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January 31, 2006

Seattle’s middle may make a Bus stop

So here I am, stuck with Seattle.You can picture how it happened: The editor comes up with a brainstorm that Seedy K takes one team in the Super Bowl, and I take the other, facing off in a gigantic Battle of Typing Touts. And, of course, faster than you can you can say Troy Polamalu, Seedy K jumps up and says, “I will take Pittsburgh!”*SeattleWhich leaves me Seattle.And that’s fine.Anybody can hand you the favorite. Anybody can follow the blare of trumpets hailing the Pittsburgh Steelers as near-certain victors of Super Bowl XL.But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Steelers will win. Plenty of trumpeting “experts” are still trying to cash tickets on Arazi.Don’t get me wrong, favorites often triumph in sports. It just takes a tad more sophistication to know when an upset might be brewing. And this could be one of those occasions.Or maybe not. I certainly wouldn’t go out on a limb with Seattle like I did on, say, the Arizona Diamondbacks over the New York Yankees. Or Sarah Hughes over Michelle Kwan. Or Texas over Southern Cal. This is a “pick” I got when there was only one pick left.Of course, it may be that Mr. Seedy K picked the Steelers because he loves the Steelers’ story, with Big Ben and The Bus. So do I. My mother was from Pittsburgh, and like thousands of other Pittsburgh school kids, she saved up $1 during the Depression to buy one brick to help build the Cathedral of Learning on the University of Pittsburgh campus. So I like Pittsburgh.But I like Seattle, too. The freshness of the Pacific Northwest, a view of Mount Rainier and a startling Blue State cup of coffee to get you headed in the right direction. Pittsburgh may have Troy Polamalu, but Seattle has Lofa Tatupu.Plus, Seattle gets four points in the betting — against a team that is perfectly content to win by a field goal. And as my Aunt Winnie always said, “It is more blessed to receive than it is to give.”Betting aside, could the Seahawks win straight up?I put that question to my pal Hardhat, a lifelong Steelers fan who hails from western Pennsylvania, where men are men. On Sunday, Hardhat will be clutching the same Terrible Towel that has waved home four previous Pittsburgh Super Bowl championships. But he admires Seattle’s league-leading runner Shaun Alexander, who is from Campbell County, Ky., by way of the University of Alabama.“Alexander is the key player for Seattle,” said Hardhat. “If he can break some long runs, that could open the field for Seattle to get a passing game going.”Can Alexander do that?“You have to give him credit,” said Hardhat. “He was smart enough not to go to UK.”Very funny.The Steelers have more stars — like quarterback “Big Ben” Roethlisberger and safety Polamalu. They’ll run reverses to spring Antwaan Randle El, then pound the middle with Jerome “The Bus” Bettis.But Seattle’s middle might hold.Which could mean ...The Bus stops here. *(Editor’s note: Mr. Kaplan is, shall we say, infinitely more anal than Mr. D, which means, of course, that he checks his e-mail every 22 seconds or so. And he has that high-speed Internet thing too.) Contact the writer at leo@leoweekly.com