PDA

View Full Version : AFC Championship



timothy1
01-18-2009, 06:32 PM
i have a strong dislike for both teams but I am picking Pittsburgh Steelers...

Matt700wlw
01-18-2009, 06:37 PM
I'm picking the Steelers, but that doesn't mean I want them to win.

I don't want Baltimore either, but I absolutely despise the Steelers....

timothy1
01-18-2009, 06:38 PM
Steelers is like the lesser of two evils... for starters, at least the Steelers are the original and not some retread of another team (cough stolen team cough cough)

redhawkfish
01-18-2009, 06:42 PM
Let's go Steelers!!

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 06:51 PM
Hate 'em all you want, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the model franchises in the NFL. I like the way they play football, and I genuinely enjoy watching them in games where I have no rooting interest.

I wish my team (Tampa) was run more like the Steelers.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 07:10 PM
That might not be good for Pitt. It looks like he (Hines Ward) at least hyper-extended his knee.

Bip Roberts
01-18-2009, 07:13 PM
Go ravens.

RedsBaron
01-18-2009, 07:16 PM
I've hated the Steelers for nearly 40 years, so I'm not stopping now. That said, the Steelers are probably the best all-around team in the NFL and my pick to win the Super Bowl.
Good reversal of the supposed pass reception.

timothy1
01-18-2009, 07:19 PM
That might not be good for Pitt. It looks like he (Hines Ward) at least hyper-extended his knee.


No matter, they got backups that shines...

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 07:20 PM
Good reversal of the supposed pass reception.

I thought once you broke the plane of the end-zone, the play is declared dead and points are put on the board.

If the catch had happened IN the end zone, I agree that he would've needed to maintain possession to the ground. But, in a situation where he has already established possession outside of the goal, that should've been a touchdown.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 07:21 PM
No matter, they got backups that shines...

Have you seen Limas Sweed attempt to catch a pass? He acts like he's been thrown hand grenades instead of footballs. Ugly.

highheat11
01-18-2009, 07:21 PM
I cannot stand either team, but I want the Ravens to win for the simple fact that every time the Ravens succeed it hits the Cleveland fans deep.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 07:31 PM
Now Roethisberger appears hurt as well. Speared by a pass rusher, but no call.

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 07:36 PM
Now Roethisberger appears hurt as well. Speared by a pass rusher, but no call.

Nah -- Roethlisberger just has a flair for the dramatic. ;)

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 07:39 PM
Nah -- Roethlisberger just has a flair for the dramatic. ;)

Yeah, like that last TD pass. :D

RedsBaron
01-18-2009, 07:40 PM
Wow! Great TD. I'm not sure if the Ravens can even score 13 points the entire game. The Steelers may have already locked this one up.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 07:41 PM
Wow! Great TD. I'm not sure if the Ravens can even score 13 points the entire game. The Steelers may have already locked this one up.

Meh. The ensuing kickoff will be returned at least 40 yards.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 07:42 PM
Well, I guess not. Whew.

timothy1
01-18-2009, 07:46 PM
Well... never thought I'd say this but go steelers...

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 08:10 PM
Yeah, there's the return I was expecting.

GAC
01-18-2009, 08:13 PM
Hey! I'm a 40+ year Brown's fan; but I'm rootin' for the Steelers.

The game is playing out like I thought. Flacco is going to have a rough time with the Pitt D.

And so will Warner in two weeks. ;)

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 08:14 PM
You can't give Baltimore a short field. It's the only way they can score.

RedsBaron
01-18-2009, 08:15 PM
Well, maybe we have a game again. The Ravens really needed that TD.
The Cardinals have to love how the Steelers and Ravens are beating each other up.

GAC
01-18-2009, 08:22 PM
Well, maybe we have a game again. The Ravens really needed that TD.
The Cardinals have to love how the Steelers and Ravens are beating each other up.


Their previous two meetings were fights with Pitt winning in OT 23-20, and then winning again 13-9 in the second meeting.

The big question in this game is if the Raven's offense (Flacco) can get in the game?

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 08:25 PM
Have you seen Limas Sweed attempt to catch a pass? He acts like he's been thrown hand grenades instead of footballs. Ugly.

Told you!

Freaking guy drops a sure TD pass and then costs the Steelers their final time out. Brilliant!

