Allow me a little football talk, here. I am going against my superstitious instincts and predicting that the Pittsburgh Steelers will be this year's Super Bowl Champions. And I'm doing it early so I can't be accused of getting on the bandwagon.
It doesn't really matter which teams they go up against, either. This is just the Steelers' year.
They have an undefeated, Rookie of the Year quarterback (the first ever). They now have three - count 'em - three punishing running backs cruising behind the best O-line in the league, a receiving corps second to none and a dominating defense that has allowed the fewest points and yards this season. They have the most talented coaching staff and an ownership that knows how to run an organization better than any other.
The have, without a doubt, the deepest bench in the league. The Steelers' second- and third-string outplayed Buffalo's NFL team last Sunday and that bench has done the job all year long.
But that is not why they will win. They will win because whether they lose their starting quarterback or star free agent runner or all-pro whatever, whoever gets plugged into the lineup performs with the same sense of purpose that identifies a winner.
This team has what looks like a near-perfect balance of talent, heart and maturity. Each game this season, whether a blow-out or a come-from-behind nail-biter, had about it an inevitability of victory. They believe, so we believe.
This, after all, only football and I'm not in the camp that accords athletes special status. But what is so compelling about sport is that it is played by rules and when the whistle blows each team, each individual has the opportunity to make their efforts a win.
For Pittsburgh, a city rocked by fiscal mismanagement, economic stagnation and population drain, this season has given us a reason to feel good about where we live, if only until mid-February.
But that will be enough. We will revel and remember the diverse group of guys who went out each week and worked like pros and I for one am already grateful for the experience. It has been fun to watch a team that has fun while they're winning.
They will win it all, alright. Because they don't know how to lose.