The Steelers' top-ranked defense will have to come up big against Arizona's prolific passing attack to win its second Super Bowl this decade. Strong safety Troy Polamalu and the Steelers secondary will shoulder the defensive burden as it tries to shut down a receiving corps that might end up being the best to ever suit up.
Dick LeBeau's defense will have to muster an inordinate amount of pressure on Kurt Warner, who features a quick release and 112.1 passer rating in the playoffs. LeBeau will likely show Warner a variety of blitzing schemes and different looks, with Polamalu lined up just about anywhere in the secondary, to take the former MVP out of his comfort zone.
However, once the ball is snapped, Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin are not likely to go down without a fight. As two of the best receivers to ever line up on the same side of the ball, the acrobatic Fitzgerald and fearless Boldin can wreak havoc in the secondary.
If this were not enough, Steve Breaston, the Cards' third receiver—yes, third—to collect over 1,000 passing yards this season, is poised to have a true breakout performance as the Steelers focus on his teammates. Left unchecked, Breaston is every bit as dangerous an offensive weapon as the Cardinals possess.
As Boldin and Fitzgerald stretch the defense downfield and to the sidelines, look for Breaston to collect his catches on crossing routes and for running back Tim Hightower underneath, out of the backfield.
These teams match up very well in most areas. The Steelers have the edge in coaching, defense, and the running game. The Cardinals have an edge at QB, wide receiver, special teams, and have an oft underrated offensive line.
Overall, the edge has to go to the Steelers with their defensive prowess. After all, conventional thinking says defense wins championships.
But unless Polamalu and company can tourniquet the wounds that the Cardinals' passing attack will inflict, this year, offense wins championships.