RedsBaron
01-18-2009, 08:26 PM
Now we know why he is a backup.

BuckeyeRed27
01-18-2009, 08:28 PM
Too bad he couldn't find a way to drop a sure TD in Columbus a few years back...

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 08:29 PM
Wow.

Sweed looks worse in every game I've seen him.

GAC
01-18-2009, 08:29 PM
Roughing the kicker. Wow!

GAC
01-18-2009, 08:29 PM
Good acting job IMO. ;)

BuckeyeRed27
01-18-2009, 08:29 PM
Roughing the kicker. Wow!

Oscar worthy

RedsBaron
01-18-2009, 08:30 PM
Terrible call. That was not roughing the kicker IMO.

GAC
01-18-2009, 08:30 PM
Ivy gets laid out! What a hit!

timothy1
01-18-2009, 08:30 PM
That's a funny roughing the kicker call...

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 08:31 PM
Wow.

Sweed looks worse in every game I've seen him.

Well at least he can block. He just DESTROYED Corey Ivy.

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 08:31 PM
But man, Sweed just laid some SERIOUS lumber on Ivy there.

That's a season's worth of hatred and frustration in one hit there.

highheat11
01-18-2009, 08:32 PM
I cannot believe that terrible roughing the kicker call. Even if there was contact made at all (which there wasn't AT ALL) it should have been running into the kicker like it was earlier in the NFC game today.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 08:33 PM
TERRIBLE decision there. Completely wasted a FG opportunity. Awful.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 08:34 PM
once again, stupid play by the steelers. they are simply seem bent on beating themselves today.

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 08:34 PM
TERRIBLE decision there. Completely wasted a FG opportunity. Awful.

OTOH, they shouldn't have even been in a position to kick the FG if the correct call had been made on the punt.

I look at that as karma setting the universe right.

Dom Heffner
01-18-2009, 08:42 PM
One thing about a Steelers game- you're always guaranteed having two teams that can't score.

highheat11
01-18-2009, 08:43 PM
OTOH, they shouldn't have even been in a position to kick the FG if the correct call had been made on the punt.

I look at that as karma setting the universe right.

Karma sure has to because everyone knows the ref's aren't gonna let the Squealers lose..

Signed,
Frustrated Bengals Fan

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 08:47 PM
OTOH, they shouldn't have even been in a position to kick the FG if the correct call had been made on the punt.

I look at that as karma setting the universe right.

Actually, that call was karma on the other side of things. I've been waiting for that call ever since the Tennessee kicker missed a FG in the playoffs a few years back, but got a free do-over to win the game.

Unfortunately, Pittsburgh couldn't do anything with it.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:07 PM
Steel - why am I having flashbacks to January, 1995?

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:10 PM
Steel - why am I having flashbacks to January, 1995?

Do not mention the name of he who would be beaten for a TD pass. I had attempted to wipe it from my memory.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:12 PM
Heath Miller is sooooo underrated.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:12 PM
Huge play by Ben there.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:13 PM
And Parker finally runs outside. About time.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:13 PM
Heath Miller is sooooo underrated.

Agreed. He is now the #3 WR out there.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:13 PM
Need a TD here desperately. Gotta' have some room.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:15 PM
Maybe Sweed should play DB

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 09:17 PM
Maybe Sweed should play DB

Big hitting? Check.

Breaks up the pass well? Check.

Hands of Stone? Check.

Yup, I think you may be onto something here, delta.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:18 PM
Maybe Sweed should play DB

Now THERE'S an idea. I know that receivers generally take a couple years post-draft before hitting their stride, but if you can't catch I'm not sure those two years can teach that.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:20 PM
huge run by mcgahee. d needs to keep them out of fg range

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:20 PM
Do all offensive players facing James Harrison get a "No Holding" get-out-of-jail card?

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:21 PM
Now THERE'S an idea. I know that receivers generally take a couple years post-draft before hitting their stride, but if you can't catch I'm not sure those two years can teach that.

memories of dwight "hands of" stone

RedsManRick
01-18-2009, 09:24 PM
I'm rooting for the Ravens solely for my Badger classmate Jim Leonhard.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:24 PM
memories of dwight "hands of" stone

Yeah, but Stone looked like he had stickum on his hands compared to Sweed at this point. The TD passes he's dropped this week and last were just that brutal.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:25 PM
I'm rooting for the Ravens solely for my Badger classmate Jim Leonhard.

