Take the Steelers and lay the points | NevadaAppeal.com

Take the Steelers and lay the points

Darrell Moody

This certainly isn’t the Super Bowl most of America envisioned when the NFL season started around 18 weeks ago.

Oh I thought, as I’m sure that many of you felt, that Pittsburgh had a good shot, but only the craziest of fans would have picked Arizona to make it this far. It’s not a surprise that Arizona won the division, given that the NFC West was the weakest in football this year.

Championship teams like the Steelers are built on defense and a good, dependable running game.

The Steelers, in fact, remind me a lot of the New York Giants of last year. The Giants didn’t ask Eli Manning to win games for them and neither do the Steelers, though Ben Roethlisberger is certainly more than capable. The Giants depended on there pressure defense and a ball-control running game. The Steelers have a bruiser in Willie Parker.

That’s why I think the Steelers should win Super Bowl XLIII. They have a better defense, better running game and more experience than the Cardinals.

The key for the Steelers is getting Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner out of his comfort zone.

Everybody talks about Warner’s quick release, which he adopted during his Arena Football days. Even guys like Warner can be had, however. It’s all in the timing, and it’s all about blitzing from different angles and with different people. All it takes is one or two mistakes that result in an incomplete pass or interception at a key time, and the Steelers will be in business and the Cardinals will be toast.

The Steelers’ secondary needs to limit the yards after catch with Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston and Anquan Boldin. All three have the knack for getting into open spaces and slipping tackles. You won’t stop them, but the Steelers need to lock them down and prevent a short catch from turning into a long gainer.

One of the things that could turn the game in Arizona’s favor, or less in Pittsburgh’s favor, is the status of Hines Ward, the Steelers’ top possession receiver. He has been one of Roethlisberger’s go-to guys over the years, though the Steelers did fine after he was injured in the AFC Championship game.

No matter, I’m still going with Pittsburgh … Steelers 20, Cardinals 10.

– One thing that has certainly been lost in the shuffle is the tremendous season that Nevada’s women’s basketball team is having under new head coach Jane Albright.

The Wolf Pack women are off to an unprecedented six-game winning streak to start the Western Athletic Conference season. It’s the first six-game win streak since the 1986-87 season.

Nevada’s overall record isn’t great at 12-7, but I attribute that to a new coach getting her “program” installed. Nevada is truly a team getting better as the season goes along, and one win Nevada can hang its hat on is the upset of Louisville earlier this year in the Nugget Classic.

Dellena Criner, Brandi Jones and Cherlanda Franklin have played solid ball all season for the Pack.

The Pack plays San Jose State today (2 p.m.) and then hosts Fresno State on Friday. The Bulldogs will give Nevada probably its best conference game of the season.

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling 881-1214