We tried to lay low after the perfect round we had during Championship Weekend. That's right, let that settle in for a moment......perfect. Four and oh, thanks to Troy Polamolu's pick six late in the 4th, whihc brings the post-season mark to 12-8.
As promised, we will be selecting not only the game versus the points as well as the over/under, but a selection of prop bets as well in a misguided attempt to bring the season record above the .500 mark. Let's get to it...
First of all, it is refreshing to see a team that has never made it to the game play in the Super Bowl. Cardinal fans, wherever you are, rejoice and enjoy this moment. Pittsburgh, on the other hand, is gunning for the a record sixth Super Bowl title, so this is all pretty much old hat for the players and fans in the Steel City.
So what happens Sunday then? The Steeler defense is as formidable a group the Cards have seen all season. Dick LeBeau's group simply cannot be run against, which might not matter since Arizona seems to have littl einterest in runngin the ball anyway. On the flip side, Pittsburgh's offense hasn't really been lighting it up, but could see some success against a Cardinal defense which has suddenly become a swarming bunch of ball hawks. The key could very well be how the "off" units (Pitt's Offense, 'Zona's Defense) perform. Let's look at it from that angle:
Steelers on offense - Big Ben is as tough as they come, and he has that uncanny, immeasurable ability to create something out of nothing, like he did on the long TD toss to Santonio Holmes against the Ravens. He also, however, tends to make some head scratching plays at times. He will have to keep those in his pocket on Sunday night. A less than 100% Hines Ward is still better than nothing at all, but the degree of his effectivemess will go a long way toward determining how successful these guys will be. The running game, normally a Steeler hallamrk, has been as spotty as ever and it's hard to predict what it can provide.
Cardinals on Defense - Eleven turnovers in three playoff games is a staggering total, and is an easy indicator when determining why this team has not only won its way here, but how. Since turnovers are often impossible to predict from game to game, we can't assume the trend will continue. Should the turnovers not come, this unit must force a few three and outs and avoid allowing long drives in the humid Florida night.
All things seems to point to the Steelers: the experience, the better defense, the chance to make history. All solid reasons, but we just can't shake one big thing working against them - Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona's coach. As a former Steeler assistant, he kjows the Pittsburgh personnel, has spent countless hours practicing against Dick LeBeau's schemes, and has no doubt seen just about every look LeBeau can give. Toss in the crazy mojo surrounding Kurt Warner, the best ffnsive player on the field in Larry Fitzgerald, and we're going to go ahead and grab the Cardinals to not only cover, but win outright.
Cardinals 27 Steelers 20
On to the Prop Bets!
Since many of these bets involve multiple options (with accompanying odds), we're going to stick with only those involving two choices.
Coin Toss: Tails
Winner of Coin Toss: Steelers
How Many Times will NBC show Brenda Warner during the game: Over 2.5
Which QB will John Madden mention using his full name after kickoff: Ben Roethlisberger
First Score: Touchdown
First to score: Cardinals
Number of songs sung by Bruce Springsteen: Over 3.5
Jersey Number of player to score first TD: Under 38
Enjoy the game everybody.