"The Deep" - NFL version
- ***** Both the Pats and Steelers are missing some starters this weekend. The biggest difference I see is that the Pats have been playing successfully, demonstrating their well know depth, for much of the season; while the Steelers have to fill two critical spots that just opened last week.***** For the World Champions, the absense of their best WR, Deion Branch, and reliable 3rd down veteran, Troy Brown, has limited their offense. But, thanks to the outstanding play of the Davids - Givens and Patten, plus that strange phenomenon known as a "running game" contributed by Corey Dillon, the offense is far from disabled. Daniel "One Drop" Graham continues to drop one pass per game, but makes up for it with 3 or 4 good to great catches, usually one for a TD.***** On the other side of the ball, the loss of veteran CB Tyrone Poole may even be an upgrade, as Asante Samuel is growing with every game, and "surprise" of the year, Randall Gay, fills in at nickel back, and even at FS for the slumping Wilson.***** Meanwhile, the Steelers face the challenge of filling two huge holes at NT and CB with inexperienced players against that very versatile, very experienced Patriots offense. The key to this game could well be the performance of the subs for Casey Hampton and Chad Scott at those two positions. It would seem that both Dillon's power running, and Brady's pinpoint passing will be aided by a fall off at those two positions. The Steelers are also missing veterans at LB (Kendrell Bell) and S (Mike Logan). So their defense is facing the prospect of a very long evening.***** The raucous Heinz Field crowd will bring some help the Steelers at kickoff. But, if the Patriots are able to jump to their usual early lead, and drop the Terrible Towels into the laps of the fans, this game could become surprisingly one-sided. My earlier prediction, made before I was aware of the losses of Hampton and Scott, was 20-16. Those two holes in the Steelers defense convince me that it will be easier than that for consecutive Patriots victory number 22. I see it as Patriots 34 - Steelers 13.George
** Belichick IS NFL Coach of the Year! **
** & The Patriots dynasty has begun! **
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