Super Bowl XLIII Preview

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Day vs Night.  Black (and gold) vs White (and red).  Luke Skywalker vs Darth Vader.  Offense vs Defense.   You might say that this game features contrasting styles.  The Steelers come in as the top defense from the regular season while the Cardinals come in with the second ranked passing offense and a Top 5 offense overall.  Arizona’s key to success in this improbable playoff run has been their defense. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has been doing what they do best: playing great defense.  It’s time to stop with all of the hype and parties and get down to the business of crowning a champion for the 2008-2009 NFL season.

Many believe that a win by the Cardinals will put a stamp on Kurt Warner’s ticket to the Hall of Fame.   This is his third go-around on football’s biggest stage, having won one and lost one.  Meanwhile Ben Roethlisberger has a ring of his own, but many critics say he need to redeem himself after a lackluster performance in the Steelers’ win in Super Bowl XL over the Seahawks.

Breakdown

Larry Fitzgerald has become the darling of these 2009 playoffs.  How can you argue with 419 yards and 5 TD’s?  Compare that to 665 yards and 3 TD’s by Chicago Bears #1 receiver Devin Hester.  Oh, did I forget to mention those stats were compiled over 15 games for the Windy City Flyer while Fitz has piled up those bawdy stats in 3 playoffs games?  Who says the Bears need a difference maker at the receiver position?  The Cardinal defense has been the surprise of the playoffs, forcing 12 turnovers and upsetting the likes of the Falcons, Panthers and  Eagles en route to their first ever Super Bowl appearance.

The Steelers come in a bit banged up, with receiver Hines Ward nursing a knee and recent reports that Big Ben might have gotten a bit more banged up in the AFC Championship than we’ve been led to believe.  But this isn’t about the Steelers’ offense as much as it is about their defense.  Look for the Steelers to pressure Warner from all angles and shut down the resurrected Cardinal running attack.  Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison leads the attacking Steeler defense.

Key matchup

Arizona Passing Attack vs Pittsburgh Pass D.  Call it Hairbangers Ball, as safety Troy Polamalu brings his flowing locks to try to help cover the dreadlocked receiving stud Larry Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald has already set a playoff record for receiving yardage, breaking Jerry Rice’s postseason yardage record with a game left to play.   I don’t doubt that the Steelers will keep the resurgent Edgerrin James in check, but if they expect to win, they’ll need to do something that no one has figured out in this postseason and that’s slow down Fitgerald and company.

Sleeper

Willie Parker has been banged up for much of the season and missed a few games, but that just means he’s fresh for Big Game.   He was the game-breaker in 2006, tearing off a Super Bowl record 75 yard touchdown run against the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL to seal the victory for the Steelers.  If Fast Willie can take some pressure off Big Ben and keep the Cardinal D off balance, it will be a long day for Arizona fans.

Prediction

Arizona has reinvented itself with a running game and tough defense  while Pittsburgh has followed their usual blueprint.  In a game of this magnitude, I like the team that stays true to itself.  This game is my postseason tie-breaker, so this had better be good:

steelers

Steelers 27-21

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Tags: Arizona Cardinals Ben Roethlisberger Chicago Bears Devin Hester Football Kurt Warner Larry Fitzgerald NFL Pittsburgh Steelers Prediction Preview Super Bowl Super Bowl Prediction Super Bowl Preview Super Bowl Xliii Superbowl Superbowl Xliii Troy Polamalu

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