Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl XLIII Preview

Bryan BrackneyAnalyst IJanuary 28, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Preveiw: Steelers

Quarterbacks: Ben Roethlisberger, Byron Leftwich, Dennis Dixon

Running Backs: Willie Parker, Mewelde Moore, Gary Russell, Carey Davis (FB)

Wide Receiver: Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Nate Washington, Limas Sweed

Tight Ends: Heath Miller, Matt Spaeth, Sean McHugh

Offensive Linemen: Max Starks(LT), Chris Kemoeatu (LG), Justin Hartwig (C), Darnell Stapleton (RG), Willie Colon (RT), Trai Esssex (G-T), Tony Hills (OT), Jeremy Parquet (G-T), Jason Capizzi (OT)

Defensive Linemen: Casey Hampton (NT), Aaron Smith (LE), Brett Keisel (RE), Travis Kirschke (DE), Chris Hoke (NT), Orpheus Roye (DE), Nick Eason (DE), Scott Paxson (NT)

Linebackers: James Harrison (ROLB), LaMarr Woodley (LOLB), James Farrior (LOLB), Larry Foote (ROLB), Lawrence Timmons (OLB-ILB), Keyaron Fox (ILB), Andre Frazier (ILB), Butch Davis (OLB), Patrick Bailey (OLB), Donovan Woods (ILB-OLB)

Defensive Backs: Troy Polamalu (SS), Ryan Clark (FS), Ike Taylor (CB), Bryant McFadden (CB), Deshea Townsend (CB), Anthony Madison (CB), Fernando Bryant (CB), Anthony Smith (S), Tyrone Carter (S), William Gay (CB)

Special Teams: Jeff Reid (K), Mitch Berger (P), Jared Retkofsky (LS)

Ben Roethlisberger has played extremely well this postseason. Roethlisberger is strong, accurate, and can buy time with his feet. He also has a cannon of an arm. Roethlisberger has been injury prone, and there is a high percentage that Byron Leftwitch could get some action in this one. The Steelers probably won't do this, but they might pull out some trick packages, using Dennis Dixon and Ben Roethlisberger. 

Willie Parker has been great this postseason also. Parker gashed the Chargers, and wore down the Ravens. The Cardinals run defense has been impressive so far this post season, but if Parker gets going it will be a long day for the Cardinals. Mewelde Moore is one of the better third down, change of pace backs in the league. Gary Russell will factor in the goal line. Carey Davis, the fullback, gets most of his action on special teams.

Hines Ward will be playing in this one. Ward was the super bowl MVP last time he played here, but don't expect that this time around. Ward will be playing in a knee brace, so expect him to be used more as a decoy.

Santonio Holmes could be the Super Bowl MVP. Holmes has speed to burn, and his moves after the catch leave defenders left in their tracks. If Holmes is matched up against Rod Hood any time during the game, expect Roethlisberger to take advantage of that and go deep.

Nate Washington has also developed late in the season. Washington has made some clutch catches, and expect him to be more involved than he was in his last Super Bowl.

Limas Sweeds takes on the Steelers fourth wide receiver spot. With Ward hurt expect Sweed to be a key part of their offense. a couple of drops by Sweed could ruin their chances of victory.

Heath Miller expects to see some passes thrown his way too. Matt Spaeth and Sean McHugh should also play a role on offense

Max Starks who will be playing Travis LaBoy, could have some trouble with his speed, but when Starks gets engaged, he is going to win the battle. Chris Kemoeatu will excel in the run game, but he is just average at pass blocking. Justin Hartwig would be a back up on most teams, but he can still play. Same with youngster Darnell Stapleton. Stapleton has emerged in his second year as a pro.

Willie Colon could have some trouble against Antonio Smith, who has four sacks in six games. The backs have to be aware of Adrian Wilson, who like Troy Palamalu, can kamikaze his way to the quarterback.

Casey Hampton is dangerous when he gets going. He sometimes take a center, a guard, and a back to block. Hampton will stall the run, and switch the momentum to the Steelers at any time. Aaron Smith is the Steelers' best defensive lineman. Smith can get to the quarterback. Just ask Peyton Manning. He is not a bad run defender either.

Brett Keisel can defend the run as well. Travis Kirschke and Chris Hoke will get a lot of playing time as well.

LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison are the best ouside linebacking tandem in the league. Harrison emerged last year as a pro bowl threat, and Woodley emerged this year. Right now Woodley is playing better.

James Farrior and Larry Foote patrol the middle of the field and defend the run. Lawrence Timmons will get some action as well.

Troy Polamalu can do it all. He can patrol the deep, defend the run, and blitz the quarterback. Kurt Warner's biggest challenge will be to take Polamalu out of the game.

Ike Talyor is a more physical corner, who can get beat deep. Bryant McFadden and Deshea Townsend are good zone corners. Anthony Madison, William Gay, and Bryant McFadden get time at corner as well.

Ryan Clark is a beast defending the run. His team mates call his the hardest hitting saftey in the game. Anthony Smith better not make any predictions, or else the Steelers are toast. Tyrone Carter will also get some time.

Jeff Reid and Mitch Berger are just average. Jared Retkofsky was working at a grocery store earlier in the year.  Santonio Holmes is a dangerous punt returner, and Gary Russell is below average at kick returner.

Key Match ups: Larry Fitzgerald vs. Ike Talyor, Steelers receivers vs. Rod Hood, Adrian Wilson vs. Running backs. Willie Colon vs. Antonio smith, LaMarr Woodley vs. Levi Brown

Prediction: Cardinals win 28-21