It is hard to believe that the spectacle known as the Super Bowl is in its 43rd year. For me that is a wake up call. Waking up to realize I have been watching these things since I was 10. History tells us the Super Bowl rarely lives up to its considerable hype. Nevertheless, if you are like me, you will be front and center Sunday to watch Super Bowl XLIII.
This year's game has the earmarking of being one of those less than compelling matchups. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been installed as a solid seven point favorite over the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals limped into the playoffs with an unimpressive 9-7 regular season. So little was expected from the Cardinals that their own fans did not sell out their first round home playoff game. Per NFL blackout rules, that kept the hometown fans from watching on TV.
Arizona beat Atlanta in that first playoff game, but pretty much everyone figured they would go on the road and lose to Carolina in the second round.. Didn't happen. The Cards whipped the Panthers 33-13 to set up the unlikely NFC title game between Arizona and Philadelphia. The Eagles found the emerging Arizona offense too hot to handle in a 32-25 loss.
Can Arizona surprise the skeptics one more time?
Since I don't have a horse in this race, I hope the game is competitive just for esthetic value. I am not a Steeler fan, though I have found myself in their corner more often than not in recent years. As this game approaches I have decided what I would like best is a Steeler win in a close game. Only a die hard Steeler fan would want the game to be as one sided as a lot of people are saying it could become.
Those fans and pundits have every reason to think that way though. Pittsburgh was 12-4 against a very difficult schedule. The Steeler offense took some raps for a lack of productivity this season, but much of the offensive woes of the Steelers were due simply to the caliber of defenses they faced. None of those defenses they faced are likely any better than their own, and that is why the Steelers should win this game.
Arizona has a veteran quarterback in 38 year old Kurt Warner who has a few Super Bowl wins under his belt. That is a reason to think the Cards have a puncher's chance. Even better that he has a receiver like Larry Fitzgerald to throw the ball to. Fitzgerald's ability shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone around here, but in this post season run the former Pitt product has become a shining star. He is at the top of the league right now at his position.
So, Arizona has some fire power to test the Steeler defense, but remember, this defense will be able to come after them more effectively than any recent opponent has been able to. Also, the Steeler offense will likely find that going against the Arizona defense a little easier to negotiate than many they have seen. It would seem Arizona would need a perfect effort and some breaks to prevail.
Still, we only need to look back a year to be reminded why these games are played, and if it gets ugly there will be those zany commercials and the Bruce Springstein halftime to get you through.