Before the game, Leonhard said he never liked you. :p:

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:26 PM
I'm rooting for the Ravens solely for my Badger classmate Jim Leonhard.

He made quite a jump this year, when he was in Buffalo I think it's safe to say no one saw him as a starter.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:27 PM
Sweed caught one!!

Edit: Actually, after looking at the replay, I'm not so sure but I'll take it.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:27 PM
Sweed.

[will ferrell as elf] shocking [/end will ferrell as elf]

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:30 PM
Berger...seriously....

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:31 PM
Berger...seriously....

Thats been coming for a couple weeks.

Seriously, there has to be another punter somewhere,anywhere...Craig Colquit, Kordell, anyone....

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:33 PM
Wow. A Limas Sweed catch and then a holding call against an opponent all in the same quarter...

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:34 PM
Thats been coming for a couple weeks.

Seriously, there has to be another punter somewhere,anywhere...Craig Colquit, Kordell, anyone....

Ben's punt last week was longer than that one. And left-footed by Ben to boot (no pun intended).

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:34 PM
Thats is one ugly line on Flacco yet they are still very much in this game.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:37 PM
And now the Ravens get the ball at a 1 yard line. Short fields kill. The Ravens can't exist offensively without them.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:38 PM
TD Ravens. If the Steelers don't respond immediately, they'll lose this game.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:38 PM
Stupid is a s stupid does. The Steelers simply want to beat themselves today.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:42 PM
Now Ariens takes over to suppress the offense.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:45 PM
Poor OL play.

Stupid penalties.

Bad play calling.

Should be no surprise that all these things have come home again to haunt the Steelers.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:47 PM
Another short punt by Berger. At this point, the Steelers don't just need a stop, they need a turnover. Thank goodness for the penalty call.

timothy1
01-18-2009, 09:47 PM
Yeah unfortunately...

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:49 PM
McGahee down. That's unfortunate, because I'd rather face him than McClain.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:50 PM
Baltimore will score here.

It will be up to Ben to see if he can rally the O without Hines.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 09:55 PM
Baltimore will score here.

It will be up to Ben to see if he can rally the O without Hines.

I meant to say Troy will score here.

wow.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 09:55 PM
Polamalu!!!! Like I said, they don't just need a "stop", they need a turnover.

timothy1
01-18-2009, 09:55 PM
Beautiful interception. Beautiful touchdown...

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 10:00 PM
Holy crap! Ryan Clark just gave up his body for that turnover. Vicious for both players. I can only hope that both players involved are ok. That's one of the hardest collisions I've ever seen.

At least Clark was able to walk off the field and MaGahee is moving. Really scary stuff.

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 10:02 PM
Holy crap! Ryan Clark just gave up his body for that turnover. Vicious for both players. I can only hope that both players involved are ok. That's one of the hardest collisions I've ever seen.

Hardest hit of the night -- and that's saying something, because both teams have been physically abusing one another.

deltachi8
01-18-2009, 10:03 PM
Jeez.

I hope they are both all right.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 10:07 PM
Jeez.

I hope they are both all right.

That's my hope as well. The medical staff and cart got out there super quick. I'm also very proud that the Steelers players are way more concerned about McGahee than Ray Lewis was after the hit that ended Mendenhall's season.

Chip R
01-18-2009, 10:08 PM
Ben's punt last week was longer than that one. And left-footed by Ben to boot (no pun intended).


Didn't he punt in college? Front and center Red Hawk fans.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 10:15 PM
Hardest hit of the night -- and that's saying something, because both teams have been physically abusing one another.

Should Pittsburgh win this game, the injuries do concern me because a Ken Whisenhunt-coached team isn't exactly my favorite matchup regardless of the 'zona regular season record.

Caveat Emperor
01-18-2009, 10:20 PM
The difference in the game was under center -- Roethlisberger made the plays required of him (and then some), while Flacco made mistakes and looked exactly like every other rookie QB who has seen time in a Conf. Championship game.

Sets up a VERY interesting Super Bowl, IMO.

SteelSD
01-18-2009, 10:25 PM
The difference in the game was under center -- Roethlisberger made the plays required of him (and then some), while Flacco made mistakes and looked exactly like every other rookie QB who has seen time in a Conf. Championship game.

