Super Bowl XLIII Preview: Defense Wins Championships

Tim BlissContributor IJanuary 29, 2009

The Arizona Cardinals are this year's Cinderella team in the NFL. They are the underdog team that no one picked to be in the Super Bowl, representing the NFC.

Their opponent in Super Bowl XLIII is the AFC's Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers had the NFL's No. 1 rated defense during the regular season.

The heart and soul of the defense is safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu had seven interceptions during the regular season and returned an interception for a touchdown in the Steelers AFC Championship Game win against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Steelers defense is also led by linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. The two have had 16 and 11.5 sacks, respectively, during the regular season.

Their task is to slow down the high power Cardinals offense led by quarterback Kurt Warner. Warner and the Cardinals were third in the NFL during the regular season averaging 26.7 points per game.

Warner won the MVP for his performance in Super Bowl XXXIV while leading the St. Louis Rams to a 20-16 win over the Tennessee Titans. Warner also led the Rams to Super Bowl XXXVI, where they would eventually lose to the New England Patriots.

Warner has a pair of dynamic wide receivers in Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin. Fitzgerald set a NFL playoff record by scoring three first half touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Fitzgerald and Boldin combined for 185 catches, 2,469 yards and 23 touchdowns during the regular season.

This is a classic case of strength versus strength. I believe the Steelers defense will put pressure on Warner and force him into mistakes. In other words I believe defense wins championships, which is why I'm picking the Steelers defeat the Cardinals to win Super Bowl XLIII.