Deep Into Sports: Super Bowl Preview Jan29

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Deep Into Sports: Super Bowl Preview


a blogumn by Nate Barlow

cardssteelersYes, it’s finally almost here. February 1, 2009–Super Bowl Sunday. The big day of the big game, America’s television-viewing and pizza-munching apex of the year. Whether you watch for the football or you watch for the commercials, you watch. And by you, I mean almost a third of the population of the United States as well as countless others across the word.

(By the way, for those of you watching only for the commercials, seriously? For four hours this one day, you actually sit in anticipation of and willingly watch those 30- to 60-second advertisements that you otherwise TIVO past every other day of the year? You do realize just how ridiculous that is, don’t you?)

I, of course, care about the sport. Deeply. Even when my team isn’t playing.

So whether you’re a hardcore football fanatic like me, or a commercial junkie whose curiosity is actually piqued by the action between the spots, here’s a preview of Super Bowl XLIII from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa after the jump:

The Line:

Pittsburgh by 7.

The History:

The Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers are two franchises whose histories could not be more diametrically opposed. This Sunday the Steelers will be playing for their record 6th Super Bowl victory (overall 6-1). The Cardinals, on the other hand, have a single championship game victory to their credit–back in 1947, two decades before the advent of the Super Bowl and, for the Cardinals, two home cities ago (in Chicago, with a stop-off in St. Louis along the way).

The Strengths

Arizona’s offense and Pittsburgh’s defense. Strength vs. strength on the field at the same time. To pull off the upset, the Cardinals must control the offensive line of scrimmage. If the offensive line does it job, providing quarterback Kurt Warner time to deliver the ball, look out! Arizona has three wide receivers with over 1,000 yards this season: Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston and Larry Fitzgerald, who has been beyond red-hot so far this post-season.

On the other hand, Pittsburgh has the NFL’s top-rated defense. If the Steel Curtain does indeed dominate, Arizona will be hard-pressed to keep pace. The player to watch: safety Troy Polamalu, who had seven interceptions in the regular season and who almost single-handedly defeated the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game.

The Wildcard:

Pittsburgh star wide receiver Hines Ward. Ward has been battling a knee injury but claims he will be able to play on Sunday. A true prognosis or mere bravado? Many in the media have their doubts.

Even if Ward does suit up, the big question is how effective will he be? A healthy Hines Ward dramatically improves the Steelers offense and greatly diminishes the Cardinals’ chances of winning–advantage Pittsburgh.

The Intangibles:

Warner, who’s exhibiting the same magic he did ten years ago when he emerged from NFL Europe to helm the St. Louis Rams to a Super Bowl victory. His leadership has Arizona playing with the confidence and swagger that can carry a team through any adversity.

The Winner?

Pittsburgh has the better overall team, but there’s something about the way Arizona is playing right now that makes the Cards hard to pick against. My head says Steelers; my heart the Cardinals. Should I play my hunch?


Want to geek out more on sports? Visit Nate’s regular Deep Into Sports blog here.