Sets up a VERY interesting Super Bowl, IMO.

I agree and there isn't any way that the Steelers should underestimate the Cardinals. They have a great offense and showed that they could weather the blitz storm against a team (Philly) that attacked Roethisberger relentlessly to the tune of nine Sacks.

redhawkfish
01-18-2009, 10:28 PM
Didn't he punt in college? Front and center Red Hawk fans.


Ben is left footed and he punted several times in college!

Slyder
01-18-2009, 11:35 PM
I absolutely LOVED the game tonight. As a Raider fan I have animosity with both franchises but I respect each franchise. The Steelers/Raiders matchups of the 70s were almost always classics and drew so much to the NFL. The Ravens walked into the Black Hole and knocked our teeth out in 2000. I came into the game pump ready to see great hard hitting football and I did not leave disappointed.

RedsBaron
01-19-2009, 07:55 AM
I absolutely LOVED the game tonight. As a Raider fan I have animosity with both franchises but I respect each franchise. The Steelers/Raiders matchups of the 70s were almost always classics and drew so much to the NFL. The Ravens walked into the Black Hole and knocked our teeth out in 2000. I came into the game pump ready to see great hard hitting football and I did not leave disappointed.

Yep. The Raiders and Steelers met each other five seasons in a row in the postseason, 1972-76, and every game was a war.

RedsFan75
01-19-2009, 08:36 AM
very closely resembled war last night.

WVRed
01-19-2009, 09:04 AM
The difference in the game was under center -- Roethlisberger made the plays required of him (and then some), while Flacco made mistakes and looked exactly like every other rookie QB who has seen time in a Conf. Championship game.

Sets up a VERY interesting Super Bowl, IMO.

Flacco this year reminded me of Big Ben his rookie year. Very similar.

Chip R
01-19-2009, 09:33 AM
So, does someone collect the bounty on Hines Ward?

timothy1
01-19-2009, 02:27 PM
That was a fun game to watch... hope the Super Bowl will be just as fun.

RedsBaron
01-19-2009, 05:22 PM
That was a fun game to watch... hope the Super Bowl will be just as fun.

I hope so...but I expect a Steelers rout unfortunately.

SteelSD
01-19-2009, 09:53 PM
I hope so...but I expect a Steelers rout unfortunately.

I'm not sure that's going to be the case, although the Cardinals have been riding on a +9 turnover rate throughout the playoffs. It's interesting because even though Arizona's defense isn't very good against either the pass or the run, they did force 30 Turnovers during the regular season and then another 9 in the playoffs. The Cards were tied for fifth in the NFL during the regular season in that category. Given their proficiency in the Playoffs, Arizona would rank 2nd in the NFL in Turnovers forced per Game at 2.21, only slightly behind Baltimore's 2.26 TO/G.

The Cardinals are a proficient passing offense that can take advantage of both a short and long field. Should Pittsburgh give the Cardinals a short field to work with at any point, the Cards might not miss any opportunities to score. The Cardinals aren't anything resembling a good rushing team, but with a trio of Fitzgerald, Boldin, and Breaston, they have the top trio of receivers in the game and can replicate the running game they'll likely be missing by using short crossing routes through the Pittsburgh zone defense. It's how they neutralize the blitz so Dick Lebeau is going to have to mix things up a bit more than normal and their front three is going to have to generate a tremendous push up the middle to compensate.

While Kurt Warner is immobile as all get out, he releases the ball as quickly as any QB in the game. If the Arizona offensive line gets away with the kind of holding we've seen while others have tried to block James Harrison, it could be a long day for that Pitt defense.

And the Pittsburgh punting game sucks. It's sucked all year. If Pittsburgh loses this game, it might be because Daniel Sepulveda tore his ACL in July and Pittsburgh was never able to find an acceptable replacement. Mitch Berger needs to have the game of his life. Anything else could be crippling.

Finally, the ultimate wildcard is whether or not Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm can anticipate and properly evaluate Pittsburgh's defensive looks. As defense is consistently reactive to a proactive offense, it might mean an early-game lead for the Cards. I would suggest that this is not a game where Mike Tomlin should defer if he wins the coin toss. Pittsburgh has the talent (if healthy) to catch up, but they can't make a single mistake if they get behind by 10 points or more. If they do, it'll likely be a rout in the other direction.

deltachi8
01-19-2009, 10:33 PM
Very nice post, Steel.

