After yesterday's thrilling Championship weekend, in which I went 1/2 and stand at 5/10 overall for the postseason, including each week getting 50 percent of my picks correct throughout, many things became painfully obvious.
- Some people are just winners. Period. Kurt Warner, in going to his third Super Bowl off a perfect three for three in NFC Championship games, is a proven winner and a leader I'd want to have on my team any day. He should be priority No. 1 this offseason for the Cardinals in re-signing the free agent to be.
- Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid are quite the opposite, the Buffalo Bills of the NFL. This wouldn't be so painfully "sad" if it weren't so predictable, as the Eagles do this every year. First five games of each year, McNabb is MVP. He gets hurt for a large chunk only to rally his team to 4-5 wins and into the postseason on will it seems. They win a game or two and choke like clockwork to some younger, hungrier team. Been there, done that—repeat.
- If you aren't gonna win, move over and let someone else kindly get the job done. I think McNabb and Reid both have to go as they have "maxed out" on their potential (i.e. hit their ceiling). Some guys win, some guys don't. McNabb is Marino II.
- Where was Brian Westbrook? I heard ESPN buzzing about him all week.
- How does this year's success affect the future of Anquan Boldin, who may leave Arizona after his contract is up after 2010?
- I got 2/4 of the AZ TDs correctly in Fitzgerald and Hightower. Sorry for cutting you short, Fitz (he had three). Fitzgerald finally gets to display his all-World talent to the rest of the NFL who can't watch Cards games on a regular basis because we are forced to watch Dallas soap operas each week or Patriot-mania.
- NFL, please don't over-saturate the Prime Time schedule next year with five Cardinals games like you did with the Cleveland Browns this year. Two to three, with at least two on MNF, is more than enough.
- It ain't so easy winning when actually forced to beat the team by yourself, is it, Joe Flacco? (13-30, 141, three INTs vs. Pittsburgh). Overrated. Sit down son. It was the defense all along, and he was exposed for the fraud he is.
With that, here is the pick, and here is a good John Clayton preview.
Pittsburgh's defense will assuredly show up as always, and I do expect to see Big Ben, Hines Ward, and big game Troy Polamalu have big statistical games, similar to my Adrian Wilson call-out—he actually showed up this week with a big play (forced fumble, two sacks).
This week I heard Mike Greenberg on ESPN's Mike and Mike ooggle several times over McNabb and how he "doesn't make mistakes" after quickly turning Mike Golic's observation that both the Ravens and Cardinals have been forcing turnovers, with the Ravens at eight and the Cards at nine, from a positive into a Cards negative.
Well, Mr. Greenberg, the scrappy Cards forced three more turnovers. Will you respect them yet?
I heard both Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless each not give the Cards a chance on ESPN's First and Ten, but I did hear Mark Schlereth, Tim Cowlishaw, and J.A. Adande give them credit (along with Woody Paige after the fact).
With the Cards already 3.5 point underdogs in Super Bowl XLIII, it was already obvious to me, through no fault of their own, that this was inevitable no matter who they played since the AFC team was going to be that much better and more experienced, having each won a Super Bowl. I guess they will have to settle for being sentimental favorites.
I expect Fitzgerald to continue his torrid, historic pace, going 10 rec. for 190 yards and 2-3 TDs, James to run his steady 73 yards and maybe a TD, but I'd be more inclined to guess Hightower again (lock him up Cards!) and several FGs.
Arizona Cardinals 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
Underrated players to watch: Bertrand Berry two sacks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie one INT, Antrel Rolle (where have you been?)
Pittsburgh: Santonio Holmes has shown me enough that he could be an Antwaan Randle El-like factor on special teams or through the air. James Harrison and Woodley will always be around. I'd go with James Farrior and Heath Miller as players Arizona must key in on if they are to pull off the upset.
If Rodney "I get no respect" Dangerfield was around today, he'd assuredly be cheering for the Cardinals, who will be, if they aren't already, the sentimental favorites to win the Super Bowl. The skepticism has already begun for the Cards.
Where are they now?