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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Evan Heffron: Super Bowl XLIII Preview

The stage is set. 30 NFL teams have perished in the face of adversity in the last month or so, and just two remain standing, ready to square off in the sport's ultimate game. The Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers have taken two drastically different paths to get to the point where they stand today, hours away from the big one.

The regular season was a bumpy one for the Cardinals. Their "easy" division and struggles on the east coast translated into thrashings at the hands of Philadelphia and New England late in the season and many began to question the big game ability of the redbirds. None the less, Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt, former mastermind behione the 06 Steeler offense, rallied the troops and had his team focused on the challenges that laid ahead. 3 upset wins against the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Philadelphia Eagles have sealed their date with destiny.

By destiny i meant Mr.Polamalu and co.

All year long Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau have had their defense playing at an all-universe level. The season went as planned for the Pittsburgh faithful, a few hicups here and there but overall, dominance by the Steeler D' and playmaking ability of Ben Roethlisberger and Willie Parker have propelled them into XLIII. Going for their 6th franchise title in Super Bowls, many beleive that this is their year. Not everyday a team beats the 2nd ranked defense in the league 3 times in one season.

But when analyzing any championship game, one must take every aspect of the two teams into consideration before jumping to any conclusions.

In the NFC championship game, Kurt Warner and the gang made a very formidable pro-bowl calibur Eagle secondary look stupid. Yes, the Steelers are absolutley dominant defense but ......

Fitzgerlad> anyone in the world

you can't stop him, you have to limit him, and Coach LeBeau knows that. Breston and Boldin will get theirs too. either way...

Willie Parker has returned to form and is looking rejuvenated. The same can be said for Arizona's Edgerrin James and spell back Tim Hightower. Arizona's rushing numbers have gone way up but they aren't special enough to penetrate the front seven of Pittsburgh. Likewise, Pitt's offensive line should be able to get a decent push the run game against Darnell Dockett and the rest of Arizona's pass rushers.

Adrian Wilson plays a lot near the line and I believe is one of a few select breed of safeties that can do so effectively. But anyways, Hampton is Large. Harrison has a knack for getting his helmet on the ball and Dick LeBeau schemes are executed to the fullest with this new version of the steel curtain.

Antrelle Rolle and Dominique Rogers-Cromratie are good and up and coming players but Hines Ward is a great route runner and Santonio Holmes has big sideline ability which could cause the redbirds problems ( i.e. Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson 2 weeks ago). I'd like to give the Steelers the edge because of the play making ability of Troy Polamalu but I still feel as if Larry Fitzgerald will get his, and make it count.

Neil Rackers has a boot and on a neutral field, he could be an instrumental weapon from 50+ yards out. Plus, Sean Morey is the man.
Ken Whisenhunt has been a master motivator this year and has provided inspiration to a group of guys that all seemed to be cast-offs. He has gotten Kurt Warner back to all-pro form as well. I just feel like Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau will be future hall of famers when its all said and done, especially if they pull this one out. The Steelers have a clear cut X's and O's advantage in my opinion.


When its all said and done, everything in a neutral sports fans' body points to Pittsburgh. The Dominating D, Big Ben, etc. But, there is something that hides in the deepest part of one's psyche that wants so badly for the redbirds to pull this one off. Yes, i am completely contradicting my entire analysis right now, but in a championship game, all that crap goes out the window. Villanova over Georgetown. New York Jets over Baltimore Colts. USA over USSR. Red Sox over Yankees.

Cardinals over Steelers, 24-23.*

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