The teams have arrived in Tampa Bay and we are, mercifully, getting closer and closer to the game. Every year I forget just how painful these two weeks are – too much time and not enough news to fill it. We’ll get into the nitty gritty of some specific analysis over the next couple of days, but let’s start the week with some more general thoughts and observations:
– I find it interesting how many people seem to think that this game is a foregone conclusion. I listened to Jim Rome and a couple of the ESPN radio guys from radio row today, and none of them had a guest that I heard who think the Cardinals have a chance. Several guests seemed to intimate that the game didn’t even need to be played. I really don’t understand that. I’m not saying that the Cards are going to win, and I haven’t entirely decided which side I am on, but if the last three weeks of games have taught me anything it’s that the Cards can’t really be ruled out. Pittsburgh has a great defense, but I am not blown away by their offense. Arizona has a great offense and I’m not blown away by their defense. This game is not a total landslide.
– There are 43 strip clubs in Tampa Bay. That sounds like a serious recipe for trouble for about 117 different NFL players. I hope no one invited Pacman Jones. It would be an unimaginable miracle for the week to pass without a player from the league getting in trouble.
– Hines Ward openly said that he isn’t going to be at 100 percent for the big game because of his sprained knee. I don’t want to blow that statement up into any more than it needs to be, but I find it interesting. He’ll play and I’m sure he’ll contribute, but the offense certainly wasn’t the same without him last time out.
– I keep coming back to the Pittsburgh offensive line. They are lousy. They gave up the fourth most sacks in the league, and they let Big Ben get far more beaten up than he should be. Arizona isn’t the best pass rushing team in the league, but they are solid. My thought is that Arizona’s pass rush will benefit more from the two weeks to prepare than Pittsburgh’s line will.