Friday, January 30, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII Prediction

Ok, it’s time for a Super Bowl prediction…The last time the Steelers and Cardinals played was during Week 4 of the 2007 campaign. In that game the Cardinals sacked Ben Roethlisberger four times and intercepted him twice. They also held Willie Parker to 39 yards rushing. Meanwhile Larry Fitzgerald had a field day and that was before Kurt Warner was playing at an MVP level and it was without Anquan Boldin who was sidelined with an injury. Plus the Cardinals were not running the football as effectively as they have so far during this post season. That said the Cardinals have yet to face a defense as stingy as the Steelers in ’08-’09.

The keys for the Steelers:

1. Exploit a suspect Cardinals secondary: That might be a challenge without a healthy Hines Ward. Look for the Steelers to turn to TE Heath Miller. The Cardinals struggled to defend the Eagles’ tight ends and Miller could have a field day.

2. Get inside pressure on Kurt Warner and force him to move off his spot: Warner welcomes pressure off the edge. With his poise and quick release, Warner can exploit areas vacated by blitzing defenders.

3. Provide over the top help to the corners: The Steelers corners are average while Boldin is not and Fitzgerald is arguably the league’s best receiver.

The keys for the Cardinals:

1. Protect Warner between the tackles…PERIOD!

2. Contain Roethlisberger: If he breaks containment, Cardinals’ suspect secondary could be easy pickings.

3. Get backs in the passing game: Warner can spread the Steelers secondary if protected with three 1,000 yard receivers. They will command attention and Pittsburgh might not have the resources to give much attention to James and Hightower out of the backfield.

During Championship weekend I rooted for the Eagles in large part because I believed they would be a more willing victim for the Ravens than the Cardinals. The Cardinals would have been a bad match up for the Ravens. Many say that the Ravens and Steelers are built similarly and for that reason, I think Arizona is a bad match up for Pittsburgh too. The 2008 season has been heavily characterized by its unpredictability and the unexpected. That trend continues on Sunday when Kurt Warner becomes the first quarterback to win the Super Bowl with two different teams

Cardinals 26 Steelers 23


Jeremiah W said...

I think the Cards will win as well.

The regular season does not mean much now, but the teams the Steelers struggled with the most had good front 4 pressure and a vet QB with a solid passing game. The Eagles, Indy, NY an the Titans all beat them in different ways with a similar formula.

During the playoffs, the Cards have been the most impressive team by far. They played pretty good defense for most of the regular season before they locked up the 4 seed anyway, but they have turned it up and are playing as well as the Ravens D was at the end of the year. They are not only shutting teams down, they are taking the ball away and scoring.

The Cards D has been able to take what looked like a mismatch one way and flip it. DRC vs Steve Smith was supposed to be a mismatch that created predictable double coverage, but they let them test him 1 on 1 and DRC won every time. Having the Cbs to man up and 2 versatile safties who are free to roam and confuse, lets the Cards be as exotic or aggresive as they want to be with the front 7. They can go cover 0 and still match up with a 3 wide look.
They do a great job of taking away all the underneath stuff and almost forcing the deep ball, where they have been winning all the 1 on 1 matchups with relative ease.

The Steelers O has been clutch, but is the lowest ranked O the Cards will have faced. If Atl and Carolina could not run on them, I really doubt the Steelers will. I think Dockett and Berry are going to both get pentration on almost every play, disrupting interior runs and putting constant pressure and hits on Big B.

On the other side of the Ball, the Steelers are going to have to basically double both outside WRs all the time and try to cover the slots and flats 1 on 1 long enough for a 4 man rush to beat 6 man protections amd a 6 man front to stop the run with no uncovered man for the RB.

There is no way the Cards could come out and establish the run from power formations, but if they go 3 and 4 wide and run a hurry up attack, they will have plenty of favorable match ups and a lot of room to work in the middle and in the flats. the problem in stopping AZ is that you can not jam the Wrs and they can either get vertical very quickly and clear out the flats or they can run bubble screens to them and quick slants if you back off, and they are like all pro runnig backs after the catch.

I said it before the season when we were trying to trade for one of the AZ Wrs, they would be stupid to break up the best Wr tandem in the NFL right now, and possibly of all time. As good as the Steelr D is playing this year, I think the Cards O has been better in games that mattered, and in the playoffs the Cards have played even better defense than the Steelers did in 2 home games vs beat up teams.

Cards 24
Steelers 14