Straight up, the vast majority of the nation is picking the Pittsburgh Steelers to beat the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl this weekend. What you may not know is some of the interesting data with regard to how these two teams match-up with one another.
This is certainly a Super Bowl with one very interesting storyline for the foundation. Mike Tomlin, the Steelers head coach was chosen over Ken Whisenhunt, the Cardinals head coach, for the Pittsburgh position.
This game has all the makings of a flat-out rivalry game based on that fact, but here are some interesting stats that may lead you to believe this game will be close, much closer than many think.
Currently the line favors Pittsburgh at (-7), and the over-under is set at 47.
The Pittsburgh Pirates/Steelers own the edge, but it is not quite as large a margin as one might believe. The Steelers have an eight game edge over the Cardinals. The Cards started out in 1925 and hooked up against the Pirates their first year in the league in 1933.
Since that time, the Pirates/Steelers have the edge 31-23-3. This is a narrow margin considering how great the Steelers have been the last 40 years.
Most Recent Meeting
This could be the most telling stat for picking this game. The Arizona Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Arizona during the 2007 season. It was the game that saw Kurt Warner start to take over for the ineffective Matt Leinart. Both QBs combined for 21-for-35 and one touchdown.
The Cardinals defense created turnovers, and Edgerrin James ran for 77 yards on 21 carries with a TD, positive results for a defensive battle.
Big Ben went 17-32 passing with 244 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. The two interceptions in large part sunk the Steelers. If Arizona gets two turnovers and commits less, they are probably going to win the game.
Most Recent Data
No team reaches the Super Bowl on accident. They might upset another team, but it is no accident.
In the Cardinals case, they were a dead dog lying in the New England cold right before the playoffs. Since that time, the Cards have outscored their opponents by an average of 10.5 points, are +11 in turnovers, and have averaged nearly 400 yards of offense.
Pittsburgh has won their last four games, averaging 26 PPG in that span. That number is an interesting number, especially to the Steelers. When they average above 25 PPG, they are usually successful in the playoffs. When they score below 22 points, their record drops off significantly.
So what does this mean? If the Cardinals play great defense, Pittsburgh will be in big trouble, bank on it.
The Racine-Chicago-St. Louis-Phoenix-Arizona Football Cardinals have a dismal .413 winning percentage as a franchise. That is good for second worst all-time, only better than the dismal New Orleans Saints, who are back a whole two wining percentage points for the NFL’s all-time cellar dweller.
Pittsburgh started out as a doormat as well, but that all changed in the 1970’s. They are now trying to be the first team to win six Lombardi Trophies. If they are successful, this would be their sixth in seven Super Bowl appearances.
Style of Play
Give the Steelers the edge on both sides of the ball. However, do not be mislead into thinking the Cardinals will not show up. They will. This game will be close.
The fact that Pittsburgh’s offense can be inept at times may lead to Cardinal domination on that side of the ball. On the flip side, how quickly and how well Warner can find open receivers will dictate the outcome.
Pittsburgh has quite possibly the fastest defense of all-time. Not the best, not the most sound, not the most technical, but the fastest. These kids truly fly around the ball.
They are physical, and will punish the Cardinals from time to time. How the Cardinals handle that physical game will set the tempo for the outcome of the game.
The Pittsburgh Steelers proved all year long that they were the best team in the NFL up until this point. The Cardinals have the swagger the Giants had facing the undefeated Patriots in last year's game.
This game is hard to get a pulse on, other than it should be closer than most people think. I’m an AFC guy, and I have great respect for the Steelers as a playoff and conference rival to the Denver Broncos.
I think it’s a shame the Cardinals have been down for so long. My mind says Pittsburgh, but my heart says Arizona.
Arizona Cardinals 28
Pittsburgh Steelers 27