NFL’s Super Bowl Hype Is a Super Set-up – by David A. Lane

NFL’s Super Bowl Hype Is a Super Set-up
By David A. Lane of

With Super Sunday fast-approaching and the hype and rhetoric of ‘Media Day’ now behind us, it won’t be long before everything comes to down to what this thing’s really all about- a football game, plain and simple. So far, it seems that the Arizona Cardinals along with Quarterback Kurt Warner have gotten most of the run while being a 7 point underdog and they also seem to be John Q. Public’s pick as well. My experience at picking games tells me that one should beware when considering taking the Cards in this one and that once again- surprise, surprise- the public is wrong about the game.

One thing that I must first point out is that the money line on the Cardinals to win is at only +200 ($100 to win $200) with the line being a full seven points- meaning to me (a) lots of people are picking the Cards to win outright and (b) the sportsbooks are sick of getting clobbered by huge money lines. In any event, that money line is ridiculous since most seven point ‘dogs enjoy anywhere from + 320 to + 360 (betting $100 would bring you $320- 360) and thus offers a player little value here considering that taking the seven points that they’re giving in this instance is the better way to go if you are backing AZ. The funny thing is that the money line for the underdog side is there to entice players into foregoing points they would otherwise be given (getting greedy) and instead by picking the ‘dog to win outright the tradeoff is that the take is sweetened by enough to offset the risk- though in this case not enough for anyone but perhaps novice gamblers who don’t know better which makes me wonder if this is a gouge technique- a wager that would always look attractive to the person who bets one time a year and tends to try and ‘go for it all’ with their bets (usually by taking the underdog moneyline) when he/she does.

Unfortunately for the Cardinals and the fast-growing entourage that they now entertain, the Pittsburgh Steelers will render all talk of them becoming NFL champions dead soon enough. The reasons are not personal I can assure you since the story of Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and a sudden defensive turnaround, has not been lost on me after suffering through year after year of the teams’ turmoil while living in the desert there. It would be hard to forget the battle to get University of Phoenix Stadium built that was fought out over public airwaves in Phoenix, all the holdouts from training camp annually, the eight coaches they’ve gone through since their arrival in 1988, the years of losing, the heat at Sun Devil Stadium, etc.; but somehow they’ve persevered through it all to finally really make the desert their home- something that wasn’t such a sure thing a short few years ago before the stadium was under way when there was still talk of them leaving town for Los Angeles.

Though the Cardinals make a really great story that obviously America is infatuated with, this is the Pittsburg Steelers we’re talking about, a team that might have in a sense just won the Super Bowl already last weekend by having beaten an extremely talented AFC squad in the Baltimore Ravens that might have been the next best team out there, for an amazing third time this season. Week after week or so it seemed the Steelers had one tough game followed by another, before eventually completing what was the strongest schedule in the league while the ‘Cards regular season record of 9-7 would most likely have not even qualified them for the playoffs had they happened to reside in the AFC. When one considers their history of success that includes the fact that this is their seventh Super Bowl, they’ll be going for a record sixth win in the ‘big game’, and that they’ll be going for their second title in four years, it would be hard to deny they have way much more big game experience against the grossly inexperienced Cardinals; an obvious advantage if there ever was one yet that seems to constantly get overlooked.

Now if you revisit last week’s NFC Championship game, AZ, the home team, had a 24-6 lead at the half against Philly before both being shut down on offense and displaying that defense those of us who watch them a lot more often are more used too allowing a 0-19 run that almost cost them this terrific opportunity. Recall that Kurt Warner took them on a very John Elway-like drive at the end that iced the game after the Eagles had contained them the whole second half mainly with all out blitz packages. Don’t expect this fact to be missed by the Steelers ‘D’ who will max blitz early and often to keep the ‘Cards from any early leads, will shorten the field with this pressure by not allowing Warner time to setup in the pocket forcing him to be consistent with quick hitters and screens, and then the defense will ‘T-off’ on the receivers and backs in front of them hitting harder than any team the Cards have played this season just to test their mettle.

The Steelers lost four games all year by a total of 37 points which is still three points less than the Cardinals lost by to New England in one game 7-47. Never in the history of the NFL has a Super Bowl team allowed more than 40 points against three times in a season like the Cards defense has losing to the NY Jets 35-56, Philadelphia Eagles 20-48, and NE 7-47; not including the home loss to the Vikings 14-35. If rushing the football and playing solid defense equal championships, they do neither of the two well being ranked last in the league in rushing 32nd (73.7 yards a game) and 28th (26.6 points a game) in points against while, conversely, the Steelers led the league in defense 1st in points allowed (13.9) and 1st in yards allowed (237.3 total yards against a game).

This game smacks of being a route and feels as though the line should be Pittsburgh by 12 yet somehow mostly all that’s being reported is all about the Cardinals. Now, keep in mind that if not for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots being so good, the Steelers might be talked about more in terms of being a dynasty themselves because they are right there year and year out. They have something to prove here as well and I find it humorous that as a favorite they are being treated so much like an underdog because it will only serve to add fuel to the fire and will translate to an even larger Steeler victory on the field this Sunday- Pittsburgh by 7.