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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Three Bad Reasons To Bet On The Steelers (Or, Pick Like A Champion Today)

I still stand by my pick that the Seahawks will win SBXL today, but the Steelers have unquestionably been the popular pick over the last two weeks, and a conversation I recently had confirmed this. Some of these picks are based on good football reasoning. These are good reasons to bet on the Steelers. However, (while I will not break down blitz packages or anything) I will give you... Three bad reasons to bet on the Steelers.

1. The Seahawks had the easiest schedule in the NFL this year.

My friend Z pointed out to me that the Seahawks were not as strong as they appeared, since they played in a weak division and stacked their record against a bunch of cupcakes. I don't really see how this is a knock against the 'Hawks. They don't control who they play; the NFL gives them opponents and they play the games. And it wasn't as though Seattle barely made it into the playoffs; they were the top seed in the NFC, proud owners of the second-best record in football. Good teams win the games against the weak opponents, which is exactly what the Seahawks did. How did they do against good teams? Well, they beat the Colts (best record in the regular season), they lost to the Redskins (in overtime, and then they avenged that loss in the playoffs), and they lost to the Jaguars (in week 1).

The point is this - you don't get to the Super Bowl without being a good team. If you made it this far, you have a chance to beat one more team.

2. Pittsburgh is a blue-collar city; Seattle is drowning in rain and lattes.

I think people see the Steelers as a hard-nosed, tough-to-beat football team because they are from a blue-collar city, they have a hard-ass team name, they have a running back nicknamed "The Bus," and they have classic uniforms that have changed little, if at all, since the 1970s. Meanwhile, the Seahawks have a balding quarterback, play in a city known for tech nerds, coffee, and rain, and have uniforms that look like the Blue Man Group.

Witness:However, this has absolutely nothing to do with what happens on the football field. Cleveland and Detroit? Also blue-collar cities. And their football teams suck!


3. You know more about the Steelers than you do about the Seahawks.

Yes, East Coast Bias exists. If it's in Eastern Standard Time, a team will receive more coverage than its counterpart in Pacific Standard Time. Therefore, the public (and media) generally know more about the Steelers than the Seahawks, and they feel more comfortable going with what they know.

Why does East Coast Bias exist? Here's my theory, based on my experiences at ESPN. When you watch the late SportsCenter (or ESPNews), it's the same show, over and over, until about noon the next day. They record it and then go home for the night. So when a game in, say, Pittsburgh ends at about 10 p.m. EST, there's time to put together a good highlight package, maybe throw in an instant analysis from Sean Salisbury, whatever, before the final product is aired, recorded, and looped. However, when a game in Seattle ends at 1 a.m. EST, everyone wants to get out of the studio ASAP, so they put together the highlights as the game is going on (you'll sometimes notice that a West Coast game's highlights are heavier on plays early in the game). Then, once the highlight package is complete, the talent will record the segment quickly and bust it out of there. No analysis. Sean Salisbury is already home or at the bar. So the West Coast highlights get the short end of the stick.

Now, admittedly, this applies more to hockey, baseball, and basketball, since there are more night games in these sports. But on the other hand, NFL Prime Time replays after the Sunday Night Football game ends - without the highlights from the Sunday Night Football game. So you can see my point. Don't fear the unknown, just because you've heard more about Troy Polamalu's hair than you have about the man with the coolest name in football, Mack Strong.

Anyway, with these caveats in mind, go ahead and take the Steelers if you want. But don't take them for stupid reasons such as "I like that Ben Roethlisberger - he's just like me!"Pick like a champion today.

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