Super Bowl Factor #2: Can the Arizona Cardinals run the ball?
The Superbowl start time and kickoff is set for February 1st, 2009 at 6:28 PM EST in Tampa, Florida and on NBC. And with just a few days until the kickoff, we’ll be breaking down the 5 factors that will determine the winner of this game. I’ll predict which team will have the edge in each facet we discuss, and the team that gets the majority of the edges will represent my pick for Super Bowl XLIII.
Yes, this question is an easy one. Sure, the Cardinals ran the ball effectively against the Falcons, Panthers, and to some extent, the Eagles as well, but to say they were great at running the ball would be a huge overstatement. The truth is, they did just enough to keep defenses honest, and their best runs often came in typical passing situations. But if you’re asking me can the Cardinals run the ball when they have to, my answer is no.
I guess you could say I’m underestimating a team that has consistently been underrated throughout these playoffs. Or you could say that I’m simply speaking the truth.
Let’s face it, you don’t become a running team during the playoffs. And while the Cardinals 3 playoff games of 145 yards, 86 yards and 102 yards are respectable, the fact that they averaged a mere 3.3 yards per carry during those 3 games, is not a promising note going into the Superbowl game against the Steelers. And it’s also noteworthy that the most potent defense they faced, the Eagles, stuffed the Cardinals around the line of scrimmage 13.8% of the time.
That’s a very high stuff percentage given that the Eagles typically only stuff the run 11.8% of the time, even though they rank 6th in the league in the category. The Steelers, on the other hand, don’t typically stuff the run all that much. In fact, they only stuff the run 6.8% of the time. But I guess that just doesn’t matter, because they still only give up 3.2 yards per rush, which was the lowest average against any defense in the league.
So at the end of the day, it would appear to me that we have a Steelers team that generally holds teams to 2 or 3 yards per rush and stuffs runners 6.8% of the time, and an Arizona team that gets stuffed 9.1% of the time, which ranks in the middle of the pack.
Who wins the battle?
You have to believe it’s the Cardinals. And if you want to throw away the numbers and the stuff percentage, I think you come to the same conclusion simply because you can’t become a rushing team in the playoffs. It’s too hard to turn your mentality from passing oriented to a physical rushing team. Now, that doesn’t mean that the Cardinals rushing attempts won’t have an effect on the game, but the production from the run will not be why the Cardinals win, thus the edge goes to the Steelers when it comes to the Cardinals running the ball.
Super Bowl Factor #2 Determination: Pittsburgh bottles up Arizona’s rushing game.
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