The League

Dan Levy
Sports Media Guru

Dan Levy

The host of On the DL with new episodes every weekday.

Cards Win in the Cards


When picking big games in the NFL, the first rule is to see what the public sentiment is, stare it in the face and immediately run the opposite way. Which is why this is a hard game to pick. Vegas is almost always right, and has the Steelers a firm favorite. The early talk was all Steelers. There was even talk on this site questioning the qualifications of the Cardinals.

But with the time between the Championship games and the Super Bowl being so UNGODLY long, it seems that more and more people have made the Cardinals the trendy pick. And that doesn't bode well for the rest of this entry.

(A quick side note on the Super Bowl layoff before we continue. Why does it have to be two full weeks? I understand that it takes a lot of planning for the Super Bowl, and in the past the games that didn't have a bye week seemed hastily promoted and organized and it's hard for the teams to get their tickets in order and get their families down there and blah blah and blah. So why not have the game on Saturday? That way, we can eat and drink all we want and not worry about having to get up for work the next morning. I know the tradition of Super Bowl Sunday is, well, tradition, but it seems like Roger Goodell couldn't care less about tradition -- he's going to move the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl, and might add another regular season game just because he can -- so why not play the game on Saturday, and give us all a chance to lounge around in our own filth and enjoy the Super Bowl hangover? It's the least they can do.)

So... The Cardinals were the plucky underdog and have become the hot pick. Maya Angelou and Phyllis Diller are picking the Cardinals. Actually, according to this list of 100 A, B, C and Z list celebrities, my loose math calculates that 47 people are picking the Cardinals, 49 are going with the Steelers and three people decided to abstain. Seriously, is Dennis Miller trying to ruin everything about football? Just answer the question, make some Sun Tzu reference nobody else understands and go away.

With the lines split virtually down the middle, the logic of running away from the masses has me running in circles. So, gulp, it might actually come down to play on the field.

On our shamelessly-plugged show this week, we talked about picking with our head and picking with our heart. Being from the Philly area, the heart will never lean toward Pittsburgh. But the head is going that way as well.

There's something about this team that seems impressive. During the playoffs, the defensive is playing better than a Cardinals defense has ever played -- at least since moving to Arizona. The offense is both prolific and balanced. It's not just Kurt Warner chucking it downfield to Larry Fitzgerald either. Pittsburgh will need to focus on the underneath routes of Anquan Boldin and will actually have to worry about the running game this weekend too.

If you look at the defenses, Pittsburgh clearly has the advantage. But if you look at the defense against each offense, I'm not sure the advantage is so clear. In other words, Pittsburgh's top-rated defense is facing a much more dynamic offense than Arizona's defense will face. So while the Steel Curtain redux has been far more dominant, their task is far more daunting.

You can't live in 'ifs' when picking a game -- if Kurt Warner gets time to throw, if the Cardinals can score early, if Big Ben and company can control the clock -- because anything can happen. And that's why it's fun to watch. So when picking the game, look at the teams, close your eyes and go with your gut. My gut is with Maya and Phyllis.

Cards 27-17.

By Dan Levy  |  January 30, 2009; 11:40 AM ET  | Category:  Arizona Cardinals , Dan Levy , Pittsburgh Steelers Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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