Suggestions for friendly betting opportunities

There is a segment of the population who couldn't tell the difference between Steelers star James Harrison and former president William Henry Harrison. This weekend, though, those same people will care if the Steelers win and especially by how many.

Until the legislators and regulators figure out how to turn a profit from legalizing sports betting around here, the following advice must be used for entertainment purposes only.

Creating a clever pool among family or friends can enhance the viewing experience. So break out the Monopoly money and put down the beverage, two Daily News sports writers offer a few other things to chew on besides those moldy fourthquarter wings:

Ed Barkowitz' Sure Bets

1. The point spread: Pittsburgh not only wins Super Bowls, they cover them. The Steelers have covered five of their previous six Supes, which is only a nice trend since some of their players weren't even born when Pittsburgh was dominating the 1970s. But Pittsburgh has covered seven of its last eight.

2. Kurt Warner interception: This is a proposition bet based on whether Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner will throw a pick. The "yes" line is more than 2:1. If the Cardinals are unable to run the ball, they will become very predictable. Considering all the playmakers Pittsburgh has on defense, a Warner interception is inevitable. I'd wager (if it were bleepin' legal) $240 to win $100 that Warner will throw at least one pick.

3. First scoring play: At 3:1 odds, it's hard to pass up the Steelers kicking a field goal to open the scoring. Except for that 18-minute stretch against the Eagles, the Cardinals' defense has been pretty good during the postseason. With any luck, Pittsburgh will convert a Warner interception into a field goal and net me $300 on a $100 wager.

4. Santonio Holmes receptions: Never mind that Holmes had two catches in each of Pittsburgh's first two playoff wins. With Hines Ward nursing a bad knee, the third-year receiver should surpass 3 1/2 catches . . . by halftime. If stuff like this were legal, I'd put up $110 to win $100.

5. Team to score last. This is one of those props you make just to keep things interesting in case of a blowout. Since Arizona will be playing catch-up, a Matt Leinart to Steve Breaston two-point conversion sounds about right. The $100 wager would mean $120 if the Cards score last.

Bob Cooney's Sure Bets:

1. The point spread: I've been thinking Steelers to win this game and cover the seven-point spread pretty much since Pittsburgh beat the Ravens to win the AFC title. But in the last couple of days, something has changed my mind. Perhaps watching the replay of the Cardinals' win against the Eagles has convinced me they're a good team. Although the Eagles certainly could have won and the past 2 weeks would have been much more fun for this newspaper and for you Eagles fans and . . . wait, we're getting off track here. I like the Cardinals to cover the seven, but fall short in the game.

2. Team to score first:I do think the Steelers will win the game, although I think it will be a close one. And one reason I think the Steelers will win is because of the way they make defensive adjustments during the game. As Kurt Warner and Co. showed in their win over the Eagles, they can come out flying. I expect that to happen Sunday, before the Steelers make the proper adjustments. I'll bet the $100 to win $140 on the Cardinals.

3. Total completions: I'll go with over 42 1/2. I see the Cardinals trying to run a hurry offense in an attempt to keep the Steelers from making the defensive substitutions. Sure, you can run out of the hurry-up, but I think they'll be throwing the quick-hitters a lot to set up their long passes. Don't forget, Tim Hightower and Edgerrin James didn't exactly light it up all season, and the Super Bowl is no time to be patient with a running game. Plus, if the Cardinals get off to the fast start I expect, Ben Roethlisberger will have to air it out a little bit.

4. Edgerrin James rushing yards: I'm going to take the over of 43 1/2. I do think the Cardinals are going to throw the ball an awful lot, which will spread the Pittsburgh defense. Although James probably won't get the ball a ton in the running game, I think he'll break some 8-, 10- or 12-yard pops. It's the typical throw to set up the run. Something Philadelphia fans should be all too familiar with.

5. Larry Fitzgerald receptions: The line is 7 1/2 and I like the over. Here's the way I see things playing out: I think Fitzgerald will get closer to 10 receptions, with a lot of them coming on crossing patterns, looking to get lots of yards after the catch. But that's where Steelers safety Troy Polamalu comes into play, not letting Fitzgerald get the YACs. So, lots of catches, and not a ton of yards for No. 11.