I feel like a kid on Christmas who woke up early, but has to wait for his presents.
I've only got two things right now: time, and predictions.
As rumors fly around about Ben's ribs/kidneys, and Ward's knee, and which strategically placed politician is placed in Steelers camp, all I'm thinking is the game is here, but we still have to wait an eternity for it (I'm writing this at 6:17 a.m. ET).
Predictions are what pass the time between regular life and the big game. No single game award is bigger in the NFL than Super Bowl MVP. If we at BTSC were running a sports book, here are some bets for today's MVP.
10 to 1: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
He's exciting, dynamic and athletic as hell. His playmaking skills will be on display, and if the game turns mostly defensive, which is seems to be heading that way, a big play or two from the rookie could be critical.
8 to 1: Ryan Clark
Clark is a forced fumble waiting to happen. I see the Steelers pressuring and being able to force later throws. If the ball gets tipped in the air, Clark has the best angle on it of any defender. The last free safety to win a Super Bowl MVP? Tampa Bay's Dexter Jackson...who was coached by Mike Tomlin.
Does that have anything at all to do with this? No. But it sounds cooler that way.
6 to 1: Anquan Boldin
I wanted to write about Boldin being one of the more underrated players in the game in my match-ups column for Steel City Insider. The fact I wasn't able to fit him in proves my point. We don't see many situations where the NFL's career leader in receiving yards per game won't get a mention for a key player in a big game. The fact is, Boldin is Ward 2.0; a dangerously athletic receiver, who's toughness is re-defined every day.
Don't be at all surprised if Boldin's stat line reads one receiving touchdown and one touchdown pass. I've watched him since his early days at Florida State, he can throw the ball.
4 to 1: Troy Polamalu
This is where I'd lose my money, I think. I just can't see Warner even bothering to try to challenge him. The Cardinals realize the biggest mistake most teams make is even bothering to throw near the guy.
Just ask yourself this: When have fans of the Steelers opponents ever been cheering after hearing his name announced over the PA system? "...Polamalu on the play..." He's got the most big-play ability of any defender in the game, but I think the Cardinals are going to play with the attitude that they will either win or lose, but Polamalu will not be the factor either way.
4 to 1: Kurt Warner
Conversely, if Warner stays away from Polamalu, and is able to quickly process what the Steelers defense is throwing at him, he can be successful.
Yes, I'm aware that basically no quarterbacks have been able to do that all year. Regardless, Warner's been successful in his career in doing what he's not supposed to do on paper. You may also remember a certain Patriots quarterback who wasn't supposed to beat Warner and The Greatest Show on Turf.
3 to 1: Larry FItzgerald
I just read an entry from his dad, who you may have heard, is a sports writer and editor in the Twin Cities area. Truth be told, I've heard of Larry Fitzgerald Sr. from way back. I've just never read or have seen his publication - the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. The "Bettis is from Detroit" storyline of this Super Bowl has been Senior covering Junior in the game. Really, I don't see the big deal. Asking journalists to be objective nowadays is mostly pointless anyway.
The point is, I think I put Fitzgerald way too high on this list. But I can't move him from the 3-to-1 hole, either. I think the Cardinals are going to attack using Fitzgerald outside the numbers, and I think they're going to do it early. Their defense responds to their offense. If they can jump out early like they did against Philadelphia, they can set their own tone.
3 to 1: LaMarr Woodley
I don't see Levi Brown blocking him effectively all game. Woodley has been the Steelers best pass rusher these playoffs. To enhance that, Dick LeBeau is going to send defenders through the middle as if they were pillaging Phoenix, and Woodley's going to see the fun side of single blocking.
2 to 1: Ben Roethlisberger
Ben's a proud, image-conscious guy. He's in no way, shape or form happy with his performance in his first Super Bowl. That was Bettis's team. This is Ben's team. He can't get a word in edgewise to the Peyton and Brady conversations without playing well in this game.
This isn't to say it's not a team effort, but the quarterback has the greatest effect on winning or losing a big game, and Ben knows that. He's going to see the whole field, and he's going to take a few shots deep. While this can obviously backfire, I think he's headstrong enough to impose his ability on his opponent.