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For anyone thinking about betting, note that I have taken the Steelers. If my personal betting history continues to go as it usually does, you might want to consider taking the Patriots.
 

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drc said:
For anyone thinking about betting, note that I have taken the Steelers. If my personal betting history continues to go as it usually does, you might want to consider taking the Patriots.
DRC: Thanks for the tip, I'll go with the Pats

This game is not gonna be a blowout I think it's going to be one smashmouth football won by a field goal just like the vegas spot.

Pats 21 Pittsburg 17
 

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GO STEELERS!!!!!!! anybody but those damn Pats :D
 

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AAlmeter said:
must conserve my credits for the war! coppertop, youre up next!
WHY???!!!??? I gave you credits to change IHTs name.......hey can you blame me for doing the same for him. I'm Switzerland.....nobody attacksthe Swiss. I actually, pretty much gave you both the same amount.........I gave him 6 more. LOL well I am interested to see what appears under my name :D

I guess I better start conserving my credits.....any donations to my cause would be appreciated. HELP!!!!!!
 

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I should have known never to trust the Rosenbergs.


So what youre saying is that you were the sole cause of this, since neither IHT nor I could have done this on our own.

Hmmmmmm.......Im on to you buddy




NOW GET BUSY RUING!!!!!!!

:r
 

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AAlmeter said:
I should have known never to trust the Rosenbergs.

So what youre saying is that you were the sole cause of this, since neither IHT nor I could have done this on our own.

Hmmmmmm.......Im on to you buddy

NOW GET BUSY RUING!!!!!!!

:r
Well I didn't expect you to turn that around on me......WELL DONE :BS

Well looks like you have all the ammo you need........fire away :gn
 

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coppertop said:
Well I didn't expect you to turn that around on me......WELL DONE :BS

Well looks like you have all the ammo you need........fire away :gn
Ill get back to you in a few weeks....or longer. Depends on how long it takes for a clever thought to get through my thick skull. I will be taking suggestions from one and all
 

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AAlmeter said:
Ill get back to you in a few weeks....or longer. Depends on how long it takes for a clever thought to get through my thick skull. I will be taking suggestions from one and all
LOL I'll be patiently waiting
 

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I'd be willing to put up a friendly stogie bet on the Pats straight up no points. Or should I say I'd be willing to give a Steelers fan a victory stogie if he was willing to reciprocate. I was at the game Sunday. It was fun watching the Pats D rattle the "best offense in history". I admit I am from New England but those guys are just straightforward, nasty, football freaks. Belichick is like a robot or something. I take nothing away from the Steelers, they are a great team and I actually like them as well. One thing's for sure...it's gonna be a battle.

Let me know, I got a couple nice stogies just sitting around mellowing.
 

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For my first bet on this forum, I'm going totally with my heart. Therefore, this is not a wise bet for solely that reason. Usually if I like the Steelers matchup, I will take them, but in this situation, it's a scary thought facing Bill B and Brady. The Steelers will have to play their absolute best football to win this game. It really will come down to the running game's success and the turnovers.

I'm not betting on this one with money (laying off I think is the smarter play than either side), but since I have these credits, I might as well give it a spin.

Good luck to the Steelers and everyone who's on them!
 

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ESPN INSIDER SCOUTS PREVIEW:


Insider Preview: Patriots at Steelers
Scouts Inc.

Why To Watch
Heinz Field will play host to the 2004 AFC championship game, as Bill Belichick and the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots travel to Pittsburgh to challenge Bill Cowher's Steelers, who were the first AFC team to win 15 regular-season games.

Revenge will be the theme in what promises to be the most physical matchup of this year's playoffs. A 34-20 Week 8 loss on the very same field will be fresh on New England's mind. The Steelers, on the other hand, will look to snap a two-game home losing streak in AFC championship play (1997, 2001) ? the last, of course, coming at the hands of the Patriots, who went on to claim their first Lombardi Trophy that year.

Despite two Super Bowl rings in the past three seasons, the Patriots are still playing the "no respect" card after being overlooked leading up to their playoff debut versus the Colts last week. A healthy Corey Dillon will give QB Tom Brady much more support than he had in the last trip to Pittsburgh. But will Dillon's presence be enough to reverse his team's fortunes against the league's top-ranked run defense?

