With the regular season and playoffs behind us, it’s time to look forward to the biggest game of the N.F.L. season, the Super Bowl. February 1, 2009 will square the Arizona Cardinals of the NFC against the Pittsburgh Steelers of the AFC in Super Bowl XLIII.
The Steelers come into the game with a (12-4) record and two dominating victories in the playoffs, while the Cardinals stumbled into the playoffs with a record of (9-7).
The Steelers come into the game bearing the number one defense in the NFL and they continually have performed to the standards of the historical defenses of past Steelers teams. While the Cardinals have not been known for their defense throughout the season, the defense has performed above the standards expected of them.
In terms of offense the Cardinals have done everything that is expected of them and more. The Cardinals had the fourth ranked offense in the NFL heading into the playoffs, but was lacking a consistent running game.
Since the playoffs have begun the Cardinals have been running the ball consistently and have been taking advantage of teams on the outside in the passing game. The Steelers on the other hand are just themselves. The Steelers have been using their grind it out style of football by running the ball and connecting on pivotal pass plays throughout the playoffs.
In terms of the favorite, I’m taking Arizona. Many people say defense is supposed to win championships and offense sell tickets but I’m going against the grain. The Arizona offense is too high powered and has looked basically unstoppable throughout the playoffs. The receiving threat of Larry Fitzgerald is too powerful for the secondary of the Steelers. Fitzgerald has dominated opposing secondary to 419 yards receiving and five touchdowns.
Kurt Warner has also been good in the playoffs. His veteran skills and good decision making has helped his team dominate. Warner has thrown for 770 yards and eight touchdowns. The Arizona defense also is not a push over, at least not in the playoffs. The Cardinal defense has stopped some of the best offenses in NFL in the playoffs.
They forced Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan into two interceptions and forced one fumble. In the divisional round they forced Jake Delhomme into five interceptions and forced one fumble.
The conference championship was no different; they made Donovan McNabb throw one interception and forced one fumble. In total the Arizona secondary has intercepted eight passes in the playoffs and the defensive line has forced three quarterback fumbles.
The odds are all stacked up against the Cardinals, but I’m going with the underdog. They have showed the determination of a championship team throughout the playoffs. What else does a championship caliber team have to show?