1Score a whole lotta points: Nobody disputes that the Cards have superior weapons. What nearly everyone assumes is that the Steelers' superior defense will be the difference. The same assumption preceded the NFC Championship Game, with the Eagles' defense playing the role of the Steelers. If the Cards can keep Kurt Warner from being blasted into the old folks' home, they really can win.
2Larry Fitzgerald, Larry Fitzgerald and more Larry Fitzgerald: There is a lot of talk about how the Steelers will be aiming to shut down the guy who has already set a postseason record for receiving yardage. The conventional wisdom holds that Arizona should try to emphasize its considerable other offensive resources. I'm not so sure. Fitzgerald does not need to be very open to catch the ball. He works great in tight spaces. Nobody has shut him down the entire postseason; it isn't as if Atlanta, Carolina and the Eagles just left him out of the defensive game plan. Dance with what got you here. Make the Steelers show how they can take away Fitzgerald, don't do it for them.
3Gamble and win defensively: This Cards defense is not great. If Ben Roethlisberger isn't pressured, he ought to be able to pick it apart. But the Cards have gotten pretty good pressure in the postseason, and they've been excellent at forcing turnovers. As underdogs, they'll need to do both those things, and to continue their surprisingly strong play against the run.
4Gain an 'Edge': Edgerrin James' running has helped keep defenses from being able to tee off on Kurt Warner in the postseason. Warner mentioned James yesterday as an underrated part of the Cards' arsenal. Running effectively also eats up clock and keeps Arizona's pass coverage-challenged defense off the field.
5Stay close: This underdog business can work in Arizona's favor, with pundits eager to proclaim the Cards the worst Super Bowl team ever, and the whole city of Pittsburgh apparently figuring a sixth Super Bowl parade is its birthright. The longer Arizona hangs around, the more the pressure builds on the Steelers. We saw last year what can happen when the "superior" team can't put the scrappy underdog away. Steve Breaston would make an excellent David Tyree.
- Les Bowen