At last, the Super Bowl is upon us. This year we have the league's best defense against arguably the best offense in the NFL.
If history has taught us anything, it is that a great defense beats a great offense. The 3-4 of the Steelers has helped them stop the run, limit the pass, and keep pressure on the quarterback. Can the shaky offensive line of the Cardinals hold the linemen and linebackers of the Steelers?
On the less interesting side of the ball, Ben Roethlisberger will face a defense that has potential. The destruction of the Cardinals against the Panthers in the divisional round still has me scratching my head.
Also, the injury to Hines Ward definitely puts a stab in the Steelers' game plan. I cannot find out how serious it is, because my fellow reporters have not publicised it.
Hines Ward is one of the essential parts of the Steelers' offense. He takes over the middle of the field, so he commands the respect of linebackers. Therefore, if Arizona were to blitz, Ben will have Ward open over the middle, just like what happened in the Ravens game.
Also, a safety has to be within five yards of Ward. This means that Holmes will have single coverage against Wilson or Rollie. Holmes is faster than both of them, so there is big play possibilities. Without him, the Cardinals will have a better shot.
I saw what happened against Baltimore, but they were blitzing anyway, and they have a better secondary than Arizona does. Also, the Ravens had a chance to win the game.
Flacco, who had a great rookie season (so no disrespect) made a bad decision throwing too close to Polamalu. Kurt Warner will not make that mistake, and if the Cardinals can get in that position, they should win the game.
Now for the offensive gameplans. The Cardinals will need to spread the field in order to keep the linebackers out of the box. Don't be surprised at four-receiver formations that end up being draws.
They should run Fitz deep to take out Polamalu, and throw underneath to Boldin or Breaston. If the safeties cheat up, Fitzgerald will burn them.
The Steelers might need to find a way to survive without Ward. They will need to run the ball to make the corners stay in. Then they will try to throw the fly routs to Holmes or Sweed. If Ward plays, then he will be utilized as mentioned before, but as of now, no dominant source has reported his status.
On defense, these are the basic guidelines. Arizona needs to keep pressure on Roethlisberger. If he has time, then he will find the open receivers against the Cardinals' 4-3.
The Cardinals will need to blitz. The Ravens played too much coverage, a very rare occurrence which led to their downfall.
Pittsburgh should just continue what they are doing. They change their formation at the line, and confuse quarterbacks. Polamalu often shows blitz, then backs off into coverage. We may not see as much of this because of the threat of Fitzgerald. However, they have been successful, so they know much more than I.
Now for the hard part: the prediction. I want to start by saying that Vegas gives a seven-point spread for the Steelers. Last week I thought that Vegas was crazy for giving Pittsburgh 6 points and an over-under of 36. I was clearly wrong, as the Steelers won by 9, and the combined score was 37. I thought that the best defenses would keep the score lower, and I was right, until that pick-six by Polamalu.
I am going to give the win to Pittsburgh, but by only three points. The final of Superbowl XLIII should be about 24-21.