Sunday, January 04, 2009

Steelers to host San Diego

We recognize there is a prediction of Sunday's AFC winner implicit in this posting, but we are as confident in that pick (i.e. Baltimore over Miami) as we were in our belief that San Diego would defeat Indianapolis. If Miami should pull off the upset, please forget we ever said anything.

Be that as it may, we are going to take a stab at previewing the Chargers, and there was no player ~ on either team ~ who was more impressive Saturday evening than San Diego punter Mike Scifres. His net punting average for the game ~ 51.7 yards ~ was nearly eleven yards better than his net average for the season (40.9); and after kicking 19 punts inside the opponents' 20 yard line during sixteen regular season games, he was six-for-six against the Colts.

For those who are hoping that the cold weather in Pittsburgh may negatively impact his performance next Sunday please keep in mind that in the earlier meeting this season between these two teams (November 16, 2008 ~ the game time temperature was 35°F) Mr. Scifres outkicked his season average by more than two yards (43.5 v. 40.9) and both of his punts were downed inside the Steelers' 20 yard line. More specifically, his first punt in that game (in the second quarter) saw Mewelede Moore take a fair catch at the Pittsburgh 9 yard line, and his second punt (also in the second quarter) ~ a 50-yard effort ~ forced Mr. Moore to take a fair catch at his own 14-yard line. Finally, Mr. Scifres also had a 75-yard free kick following a second quarter safety. That kick, and an illegal block penalty, left the Steelers to begin a drive from their own six yard line.

On Saturday night Mike Scifres was a weapon, and if he manages to have a similar game in Pittsburgh ~ combined with the Steelers' inability to return punts (they finished the season 31st in that statistical category) ~ it could make for a very long day for the fans of the Black & Gold.

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