My friend Dennis may be a sports fan, but he's obviously not a betting man, because if he were, he'd know that the 3 points by which the Steelers are favored is just the home field advantage, and the odds on the game are otherwise even. Are the Steelers loved by the critics? Seems to me they are consistently underrated despite their long-time winning ways, mostly because of that old "grind and win." No, they don't play pretty. They never have. They play football. Anyway, whatever the sports press thinks, TV's gameday announcers hate 'em, especially that fucking Bengal Collinsworth, who deserves to have every swoopy hair tweezed from his oily scalp, one at a time.
Let me throw in with Mike Tomlin. I like Rex Ryan, and I like Jets football. I'm glad they beat the Pats, although I won't be satisfied until someone gets Ray Lewis a bus ticket from Baltimore and a knife with Bill Belichick's name on it. They're a smart team, and they play a banging, gritty game, but they'll suffer from a poorly-manned offense and a defense geared toward quarterbacks. Yes, Santonio Holmes is a great reciever (you're welcome), but Sanchez is a mediocre passer--a talent, yes, but a bad decision-maker with accuracy problems, which is why Holmes is always getting props for tapping both toes inside the line before he bounces into the bleachers. Roethlisberger isn't actually a quarterback, meanwhile; he is a football player, or, alternately, a living sasquatch, a distinction with a difference, frustrating though that may be every time an opposing team runs him over with a truck, fits him for lead sneakers, and tosses him in a river without a yellow flag for miles. The Jets' blitz wasn't very effective against him in the regular season, but even if they manage to overwhelm our still-ragged O-line on Sunday, it won't affect his game. The Ravens sacked him thrice on every offensive down, and he still beat them. Brady used to get credit for being the most unflappable QB in the league, but the smart money says it's Big Ben, who is either too big, too strong, too smart, too dumb, or some impossible combination thereof to feel the effects of injury and single-play failure; who can go through a windshield and come to training camp anyway.
"Keys to the game." Goddamnit, Suisham, keep those kickoffs on the ground.