When you have a national column as ubiquitously read as Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, it’s impossible to escape the scrutiny of fans and their tendency to point out every last incorrect prediction and analytical assessment. Want an example? Well, following the Pittsburgh Steelers divisional round win over the Baltimore Ravens, King wrote the following about Rashard Mendenhall: “I think Rashard Mendenhall, two touchdowns Saturday and all, is just not a big-time back.”
A few lines later, King followed up with: “Rashard Mendenhall running laterally. Get upfield, man.”
Hmm. Really? Sure, Mendenhall has danced laterally at times this season, but when you consider the offensive line that he’s running behind, it’s not surprising that No. 34 has had to do plenty of dancing and juking behind the line of scrimmage before trying to finagle his way to a positive gain. Plus, consider the Steelers’ opponent that week, the Ravens. The Steelers are never able to muster much on the ground against Baltimore. And certainly not in a situation where the Steelers lost multiple offensive linemen to injury or illness during the game.
Anyway, I’m one of those who believes King does a pretty darn good job with his weekly column. If nothing else, I respect the man because he seems like a genuinely kind and honest man. In fact, he’s one of the folks I’d like to meet next week while down in Dallas covering the Super Bowl.
Plus, King might have been off the mark on his assessment of Mendenhall (at least in my opinion), but he sure got it right when he made his Super Bowl prediction this summer.
THE STEELERS? Really? The team with the suspended starting quarterback? The one that traded away a Super Bowl MVP? The club that couldn’t beat the Chiefs or the Raiders in 2009? The defensively mortal Steelers? The geezer Steelers? Green Bay in the NFC you can understand, especially after Aaron Rodgers’s phenomenal preseason. But Pittsburgh? The football gods are laughing, and the karma gods are weeping.
If you read the column, you’ll likely nod your head in agreement with King’s reasoning for the pick. I particularly liked his prediction that the Steelers would benefit from the emergence of three young players:
I like three young players to emerge in Pittsburgh: versatile second-year defensive end Ziggy Hood, who was a terror in training camp; second-year man Mike Wallace, who’ll replace Holmes as the big-play wideout opposite Hines Ward (wait until you see him cut and turn upfield); and rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, whose speed and power should bolster a weak interior line.
Finally, I liked King’s predicted score for the Super Bowl: Steelers 33, Packers 27. I too think we’ll see an offensive shootout when the two historic franchises meet in Super Bowl XLV two Sundays from now. We’ll see. But kudos to King for nailing that prediction this summer squarely on the head.