I love football. Anyone who knows me will attest that I work my weekends around football.
And not just Steelers football, I watch all the games.Â I always want to see where other teams the Steelers play are showing up.Â IÂ might not provide the best statistical analysis, but I know the game and I know where my team stands.
(For better statistical analysis, I say visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here)
Right now, they are the best team in the league.Â They have the #1 defense and they have an average to aboe average offense.Â I’m the first to agree that Ben’s weakness (holding the ball too long) is also his greatest asset (extending the play).Â I’ll also admit that the loss of Alan Faneca was felt more than anyone could have predicted (even though post-season O-line looks better than regular season).Â Three years ago, the two people on this team who I would get frustrated the most are now on the hook for showing up BIG – Santonio Holmes and Ike Taylor.
On offense, Ben will need Santonio to do one thing – get open.Â And on defense, Ike could become a household name if he is able to shut down Larry Fitzgerald.
My father would tell you that this is the greatest defense the Steelers have ever had, even better than the original Steel Curtain.Â Though I have no real recollection of the original -since I was “young” (not divulging age) other than what my Dad always says – I have to agree.
That said here are my predictions for the day.Â There will be no stopping Larry Fitzgerald (I still have a crush by the way) so Steelers D needs to stop the ball where it starts, at Kurt Warner.Â How they do that, only Dick LeBeau will know the real answer.Â But in previous posts I said they might not blitz.Â I change my mind here.Â I think they will.Â I also think there will be constant pressure from Woodley and Harrison all day.Â And even if they don’t get to Warner, there will be some balls batted down costing a down or two (or five).Â Brett Kiesel is good for a couple himself.Â I expect Fitz to get a TD (or maybe two) and I expect Hightower to have maybe one substantial run.Â Other than that, I think it’s no gain.
When the Steelers have the ball, I think Ben will be looking for Heath Miller at the start.Â I’m looking for Willie Parker to find one open gap for just one big run, after all, you only need one, right?Â Hines will have an average day, though he will play the game, I don’t think his knee will allow for him to cut the way he does when he’s healthy.Â He’ll be able to throw some good blocks though.Â Both Santonio and Nate Washington will have good days.
To win,Â Steelers D needs to have a big day – defensive scores will win this game hands down.Â And the offense just needs to keep from turning the ball over and not get penalties.Â So in other words, big day defensively, average day offensively.
The Cardinals, on the other hand need to have a big day ALL DAY both offensively and defensively.Â While some analysts will say that the Cardinals handled the Eagles and they had the #3 defense, I still will say that isn’t even close to the Steel Curtain they are about to face.Â And last year’s game in Arizona doesn’t really show the strength of our defense.Â Last year, you never really knew what team was going to show up when the Steelers played (remember the Jets game in 2007??).Â They hadn’t gelled like they have in this 2008 season.Â Also keep in mind they had the undeniably toughest schedule in the NFL this year.Â They are a different team.
My score predictions: Steelers 28 to Cardinals 17
Go ahead, let the comments begin…