It's almost time for the big game
, and I have to say, I'm pretty excited.
Myself, I'll be rooting for the Pittsburgh Steelers. I know, Kurt Warner and all that, but I actually happen to be a fan of the Steelers. No real reason, other than the fact that I always liked Bill Cowher, I like the Omar Epps impersonator that they have coaching now, and I like their uniforms. Yup, that's enough for me to like a team. Makes you think twice about actually putting any weight on the things I write, doesn't it?
Now that I think of it, though, I do really like the new stadium out in Arizona
, so I may have to take that into consideration... Boy, serious sporting analysis is tough work.
Here are the salient points of what I believe will happen in the game, all nice and bullet-pointy:
- The Arizona Cardinals have transformed themselves into a different team in the playoffs, largely due to their increased focus on running the ball. However, I don't think they are going to have any luck whatsoever running the football against the defensive line and linebacker corps that the Steelers can throw out there. The question will be whether or not the Cardinals will stay committed to the run even if it doesn't work, or if they will get pass-happy and let Warner try to win it.
- If there is any one place the Steeler defense may be vulnerable, it could very well be cornerback. I expect Warner to have a fair amount of success passing, but I also expect for Troy Polamalu to become a significant factor as the game wears on, particularly if Arizona get away from their running game.
- Arizona's defense has been remarkably good during the postseason, and I think that will probably continue. That being said, I also see Pittsburgh being able to put up a decent point total, as a healthy Willie Parker should allow the Steelers to move the ball effectively, allowing Ben Rothlisberger to simply manage the game and take a few shots on his terms.
- As always, the wild card in the game will be turnovers. If Rothlisberger goes out and has the sort of day that Jake Delhomme had against Arizona, then it's going to be a long day for Steeler fans. However, that's really the only way I see the Cardinals winning this thing. As long as the Steelers avoid self-destructing, I think they're just going to be too strong for Arizona.
My final predictions?
Warner completes more than 55 percent of his passes, but also gets picked twice.
Rothlisberger completes slightly less than 50 percent, but does not turn the ball over. Willie Parker gets 100 yards rushing, while the 'Zona running backs combine for right around 80 total.
The game will feature some of the best play by safeties you've ever seen on both sides of the field, as Troy Polamalu grabs one of the interceptions Warner throws, and the Cardinals' Adrian Wilson goes off for eight tackles and a sack.
Final Line: Pittsburgh 23, Arizona 13
Now, let's see just how badly this turns out, shall we?