Time to pick the Super Bowl. First things first: my allegiance is to the Cardinals in this game. Any franchise that has had to wait over 60 years for another shot at the championship deserves a certain amount of sympathy. The Stinger makes the valuable point that a lot of the misfortune the Cardinals have suffered over the years lies at the feet of Bill Bidwill, the longtime owner of the team, who has tried to run things on the cheap for years. Until the 1970s, the same things were said about the Rooneys, who never had a winner in Pittsburgh until Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw came to town. Since then, the Steelers have been mostly near the top of the NFL. Things change. And let's be honest -- the Halas family is pretty penurious, too. The difference is that the Bears have had a lot of success over the years and even ran the poor relation Cardinals out of Chicago back in 1960. The nomadic Cardinals have had almost no success. I try to be a hard-hearted, gimlet-eyed conservative most of the time, but not on Sunday. Of course, there's no sentimentality left over for these guys.
Having said all that about the Redbirds, I think the Steelers are going to win. Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald have been playing out of their minds throughout the playoffs and they are exceptionally dangerous. The Cardinals have a lot of offensive weapons and for the first time since they had Dan Dierdorf and Conrad Dobler back in the 1970s, they have a good offensive line. This Cardinals team has the potential to score 30 on you any time they take the field. Teams that score 30 a game consistently win Super Bowls.
Still, I think the Steelers will have the better of it. It's easy to make fun of Troy Polamalu for his Milli Vanilli hair and his antic personality, but the guy is one of the best safeties in the history of the game. He has tremendous speed and he will make it difficult for Warner to throw on rhythm, which is a key part of the Cardinal offense. When the Steelers have the ball, I expect a heavy dose of Willie Parker. It's still not clear how much Hines Ward will play, but I have a suspicion that the Steelers rookie wideout Limas Sweed will make a big play in this game. Sweed was an excellent collegian and has been brought along slowly by the patient Pittsburgh coaching staff. He reminds me a bit of Plaxico Burress, but without the sociopathic tendencies.
The pick: Steelers 27, Cardinals 23. The over-under on fawning Obama references from the NBC crew, which includes modern-day Murrow Keith Olbermann: 8.
As always, if you want analysis based on reason and knowledge, as opposed to the blind squirrel suppositions that are on offer here, go see my friend Brad Carlson.
ACTUAL RESULT: STEELERS 27, CARDINALS 23. I watched much of the game with the Night Writer, Picklesworth and kingdavid, among others, but I guess I should have gone to Vegas. Dumb luck! But pretty cool. And we got a fawning Obama reference from Steelers owner Dan Rooney. I didn't bother to count the others, but I'll bet they were numerous.