Super Bowl XLIII: Looking at the X-Factors

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Super Bowl XLIII: Looking at the X-Factors
Super Bowl XLIII will feature the league's top-ranked defense vs. one of its most unstoppable offenses Sunday evening.

The Steelers' tough defense, top of the league in just about every category, will attempt to slow down the Arizona Cardinals, particularly wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who right now seems unstoppable even in double and triple coverage.

Troy Polamalu and the Steelers defense will look to hit Larry early, sending a message and trying to get in his head and keep him off rhythm. On the offensive side of the ball, they will use running back Willie Parker and control the clock.

Kurt Warner and the Cardinals will likely run the same type of offense they have been with the go-to-guy being Fitzgerald. The play action will continue to be a huge factor to open up the field for their wideouts.

Expect Adrian Wilson and the Cardinal defense to put eight in the box, stop the run and make Ben Roethlisberger use his arm to beat them.

But, as with any Super Bowl, there are X-factors that could change the outcome, and in this case both seem to benefit Arizona.

The first is Anquan Boldin, who seems to have been lost in the hype surrounding Fitzgerald. Boldin, if he is healthy, is another dangerous receiver who will give Warner another option downfield, especially if Fitzgerald is double-covered. Both of these playmakers are difficult for any defense to stop.

The other factor is that Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt was Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator and was almost the head coach, losing the spot to Mike Tomlin. We might witness a game similar to the Pirate Bowl in 2003, where Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Bucs matched up with the Oakland Raiders in 2003 and where Gruden, the former Oakland coach, knew what to expect from his old team.

I'm still picking the Steelers, simply because their defense is just too good for the Cardinals to match up with. They have never faced a defense this tough.

However, as a 49ers fan, I would love to be wrong, simply because a Pittsburgh victory would give them six Lombardi Trophies, the most in league history, surpassing Dallas and San Francisco's five victories.Maybe me picking the Steelers will jinx them.

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