NFL Predictions: Super Bowl XL

We have come to the end of another NFL season, and what a good one it was. We saw the Colts go 13-0 before suffering their first loss on their way to a 14-2 season and home field advantage in the playoffs. Everyone thought they were the team to beat. They were lead by their grieving coach Tony Dungy and quarterback Payton Manning who looked as good as ever. But it was not meant to be, as they fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second round of the playoffs.

New England too did not make it as far as they would have hoped this season, but the story of the year for the Pats was the improbable return of Tedy Bruschi. Just ten days after leading the Patriots to their third Super Bowl title in four years Bruschi suffered a stroke at the age of 31. Most thought his playing days were over but just eight months after the incident Bruschi was back on the field leading the Patriots. In just nine games this season he tallied 61 tackles including 2 sacks.

In the NFC the Seattle Seahawks were the cream of the crop all season. Lead by often-overlooked running back Shaun Alexander, the Seahawks stormed through the playoffs to secure a spot in the super bowl. Alexander rushed for an incredible 1,880 yards this season on 370 carriers and a record 27 touchdowns. He was rewarded for his stellar season by being named league MVP.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL (40). After a tumultuous season the Steelers turned up the heat in the playoffs, becoming only the second team in history to make the Super Bowl as a #6 seed, and the first team in history to defeat the #1, #2, and #3 seeds along the way. And if that does not seem incredible enough, all of their playoff victories came on the road.

The Steelers’ tenacity on defense, along with their remarkable road play makes them four point favorites over the #1 seeded Seahawks going into Sunday’s game.

The Steelers and the Seahawks both have very proficient quarterbacks in Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Hasselbeck, respectively. They have almost identical passer ratings and both do a very good job of leading their teams. But neither one is the focus of the offense. Both teams love to run the ball. The Seahawks have ridden Alexander all year long and you can expect that to continue on Sunday. The Steelers have a two-headed monster in Willie Parker and the ageless Jerome “The Bus” Bettis.

This game pits two good offensive teams against each other, but defense is what will decide the game. The Steelers are known for playing bruising defense but the Seahawks unit is very good as well. These teams possess fierce front sevens that are backed up by opportunistic defensive backs. Look for both teams to cause a lot of turnovers, and the team that can capitalize on these turnovers will have a significant advantage.

The Steelers are on a roll and have a lot of momentum going into the Super Bowl. The Seahawks are coming off a couple of huge wins and looked poised to cap of their stellar season. The Steelers’ defense will thrive on the pressure and force Matt Hasselbeck into making too many mistakes. Look for them to score just enough to get head coach Bill Cowher a much-deserved Super Bowl ring. Final Score: 17-13

Overall Season Record: 88-42