Super Bowl Breakdown: Arizona Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
It started with 32 teams. Fans from all over the country have been chanting that this is their year, that their team will go all the way.
The 30 teams that fell short feel disappointed because they did not reach the pinnacle of greatness in the NFL.
As for the other two teams, one game stands between making history or being a Jeopardy question under the category, "We're No. 2."
While one team may have been expected to reach Super Bowl XLIII, the other could be the biggest underdog to ever win the whole thing.
To say the Arizona Cardinals would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl before the season started may have been your ticket to the crazy home. I wouldn't even be surprised if there were people in Phoenix who didn't give their team a shot.
Yet, there they are, just two weeks away from playing the biggest game of their lives.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been on top of their game, for the most part, since the beginning of the season. They were the only playoff team with a bye week represented in the championship round, which goes to show you how hungry the wild card teams were this year.
They knew exactly what they needed to get through a tough AFC schedule for a chance to become the first team in history to win six Super Bowls.
Can it happen?
Here's my breakdown of the teams, and I will make my pick on who I think will win.
In the regular season, the Arizona Cardinals were ranked No. 19 in defense and Pittsburgh was No. 1. But after a stunning postseason for the Cardinals, which included eight interceptions, this defense has been impressive.
After picking off Carolina five times, you can't fall asleep on them. Although they were inconsistent the entire regular season, they have been able to keep it together in the postseason.
Pittsburgh maintains its threat as a defensive juggernaut, with four interceptions and eight sacks in two games, but can the Steelers' offense solve the mystery that is the Arizona defense?
Advantage: Push (I don't know which Cardinals defense will show up)
The Running Game
It's simple for the Cardinals: They don't have one, at least they didn't in the regular season. Averaging a less-than-stellar 73.6 yards per game, they have stepped it up with Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower in the postseason.
However, going against a defense that only allows 80.3 yards per game, they are going to have their work cut out for them.
As for the Steelers, the running game is solid and Willie Parker is healthy. Although the Cardinals have shown that their secondary defense is something to watch, their rush defense has a lot to leave to the imagination.
Advantage: Pittsburgh (If Parker is healthy, Arizona is in trouble)
Let the arguments begin with this one: I think the Cardinals have the best receivers in the league. I'm not talking postseason, I'm talking period.
Larry Fitzgerald is straight fire. He's got an NFL-record 419 receiving yards in the postseason and five touchdown receptions. WHAT?!
When he's not available, you have Anquan Boldin, who will be healthy come game day, and Steve Breaston.
They are a solid second and third option for quarterback Kurt Warner.
Pittsburgh's Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward are great receivers, but they don't put you in awe like Arizona's receivers. Yet, you never know what they might do week after week.
Advantage: Arizona (These guys look like they can catch anything)
One of these two quarterbacks is on the verge of winning his second Super Bowl title. When Kurt Warner won his way back in 2000, at the tender age of 28, he killed it with a 414-yard performance that solidified him as one of the best quarterbacks in the game.
Unfortunately, he was plagued with injuries and bounced from team to team until he finally found himself with the Cardinals.
Prepared for the fact that he might end up playing backup to Matt Leinart, Warner fought his way to get the starting job, and he has been playing like his old (no pun intended) self again.
He threw for over 4,000 yards for the first time since the 2001 season. Warner is definitely back.
Ben Roethlisberger is only 26, two years younger than Warner when he won his first Super Bowl.
In 2006, he became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, but it was nowhere near as convincing of a performance as Warner's in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Roethlisberger was 9-for-21 for 123 yards and two interceptions in Super Bowl XL.
He had a questionable rushing touchdown, and despite the terrible performance, his team got him that ring.
Roethlisberger has been on and off this year, and he doesn't put up stellar numbers compared to Warner.
Plus, Warner's receivers provide stronger support than Roethlisberger's.
Advantage: Arizona (Unless some freak accident happens to Warner, his recent postseason performances have shown more spark than Roethlisberger.)
After the breakdown, Arizona seems to have a better edge than Pittsburgh. Although their defense is iffy, I feel that the Cardinals have the motivation that they need to win the Super Bowl...I can't believe I just typed that.
Final Score prediction: Cardinals 27, Steelers 20.
Feel free to leave comments. Thanks for reading.
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