In January 1980, the Pittsburgh Steelers knocked off the Los Angeles Rams 30-19 in Super Bowl 14. I was 8 years old and an enormous Steelers fan.
I'm sure I was equally obnoxious. Why shouldn't I be? The Steelers had won four of the previous six Super Bowls and were the dynasty in the NFL.
But slowly, as players such as Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Green and Jack Lambert retired, the Steelers became rather mediocre.
Each year I had my hopes sky high, only to have my dreams crushed by years of failed attempts to recapture the magic.
It might not be Red Sox-like, but I have suffered through nearly 25 years of frustration.
Well, this season is different. Thanks to rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the league's best running game and a seriously stingy defense, the Steelers are riding high again.
Pittsburgh finished the regular season as the first-ever AFC team to go 15-1 and appears to be one of the favorites to win a Super Bowl championship. Despite their success, the pessimist in me is on the edge of a nervous breakdown.
I've decided to give my selections for this year's NFL playoffs, and as you might have gathered, I'm pretty high on my Steelers.
Of course, these picks are for entertainment purposes only.
N.Y. Jets at San Diego
The Chargers might have been the biggest surprise in the NFL this season. Drew Brees should pick apart the Jets if he is given time to throw the football.
San Diego 34, N.Y. 17
Denver at Indianapolis
The Broncos were up and down this season. They will have their hands full with the league's best offense. The Colts should roll.
Indianapolis 38, Denver 17
San Diego at Pittsburgh
This one scares me to death. San Diego was unstoppable late in the season. However, they have not seen a defense like Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh 27, San Diego 20
This should be the best game of the playoffs. The Pats are tough at home, but they are not unbeatable. Look for Indy to pull the stunner here.
Indianapolis 31, New England 27
AFC title game
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh
Peyton Manning might have had the greatest season ever for a quarterback, but in Pittsburgh he will face a team that can play defense and ball control.
The Steelers also have shown an ability to put points on the board. With fingers crossed I'm going with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh 34, Indianapolis 24
St. Louis at Seattle
The Rams pulled the upset at Seattle earlier this season. This is really a coin toss, but I'm going with the home team.
Seattle 27, St. Louis 24
Minnesota at Green Bay
It is hard to beat a team three times, but Green Bay will accomplish the feat this week against Minnesota. The Vikings continue to struggle down the stretch, and Green Bay is ready to pounce.
Green Bay 23, Minnesota 17
Seattle at Philadelphia
The Eagles are the class of the NFC.
Seattle 13, Philadelphia 20
Green Bay at Atlanta
Michael Vick should be primed and ready to go. He has had plenty of time to rest.
Green Bay would love to pay the Falcons back for beating them at Lambeau Field a couple of years ago.
Green Bay 27, Atlanta 19
NFC title game
Green Bay at Philadelphia
Before the injury to Terrell Owens, the Eagles were everyone's favorite to take the NFC. Now, the NFC is wide open, and Green Bay will be the beneficiary.
Green Bay 28, Philadelphia 27
Pittsburgh vs. Green Bay
This will make for an interesting matchup: The team of the '60s vs. the team of the 70s. The Packers are prone to defensive lapses. This will doom them vs. the consistent Steelers. Look for Jerome Bettis to capture the MVP award as he racks up 116 yards and two touchdowns.
Pittsburgh 38, Green Bay 28
If this happens I will try to temper my obnoxious behavior - a little, anyway.
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