Super Bowl 43  

 

Five reasons why Cardinals can win Super Bowl XLIII

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» Five reasons why Steelers can win


Five reasons why the Cardinals can win Super Bowl XLIII:

1. Larry Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald already has a postseason record 419 receiving yards and that's before playing in the Super Bowl. Great players are often known for great catches and in these playoffs he's already made his mark with a highlight reel of spectacular hauls. He will be facing the NFL's top-ranked pass defense and some of the league's hardest-hitting defensive backs, but his ability to gain yards after the catch despite taking big shots is what sets him apart.

2. The offensive line

That's right; this group has allowed just three postseason sacks against two of the NFL's best pass rushing defenses, Carolina and Philadelphia. By keeping QB Kurt Warner upright, Arizona has been able to execute its offense at a high level. LT Mike Gandy has kept edge pass rushers John Abraham, Julius Peppers and Trent Cole at bay. Guards Deuce Lutui and Reggie Wells have been very stout and, along with tackle Levi Brown, given the Cards a nice young nucleus. Arizona also is averaging 111 rushing yards in the playoffs. Those could be tougher to come by vs. Pittsburgh, but there is a semblance of a rushing attack to balance the offense.

3. A little inside info

Cards coach Ken Whisenhunt and assistant head coach/offensive line coach Russ Grimm came to Arizona from Pittsburgh. They know defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's tendencies and schemes, although he knows some of theirs. Where Whisenhunt and Grimm have an edge is they know some of the personnel and those players' strengths and weaknesses. In a game like this, where every little thing matters, that inside knowledge helps.

4. A different defensive front

The Steelers have faced two aggressive defenses in the playoffs, including Baltimore, who they played three times during the season. Those teams play 3-4 fronts. The Cardinals give a 4-3 look with a lot of five-man lines depending on down and distance. Pittsburgh's 3-4 front on defense is something the Cardinals haven't seen much in the playoffs, but again, Whisenhunt's and Grimm's familiarity with Pittsburgh's style will help provide proper scout looks in practice -- although simulating James Harrison will be impossible.

5. Warner

The Pro Bowler has completed 61 of 92 passes in the playoffs for 770 yards and just two interceptions. Warner is playing efficiently, courtesy of a lot of quick, short passes that call for him to get the ball out of his hands. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley's creative screens and crossing routes designed to pick off defenders in traffic has allowed Warner to take aim at relatively wide-open receivers. Warner also is hanging on to the ball and keeping his poise when he gets hit.

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