Another upset in the Cards at 2009 Super Bowl?
Bettors have gone against the Arizona Cardinals in every round of the playoffs so far, and they've paid for it dearly.
So it's no surprise that only 47% of the early bettors at Sportsbook.com are backing the Cards as seven-point underdogs against the Pittsburgh Steelers for Super Bowl XLIII.
Pittsburgh is going for its record sixth Super Bowl title which would put them one ahead of the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. This is the first Super Bowl appearance for a Cardinals franchise that has historically been known for futility.
Arizona opened up the playoffs at home against the Atlanta Falcons and a measly 15% backed them as 2 ½-point dogs. In the divisional round, only half of the public liked Arizona despite them getting a whopping 10 points at the Carolina Panthers.
Then in the conference championship last Sunday, only 25% took the Cardinals as home dogs again, this time getting four-points from the Philadelphia Eagles.
So are bettors being shortsighted again in their lack of respect for the Cardinals?
There is no denying that Kurt Warner and the passing offense can put a scare into any opposing secondary. Warner had four touchdown passes in their 32-25 win over the Eagles, three of them to superstar wide-out Larry Fitzgerald. Warner has played in two Super Bowls, winning one against Tennessee in January, 2000.
Warner also didn't have a turnover against the aggressive Philly defense, which may have been the key in the whole game. Throw in an improved running game with veteran Edgerrin James and a defense that can look very good in long spurts, and Arizona has the ability to be live dogs once again.
Pittsburgh is the solid favorite though as they are the more physical of the two teams by far, and have the better running game and defense. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger also has a Super Bowl win under his belt, against Seattle three years ago.
The final score of that game was 21-10, and Pittsburgh covered the four-point spread. However, that was a closer contest than the final score indicates and the Steelers got the breaks from several questionable call from the officials.
Pittsburgh does have the ability to take a close game and pull out a cover. Witness the Ravens game last week when Pittsburgh was winning by just two-points (16-14) late in the fourth quarter, but got an interception return for a touchdown from Troy Polamalu to get the win and the six-point cover.
Another intriguing angle to this game is the coaching matchup. Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator for Pittsburgh before being passed over for the head job for outsider, Mike Tomlin. Russ Grimm was also turned down by Pitt and he joined Whisenhunt's staff.
There doesn't seem to be bad blood on Whisenhunt's part, but a win over his former team would be extra sweet.
And it could mean another big payday for those willing to go against the grain and back this upstart Arizona squad.
Carrie Stroup, Gambling911.com Senior ReporterSubmitted by Carrie Stroup on Tue, 01/20/2009 - 23:38