Poor special teams play and uncharacteristic rookie mistakes by QB Ben Roethlisberger nearly led to an early exit for the "Black and Gold". If Pittsburgh is to knock off the defending chaps en route to its first Super Bowl appearance in a decade, it must be more efficient in both areas against the league's most intelligent and disciplined team.

When the Patriots have the ball
Rushing: Dillon's presence gives the Patriots a lot more balance and confidence heading into their second trip to Pittsburgh. By no means will the Patriots be able to keep their attack as grounded as they did with 39 caries for 210 rushing yards in their time-guzzling performance against the undersized Colts' defense last week.

DillonThe Steelers' run defense finished the regular season ranked first in the NFL for a reason. Despite injuries to its best two run defenders - NT Casey Hampton and ILB Kendrell Bell - the unit has played with discipline and toughness throughout the season. NT Chris Hoke has used his quickness, leverage and toughness to play beyond anyone's expectations. OC Dan Koppen has the size and strength to handle Hoke, but he'll need to play one of his better games in order to avoid a double-team situation.
The Patriots win up front with technique and efficiency, but that wasn't enough in the first meeting between these teams. The Patriots didn't run much in that game, but when they did they weren't able to get the surge that was necessary against Hoke and DEs Aaron Smith and Kimo von Oelhoffen. If the interior of the Patriots' offensive line doesn't play better this time around, ILBs James Farrior and Larry Foote will roam freely and make Dillon's life miserable.

The good news for the Patriots is that with Dillon in the lineup this time around, the Steelers will have to play the Patriots a lot more honestly. The key for New England will be patience and ball protection. The Pats will struggle to get Dillon untracked early, but they can't give up on it. They have a short-passing game that can help to complement the run in the first few drives of the game. They also need to maintain balance and take some shots downfield in order to keep SS Troy Polamalu from cheating up too far, too frequently.

But in order to avoid the same turnover-infested, time-of-possession disaster that plagued them in Week 8, the Patriots have to establish Dillon and make it clear early on that they are willing to get into a knockdown, drag-out fight with a physical and swarming Steelers' defense that can be intimidating in the early stages of a game.

Passing: Brady's playoff experience gives the Patriots a big edge over a Steelers team that must be concerned after watching its rookie quarterback take steps backwards in his postseason debut last week. The Steelers have significant mismatches on the perimeter in the passing game, but the Patriots have some of their own.

For starters, the Patriots' depth at wide receiver allows them to stay fresh and for coordinator Charlie Weis to use David Givens, Deion Branch, Troy Brown, David Patten and Bethel Johnson in multiple roles. The Patriots best chance of running the football is to spread the field with three- and four-receiver sets as much as possible.

HopeThe Steelers have gotten away with CBs Willie Williams and Deshea Townsend as starters to this point, but it is a vulnerable duo without much depth behind it. Chad Scott is back healthy and has been inserted as the nickel starter, but his stiff hips will make him a target against smaller, quicker receivers like Branch, Brown and Patten. Furthermore, when the Patriots catch the Steelers in cover-3 or man-free coverage with FS Chris Hope responsible for the deep-middle of the field, Brady can really exploit Hope's lack of range and inconsistent recognition skills if given time in the pocket to operate.
The first meeting saw the Steelers smother Brady with consistent pressure. They brought the blitz from all angles once realizing that the Patriots' running game was no real threat, and they also were able to play a lot more press coverage in order to slow the Patriots' receivers releases off the line. However, don't expect the Steelers to be as aggressive this time around or for them to get nearly as much pressure on Brady.

For starters, Dillon's presence should help to keep the Steelers' more honest this time around. Secondly, Brady's ability to spread the ball around to a multitude of different receivers in order to beat the blitz should help the Patriots better deal with the pressure. Dillon, who had five receptions last week, has become a much bigger factor in the passing game and the team finally has a healthy enough receiving corps in order to spread the field and neutralize the blitz.

By no means did Brady play one of his better games last week versus the Colts, but if he can spread the ball around to 10 different skill-position players and avoid throwing an interception like he did in that game, the Patriots should be far more efficient and potent on offense compared to their last trip to Pittsburgh.

When the Steelers have the ball
Rushing: This will be the most intriguing matchup to watch, as the Steelers' second-ranked running game faces off against the Patriots' sixth-ranked run defense. The first time these two teams met it was advantage: Steelers. Pittsburgh controlled the clock and wore the Patriots down by staying dedicated to the running game. Four takeaways by the Steelers' defense gave the team's offensive line an opportunity to simply overpower what typically has been a stout Patriots defensive front-seven.

