There doesn't seem to be a lot of excitement brewing about this Super Bowl outside of Arizona and Pittsburgh. I don't get it, this is a great matchup; the Cardinals with a most improbable appearance in the Super Bowl and quite an exciting offense going against the physical Pittsburgh Steelers, going for their sixth Super Bowl title.
I missed posting an article on the first two rounds of the playoffs and opted not to post one on the Conference Championship games because of that. (Went 2-2 in the first round, 3-1 in the 2nd round, and 1-1 in the championship games.)
I couldn't miss this one though, it's the Super Bowl! Maybe your team didn't make it, mine didn't either. But it's the pinnacle of the National Football League. All of the hard work put in by these Football players that we admire and follow all year comes down to this.
Honestly, this for me was one of the hardest Super Bowls I have had to pick in a while. (Since Tampa/Oakland at least.) But after much thought I have made my decision, and here is my analysis...
Can't go wrong with Ben Roethlisberger, he's won here before, he throws a good deep ball, he makes plays with his feet.
Warner however is my choice, he gets rid of the ball much quicker, gets sacked only 2% of the time he is blitzed compared to 15% for Roethlisberger. He's had statistically much better years, and the experience factor. Give me Kurt Warner for the big game.
Edgerrin James is fresh and playing for a contract, in fact he is so fresh that at one point during the Eagles game he broke off a 22 yard run and later an 18 yarder in the same drive. If you've, watched Edge since he came to Arizona, you would know what an oddity that is.
However, Willie Parker is finally healthy and has also been running well. Parker has major big-play capability and they also have Mewelde Moore on 3rd Downs. The Cardinals running game has improved but I annoint the Pittsburgh Steelers the winner here.
I for one am surprised that Pittsburgh has made it this far. The defense is great no doubt but the offensive line is porous. Roethlisberger was sacked 20 more times than Warner. Part of this attributed to the fact that Ben sometimes holds onto the ball too long in attempt to make plays but the Steeler's offensive line leaves a lot to be desired.
The Cardinals have the edge here.
I told White Goodman this week that i thought the Pittsburgh Steeler's might have a better Wide Recieving core. He gave me a confused look and replied, "Go ahead, make your jokes, Mr. Jokey... Joke-maker. But let me hit you with some knowledge."
He then proceeded to tell me that Larry Fitzgerald not only made the Pro-Bowl this year with over 1,400 recieving yards and 12 TD's, but he also broke Jerry Rice for recieving yards in a post-season with 419. Anquan Boldin basically broke his face and still caught 89 balls with over 1,000 yards and 11 TD's, and even Steve Breaston emerged as a very good #3 target.
Teams would love to have Hines Ward sure and Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington have big-play capability but the Cardinals are the only answer here.
Well, I'm convinced
Now the Cardinals front 7 hasn't quite got the credit they have deserved this year, but this isn't even close.
Pittsburgh ranked #2 against the run this year behind Minnesota and #2 in sacks behind Dallas. Dick Lebeau is the mastermind of disguising blitzes and Kurt Warner will have his hands full. Lamarr Woodley had 11.5 sacks, Harrison had 16 sacks but even had over 100 tackles, James Farrior had 133 tackles.
I could go on but you get the point, the Steelers front 7 is amazing. (Especially the LB core) Steelers have a big edge here.
Are you reading this Ravens fans? The gentleman with the crazy hair that you see is the best safety in the NFL. He has a motor unlike any other, he punishes wide recievers with hellacious hits, and he can make big plays off of interceptions too.
Fellow safety Ryan Clark has garnered a major reputation for hellacious hits as well and may make Cardinals recievers think twice about going over the middle. (Not Fitzgerald but Boldin possibly)
Ike Taylor and Bryant McFaddon are no slouches at the corners, the Pittsburgh Steelers were ranked #1 against the pass this year. I think it's safe to go with them.
Steelers again but this is closer than people think, Mitch Berger doesn't have the leg he used to.
I can't really argue against Tomlin, he's put his stamp on this team and could be the youngest NFL head coach to win a Super Bowl. He ought to be with the Steelers for a long time.
I'm splitting hairs on this one but I'm giving the slight edge to the Whiz for turning around the losing culture in Arizona so quickly with a shaky defense, shaky running game, and a QB who not long ago was bagging groceries.
No slight at all towards coach Mike Tomlin.
What?! The Arizona Cardinals as the Super Bowl Champions?! I know, I was even leaning Steelers most of the way.
Basically it came down to 2 questions-
1.Are the Arizona Cardinals still the team nobody believes in? I can remember when the New England Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl and the joy of the Patriots players after the Super Bowl. All they talked about was how nobody believed they could win this game...Well, it wasn't true, they were favored but they made it true. The Arizona Cardinals clearly have been that team in the playoffs and guess what? Pittsburgh is favored by 7 points.
2.Will the Steelers force Warner into turnovers? Warner did have a couple of episodes this year where he melted down, turned the ball over and the Cardinals got blown out but my guy says no. During the playoffs his QB rating was in the 130's against the blitz and during the regular season it was still 103. He's smart, he gets rid of the ball too quickly, and he just had too many weapons. Pittsburgh will have to double Fitzgerald to even have a chance of containing him and even if they do that, Anquan Boldin is arguably a top 10 wide-reciever anyway and Breaston has also proven himself to be very good.
I must confess that my track record for the Super Bowl is absolutely terrible. (Only the Colts/Bears and Patriots/Eagles Super Bowls did I predict correctly.) Can Pitt win this game? Absolutely, could Warner fumble 3 times and have the Cardinals lose by 20+? It's happened before, but I'm going with my guy. And my gut says not to pick against this Arizona Cardinals team right now.
Enjoy the game!