I would take these picks with a grain of salt because, quite frankly, I’ve stunk during the playoffs thus far. That being said, I have a theory on picking Super Bowl participants which I call “The Middle Ground Theory.”
I’ve noticed that in recent years that of the final four NFL teams, the Super Bowl matchup tends to not me the least desirable or most-desirable matchup according to ratings. For example, the ideal matchup last year would have been Pittsburgh-Philadelphia (battle of Pennsylvania, Steelers vs. McNabb, etc.) and the least-desirable matchup would have been Arizona-Baltimore. While Pittsburgh-Philly was the favored matchup according to point spreads, Pittsburgh-Arizona is what we got.
In 2007, New England-Green Bay was the most desirable matchup and the favored matchup according to point spreads, as it would have been the undefeated Patriots playing Brett Favre in perhaps Favre’s final game (yeah right) in a rematch of Super Bowl XXXI. The least desirable matchup would have been San Diego-N.Y. Giants more than likely, even though I guess you could hype the Rivers-Manning draft day trade drama. So what did we get? New England-New York Giants.
With as fantastically horrible as I have been in the postseason, I almost didn’t pick this game. But I figure a season of comic relief (or shaking of the head) needs to be ended well. So here we go.
Pittsburgh (-7) vs. Arizona
Well, I picked Carolina over Tennessee in this game, which shows how incredibly stupid I was this postseason. I’m 0 for 3 on the Cardinals, so one would expect me to go with Arizona here out of pure desperation. But I refuse to do it. If history has taught us anything, it’s to bet big on defense. Last year’s Super Bowl, where the Giants blitzed and battered the 18-0, NFL-record setting Patriot offense, was another in a long line in examples of this.
The Cardinals have the best wide receiver in the game right now in Larry Fitzgerald, who fittingly went to the University of Pittsburgh. It would be easy to go with Kurt Warner to Larry Fitz in the upset special. But the Steelers have the No. 1 defense in the league for a reason and I think it will be on full display. With James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley providing pass rush, Larry Foote and James Farrior hitting everything in sight and Troy Polamalu cleaning up the mess in the secondary, the Steelers will be unlike anything the Cardinals have seen. Santonio Holmes has emerged as a big-play threat in the playoffs, giving the Steeler offense enough juice to generate some points.
The Steelers, who were the first to win four Vince Lombardi Trophies, will be the first to hoist a sixth later today.
Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 14