The List: Super Bowl dream for you, me; and two teams
You want to know the beauty of the Super Bowl? Six weeks ago, we didn’t care about either team in this game, and now we have a vested interest in either one of them.
For some people, that interest runs more along the financial lines. But we’re not going to go there right now.
Seriously, no one east of the Texas panhandle cared about the Arizona Cardinals before the season started.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a more popular team nationally, but that’s mainly because their bald ex-quarterback acts the fool on FOX’s Sunday pre-game show. Well, that and this guy named Swann, some reception God was supposed to have a hand in and five previous Super Bowl wins.
The breakdown for this game when we go down “The List.”
Scoring — No team during the regular season was better at stopping opponents than the Steelers. Only three offenses were better than the Cards. That trend has continued in the playoffs. Pittsburgh has given up 38 points over two games, and Arizona leads all teams with an average of almost 32 points in three postseason games. Always bet on defense in the postseason. Not that I’m saying you should bet. Well, you get my point.
Turnovers — Believe it or not, Arizona has twice as many takeaways as Pittsburgh. Factoring in the difference in games played, the turnover advantage is +9 for the Cardinals and +5 for the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t thrown a pick all postseason. Then again, he hasn’t thrown the ball as much as his counterpart, Kurt Warner. In a game that will probably be tight, I would say this is a fairly important statistic.
Coaching — There’s very little doubt in my mind Mike Tomlin’s approach to this game will be all about minimizing distractions and coming mentally focused Sunday. Ken Whisenhunt will probably do a little more motivating, being that his team is younger and more emotional. But in the end, it all comes down to the actual game. How do you take a team that was overlooked to the Super Bowl? By making good decisions.
The Cardinals are underdogs, but they obviously benefit from a good coaching staff. As offensive coordinator for the Steelers during Super Bowl XL, Whisenhunt was the guy that called the wide receiver pass from Antwaan Randle El to Hines Ward. It set the tone for the rest of the game.
Intangibles — Let’s start with injuries. The Cards have four players listed as questionable for the game, but only reserve running back J.J. Arrington didn’t practice. Pittsburgh has a lot more guys that have to deal with injuries, including leading receiver Hines Ward, who reportedly didn’t practice Wednesday. Both quarterbacks have won a ring before. So have both coaches, Tomlin as defensive backs coach for Tampa Bay during Super Bowl XXXVII. In the end, I can’t ignore that on the back end of his career, Warner has done a great job of leading a team with more overall talent than Pittsburgh.
Final prediction: Arizona 19, Pittsburgh 17.