Staley
BettisMaking matters more concerning this time around is the uncertain status of DE Richard Seymour (knee), who is listed as questionable after being inactive last week, and the encouraging play of RBs Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley, who combined for 190 rushing yards in last week's in over the Jets. Bettis continues to run with the burst, toughness and power that made him one of the elite backs in the NFL in the 1990s, while Staley showed almost no signs of trouble with the hamstring injury that lingered all season.
Unlike New England's more spread out and unusual defensive scheme versus the wide-open Colts, the idea will be to load up as much as possible in order to stop the run first and make Roethlisberger beat them in the air. The Patriots are obviously much more effective versus the run with Seymour in the lineup, but the two-gap scheme isn't going to change if Jarvis Green needs to start again this week.

The idea is for the front-three to occupy gaps and to force opposing running backs wide while OLBs Willie McGinest and Mike Vrabel keep outside contain. Because the Patriots are so disciplined up front, ILBs Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson are able to pursue the run without having to sift through much traffic. What makes this matchup so interesting is that Pittsburgh's massive offensive line is one of the only units in the NFL capable of simply overpowering the Patriots and driving their defensive line back into Bruschi and Johnson, which blows up the entire scheme.

The way the Steelers can best execute this philosophy is to limit their turnovers, sustain drives and control the time of possession battle. If they can get Staley and Bettis a combined 30-plus carries, they should be packing their bags for Jacksonville.

Passing: The Steelers simply cannot win if Roethlisberger plays as poorly as he did a week ago. In terms of talent on the perimeter, there's no comparison. The Patriots, without CBs Ty Law and Tyrone Poole, are vastly overmatched with Asante Samuel, Randall Gay and Earthwind Moreland matching up versus Steelers WRs Plaxico Burress, Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle El.

RoethlisbergerAs a result, Pittsburgh will employ as many three-receiver sets as possible in order to spread the Patriots out and to get them into nickel personnel. Because of the injuries to Law and Poole, New England has gone to playing zone coverage more than three quarters of the time. Moreover, in order to help protect their ailing secondary, Belichick and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel aren't able to blitz as much as they would like.
Still, their unique pass rush and coverage package can make blocking assignments and progression reads extremely difficult for opposing offenses - just ask Peyton Manning & Co. The Pats change up their coverage looks (man-free, cover-2, cover-3, cover-4, man-zone combo, etc.) on nearly every down. They also spend a lot of time with all 11 defenders in two-point stances with six or seven close to the line of scrimmage, leaving the opposing offensive line and quarterback guessing as to which defenders are coming and which are dropping.

Roethlisberger has the mobility, arm strength and mismatches he needs in order to pick apart the Patriots' hobbled secondary. But after watching how poorly the rookie handled the playoff pressure and how effective the Patriots were in terms of protecting themselves against the league's best quarterback and most explosive offense last week, it's difficult to believe that the Steelers will have much success via the air - particularly if they are forced to throw from behind.

Scouts' Edge
The first time these teams met the Steelers physically dominated the Patriots en route to snapping New England's 21-game winning streak. To pretend that Dillon would have made the difference would be misleading. However, the Patriots were out of sync on offense because they didn't have their usual confidence in balancing out the attack.

Brady was forcing things with too much pressure on his shoulders, the receiving corps was battered and wasn't able to exploit mismatches in the Steelers' secondary, and the result was a dismal four-turnover effort. The Patriots won't come close to matching their running success from a week ago, but they will be able to control the ball better and keep the Steelers honest with Dillon in the lineup.

In the end, these are two of the most physical teams in the NFL. The Steelers have home-field advantage, a stronger offensive line, mismatches in the perimeter passing game and a run defense that can be stifling. But in our opinion, the Patriots have the overall edge because of the quarterback position and special teams.

Roethlisberger had a magical season but the pressure was obviously too much for him last week. Belichick's unique and complex defensive schemes that made Manning look like a rookie will only be more effective against an actual first-year pro. A big return from Troy Brown and/or Bethel Johnson coupled by brilliant kicking from PK Adam Vinatieri and PT Josh Miller will help put the Patriots over the edge in what should be a low-scoring slugfest decided by a late field goal.
 

