Your forum for the Super Bowl

This is the place for Super Bowl predictions, analysis, and trash talk between Packer and Steeler fans.

I’ll start: We’ve got two storied teams from blue-collar towns that are actually very much alike, especially when it comes to their awesome defenses. Therefore the Packers will smelt the Steelers! 17-14.

Anyone who predicts the correct score will win 15 minutes of fame on this blog.

Zone Blitz

The two coaches who together developed the zone blitz will coach against each other in the Super Bowl:

It has been nearly 20 years since Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau worked together on the coaching staff of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but their collaborative efforts so dramatically influenced the way the sport is played that the results will remain on vivid display during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

LeBeau and Capers teamed up to bring the zone blitz to the NFL, designing a tactic that the Steelers could use to confuse opposing quarterbacks and offensive linemen by keeping them guessing about which defenders would be rushing the passer and which would be dropping into pass coverage on any given play.

The two men will be on opposite sides Sunday, LeBeau as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator, Capers in the same role for the Green Bay Packers. Coming up with ever-more-creative variations of the zone blitz remains a key element in each coach’s successful defensive formula. . . .

The zone blitz is associated with a 3-4 defensive alignment – three linemen and four linebackers. A non-lineman – either a linebacker or a defensive back – rushes the quarterback, while a lineman drops into pass coverage.

“It used to be that you either got one or the other: You used to face either a zone coverage in the secondary or a blitz,” former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann said. “So you set up your pass routes accordingly.”. . .

“You don’t just see defensive ends dropping into coverage and outside linebackers blitzing,” Theismann said. “You see nose tackles dropping into coverage. You see safeties blitzing. To me, the area where football has undergone the most change is the complexity with which defensive coordinators bring pressure.”. . .

The Steelers and Packers surrendered the fewest points in the league this season, making a case for the continued importance of defense even in the highest-scoring NFL season in 45 years. The Steelers led the league in sacks, while the Packers were tied for second.

via Super Bowl: Packers’ Dom Capers, Steelers’ Dick LeBeau pioneered the zone blitz while on same Pittsburgh staff.

Packers and Steelers go to the Superbowl

Both of the division championship games were surprisingly alike.  One team absolutely dominated in the first half, but then in the second half the other team showed life and came within striking distance.  But the Packers from Green Bay, Wisconsin (pop. 100,353) defeated the Bears from Chicago, Illinois (pop. 2,896,016).  Also the Steelers from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (pop. 312,819), defeated the Jets from New York City, New York (pop. 8,214,426).

So it will be a small town Superbowl, a rust belt Superbowl.

I realize that people who live or have lived in Pittsburgh and in Pennsylvania generally will support the Steelers.

I urge everyone else to support the Packers.   Liberals should like them because they aren’t owned by some rich capitalist; rather, they are publicly owned.  Conservatives should like them because they represent small town America.  Let’s make this a campaign for national unity (except for Pittsburgh).

Packers/Bears; Steelers/Jets

The playoffs have gotten very interesting, especially for us Packer fans. Green Bay utterly destroyed top-seeded Atlanta. They never even had to punt! The Packers seem like a relentless machine. And now they will play their division arch-rivals the Chicago Bears, who defeated all of the ex-Packers in Seattle, with the prize a trip to the Super Bowl. Those teams both know each other very, very well. They split the two games they played this season, the last one being a must-win for the Packers to get into the playoffs. Next week’s contest should be a truly good game.

In the AFC, the volatile Jets beat the vaunted Patriots. The Steelers beat the Ravens, but they didn’t look as good as the Packers looked.

I welcome your analysis, projections, and predictions!

Sporting News

The weekend’s big loser in sports was conventional expectations. My Oklahoma Sooners, BCS #1 for one week, were beaten by Missouri. This makes three successive weeks that the #1 team has bitten the dust (Oklahoma meeting the fate of Alabama and Ohio State). I’m sure the Sooner defeat is my fault, through a mechanism I don’t fully understand, due to my puffing them up on my blog.

Of greater significance, The San Francisco Giants upset the seemingly sure-thing Philadelphia Phillies to make it to the World Series.

And in the one upset that gave me great pleasure, the Texas Rangers beat the Yankees to go to their first World Series ever. And you’ve got to like the Rangers on a personal level. When they won the pennant, they celebrated with ginger ale instead of champagne out of consideration for an alcoholic teammate, series MVP Josh Hamilton, whose Christian faith turned his life around.

Oklahoma Sooners are #1

So say the computers, as the first BCS rating, which averages in the human polls with statistics on strength of schedule and other number crunching, has anointed my alma mater’s football team #1!

Score an early round for Oklahoma.

And for computers.

The Sooners trail Oregon and Boise State in college football’s human-driven polls. But they posted higher computer ratings virtually across the board, and emerged Sunday atop the Bowl Championship Series’ first ratings of the season.

Oregon came in at No. 2 and Boise at No. 3, establishing an initial pecking order for berths in the BCS’ Jan. 10 national championship game in Glendale, Ariz. The top two teams at the end of the regular season advance.

Don’t discount Sunday’s outcome. Ten times in the BCS’ 12-year history, at least one of the first-week top two wound up in the title game.

via Oklahoma, Oregon occupy top two spots in first BCS standings – Campus Rivalry: College Football & Basketball News, Recruiting, Game Picks, and More – USATODAY.com.

But isn’t this reasonable? The human polls generally keep the previous week’s order, just bumping everybody up when a #1 team gets upset (as happened two weeks in a row, with Alabama and now Ohio State getting beat). Does anyone think Boise State, or even Oregon, has a tougher schedule than Oklahoma? Computers simply apply mathematics to the rankings and are thus bringing objective facts to bear. Isn’t that right? (I know, I know. I wouldn’t be saying that if Oklahoma got consigned a lower ranking because of the computers. But that’s because I’m not objective.)


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