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Monday, January 19, 2009

Super Bowl Smackdown - Wanting the Cards, Taking Steelers

Leaning firmly towards a Pittsburgh victory. Arizona is talented and riding a momentum wave, but so is Pittsburgh. Two weeks off bodes well for Pittsburgh as they can rest - I think it hurts Arizona more, mentally, as they have two weeks of digesting their situation. Edge: Pittsburgh.

Pittsburg rushing game is simply better. They can run when they have to. Arizona is simply not a rushing threat. Wracking up yards against an already-defeated Carolina defense that padded Arizon's stats to give the illusion of an formidable rushing game, simply is not a good gage of reality. Edgerrin can run the ball aptly but has not struck fear into anyone in years. Not a knock on him - he's simply an older back clearly on the downside of his career. Pittsburgh has better line play and is more likely to be able to grind out yards when necessary. edge: Pittsburgh.

The Cardinals are a passing team. Clearly their biggest weapon is Fitz, and I fully expect Pittsburgh to scheme accordingly, putting a safety on him at the line and bumping him to slow his progress into secondary, where another corner will be waiting to pick him up. They'll likely look to pressure Warner into throwing quickly with creative blitz packages and pass rushes. Slowing Fitz down and speeding up the throwing process will lessen Fitz's down-field contributions, at least in theory.

If I am Arizona, I expect Pittsburgh to try and nullify Fitz, therefore Az will counter scheme to include Boldin, Arrington, Urbane more with underneath routes to lull the defense. This should more create one-on-one coverage situations with them - opening up big play potential while Fitz is being used as a decoy to tie up two secondary players for Pittsburgh.

Warner vs Roethlisberger will be an over-hyped story line. if Pittsburgh can blitz successfully they will nullify Warner. Same with Arizona - they will have to frustrate ben into making mistakes - but it'll be tougher because Pittsburgh has a stronger run game to rely on. The run game gives Ben a slight edge. They always get a trick play, use a creative playbook when necessary, and Ben doesn't make many mistakes. Their ace in the holes will be the runnng game and the short passing game featuring Heath Miller.

Arizona's defense is playing well, but their take-away ratio was dramatically bloated because of Jake Delhomme's random five-interception nightmare. That is not the norm for them at all - so do not be fooled by short-term stat bloating. They could hold Pittsburgh's offense in check, but the Steelers will eventually get some points.

Pittsburgh will win this because it will be a low scoring head knocking game - and that is where they flourish. Arizona can definitely win this game - if they can win the turnover battle and contol the clock effectively. They are a talented team for sure, but I expect Pittsburgh to be more mentally prepared and ready.

Pittsburgh 23 - 16.

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