I tend to look at these games by looking at the elite player or players on each team. Which elite players are most likely to swing the game to their team.

Arizona has Fitzgerald.
Pittsburgh has Harrison and Polamalu.

Can Ike Taylor, Bryant McFadden and the Steeler secondary slow down Fitzgerald (I think it is impossible to shut him down)?

Can Arizona keep Harrison out of the backfield and the ball away from Polamalu?

Those could be the differences in the game.

Hoosier Red
01-20-2009, 11:19 AM
ugh,

That game really felt like a Bengals game. I was rooting for Baltimore, and when Pittsburgh put themselves up by two scores, I thought, "game over, the Ravens will get one more touchdown, but they'll get no closer. Then they're will be a soul crushing touchdown that puts it out of reach."

I think this is one thing the Steelers do though, they "bengalize" the other team to the point where you know its not going to be a blowout, but you know you're not going to win either.

Slyder
01-20-2009, 12:44 PM
Just on ESPN Clark isnt going to be fined for that monster hit on McGehee.

McGehee is expected to make a full recovery from a concussion.

And this just in....

They both got JACKED UP!

NJReds
01-20-2009, 12:56 PM
Just on ESPN Clark isnt going to be fined for that monster hit on McGehee.


He shouldn't be fined. That was a brutal collision but a legal hit.

But the player on the Eagles (Demps?) that layed out Warner when no play was going on should be suspended and fined heavily. That was the definition of cheap shot.

deltachi8
01-20-2009, 01:07 PM
I absolutely LOVED the game tonight. As a Raider fan I have animosity with both franchises but I respect each franchise. The Steelers/Raiders matchups of the 70s were almost always classics and drew so much to the NFL. The Ravens walked into the Black Hole and knocked our teeth out in 2000. I came into the game pump ready to see great hard hitting football and I did not leave disappointed.

Last night on NFL Network they had a show on the 1975 Steelers and showed the playoff battles with the Raiders in the 70's.

Last Sunday's Steeler-Ravens game was fierce, but it did not compare to those games. Great work by NFL Films/Network.

TeamSelig
01-20-2009, 02:04 PM
worst super bowl ever coming up?

Chip R
01-20-2009, 02:22 PM
He shouldn't be fined. That was a brutal collision but a legal hit.



If McGahee were a QB, he would have been fined.

NJReds
01-20-2009, 02:38 PM
If McGahee were a QB, he would have been fined.

Maybe. I doubt a QB would be running full speed across the field with his head down. I don't think Clark left his feet, and he led with his shoulder.

Caveat Emperor
01-20-2009, 03:15 PM
worst super bowl ever coming up?

If you mean purely in terms of matchup, I think New York v. Baltimore has it beat -- if you just want to look at recent history.

As for boring game? I think Tampa Bay v. Oakland (putting aside my rooting interest bias for a second) will still beat this one out in terms of lopsided affairs.

Chip R
01-20-2009, 04:37 PM
Maybe. I doubt a QB would be running full speed across the field with his head down. I don't think Clark left his feet, and he led with his shoulder.


Sure. I don't think Clark should have been fined either. All I'm saying is that if a QB had been hit like that - legal or illegal - there would have been a fine for that. The NFL is very protective of their QBs.

NJReds
01-20-2009, 05:15 PM
Sure. I don't think Clark should have been fined either. All I'm saying is that if a QB had been hit like that - legal or illegal - there would have been a fine for that. The NFL is very protective of their QBs.

That's true. We'll see what happens to Demps for cheap-shotting Warner.

GAC
01-20-2009, 09:13 PM
Somewhere Jack Tatem is smiling.

Slyder
01-20-2009, 09:23 PM
Maybe. I doubt a QB would be running full speed across the field with his head down. I don't think Clark left his feet, and he led with his shoulder.

A QB would have had more time to see him coming and A) Reacted or B) Get their keyster to the ground (unless youre John Elway or whats his name for Houston). In that scenario theres no way that hit happens.

