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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Steeler Eyes Are Smiling

Terrell Owens is on the shelf for the year, so Philly is screwed. The NFC will not be breaking its Super Bowl losing streak this season, regardless of whether the Eagles can break through. Thank God we at least will be spared the sight of Andy Reid in tights.

Now, the Patriots just blew a game in the closing minutes for the first time in ages, and really, they aren't winning a championship if they have Earthwind Moreland and Troy Brown trying to make big plays in pass coverage late in games.

The Pats learned this weekend that Tyrone Poole is gone for the season. They desperately need Ty Law back, and how well his broken foot heals may well determine the outcome of the season. I still think they get the bye since they own the tie-breaker over Indy thanks to the opening game, and the Chargers are probably losing at Indy this weekend. Thus the Patriots can lose to the Jets, beat the hapless Niners, and get a bye at 13-3 if that's how it goes. We lasted just under two years without a divisional loss, too bad that's over.

But hey, maybe losing could help scare people a little bit and get them re-focused, who knows.

I'd rather not just rely on Peyton Manning choking in January, since he's better this year, and the Pats' D is looking worse right now. Maybe we'll get a blizzard and things will turn out OK (I have the Colts as the #3 seed, sorry Chargers). Hell, the Colts still had a shot in the 4th quarter of last year's AFC Championship, in spite of the 4 INTs from Manning.

All of this adds up to good news for Pittsburgh. The only way the Steelers can lose the top seed now is by losing both of their games (Baltimore and at Buffalo, neither of which is a gimme) and having the Pats win both of theirs. That's likely not happening, and if Pittsburgh wraps up home field by beating the Ravens Sunday, look for them to rest guys the following Sunday against the Bills. Since Buffalo will still have a shot at playoffs then, this gives them an edge at sneaking into that last wild-card slot.

I love thinking through how all these scenarios cascade down with so many potential consequences (and let's not even get into the NFC playoff picture, sweet Jesus). Even though there's no way that #6 AFC seed is going to the Super Bowl, the fight to get in is just as enjoyable as the playoffs.