First, let's get the really important stuff out of the way. What song will the Boss lead off with during the halftime show? The favorite right now is "Born to Run" at even money, but Double V is opting for "Glory Days" at 3-1.
Oh, yeah, we need to talk some football, and this selection has a distinct Arizona slant. No one was on the Cardinals' bandwagon coming into the playoffs, and why would anyone? They lost four of six coming down the stretch, giving up a whopping average of 33 points per game. Pittsburgh won six of its last seven to close out the season, allowing only 11.8 ppg. Polar opposites, for sure.
Then the playoffs start, and 'Zona looks like the mid-1960s Green Bay Packers without the ice. The Cards beat Atlanta, pounded the Panthers at Carolina and flew past the Eagles. And no offense to Donovan and the Birds, but after leading, 24-6, at the half, don't you think that Arizona eased off the gas pedal? We do.
So really, it boils down to the Cardinals' offense vs. the Steelers' defense. If you scroll back to last season, with these two teams virtually the same, Arizona posted a 21-14 win in the desert. In that game, Matt Leinart started at QB but Kurt Warner came on in relief, and put up some very solid numbers (132 yards and a TD). If you're wondering, Big Ben Roethlisberger was only 17-for-32 for 244 yards, with two TDs, two interceptions and four sacks.
Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt was a Steelers assistant for years, so he knows their culture. And if offensive coordinator Todd Haley calls plays as he did against the Eagles it'll be a long night for Pittsburgh.
Vic also likes the fact that running back Edgerrin James looks like the "Edge'' of old, which allows the Cards to roll with a very balanced attack. Of course, the Steelers will have 22 eyes on all-world receiver Larry Fitzgerald, which should open up the other side for one-on-one coverage of Anquan Boldin and tight end Steve Breaston, both 1,000-yard guys this season. And with Pitt wideout Hines Ward nowhere near 100 percent, the passing attack will suffer.
If you remember the AFC title game, Baltimore was down just two points, 16-14, with the ball and driving, but rookie Joe Flacco threw a pick. Warner is closer to AARP than being a rookie, and will not make that mistake.
Yes, I'm going out on the proverbial limb and picking Arizona to not even need the seven points (but we'll take 'em) and squeeze out a 24-21 victory. *