It’s that time of year again. The time when retailers use every possible euphemism to connect their products with “the big game,” when thirty seconds on TV costs more than the GDP of a small third-world country, when the per capita consumption of hot dogs, chips, and other artery-clogging goodness increases I-don’t-even-know-how-many-fold, when a man is once again judged by the size of his … television? Yeah, Super Bowl Sunday.
This NFL season has seen more than its share of craziness — from the late-season collapses of the Cowboys and Jets, to the pathetic 0-16 performance of the Detroit Lions, to the complete reversal of roles between the Patriots and Dolphins — and the playoffs have been no exception. Of the twelve teams who entered the NFL postseason, only two remain: the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Arizona Cardinals, winners of the NFC West, entered the playoffs as a number four seed. They defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the first round, then upset the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC title. The Cardinals have reached the championship game for the first time in sixty years behind the aerial attack of Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald and the reestablishment of the running game by Edgerrin James.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, winners of the AFC North, are the number two seed in the AFC. After a bye in the first round, they were the only team with home-field advantage not to be upset in the Divisional matchups. The Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens and earned a spot in the Super Bowl through their dominant defense, which many believe to be the best in recent history.
So, how will the matchups play out on Sunday? In order for Arizona to win, they must contain Ben Roethlisberger and hope their offense can find a way to breach the “Steel Curtain” of Pittsburgh’s defense. Their task is made somewhat easier, however, since Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt once directed the Pittsburgh offense and built their style of play. As for the Steelers, their offense must step up and score some points to support their defense.
Although I think the Cardinals would be a heavy underdog in Super Bowl XLIII, I’ll pick them to win because: a) my Seahawks were shafted three years ago in the Super Bowl against Pittsburgh (by the officials, but shafted nonetheless), and b) if they somehow do win, I can take all the credit and get bragging rights in The Tech’s sports office.
Prediction: Arizona, 17-14.