Altemus 2009 Super Bowl Picks

First and foremost, Arizona is a much better team than most people are giving them credit for.  One of the main reasons why the Cardinals continue to be undervalued is because of their blowout losses this season.  However, those poor performances were because of lack of motivation, and they were not due to a lack of talent or coaching.  Understanding that piece of information is critical to this game.  Arizona has defeated Atlanta, Carolina on the road, and Philadelphia in three straight games.  It is difficult for any team to do that in three consecutive weeks.  In addition, they were without the services of Anquan Boldin, their second best receiver, for most of the Atlanta game, as well as the entire Carolina game.  One of the biggest reasons for their recent success has been their defense, specifically against the run.  They held the Falcons to 60 yards, the Panthers to 75 yards, and the Eagles to 97 yards.  In fact, a good chunk of the Eagles rushing yards were on Donovan McNabb scrambles.  One interesting note is that Arizona held a double digit lead in all three games.  Pittsburgh’s offense does not have a great deal of explosiveness, so it will be much harder for them to come back if Arizona jumps out to a two score or more lead.  However, the Steelers defense will give them the stiffest test of the season.  Philadelphia had the NFL’s 3rd ranked defense during the regular season though, yet Arizona was still able to score 32 points.  Kurt Warner was able to excel against Jim Johnson’s blitzing defense and make smart decisions.  His play is critical to this selection, as he will face a stiff test from Pittsburgh’s Dick LeBeau and his schemes.  However, the Steelers defense is most vulnerable in their secondary.  They gave up 308 yards to Philip Rivers two games ago, as he was able to have success against the blitz packages.  In addition, Peyton Manning threw for 240 yards and Kerry Collins threw for 216 yards against the Steelers during the regular season.  Veteran quarterbacks with play makers on offense can exploit their secondary.  There is also two interesting pieces of information that have bearing on this game.  First, Pittsburgh was only 1-6 against the spread to playoff teams during the regular season.  Their only cover was their late season 4 point win at Baltimore.  The second note is that Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm were both passed over for the Pittsburgh head coaching job just two seasons ago.  The extra motivation won’t matter too much, but they both have in-depth knowledge of the Steelers schemes and personnel.  The biggest key to this game will be Arizona’s ability to move the ball, while Pittsburgh doesn’t have an explosive enough offense to win in a blowout.  The Steelers must be able to run the football in order to win games by margin.  However, the Cardinals defense will contain the run enough to stay in the game.  Look for this game to come down to the wire with Arizona having a good chance of winning outright.
First score of game – (FIELD GOAL +155)
Total field goals – (OVER 3 -150)
Total sacks – (UNDER 5.5 -150)
Roethlisberger to throw an interception – (YES -135)
Kurt Warner passing yards – (OVER 225.5 yards -210)
Gary Russell to score a touchdown (YES +285)
Willie Parker rushing attempts – (OVER 20.5 -115)
Willie Parker longest rushing attempt – (UNDER 15.5 yards -115)
Carey Davis rushing yards – (UNDER 1.5 yards -115)
Edgerrin James rushing attempts – (OVER 12.5 attempts)