The most talked about and looked forward to event of the year takes place on the 1st of February 2009. Super Bowl XLIII is going to be played between the Arizona Cardinals and the team I picked to win the Super Bowl when the season started, the Pittsburgh Steelers. So, the big question is, Who’s Gonna Win it all?
According to the official EA Sports simulation of Super Bowl XLIII (By Madden NFL 09) the Steelers will reign supreme once again. According to the award-winning video game, the Pittsburgh Steelers will win an unprecedented sixth Super Bowl title in a tightly contested game against the Arizona Cardinals, by a final score of 28-24. Holding off a fourth quarter comeback by the Cardinals, the Steelers bring the Vince Lombardi trophy back to the Steel City for the second time in the past four years and for a sixth time in franchise history, setting an NFL record. EA SPORTS matched the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals in a simulation of Super Bowl XLIII. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 3 touchdowns and was named the Super Bowl MVP; joining teammate Hines Ward who was the Super Bowl XL MVP. Steelers coach, Mike Tomlin, became the youngest coach in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, at the age of 36.
Of course, there are many different ways to go about making your prediction for who will win a certain game, but there is only one absolute truth…no one knows for sure who will win until the game is actually played. The reason everyone knows the definition of the word upset is because they happen with such great frequency. Given that upsets happen all the time, there are still things you can look at to help predict who will probably win the game. Here are some of these factors that might influence the Super Bowl and which team has the advantage in each.
1. Running game? In the regular season neither team was in the Top 20 in the NFL in rushing with Arizona finishing dead last, so a slight advantage to Pittsburgh there. In the postseason Pittsburgh’s rushing yards per game has increased by less than 3, whereas Arizona has an increase of almost 40 yards per game. Pittsburgh’s star running back, Willie Parker, was hurt for part of the regular season, so you would expect to see an increase in their rushing total with him back, but you don’t. Arizona’s running backs seem to have fresh legs, since they were used so infrequently during the regular season.
2. Defense? Statistically, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a much better defense when compared to the Arizona Cardinals, but you can’t just compare the defenses to each other because they don’t play each other. You need to compare the defense vs. the offense it is facing as well. During the regular season Arizona’s offense averaged 365.8 yards per game and scored 427 points while Pittsburgh’s offense averaged 311.9 yards per game and scored 347 points. Quite the difference. Defensively, Arizona gave up 331.5 yards per game and 426 total points while Pittsburgh only gave up 237.2 yards per game and 223 total points. In the postseason, Arizona has improved its defense, while Pittsburgh has remained as stout as ever. Basically what it comes down to is this: One of the best offenses (Arizona) vs. the best defense (Pittsburgh) and a not so good offense vs. a fairly poor defense that is getting better.
3. Passing game? Arizona’s: Kurt Warner has thrown eight touchdowns and two interceptions during a dominant playoff run. He does struggle with turnovers when under duress, but the line protects him well. Warner’s quick release and intelligence are blitz-killers and he won’t be fazed by the moment. Pittsburgh’s: Ben Roethlisberger’s up-and-down statistical season mirrors his career. But he thrives when it counts. His career yards-per-attempt average is seventh in NFL history, he throws an awesome deep ball and sheds tacklers. He takes a lot of sacks, but he delivers.
Advantage: Pittsburgh (Barely)
4. Special Teams: Steelers: Jeff Reed is an excellent kicker, but punter Mitch Berger is one of the league’s worst. Pittsburgh’s coverage teams aren’t bad, but their returns struggled during the regular season. Santonio Holmes has given them a big boost in the playoffs. Cardinals: Neil R ackers is an up-and-down kicker, and he’s the highlight of Arizona’s special teams. Their coverage units didn’t excel all season. Like the rest of the Cardinals, they are playing better in the playoffs. J.J. Arrington and Steve Breaston are average on returns.
5. Intangibles: Pittsburgh: The Steelers’ confidence is sky high; few defenses have played better over a full season. That has translated into a great record in close games. Ben Roethlisberger plays his best in the biggest moments, and the team is almost fully healthy. A decent amount of the Steelers’ players were on the Super Bowl winning team a few years ago, so they know what it is like to be under this microscope. However, that could actually come back to bite them. That Super Bowl was played in Detroit, so they didn’t really have much of an option but to concentrate on the game. This Super Bowl is being played in Florida, so there is a lot more temptation to go to a few parties, hang out at the beach, and generally not prepare as much for this Super Bowl as they did for that Super Bowl. Arizona: The Cardinals have the underdog factor working: No one believed in them! They will hear for two weeks about Pittsburgh’s historic defense, but no one has played better playoff football than Arizona. That should help them play loose and confident. Not to mention, Kurt Warner has played in two previous Sup er Bowls, and Edgerrin James played with a lot of good Indianapolis teams, so he is used to pressure filled games, too. And of course Ken Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator for the Steelers back in Super Bowl XL. I’m not going to do anymore research, but odds are there are some other players for the Cardinals that have played in a Super Bowl, too. Even if Warner is the only player for the Cardinals to play in a Super Bowl, he knows what it takes to win a Super Bowl, so he will get his team prepared. Also, the Arizona Cardinals are from Arizona, so the warm weather won’t mean as much to them.
Here’s my prediction on the game.
Quarter 1: Game starts out slow. A couple of three and outs by both teams, one good drive for both team, and some mistakes on both sides of the ball. Arizona will score on a run by Edgerrin James. When the first quarter is over, the score is Arizona 7 Pittsburgh 3.
Quarter 2: Things get heated up. Both teams are able to move the ball, but Pittsburgh does a little better than the Cardinals. Pittsburgh scores on two passes by Ben Roethlisberger, to Hines Ward. Time for Halftime. The score is Pittsburgh 17 Arizona 7.
Quarter 3: Pittsburgh seems to take control of the game. Willie Parker scores a touchdown, and Troy Polamalu makes an interception at the end of a big Arizona drive. It seems that Pittsburgh has taken control of the game. They play conservative as the third quarter ends. Pittsburgh leads 24-13
Quarter 4: The quarter gets going with about 13 or 12 minutes left as Arizona scores on a Larry Fitzgerald touchdown. The score is now 24-20. People will be questioning if Whisenhunt should have went for two to make the lead only 3. Pittsburgh runs clock a little and scores on another run by Parker to put the game away. Arizona goes for it on fourth down and doesn’t get it. The Pittsburgh Steelers win Super Bowl XLIII 31-20, and Willie Parker is named MVP.
Tell us what you think…. What’s your prediction?