Thursday, January 29, 2009

Super Bowl Shovel

Well, we all know that the conference championship games are usually the best ones in the entire playoffs (although the Super Bowls have been much better the last few years), and I actually missed them both for the first time in I don't know how many years, being out of town that day. Had I bothered to make predictions, I would have wanted Baltimore to win but been realistic enough to take the Steelers, and ditto for Arizona and Philly respectively, which would have been another .500 week for picks. So much for that.

So I guess it's cool that the Cardinals have finally gotten off that Super Bowl schneid, but despite NBC's best attempts to pimp the hype, the economy has sucked all the oxygen out of the room. Super Bowl weekend, the secular version of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter all rolled into one, is being overshadowed the way the most recent holiday shopping season was.

Not for lack of backstories, either; not only 'cause Kurt Warner and Ben Rongrastname make sure we all know they loves 'em some Jeebus, but Arizona coach (and former Pittsburgh OC) Ken Whisenhunt is more likely than not to do what Jon Gruden did to the Raiders six years ago, and use what he knows about his former quarterback against him. Whatever Whis said to his team after their embarrassment in Bahston in the penultimate regular-season game, it has especially motivated the Cards' D, and their improved line pressure and speedy secondary should give Roethlisberger some headaches.

On the other hand, Dick LeBeau really is the Secretary of Defense. The aggressive "fire zone" schemes, the discplined play of the front seven, the ability to turn an undrafted player like James Harrison into a bona-fide star -- that's all LeBeau and his defensive schemes and player mentoring. Larry Fitzgerald has had an outstanding playoff season, but Arizona's ability to win is likely to hinge on whether Anquan Boldin is healthy enough to get open when Fitzgerald is double-covered, and whether Warner has the time in the pocket to trust Boldin as an option.

Either way, it should be a decent, evenly-matched game, and may simply come down to a last-second Jeff Reed field goal. Everyone should have as much fun as Reed is having this week.

Final score (with bonus financial prediction):

Steelers 20, Cardinals 17

Dow -250 on Monday.


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