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In this wacky season, no option possible but Cards win

By Ryan P. McGowan

It snowed in New England on Wednesday, with some nasty freezing rain and sleet. Good thing the Arizona Cardinals aren’t playing Super Bowl XLIII in Boston this week.

By Ryan P. McGowan

It snowed in New England on Wednesday, with some nasty freezing rain and sleet.  Good thing the Arizona Cardinals aren’t playing Super Bowl XLIII in Boston this week.

It’s a big week for the Cards and their long-suffering fans, at least all 27 of them that have been following the team for years, as opposed to the millions of Valley of the Sun wannabes who claim to be long-time fans after Arizona dismantled the Eagles in the NFC Championship game.  Hell, Vin and I have been on the bandwagon longer than most of these yahoos.  90% have no idea that they used to be called the Phoenix Cardinals.  They heard that a guy named Bill Bidwill was the owner, and their reaction was, “When did Bill Belichick leave the Patriots to become an owner?”

And yet these soulless, fair-weather, Johnny-come-lately solar worshippers are about to be celebrating a Super Bowl parade through the strip-mall paradise that is downtown Phoenix.

Let’s face it; the Cardinals are destined to win the Super Bowl this year.  2008-2009 couldn’t have been a weirder NFL season, with the Patriots going 11-5 with a guy who carried Matt Leinart’s jock at USC and the Dolphins winning the AFC East with smoke, mirrors, and a throwback formation called the “Wildcat.”  Brett Favre was wearing green again but it wasn’t Packer green, and the Atlanta Falcons were suddenly the chic team in the NFC.  Three out of four teams that had byes into the playoffs lost at home in the divisional round.  The Niners sucked… well, we actually all expected that one.

So it should come as not shock that this topsy-turvy, most unpredictable of campaigns will come to an end with a candidate for the worst long-time franchise in league history (the nomadic and ever-irrelevant Cardinals, with their playoff and winning season drought and the legendary incompetence of the Bidwills) against arguably the most successful team (five-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh with its generations-long Rooney legacy of success and loyal, hard-core fan base who wave their Terrible Towels and write obnoxious pseudo-fight songs to cheer on their Steelers).

Super Bowl XLIII is a classic storyline: it’s the Return of the Steel Curtain versus… well, what are the Cardinals exactly?  Does anyone know?  Can anyone describe any kind of identity for this team that doesn’t use some combination of the adjectives unpredictable, inconsistent, and maddening?  (The latter would be for anyone who has tried to gamble on the Cards this year, by the way.)

What the Cardinals lack in identity, they certainly make up for in excitement.  When Arizona put a 42 cent stamp on their December 21 snowy game in Foxborough, they convinced me that they weren’t tough enough to win in the playoffs.  In the NFL, you have to at least show up for a regular season game, regardless of whether you’d already clinched the championship of a god-awful division or had no chance of moving up in playoff seeding.  The final score of the Patriots’ 47-7 shellacking didn’t even do justice to the gap that existed between those two teams on that given Sunday.  I have never seen a more defeated, wimpy, utterly pathetic team than the group that masqueraded as a professional team that day at Gillette Stadium.

And yet those same pathetic wimps that ran around on the turf at Foxborough with their gloves buried permanently into their belt-held hand warmers are about to upset the Steelers and become Super Bowl champions.

A lot of America will be picking the Steelers, who had a better record, have a better defense, and a stronger running game.  The Steelers won the Super Bowl just three years ago and have a world-class quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger and a classy, competent coach in Mike Tomlin.  And still they are going to lose to the Cardinals, a team that looks as if Disney’s kiddie-art department designed its logo and uniforms.

In last year’s Super Bowl, the record-setting offense of New England was upended by the stalwart Giants defense.  This year, the Cardinals’ potent offense will balance the ship, and will emerge victorious.  Early in the game, Anquan Boldin will make a big play, left relatively open by the Steelers’ preoccupation with stopping the Cards’ biggest weapon, Larry Fitzgerald.  The Cardinals will go on top early and the Steelers will be forced to play from behind, a position they don’t enjoy being in.

The underrated Cardinals’ defense, which is reminiscent somewhat of last year’s Giants defense in the manner in which they have gelled over the past five weeks, will then put pressure on Big Ben and make him cough it up like they made Matt Ryan, Jake Delhomme, and Donovan McNabb play under their ability.  Perhaps they will get a pick-six like Ty Law against the Rams in SB XXXVI.  A 14-0 lead will make the Cardinals believe… and the Steelers and their fans, who are acting like they deserve the foregone conclusion of their sixth Lombardi Trophy, will tighten up.  Roethlisberger isn’t McNabb, and won’t be able to mount the kind of comeback that the Eagles valiantly attempted two weeks ago.  And the Cardinals learned their lesson against Philly about letting down in the third quarter; it won’t happen again in Tampa.

And by the third quarter, we will know.  We will just know that it’s going to happen.  In this wacky season, there couldn’t be a more fitting ending than the Arizona Cardinals finally putting the finishing touches on the kind of run that Vin and I have been waiting for since 2005.  Congratulations in advance to Ken Whisenhunt, Bill Bidwill, Super Bowl XLIII MVP Kurt Warner, and the 2008-2009 National Football League champions, the Arizona Cardinals.*

*- Of course, read my column from December as to why this champion has an asterisk.  47-7 on 12/21, especially, even adds fuel to my argument.  See you in September with a healthy Tom Brady, bitches…

By BostonMac

Ryan is a teacher, writer, journalist, basketball coach, sports aficionado, occasional real estate agent, and political junkie. He graduated from both the College of the Holy Cross (bachelor's) and Boston College (Master's), and knows anyone who has never heard of Holy Cross probably would never have gotten in there anyway. He is an unabashed Boston sports fan and homer who, according to lore, once picked the Patriots to win for 25 straight weeks on the "NFL Picks Show," which he co-hosts with Vin Diec, R.J. Warner, and Burton DeWitt. He is also an original co-host of SportsColumn's "Poor Man's PTI." He is married, lame, and a lifelong Massachusetts resident (except for a brief sojourn into the wilds of Raleigh, NC) who grew up in North Attleboro and currently lives and works in Everett.

6 replies on “In this wacky season, no option possible but Cards win”

Is is quite unfortunate this did not come to pass.

I really loathe the steelers fans around here.

Hell of a game though. Best of all time?

I don’t know about best game of all time. Maybe the most exciting fourth quarter of all time, right up there with Pats-Giants, Pats-Panthers, 49ers-Bengals II, Rams-Titans, Bills-Giants.

Overall the game was pretty ugly with too many bad penalties. But it was a great one nonetheless.

Congrats to RJ and Steeler Nation. Looking forward to the 09 season aka The Final Battle for Team of the Decade between the Pats and Steelers.

I hope it comes down to that in the AFC Champ game next year. I know the Pats come to Pittsburgh in the regular season (that game has sunday night written all over it). I got the Steelers at #2 of the decade right now with no BCS to eff it up.

Having the Pats come to Pittsburgh is more convenient for the refs, who all seem to reside in the Pittsburgh area.

Wait nevermind, the pats don’t come to pittsburgh next year. they would have had to win the division in 2008. I can’t stop coughing.

Oh and Pittsburgh does have the most old people in any major city, so the refs probably do feel more comfortable

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