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ESPN INSIDER SCOUTS INC PREVIEW TAKE 2

New England at Pittsburgh Matchups
QB NE RB PIT WR PIT OL PIT DL NE LB NE DB PIT ST NE Coach NE Overall NE

Tuesday, our scouts filed their advance advance scouting report on this week's matchup between the Patriots and Steelers. Now they're back with a second look.

# Sore thumb or not, Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger's mechanics are off. Last week versus the Jets, Roethlisberger was throwing off his back foot too often and his release point was significantly lower than it had been throughout the regular season.

Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger

The thumb injury could very well be leading Roethlisberger to drop his release point down in order to get better leverage on the ball without having to put too much pressure on his thumb. If the thumb is still bothering him this Sunday, don't expect a huge improvement in his play because he simply won't be able to adjust his mechanics due to the nature of the injury.

# The Patriots' pass defense scheme will be significantly altered this week compared to what we saw last week versus the Colts. Instead of playing two-deep (with two safeties in zone coverage over the top) and man-under (with CBs and LBs playing press coverage underneath), the Patriots are likely to play a lot of "softer" schemes with more cushion.

The game plan last week was to use their cornerbacks and linebackers in order to get physical with the Colts' "finesse" group of wide receivers and tight ends. That plan won't work this week against a much more physical group of receivers for the Steelers. Plaxico Burress is too big and strong to play press coverage against and Hines Ward is too crafty and tough.

# A dilemma for the Patriots is that playing cover-2 in the secondary really takes SS Rodney Harrison out of the run-support equation too much. Two things you could see are a shift to more cover-3 zone (and man-free coverage) and Harrison playing some cornerback in this game. In cover-3 or man-free coverage, Harrison is cheated up as a fourth linebacker and only has underneath coverage responsibility versus the pass. When the Patriots do want to move to a cover-2 look, moving Harrison to cornerback makes a lot of sense because it gets him closer to the line of scrimmage in order to better support the run.

Rodney Harrison
Harrison

Harrison has experience playing cornerback in big games - he did last year on occasion versus the Colts in the AFC championship game and against the Panthers in the Super Bowl. He also would be a solid matchup against a bigger receiver like Burress, because his size and experience would provide the Patriots with an opportunity to play press coverage on that side. In that circumstance, the Patriots would likely move a cornerback (such as Hank Poteat) or a backup safety (such as Je'Rod Cherry) to the safety spot opposite FS Eugene Wilson.

# Patriots NT Vince Wilfork has been one of the most unheralded players in the NFL this season. After struggling with his technique - particularly his hand placement - early on as a rookie, Wilfork has developed into an extremely consistent and disciplined run-stopper at one of the most important positions within the Patriots' 3-4 scheme.

He isn't even listed as a starter on the Patriots' depth chart, but Wilfork's ability to occupy blockers and free up ILBs Tedy Bruschi and Ted Johnson to roam freely versus the run has been a big reason for the unit's hugely improved play versus the run in the second half of the season. With Keith Traylor and Wilfork rotating in and out, the Patriots are able to keep a fresh body at that position throughout the game, which will make the job of Steelers OC Jeff Hartings even more difficult on Sunday.

Jarvis Green
Green

# According to everything we've been told, the chances of DE Richard Seymour playing in Sunday's game are slim. While the Patriots certainly miss Seymour, they are fortunate in that his replacement, DE Jarvis Green, would be a starter for most other teams in the NFL. Green has developed into a disciplined two-gap defender versus the run and he also has the quickness and power to generate some inside push as a pass rusher.

# Having both RBs Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley as close to 100 percent as they have been since early in the season is a big boost for the Steelers. Not only does it allow the team to rotate the two backs in order to keep them fresh, but it also gives it more versatility.

Bettis will remain the starter and should continue to carry the heavier load on the ground, but Staley is a much bigger weapon as a receiver and could provide Roethlisberger with a sense of security in the passing game against a Patriots defense that will take chances with the blitz. It wouldn't be shocking to see the Steelers throw in a wrinkle or two with Bettis and Staley in the backfield at the same time, as it would give the Patriots one more thing to think about defensively.

# Staying patient with the ground game and establishing RB Corey Dillon will play a huge factor in the Patriots' overall success as a team on Sunday. The first time these teams met the Patriots rushed for just five net yards with Dillon on the sidelines because of an injury. The Patriots can't expect the same production out of Dillon that they got last week with 144 yards against the Colts, but they do need Dillon to make a difference in this game.

