The League

Zach Leibowitz
Sideline Reporter

Zach Leibowitz

A former sideline reporter for ESPN

Cardinal Virtues onto Victory


Let me start by saying this: At the start of the season, I predicted that the Cleveland Browns would be the team to watch in '08. So much for that. Fast-forward to the conference championship games. I had the Eagles and Ravens advancing to Tampa. So much for that. So the bottom line in all of this is that for all the analysis and detailed dissection of each team, when it comes to knowing what's going to happen, no one knows anything.

Both teams are more than capable of winning Super Bowl XLIII. Pittsburgh will not win the game Sunday night simply because it has a better history than the Cardinals. Arizona will not win the game simply because they're considered due. And if the Cardinals lose the game, it won't be just because they're the Cardinals

Here are the factors that I believe will make the difference: 1) Weather. The forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with highs in the 60's. The better the weather, the better chance the Cardinals have against the daunting Pittsburgh defense. 2) Injuries. Hines Ward is not 100%. I just can't see him having the same explosive impact as he usually does, no matter how healed he says he is. And let's face it - the Cardinals have the better, healthier offensive weapons. 3) The Kicking Game. Pittsburgh's Jeff Reed was dynamite against Baltimore kicking three field goals in frigid conditions. Two of those were from beyond 40 yards. Reed did not miss a kick in the entire 2005 Super Bowl playoff run. That's a huge plus for the Steelers.

The rest is all about good ol' fashioned fundamentals. Minimize turnovers and penalties; win the time of possession and field position battles; don't mismanage your timeouts and challenges; make the tackles and prevent the extra yardage - and most importantly, play hard and play smart. Easy, right?

So I have to pick a winner. Given the weather and injury issues which I consider the most critical elements in all of this, I believe the Arizona Cardinals will win Super Bowl XLIII.

I think Arizona will simply outscore Pittsburgh. I don't think Larry Fitzgerald will catch three touchdowns like he did against Philadelphia, but I do think his presence will open up the field for Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston to make plays. I actually can see Breaston being the big touchdown receiver in this one. For Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger has done nothing but win in his career. He's a big-time QB and he's got a ring to show for it. But in this specific game against this specific team, I believe Kurt Warner's offense will be the one making headlines. Warner has proven his big-game worth as well.

Come Monday, the world will be able to buy its first ever Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl champion hats and sweatshirts. The franchise has waited long enough.

Cardinals 33, Steelers 24

By Zach Leibowitz  |  January 30, 2009; 11:23 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Pittsburgh Steelers , Zach Leibowitz Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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