Super Bowl XLIII: Arizona Cardinals (9-7) versus Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
It all comes down to this, the biggest one-game party in all of sports. The Super Bowl is by far the most watched sporting event in the world. Personally, I find the World Series to be much more exciting, but the Super Bowl is almost like the last big holiday of the winter season. Even if you don’t like sports, chances are you are attending a party in honor of Super Bowl XLIII.
For many, it’s all about the food.
From pizza dip, to nachos, to a stomachache-inducing amount of desserts, this Sunday will be one big raucous party. You may not even know or care who’s playing, but everyone will pick a side as you pick up a chicken wing (or twelve) and cheer on one team or the other.
I know sports writers aren’t supposed to pick favorites, but since I grew up in Western New York, my favorite team has always been the Buffalo Bills. Since they NEVER make the playoffs anymore, I always root for the underdog in the big game. The Cardinals are the obvious underdog in this game and I would love nothing more than to see elder statesman Kurt Warner get another ring, but it won’t be easy. The Steelers are the obvious choice due to their “Steel Curtain” revival defense, but who really knows what will happen?
Last season, the 16-0 New England Patriots took on the 10-6 New York Giants and lost. Arizona wasn’t even supposed to get this far, so would it be that crazy for them to take home the ‘ol Lombardi trophy? Probably.
Time: 6:00 PM EST on NBC
How they got here: Arizona (9-7): NFC West Champions defeated Atlanta 30-24 in the wildcard round, Carolina 33-13 in the divisional round and Philadelphia 32-25 in the NFC championship game. Pittsburgh (12-4): AFC North Champions defeated San Diego 35-24 in the divisional round and Baltimore 24-13 in the AFC championship game.
How they match up: The Cardinals had an awful end to their season; it was almost as if they were content with winning the NFC West and didn’t feel the need to prove anything else. When Arizona was 7-3, it looked like the team might challenge for the best record in the NFC, but then the last few games of the season were played. ‘Zona only finished 9-7, but had the fourth best offense in the NFL. In one of the craziest statistics I’ve ever seen, the Cards had the second best passing attack, but the 32nd rushing attack. Luckily, they have given more carries to Edgerrin James, and they actually seem to have hit their stride (pun intended). Arizona’s defense isn’t really their high point, but with the likes of Adrian Wilson and Karlos Dansby, they are not to be overlooked. Just ask Buffalo’s Trent Edwards about the Cardinals D. He got hit so hard, he probably doesn’t even remember.
The Steelers are most known for their blistering defense. This top ranked unit was first in total yards (237.2), second in rushing yards (80.3), first in passing (156.9) and first in points (223). James Farrior and James Harrison both finished with over 100 total tackles. Harrison also finished with sixteen sacks, while taking home the NFL defensive player of the year award. This is one of the best defensive units from top to bottom in NFL history. Pittsburgh’s offense is a different story altogether. They aren’t nearly as stagnant statistically as the 2001 Baltimore Ravens, a team that didn’t seem to score an offensive touchdown all season yet still won the Super Bowl. But, this twenty-second ranked unit doesn’t really strike fear into their opponents. Maybe they should though, because from the moment Ben Roethlisberger entered the NFL he has been a winner. Even though he only threw seventeen touchdowns this year and his running backs were lackluster at best, you just can’t count out Big Ben and his posse. Even if they don’t show up though, their defense will.
The most important battle: This is an obvious choice. The battle that is most important will be Pittsburgh’s secondary against Arizona’s wide receivers. Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston all finished with over a thousand yards receiving (a combined 3,475 yards). Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, and company will have their hands full with this group. No other team has been able to shut down Fitzgerald yet this post season. He has established a new post season record, gaining 419 yards in only three games. Even if they find a way to shut down Fitzgerald, they still have two other top-notch wideouts to worry about.
The last time they played: September 30th, 2007: Arizona 21, Pittsburgh 14.
Prediction: As good as the Cardinals offense has been lately, I just don’t see them finding a way around the Steelers defense. I don’t see a single weak point in the whole group. Arizona needs to be able to run the ball for its passing attack to be as potent as it needs to be, but it’s not going to happen. I’ll take Blitzburgh in a higher scoring game than most expect, 27-21.
Who do you think will win? Comment below.
30 year old freelance writer and The Father Life‘s resident beer columnist and sports editor. He also writes about fine beverages for drinkingmadeeasy.com and Chilled Magazine. On top of that, he writes about college and professional lacrosse for insidelacrosse.com. He’s also written for Genesee Valley Parenting Magazine, the Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper and ESPN.com. “Osburn on Tap” appears monthly in THE FATHER LIFE. For questions, comments, or if you have a story idea for Chris, throw him an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on twitter http://www.twitter.com/chrisosburn