Even if he isn't a 100-yard rusher, his ability to pick up tough yards on the ground and to keep the clock ticking will be a big help in terms of keeping New England's defense rested, as well as keeping the Steelers' defense honest while also wearing it down as the game progresses. If Dillon has fewer than 25 touches (rushing attempts and receptions), the Patriots will have a very difficult time pulling off the win on the road.

# After giving up a season-high four sacks in the first meeting versus the Steelers, protecting QB Tom Brady needs to be a point of emphasis for the Patriots. One of the major problems in that game was that the Steelers caught on early to the fact that New England was forced to abort the running game with Dillon out. Dillon's mere presence will help in terms of keeping the Steelers' defense more honest with the blitz and his ability to both block and catch out of the backfield will also give the team more options.

Secondly, don't be surprised if TE Daniel Graham is used more as a blocker on passing downs than usual, especially if the Patriots are still having trouble picking up the blitz early on. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis prefers to release as many receivers as possible in order to spread the field as much as he can horizontally and vertically, while giving Brady the maximum amount of options. However, protecting Brady is priority No. 1, so if Graham is needed at the line of scrimmage as a blocker Weis will make the adjustment.

# There's been a lot of talk this week about Dillon's presence after he was forced to sit out the first meeting between these two teams because of injury, but there are two other personnel factors that make the Patriots much more capable heading into Sunday's rematch.

Deion Branch
Branch

The first is the health of WR Deion Branch, who missed the game in Week 8. Branch was quiet with just one catch against the Colts last week, but his quickness and burst provide the Patriots with a vertical element that they were missing in their first trip to Pittsburgh. He has the potential to run past both CBs Deshea Townsend and Willie Williams, which could force the Steelers to play more conservatively than they did in that initial visit.

#

The second factor is the experience that rookie CB Randall Gay now has after being thrown into the fire when Ty Law suffered his foot injury in the first game against the Steelers. In that game, Gay gave up a 47-yard touchdown when he was left alone on an island against Burress. Not only is Gay much better prepared thanks to the amount of playing time he has received since then, but coach Bill Belichick and coordinator Romeo Crennel are also better prepared to protect him now that they have a stronger sense of his strengths and weaknesses as a cover corner.

Special Teams
# Special teams could be the "X-factor" in the AFC championship and, if that's the case, the edge clearly goes to the Patriots. For starters, the Steelers' cover teams have been inconsistent all season and gave up another big play last week to Jets RS Santana Moss (a 75-yard touchdown return). The Patriots haven't been nearly as explosive in the return game as they have been the last couple of seasons but they still have potential weapons in PR Troy Brown, who averaged 14 yards on two returns last week, and KOR Bethel Johnson, who could be the fastest player on either roster.

# The other area that the Patriots have a real advantage is in the kicking game. There isn't a huge difference in terms of the punters, as Josh Miller (former Steelers PT) is averaging 42 yards per punt compared to Chris Gardocki, who is averaging 43 yards per punt. Miller has, however, shown better hang time and directional skills this season and has been aided by far better play from his coverage units than Gardocki has received in Pittsburgh.

Adam Vinatieri
Vinatieri

There is an even bigger discrepancy at the place-kicker position. Pittsburgh PK Jeff Reed has been adequate-to-good this season and he connected on both of his field goal attempts (45, 33) against the Jets last week, but he isn't in the same league as New England PK Adam Vinatieri in terms of overall consistency and proven clutch kicking in the postseason.

# Antwaan Randle El could serve as a huge neutralizer if he can provide some fireworks of his own in the return game. The Patriots have been disciplined and consistent in terms of covering punts and kickoffs all season and Randle El hasn't been nearly the explosive weapon in the return game that he has been in previous seasons. However, Randle El is still a huge threat every time he touches the ball and his vision, elusiveness and burst in the open field can lead to a big play against even the most solid of cover units.

Matchups
# Pittsburgh WR Plaxico Burress vs. New England RCB Asante Samuel
# Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward vs. New England LCB Randall Gay
# Pittsburgh OC Jeff Hartings vs. New England NTs Keith Traylor and Vince Wilfork
# New England QB Tom Brady vs. Pittsburgh FS Chris Hope
# New England OC Dan Koppen vs. Pittsburgh NT Chris Hoke

Prediction: Patriots 24, Steelers 20
 

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That always provides a good read for those that love to watch NFL games. Enjoy if you have the time!
 
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