Mac Weekly sports staffers make Super Bowl picks – why the Steelers will win…

By Nate Wilson-Traisman

Five weeks ago every expert in America had crossed off the Cardinals as legitimate contenders. Everyone said Kurt Warner was “too old, too immobile, too prone to big mistakes.” The Cardinals’ weaknesses were glaring: no run game, average defense and aside from Warner, a lack of playoff-proven veterans at starting positions. This was a franchise that had never been close to winning a super bowl and everyone agreed that this year wasn’t about to change that. While the Cardinals have had an impressive and inspiring run, it’s simply disrespectful to argue that Arizona is a serious threat to win the big one. Lets put the Cardinal’s playoff run in perspective. Two home wins against above average, but not great teams in Atlanta and Philadelphia. Sure Atlanta had an impressive regular season, but teams relying on rookie quarterbacks rarely win on the road in the playoffs. Their lone road win, at Carolina surprised me, but I was more shocked by the complete collapse of Panther quarterback Jake Delhomme than I was impressed by the Cardinal’s play. Lets be honest, the Cardinals were handed that game. Lastly, the Eagles. God, were they overrated. They finished the regular season 9-6-1, barely squeaked into the playoffs, and got hot at the right time. Yeah, I was impressed with the way the Cardinals closed the NFC championship, but their opponent wasn’t Superbowl caliber. The Cardinals problems from week 17 ª- a 47-7 loss at New England who was not even a playoff team in the AFC – still exist, they have just been masked by home-field advantage and not so great opponents.

While Arizona’s road to the super bowl was relatively easy, Sunday’s matchup will be far from it. The Steelers are the products of a much better conference in the AFC, and I realistically, the Cardinals haven’t been tested against a team even close to Pittsburgh’s caliber yet this post-season. The Steelers have the best defense in the NFL, an explosive running back in Willie Parker, and loads of veteran leadership. People forget that this is a team that won the Super Bowl three years ago with the same nucleus of players. The recipe for success against this Cardinal team has been to contain Larry Fitzgerald and force mistakes. The Steelers are the perfect team for that. Yes, the Cardinals are hot, but the Steelers have found ways to win all season. They play in the better conference, the much better division, and are simply a much better team.

At the end of the regular season, anyone with an inkling of football knowledge would have scoffed at any mention of the Arizona Cardinals in the Superbowl. While we have been spoiled lately by miraculous underdog performances in the Superbowl, please don’t get caught up in the Cinderella story. The Steelers have a better run-game, better special teams and most importantly a far superior defense. They have been there. They know what it takes to win a super bowl. They are tougher, meaner and I think they want it more. The Cardinals have already surpassed all expectations, but the Steelers set out the 2008-09 season with valid expectations of bringing home a super bowl and I have no doubts that they will do so. Sure, anything can happen, but too much would have to go wrong for Pittsburgh to lose on Sunday. They are that much better.

Look for early Cardinal turnovers to result in Touchdowns for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh’s season long struggle to find the end zone may keep this game closer than it looks, but I fully expect the Steelers to dominate on both sides of the ball and hold off a late Cardinal charge.