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:: Monday, January 19, 2009 ::

:: Football Conference Finals Recap ::
It's been determined: The Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl. People were surprised they weren't immediately booted out of the playoffs but it's a downright shocker - and literally every football column and sports new talking head will be saying this for the next two weeks, to the point that even non-football fans will be saying, "yeah they're not supposed to be here we get it!!" - that the Cardinals made it this far.

Literally, no one thought they would get this far. They "won" their division with a meager 9-7 record. Despite easily beating both Atlanta and Carolina the last two weeks, they four point underdogs against Philly despite playing at home. Many teams have used the rally cry of "no one believed in us" and "no one showed us any respect!" Except in this case, it would actually be true. (The Cards have been worse than just the league whipping boy. Imagine The Gimp from "Pulp Fiction" except even more humiliating.) Don't think for a second they won't use this mentality to galvanize the team.

I mentioned this to my buddy at The Abby last night but this matchup reminds me a lot of Super Bowl XXXIV. Not just because of Kurt Warner's presence but the two teams are stylistically similar. One team features a potent offense and underrated defense while the other is a defensive stalwart with an efficient running game. (Look for this angle to be repeated among the news channels as well.)

Oh wait, there's another team playing in the Super Bowl as well? That would make sense. The Pittsburgh Steelers were expected to go far in the playoffs but their road was a little more impressive, given the higher expectations and playing the toughest schedule. Not only that, their top running back was injured much of the season, taking away the vaunted running game that's the backbone of their offense. And yet here they are.

For last wekend's picks, I wrote on my blog, "this will be a drawn-out defensive matchup where you're going to see some big hits and a few key injuries. It'll be glorious." Rarely have I been more right and rarely have I wanted to be wrong. Do you remember the head-on collision between Ryan Clark and Willis McGahee? This is one of the most brutal, cringe-inducing hits you'll ever see outside of a Kelly Clarkson album. And if you want to see it again, it's right here in all it's neck-snapping glory.

Other things you might see repeatedly on sports news:
  • The Kurt Warner Story: all about how he used to bag groceries before playing Arena League Football and NFL Europe before finally taking the NFL by storm with his massive passing prowess; all the while marrying wife Brenda and taking care of her kids like they were his own, and raising a total of seven kids together, and somewhere in there discovering the Holy Grail. Okay, that last one isn't true (it was the Ark of the Covenant). Don't get me wrong, I love the guy and it is a great story if not for the fact that it's already been reported to death back in 2000.
  • Arizona Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt and Offensive Line Coach Russ Grimm were both employed by Pittsburgh previous and were considered the top two candidates to replace Bill Cowher when he stepped down, only to have Mike Tomlin take the job. Looking for a coaching version of the "they didn't believe in us" chant as well as the "coming back for revenge" story.
  • Look for raging debates about whether or not Larry Fitzgerald is the best wide receiver playing right now. Probably because he's played in NFL purgatory known as Arizona but the only people who really know about this guy outside of Phoenix before this year are Fantasy Football and stat geeks (guilty) and the cornerbacks and safeties he's torched during his career. Philly had the third-best defense as well as a shut-down secondary but Fitz still managed over 100 yards and three touchdowns in the FIRST HALF. Another thing he has going is that pseudo-Superman thing where he shows up at every interview wearing expensive suits and designer glasses looking more like a stockbroker than a gridiron God. Is he the best wide? I'm not sure. Yes, he's fundamentally sound, physically gifted, and has some of the stickiest hands in the world. But unless he works on improving his touchdown celebrations, baiting the media into giving cheap publicity, stops getting along so well with his quarterback, and learns how to be a whiney malcontent, he'll never be considered the best
  • Ken Whisenhunt is a genius. He was always regarded as an excellent offensive coordinator with a penchant for will-timed and effective trick plays. Moving to Arizona and turning the Cardinals into a respectable franchise just might be the greatest trick play of all time.

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:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 11:57 PM [+] :: | 0 comments

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