- Congrats on reaching the top of your profession. Now, embarrass yourself for a bunch of cameras.
There are a lot of theories out there on what will happen on Sunday. Too many to link to, so I’ll just list some stories here that have been repeated a lot and give my take.
Coach Whisenhunt knows the offense: Ed Bouchette of the Post Gazette has this one pretty well nailed. Coach Whis knows the gist of the Steeler blitzing schemes. So does every other coach that looks at tape of previous Steeler games. The real benefit here is that Whisenhunt knows the offensive players psyche’s better than anyone. But the impact from that is minimal at best.
Wow. The Cardinal receiving corps is good: Well, there’s some merit to this one, but I think this is akin to saying that Einstein was smart. Everyone recognizes this as a major matchup, but no one know really how it will play out. I’ve heard a lot of people suggest that the Steelers just need to get pressure on Kurt Warner. Easier said than done. But I think the Cardinal receivers are best downfield. Making them go to quick timing routes would get them out of their comfort zone and be a good offshoot of blitzing even if we don’t get to Warner.
Will Hines play/be effective?: It’s obvious he wants to play. I think with the entire off season to rest, I’d expect him to play. Remember Terrell Owens a few years ago in the Super Bowl playing with a sprained ankle and fractured fibula? As long as he can stand and he won’t do permanent damage, he’ll be out there. As for being effective? We’ll see. TO had 9 catches for 122 yards in Super Bowl XXXIX (Wikipedia). Hines is better and tougher than TO, right?
Arizona is a bunch of newbies to the Super Bowl. The Steelers are experienced: I don’t buy this one as an advantage at all. Just look at Super Bowl XXXVI (New kids on the block Patriots beat experienced Rams. Start dynasty). Or Super Bowl XLII (Inexperienced New York Giants beat said Patriots. Hopefully end dynasty).
Overall, my impression of this game is that it will be one of tempo. If it turns into a track meet, I don’t think anyone will favor Pittsburgh. I think the Steelers will try to make sustained drives and just keep that dangerous Arizona offense on the sidelines. I think the Cardinals will use their run game to open up the passing game and get a lot of big plays. Just like a college basketball game, the slower tempo usually will win out. However, the team that prefers the slower tempo doesn’t always win. One of the beautiful things about football is that points are the result of sustained drives that require a lot of effort, but they can be gained through gambles in a pinch. So one team can dominate a game, but if they don’t go up by 3 or 4 scores, the game isn’t over. The Cardinals are very capable of cashing in on some of those gambles.
I see the Steelers blitzing as usual, and forcing some short passes over the middle. It’s up to the secondary to turn those into incompletions. I think our offense should be able to put up a few touchdowns on the Cardinals. Although they have improved over the course of the playoffs, the Arizona defense is still one of the weaker defense we will have seen in the post season. It’ll be an entertaining game at the very least.