there are some nasty pass-rushers on the Broncos.
But before I get into too many more details, there’s something we all need to see, in honor of both the game and the holiday season, from St. Myron of Cope:
If that doesn’t warm the cockles of your heart, you’d better order in a new supply of cockles, folks. Read more