NIHD Super Bowl Extravaganza
The biggest sporting event in the history of sporting events (yawn) is a mere day away, and to outlet our never ending excitement Britton, Dan and I are here to give you what you’ve been craving for the past two weeks; our expert analysis.
In all seriousness we actually are moderately excited for the game. Or is it the prop bets?
Did you know you can actually bet on the over/ under for the number of times Ken Wisenhuntpicks at his mustache with a Sharpie?
No? That’s because you can’t, but you can bet on things like Bruce Springsteen’s set list, an over/ under of Kurt Warner’s total passing yards, a handicapped pick ’em between Santonio Holmes and Larry Fitzgerald’s receiving yards along with many other absolutely bizarre situational bets.
I don’t know which has been a more trendy topic of discussion, the LasVegas Hilton’s list of prop bets or a third round of Warner’s courageous nothing-to-something stories.
The Mike Tomlin/ Ken Wisenhunt story line is fairly intriguing, but the Larry Fitzgerald Sr. tag is not, regardless of what Rick Reilly wants us to think.
All in all, breakdowns are in order, and your favorite three NIHD writers are here to provide them for you.
Let’s rock this one by one, starting with the most uninspired; special teams.
SPECIAL TEAMS: (Britton Dennis)
You never hear much about special teams when it comes to a big game like the Super Bowl. Well, that is unless your return man seems to be half the offense (see Hester, Devin). No one really cares until the clock has run out and it’s on the kicker.
Place Kickers: Jeff Reed vs. Neil Rackers
For the season, these two kickers were bothsolid but nothing special as both finished near the middle of the pack in points scored. Rackers has been 7-of-8 in kicks longer than 40 yards, and Jeff Reed gets way more women than a kicker ever should. Google it. It’s a treat. Reed has been in more tough contests, and definitely has been in more big games. Rackers shanked a fair catch kick this season so bad, that no one spoke to him for weeks on end.
Punters: Mitch Berger vs. Ben Graham
Berger was injured for parts of the season and actually was released by the Steelersfor a few games this year (though not before hobbling around the field chasing after bad snaps… hilarious). Graham was added late in the season and no one really knows what to expect.
Return Team: Russell/ Moore/ Holmes vs. Breaston/ Arrington
The Steelers use two returners who have no breakout ability (Gary Russell and Mewelde Moore) andone who likes to put the ball on the ground… a lot (Santonio Holmes). The Steelers will probably play it safe in the beginning unless they need the big play, so look for Moore and Russell to run it straight up the middle on every return.
The Cardinals have great athletes returning for them (Steve Breaston and J.J. Arrington), but the blocking on returns by both the kicking andpunt return units has been terrible, hurting the effectiveness of both. These two will be among the most important players on the field, as the return will be vital in helping the Cardinals have a shorter field against the vaunted Steelers defense.
DEFENSE: (Dan Miller)
Here’s a little insider information for you: The Steelers have a better defense than the Cardinals.
Now that you’ve been shocked by that little announcement, we’ll get into the numbers. The Steelers were first in total yards (237 a game), first in passing yards (157) and second in rushing yards (80). They also had the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL, giving up only 13.9 yards per game.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, were not nearly as impressive. They gave up 331 yards a game (19th), had the 16th best rush defense, and 22nd ranked pass defense. Only four teams gave up more points per game than the Cardinals 26.6 average.
Many people predicted that the Cardinals would not go far in the playoffs due to their sub par defense. They’ve made up for it in the postseason by living off turnovers. They have an astounding eight interceptions and four fumble recoveries in three playoff games, for a +9 ratio. The Steelers have six takeaways, and have turned the ball over only once this postseason, for a +5 ratio.
While many people think of the Steelersas a ball-control offense that limits turnovers, only five teams threw more picks this year than the Steelers, and only eight teams had more turnovers. They had 29 turnovers in their 16 games. In fact, these teams are two of the more turnover prone offenses in the NFL, ranking 5th (Cards) and 9th in total turnovers.
Let’s not waste any precious time on pleasantries, instead let’s dive into this baby as quickly as the apple of Dan’s eyewould into an Olympic swimming pool.
