OK, it’s time to make a Super Bowl pick. So far, we’re 7-3 in the playoffs against the spread and 6-4 straight up. (Some of those picks precede the blog, but trust me, we have documentation.)
This is a tricky game to pick, because the Cardinals are harder to judge than any team in the Super Bowl in recent memory. Are they like the Giants of ’07 – a team with talent that didn’t play at top level for the first three-quarters of the season but then got hot at the right time? Or are they a “fluke” Super Bowl team like the 1979 Rams or the 1986 Patriots that’s going to get thumped in the biggest game of all?
There’s no doubt that Arizona has talent. If all that talent plays well, they will be in this game. But what are the chances of that? It’s happened just once in the playoffs (against Carolina). In the other two playoff games, Arizona got somewhat uneven performances from the offense and defense but had enough offense to win?
Warner should have a big game, and Larry Fitzgerald just won’t be stopped. Those two predictions aren’t outlandish at all. If those two things are set, then it should be set for the Cardinals to score at least 17 points.
So then the question is what the Steelers can do offensively. This team is not a huge points producer anyway, so when we think the Cardinals will score 17 or more, we face a dilemma. The Steelers can score 20 or 21 and win. But can they cover a touchdown spread?
That’s why my first inclination is to pick the Steelers to win by 3 or 4 points. But the trend says that we shouldn’t pick a team to cover the spread unless we think they’ll win outright. In the playoffs, the favorites that won covered the spread, and the underdogs who covered the spread also won the game (including the Cardinals three times).
With all that in mind, here’s an extremely detailed outlandish prediction of what’s going to happen…
Steelers go up early by getting one long drive and one big passing play to Santonio Holmes. Meanwhile, the Steelers hold the Cardinals to field goals on two early drives. That’ll make it 14-6 in the second quarter.
An exchange of touchdowns (Arizona’s by Fitzgerald) makes it 21-13 in the middle of the third quarter. Then Arizona scores again and goes for 2 but fails, and it’s 21-19 in the mid-fourth quarter.
But Pittsburgh and Ben Roethlisberger, who has been so much better late in games this season then he has in the first 3 1/2 quarters, put together a long, clock-killing drive that ends up in a short running touchdown to make it 28-19 with less than three minutes left.
Arizona starts flinging the ball around in a mad dash to get back, but there’s a turnover, and we have our final score…
Pittsburgh 28, Arizona 19.
Feel free to post your own predictions as comments.