Friday, January 23, 2009

NFL: Super Bowl Picks

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Read this for a description of APR.
Read this for a description of SRS.

Picks for the Super Bowl

Based on the Championship rankings. Line value is taken from, and is for comparison purposes only.

Pittsburgh Steelers @
Arizona Cardinals


  • FWDP ranks the AFC North well above the NFC West, also indicating a Steelers victory. FWDP was a lot more interesting last year when it indicated a win for the (otherwise big underdog) Giants.

  • The Steelers and Cardinals played last year in week 4. That game resulted in the Steelers' first loss of the season.

  • Kurt Warner has 770 yards passing so far in the postseason. 419 of those yards are on passes to Larry Fitzgerald.

  • That's better than 12 times the yards of any other Cardinal receiver except Anquan Boldin (106 yards) and Steve Breaston (77 yards).

  • The Steelers need to take advantage if and when the Cardinals turn the ball over. Turnovers were the difference in the Cardinals' regular season losses to the Redskins, Jets, and Panthers. The immediate corollary is the Steelers need to pressure Kurt Warner all game.

  • The Cardinals have another big weakness: their offense seems to get really conservative when they have much of a lead. In the Divisional-round playoff game against the Panthers, it didn't matter, because Jake Delhomme kept throwing interceptions. But in the Conference Championship Game, the Cardinals let a 18-point lead slip away. Even in the 4th quarter when they were driving for the go-ahead score, they seemed to be content to play for a field goal (which would have given them a very marginal 2-point lead with nearly 3 minutes left for the Eagles to answer).

    With first and goal from the 9, the Cardinals ran on first and second down, gaining just one yard. On 3rd and goal from the 8, the Cardinals settled for what appeared to be another give-up play: a screen pass to running back Tim Hightower. Hightower actually caught the ball outside the 12 yard line. An Eagle defender put a solid hit on Hightower at the 2 yard line, and that should have been the end of the play. But somehow no one wrapped up on Hightower, and he was able to spin away and into the end zone. It was almost an afterthought that the Eagles then also gave up a two-point conversion, which meant a 7-point touchdown would force overtime, instead of clinching a win.