QB:Kurt Warner & Ben Roethlisberger
Warner is the better precision passer but needs time to throw. Big Ben is a creator, crazy strong, and possibly still reeling from that mammoth concussion, but then again perhaps he isn’t.
This debate has been dissected every way imaginable. So bottom line, who wins this one?
My money is on the old man with the creepy-formerly manly, and now awkwardly slightly attractive, outspoken wife. I think
WR: Mr. Bubbles, and an injured Hines Ward vs. Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin.
Before No. 11’s Rice-ean playoff run, no one quite knew which Cards receiver was more unstopable.
Now, it’s Fitz in a big way, as is it the Cards in this category.
EDGE: ARIZONA (In a freakishly large landslide.)
RB:Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore vs. Edge and Tim Hightower.
This one is closer than it might seem. A team who relies on the run, with two productive backs, or a team who ignored the run for weeks 1-17 before realizing a balanced attack just might be an intellegent idea…
Obviously Parker is the more important RB for the Steelers, but who will be more vital to the Card’s success; Edge or Hightower?
It depends how you want to answer that question. If you are talking stats, despite his recent resurgence, Edge shouldn’t get as many looks as Hightower, who obviously is more dependable at this point in their careers. Hightower should have more yards, and if there is a rushing TD up for grabs, he should snag that as well.
However what is frequently forgotten about Edge is one of the most important hats he wore for the Colts in his prime, was that of a blocker. While his offensive output hasn’t been all that great through most of this season, Edge can still block, which is exactly what the doctor is ordering come Super Sunday.
Edge will need to be the man for Arizona, but Parker WILL be the man for Pittsburgh.
Did that even make sense?
O-Line:I can’t even begin to pretend I care about breaking this down. I’m all about sex appeal baby. There is nothing sexy about overweight dudes pushing each other around.
But since it will be important to the outcome of the game…
EDGE: I still don’t care at all.
In the end we conclude the offensive portion of our Super Bowl breakdown with the obvious; Arizona has a really great offense, and Pittsburgh doesn’t.
There you have it. Our intricate overviews.
Good, great, grand. But who will win?
I don’t know why I feel so sure of this, but I absolutely think Arizona wins. If the 18-1 experience taught me anything last year, it’s that anything is possible. Kurt Warner believes in Jesus, and that’s good enough for me. Coupled with Santonio Holmes flashing his sausage to the blogging world earlier this season, I think we’re pretty certain who God is going to root for in this game. The best thing is, I’m not scared of seeing Brenda Warner anymore. If anything, I’m sort of hoping they show her… a lot. Come to me, Brenda. I digress.
Arizona 15, Pittsburgh 4
The Cardinals clearly have the better offense, the Steelers clearly have the better defense. Turnovers will obviously play a huge role, as already mentioned. However, I think one of the biggest keys is whether the Steelers can come away with touchdowns when they get to the red zone. Even with a great defense, the Steelers won’t be able to keep Fitzgerald and Boldin out of the end zone when the Cards get inside the 20.
I think the Steelers will get more scoring opportunities than the Cardinals, but can they turn them into seven points instead of three?
I’m not so sure.
Cardinals 24, Steelers 23
I need to come clean and tell you that I am letting my heart write this prediction. In no way do I want to watch the Steelers break free from the Cowboys/ Niners most Super Bowl victorys trio, Pittsburgh rounds out, as they win their 6th title. Please, Lord Jesus, smile on Warner, and his painfully attractive wife once more. Give the Cards a win.
Arizona is going to win this one. Defense will rule the first quarter and a half, before Arizona’s offensive juggernauts take charge.
My heart may be overpowering my intellect on this one, but I genuinely believe Arizona will walk away from this champions. Pitt’s defense is over-rated and Warner and company will take them down. Fitz or Boldin will win the MVP and Warner will sudo make-out with Brenda, before thanking our Lord Jesus on national TV.
The credo generally goes to the tune of defense wins championships; well quietly Arizona’s defense has started playing at a high enough level to let an offense win this time.
Offense will rule the day, and it will be an Arizona player pimping Disney at the end of Super Bowl XLIII.
Arizona 27, Pittsburgh 20.