I arrived in Pittsburgh yesterday and was listening to their sports talk station on the drive. It is essentially the same as KJR, only this station's version of High Millen is Mike Logan, a safety on the Super Bowl XL team. It is interesting listening to their version of the Super Bowl; they have a vague notion that folks in the Northwest are still peeved about the outcome, but not a true appreciation, and Logan dismissed as "hogwash" any talk of poor officiating. I'm sure if the circumstances were reversed, Seahawks fans would feel the same way, but, again, I find it interesting to listen to the other side.
I am reticent to predict again the outcome of Sunday's game against the Steelers because A) the only place I can go is down, and B) I don't have as much of a feel for this game as I did the last. There was an element in that San Francisco that was pretty intense because of everything thrown in. Normally, I would say the Seahawks were going to lose this game in a close outcome, given the location, the time zone, the opponent, the defense and the history. But after taking the injuries into consideration, I think I am going to say the Seahawks win a 24-21 decision. With McFadden out and with Polamalu possibly out and definitely hindered, I think Hasselbeck goes to the air early and often to loosen things up for Shaun Alexander. Also, John Marshall has been pretty good at coming up with defensive schemes, and the Seahawks did a nice job against Roethlisberger in the Super Bowl. My guess is Marshall takes some things from that, mixes them in with the new personnel and cooks up something to deal with Pittsburgh's offense, which will be without Hines Ward.
Other things to look for:
Obviously, improved play from the offensive line in the run blocking.
Alexander said his wrist is steadily improving. IS there evidence of that?
Will Nate Burleson on kickoff returns play a factor? And how will that affect him, if it does, in the passing game? Incidentally, when I speaking with Burleson the other day, he pointed out that Pittsburgh's punter runs a 4.49 40-yard dash.
Can the pass rush get to Roethlisberger in the same fashion it got to Alex Smith and Trent Dilfer?
Will Marcus Trufant build on his impressive game against San Francisco? He likely will get Santonio Holmes.
How will Rocky Bernard's ankle injury affect the defensive front, particularly if he is unable to play or limited? Craig Terrill has looked pretty good when he gets time, but Brandon Mebane may be better if Willie Parker gets going.
For better or worse, Jerramy Stevens was a big part of that Super Bowl loss. Will Marcus Pollard be a big part of this game?
Is Derek Rackley going to improve his snapping or lose his job? And is the punt team going to get better blocking?
By the way, the inactives are likely to be:
The last guy could be either Rocky Bernard or Maurice Morris, but if both those can play -- and I think they will -- then Courtney Taylor is probably the final guy.