Post-Season Football Picks: Hugs!

Suburban Underground's Post-Season Football Coverage: HUGS!

On the football field, there is no one to hold your hand. There is no one to tell you it is all going to be okay. There is no one to reassure you that your bones are not about to be broken, that you're not about to receive your umpteenth concussion, or that a pile of 300-pound men is not about to be sprawled over your lifeless body. But, if you're lucky, there may be someone who will give you something better than all that: a hug.

Here in the playoffs, a hug from a teammate can be the difference between surrender and triumph. The manly celebration of a job well done can give a player the guts he needs to get back out there and give it his all. Some teams recognize this, and regularly administer the full-body bear-hugs that mark the path to victory. Other teams withdraw from such shows of brotherly affection, at their peril. After weeks spent observing NFL hugs in action, we are proud to present Suburban Underground's Post-Season Football Coverage: The Hugs! Edition.

Conference Championship Picks
Pittsburgh (11-5) at Denver (13-3)
The turning point of the Steelers/Colts game last week was not Ben Roethlisberger's game-saving tackle. It was not the Steelers' fourth-down, 1:20-to-go sack of Colts QB Peyton Manning. It was the hug teammates gave running back Jerome Bettis after he committed a fumble that could have ended the Steelers' season, and Bettis' career. This hug was very different from the ones usually analyzed on these pages. It was a hug of comfort, not celebration; of solace, not festival. Yet that hug set the stage for the improbable plays that followed. The Broncos will have the home field advantage when they battle the Steelers for the AFC championship this week, but with unconditional hugs like the Steelers', any place you travel is home.
SU Pick: Pittsburgh
Carolina (11-5) at Seattle (13-3)
The Seahawks looked like hug virtuosos next to the physically reserved Redskins, tallying a resounding 20-10 win despite the loss of top running back Shaun Alexander early in the game. Carolina comes to Qwest Field with an impressive 8-2 road record, including away wins in the first two rounds of the playoffs, but their perfunctory hugs on the field will have a tough time stacking up against the Seahawks' accomplished record of celebratory affection.
SU Pick: Seattle
Hug Ranks for January 21, 2006
RankingTeamScore+/-
1Pittsburgh9+2.5
2Seattle8+3
3Carolina6.5+1.5
4Denver5
Scores range from 10, "Hugs All Around," to 1, "No Touching, Please"

Most Huggable Player
Come back soon to find out who we picked as this week's most huggable!

Hug of the Game
Come back soon to see this week's Hug of the Game!
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