Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Super Bowl 2009: Why the Steelers Will Win

"Because they're so much better, duh." I've just given you the essence of the average Pittsburgh Steelers fan's argument as to why the Steelers will win the Super Bowl. Daunting, huh? Towering logic, right? Well, as much as I like to bash Steeler fans (and oh Jesus how I love it), there's actually a little bit of validity to the simplistic argument. The Steelers were 12-4, with their only losses coming against the Eagles, Giants, Colts, and Titans, all playoff teams. The Cardinals were 9-7 and lost four of six heading into the playoffs. But when you're a Super Bowl team, you beat some decent competition to get there, so you can't shrug off the Cardinals' credentials any more.

So why will the Steelers win, then? There are a couple of crucial reasons, most of them related to the Steelers' vaunted, #1 rated defense. They boast the best pass defense in football, which is complemented by the NFL's second-best rush defense (behind the Vikings). They gave up the fewest yards per game in the league, besting the #2 Ravens by over twenty yards a game. They gave up under 14 points per game, also best in the league. Their defense has stifled some of the best rushing and passing attacks in football, and has carried them to the Super Bowl for the second time in four years.

But while this Pittsburgh defense is essentially the same as the 2005 championship squad, the offense has changed dramatically, some might say for the better (some = me). Santonio Holmes compares favorably to Antwaan Randle El (the 2005 team's second leading wide receiver). Heath Miller is still on the team and has become more comfortable in the offense. Willie Parker has taken the reins from Jerome Bettis and become a legitimate #1 RB. But most importantly, Ben Roethlisberger has become more than just a confident game-managing quarterback. He's able to avoid the rush and make plays on the run; as I'm sure you've seen in various television graphics through the years, Big Ben actually boasts a higher passer rating from outside the pocket than from inside it.

Arizona's had a nice run, but they haven't faced a defense anywhere near as staunch as Pittsburgh's. When the dust settles, those jerks from western Pennsylvania will have another title, and I'll have another reason to dislike them.

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