2006 Super Bowl odds

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Coaches under the microscope
(Includes 2006 Super Bowl Odds priorto AFC/NFC Championship games)
by Perry of BetWWTS

When it comes to the business of predicting the outcome of NFLgames, most of us use past performance as a guide.

For instance, if statistics show that a team has had difficultystopping the run in the past, then that team is more than likelygoing to have trouble against a team that has run the ball wellall season.

But we have to be careful not to put too much emphasis on pastperformance, since on any given Sunday, a team can rise to theoccasion and beat what appears to be a much better team, on paper.This is what we saw last Sunday in Indianapolis.

One place where we perhaps put too much emphasis on past performanceis coaching. We often assume that because a coach has led histeam to a Super Bowl championship, he somehow has an advantageover a coach who has not.

Yet, every coach who has won a Super Bowl at one time did nothave any experience winning a championship. In other words, guyslike Mike Shanahan and Mike Holmgren didn’t always have SuperBowl rings.

It’s simple logic, but it’s something to keep in mind when thetopic of playoff coaching experience is raised over the next threeweeks. While we’re on the topic, let’s take a look at the experienceof the four remaining coaches.

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Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher has plenty of playoffexperience, but has yet to win a Super Bowl. In 14 seasons onthe sidelines, Cowher has led the Steelers to the post-season10 times.

He has captured eight division titles, advancedto five AFC Championship games and made one Super Bowl appearance,in 1995-96 against the Dallas Cowboys. That year, Cowher, at 38,was the youngest head coach to lead his team to the Super Bowl.

With Neil O’Donnell at quarterback, the Steelerslost 27-17 to the Cowboys, who featured QB Troy Aikman, RB EmmittSmith and WR Michael Irvin. Pittsburgh covered as 13.5-point dogs.

Cowher’s coaching counterpart in this week’sAFC Championship game is Mike Shanahan, who has two Super Bowlrings to his credit, 1997-98 and 1998-99. Both of those wins camewith the help of one of the most talented quarterbacks in NFLhistory, John Elway.

Now in his 11th season as coach, Shanahan hasled the Broncos to seven playoff appearances. Last weekend’s victoryover the Patriots snapped a three-game playoff losing streak forShanahan.

With the win, the Broncos maintained a perfect9-0 record at home this season. Denver is listed as a 3-pointfavorite to remain unbeaten this Sunday when they host the Steelers,who are 8-2 SU (8-2 ATS) on the road.

We currently have Shanahan’s Broncoslisted as a favorite to win the Super Bowl at +160; Pittsburghis second at +250.

Over in the NFC Championship,Carolina Panthers coach John Fox is now in his fourth season onthe sidelines. This is his second trip to the playoffs.

In his first year as coach, Fox led a team thathad gone 1-15 the year before to a 7-9 record. The next year,the 11-5 Panthers earned a berth in the NFC Championship wherethey beat the Philadelphia Eagles 14-3 as 4-point road dogs.

In the Super Bowl, the Panthers were nipped 32-29by the Patriots as 7-point dogs.

This year, with the win against the Giants inthe Wild Card followed by last weekend’s victory over the ChicagoBears, Fox now has a playoff record of 5-1 SU.

Fox’s opponent on the sidelines this Sunday willbe Mike Holmgren, who is in his seventh year as coach of the SeattleSeahawks.

This is the third consecutive year and fourthtime overall Holmgren has led the Seahawks to the playoffs. Lastweekend’s victory over Washington was his first playoff win asSeattle’s coach.

Before joining the Seahawks, Holmgren coachedthe Green Bay Packers for seven seasons, earning a Super Bowlring in 1996-97 with the help of QB Brett Favre and DE ReggieWhite. While with the Packers, Holmgren was 9-5 in the playoffs.

With the win over the Redskins, the Seahawksmaintained a perfect 9-0 record at home this season. Seattle islisted as a 3.5-point favorite to remain unbeaten this Sundaywhen they host the Panthers, who are 8-2 SU (7-3 ATS) on the road.

We currently have Holmgren’s Seahawkslisted at +250 win the Super Bowl; Carolina is the longshot at+300.

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