February 01, 2009

Super Bowl Thoughts

I can't believe all of the love that Arizona is getting for this game. Do that many people really think that the Cards have a shot in this game?? I don't see it.

At the end of the day, the Cardinals are still that 9-7 team from the regular season that barely snuck in. They are playing their best ball of the year, but they have had an absolutely PERFECT draw so far. They got an Atlanta team that was not quite rady for the big time and handed them the game. They got lucky to draw a Carolina team that completely choked, and then they had a perfect storm to get to host the NFC Championship game. And even in that game, if Philly doesn't come out flat, Zona is sitting at home right now. You need a little luck to advance, but the Cards have been exceptionally lucky.

Cinderella stories are great, but they usually end badly. At some point, the Cinderella gets in over their head. Everyone is talking about the Giants game from last year. This is a totally different situation. The Giants were a perfect underdog last year. You had a flashy favorite with all kinds of skill talent against an underrated underdog that had been winning with defense and line play. We've seen that formula for an upset so many times that you could see where that game was going within the first couple minutes when the G-Men were blowing up the Pats line and getting to Brady.

That's not the case here at all. The flashy team in this game is the Cards. The Steelers have been winning with dominant defense and line play and big plays all year. Why would they not be able to do those things against an inferior Cardinals team??

I'll admit that I haven't given much respect to the Cards all playoffs, but I still am not buying into them. At some point, a good team is going to have a gameplan to contain Larry Fitzgerald, and the Cards have no other way to beat you. They don't run the ball, and their defense is just ok. If they win the Super Bowl, it would go against everything I have come to know about football. On the other hand, the Steelers are perfectly built to be Super Bowl champion. They can beat you in about 10 different ways, and it's awfully hard to beat them when you can't score on their defense.

My feeling is that everything would have to break right for the Cards to win this game by a field goal. Meanwhile, the Steelers just have to play their game and they can win this game 31-10. Everything about this game points to the Steelers getting in Warner's face, creating a bunch of turnovers, and then Ben making a bunch of backbreaking 3rd down conversions. I just feel like the Steelers will blow this game wide open sometime in the 2nd quarter and then tee off on Warner for the rest of the game.

I always love legacies in championship games, so what's at stake here??

Looking at the Steelers, it seems like a few guys could put themselves into Hall of Fame position with a win tonight. The only sure-fire lock Hall of Famer on this team is Troy Polamalu in my eyes. Polamalu is the best defensive player I've ever personally seen, and I think he's the best all-around player in the NFL. There are a lot of great safeties in the NFL, but there is no one else who is completely impossible to game plan around like Polamalu. Ed Reed is a great safety, but he's a guy you can avoid and deal with. Reed makes his living on Qbs making mistakes, and he's as good as anyone at making teams pay for throwing dumb passes into his area. But I've plenty of Bengals-Ravens games where Reed was a non-factor. I've never seen a Steelers game where Polamalu was a non-factor. You cannot avoid him. He's there on run support, he's physical, he chases people down, he is around the ball, and he can get from sideline to sideline quicker than anyone. On a team like the Steelers, he's devastating.

What about Hines Ward though?? If he has a typical Hines Ward game tonight with a bunch of clutch 3rd down catches and some big blocks and big momentum plays, wouldn't that cement his legacy as one of the best possession/glue guys of all time?? He doesn't have the stats or anything, but how many receivers would you rather have on your team than Hines Ward in a big game?? I can't think of many. He will be an interesting decision for the Hall of Fame committee someday.

As for Roethlisberger, he's not a "numbers" guy, but there is no way you can have a list of the top 5 QBs in the game without his name on the list. He's the best "make things happen on the fly" quarterback since Favre in his prime. It is almost impossible to bring him down on the first hit. If Roethlisberger breaks out of the pocket, he's the most dangerous QB in the league. He might end up with 185 yards or something like that, but I'll bet 2/3 of those yards come on backbreaking 3rd down conversions when they really need it. I have no doubt that he'll be effective tonight. If he wins a second Super Bowl, just start engraving his name on a bust in Canton now.

I'm not exactly a Steelers fan, but I'll probably end up pulling for them to win. I cannot root for freaking Arizona. Give me a break with this Arizona bandwagon. Phoenix is the biggest bandwagon city in the country. I'll go ahead and pull for a Midwestern franchise any day of the week over Phoenix. I have a love-hate relationship with Ben Roethlisberger (the hate tends to come in when he's carving up the Bengals or doing his "slow to get up" routine), but at the end of the day I'd like to see him have a great career. If you grew up in Findlay, Ohio and played college ball at Miami and have a chance to win a second Super Bowl and start to really put the Hall of Fame into the picture, I gotta support you.

Looking forward to the game.

Steelers 27 Arizona 13

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