For some reason, when I saw the above this morning on the Today show (which is clearly out of interesting news now that they're done promoting Obama), I was amused. Here they are, at the Super Bowl, and which NFL team's flag is visible in the background? That's right, the Oakland Raiders.
So here we are, the last football weekend of the season. And, really, if you're a big time football fan, it kind of ended two weeks ago because that was the last sort of normal Sunday of football to watch. This weekend is just a hype-machine of nonsense, get-togethers where half the people just want to watch commercials, etc.
Oh, and before I forget, we had a request to show pictures of Erin Andrews more here, and specifically as a SBF contestant. Problem is, EA doesn't get photographed with her funbags showing very often. I've shared this pic before and bee questioned as to whether it's actually her, but I believe it is, from quite a few years ago. Yum
Anyway, back to the Super Bowl.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Arizona Cardinals -- What we have here is kind of a classic in terms of two strengths meeting each other, which is what makes it a hard game to predict. The Cards, as we know, have a prolific offense and now that the whole country has gotten to see Larry Fitzgerald a few weeks in a row, they're all ready to label him the next Jerry Rice. He might turn out to be that, but hey, let's cool it a bit.
You've also got Kurt Warner in his resurgence year, bringing the Cardinals somewhere that nobody thought they could go. In fact, a little aside here.... back when Chris "Mad Dog" Russo left WFAN in New York to get his own radio show on satellite radio, I kept hearing clips promoting his show early in the season. And any clip of Chris Russo -- as anyone knows who has heard him -- invariably features him scaaaa-reeee-ming about something that, really, kind of isn't worth screaming about. Well, the clip I remember repeatedly hearing was him railing against the Cardinals decision to play Warner, saying, "You're not winning a Super Bowl with Kurt Warner. He's FORTY YEARS OLD!!!" And I cannot stress enough how he screamed that last part. And yes, it bothered me greatly that Chris Russo -- a supposedly respected and sought-after radio sports guy -- didn't know that Kurt Warner was actually only 37. Anyway, Chris Russo -- you're an idiot.
So you've got Warner and Fitzgerald and and angry Anquan Boldin (seriously, dude, stop acting like a prima donna for one game and just play ball)... and a coach (The Whizz!) who used to be the O-coordinator for the Steelers. In fact, he was the O-coordinator when the Steelers beat the Seahawks a few years ago. So there is some thought out there that Coach Whizz will know how to beat Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. But the offense in that Super Bowl was atrocious, especially Roethlisberger. So who knows?
On the other side, you have the Steelers punishing defense and decent offense. So a great offense that's truly in sync so far in the playoffs against a defense that has been shutting down teams and hitting guys so hard they have to be taken off on a stretcher.
Can this offense spread out the Steelers? One could argue that, given that the Steelers haven't had to really play a good team yet. They had to beat the Chargers, who won their Super Bowl when they got into the playoffs AND then took down Indy. But in the end, as we've discussed, San Diego was 8-8 for a reason. And then the Steelers took down the 5-seeded Ravens, who were good, yes, but who still had that rookie QB who finally shed his undeserved moniker of "Joe Cool" and threw three picks and was largely ineffective against the Steelers.
But Kurt Warner's not Joe Flacco. He's been here before, literally. He has won and lost a Super Bowl. And he's playing some of the best football of his career. The knock on Warner has been that if you can truly pressure him, you'll rattle him. But he's been terrific against the blitz this year, thanks largely to his fantastic receivers. The better they do, the more confidence Kurt gains, and so forth.
When Philly put on the pressure and began hitting the Cards, the game almost slipped away.
But then it didn't, and they came back and won. The Cardinals have done everything in this postseason that a championship team has to do. They've won on the road. They've won as underdogs. They've won at home. They've recovered from blowing a lead. They've had late drives to win. They've been clutch and they look like they know what to do.
Still.... despite all this... and despite the fact that I want them to win, I have a hard time picking it. The Steelers aren't nearly as exciting or fun to pick, but they simply keep winning. They wear you down and then they mow you down. Nobody is a superstar there but they keep finding ways to win. Roethlisberger scares me, though, always. He is loose with the ball sometimes, he takes viscious hits other times... and his one other Super Bowl, he played horrendously.
BUT.... he had to negotiate the Ravens defense and he did so very well. And the Cardinals defense is not the Ravens.
Could things go either way? Yes, much more than the line would lead you to believe. And do I want to see the Cardinals win? Sure, I've never liked Pittsburgh and I really don't think they're a great team this year, either. But in the end, I have to go with the mantra I should have gone with last year.
Defense wins championships.
Steelers 23, Cardinals 21
Two weeks ago: 2-0