And yes the NFL puts skirts on QBs, its not like when Ken Stabler, Fran Tarketon, Broadway Joe played. QBs are multi hundred million dollar investments (once you get to all the advertising along with bonuses) for the franchises theyre going to do as much as they can to "protect" that. Thats why you cant even look at a qb crossed eye without a stearn warning.

deltachi8
01-23-2009, 11:14 AM
Ok, I know there aren't many Steeler fans here, but this video is kinda cool...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkTflRQzCZg

SteelSD
01-23-2009, 11:04 PM
Ok, I know there aren't many Steeler fans here, but this video is kinda cool...

Ok, thankfully no one in that video was over 18 years of age and there were no players so you possibly avoided a jinx.

BUT DON'T DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN!

Tommyjohn25
01-24-2009, 11:03 AM
Ok, thankfully no one in that video was over 18 years of age and there were no players so you possibly avoided a jinx.

BUT DON'T DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN!

Ha! You sound like me Steel. My better half has to put up with all of my ridiculous superstitions for the next 7 days. She just laughed at me mos of time in the two weeks leading up to SBXL. This time around she just acts as if it's normal and expected. :cool:

deltachi8
01-24-2009, 11:40 AM
Ok, thankfully no one in that video was over 18 years of age and there were no players so you possibly avoided a jinx.

BUT DON'T DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN!

I was leary of posting, but as it did not involve the players, team employees or hot dog vendors, I thought it to be safe. Plus, the kids can shred.

Slyder
01-24-2009, 02:56 PM
Ok, thankfully no one in that video was over 18 years of age and there were no players so you possibly avoided a jinx.

BUT DON'T DO ANYTHING LIKE THAT AGAIN!

You make your own luck:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJNC3dgreaU

Didnt hurt them at all.

Sea Ray
02-01-2009, 01:45 PM
I'm not sure that's going to be the case, although the Cardinals have been riding on a +9 turnover rate throughout the playoffs. It's interesting because even though Arizona's defense isn't very good against either the pass or the run, they did force 30 Turnovers during the regular season and then another 9 in the playoffs. The Cards were tied for fifth in the NFL during the regular season in that category. Given their proficiency in the Playoffs, Arizona would rank 2nd in the NFL in Turnovers forced per Game at 2.21, only slightly behind Baltimore's 2.26 TO/G.

The Cardinals are a proficient passing offense that can take advantage of both a short and long field. Should Pittsburgh give the Cardinals a short field to work with at any point, the Cards might not miss any opportunities to score. The Cardinals aren't anything resembling a good rushing team, but with a trio of Fitzgerald, Boldin, and Breaston, they have the top trio of receivers in the game and can replicate the running game they'll likely be missing by using short crossing routes through the Pittsburgh zone defense. It's how they neutralize the blitz so Dick Lebeau is going to have to mix things up a bit more than normal and their front three is going to have to generate a tremendous push up the middle to compensate.

While Kurt Warner is immobile as all get out, he releases the ball as quickly as any QB in the game. If the Arizona offensive line gets away with the kind of holding we've seen while others have tried to block James Harrison, it could be a long day for that Pitt defense.

And the Pittsburgh punting game sucks. It's sucked all year. If Pittsburgh loses this game, it might be because Daniel Sepulveda tore his ACL in July and Pittsburgh was never able to find an acceptable replacement. Mitch Berger needs to have the game of his life. Anything else could be crippling.

Finally, the ultimate wildcard is whether or not Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm can anticipate and properly evaluate Pittsburgh's defensive looks. As defense is consistently reactive to a proactive offense, it might mean an early-game lead for the Cards. I would suggest that this is not a game where Mike Tomlin should defer if he wins the coin toss. Pittsburgh has the talent (if healthy) to catch up, but they can't make a single mistake if they get behind by 10 points or more. If they do, it'll likely be a rout in the other direction.

I don't think you've got anything to worry about Steel. You'll have a great evening tonight. Sure the Steelers could blow it and Warner is a QB to be reckoned with, but when you get right down to it the Steelers are better...much better. Warner's immobility will be a problem and he'll not have time to get the ball downfield to his playmakers. The 9-7 Cardinals got to the Super Bowl by playing inferior competition. Their being in Tampa is testament to the weakness of the NFC. Look for the Steelers to have the game well in hand by the 4th qtr and win by double digits.

As a Bengal fan, I can't root for the Steelers but I know them well and respect that they're the much better team today.