CARDINALS (12-7) vs. STEELERS (14-4)
Line: Steelers by 6 1/2 Over/Under: 46 1/2
TV-Radio: Ch. 4, WFAN (660), Sunday, 6:18 p.m.
They might as well have forfeited to the Jets (56-35), Eagles (48-20) and Patriots (47-7). They were 3-7 outside the NFC West, one of the worst divisions in NFL history. The only thing the Cardinals excel at is throwing the ball, but so what? They're still the first 9-7 team in the Super Bowl since the 1979 Rams. Feel the power of ... parity gone berserk.
As the 2005 Steelers and last year's Giants proved, all that matters now is to get into the playoffs, get hot and get lucky. If you have the magic dust for a month, anything can happen. The NFL: That's how I see it.
From Gridiron Valhalla comes a savage rant by the ultimate Old- School Guy, Vince Lombardi: "What the hell is going on down there? A touch football team can be champion? Those bums haven't won a title since we wore leather helmets. That idiot family got them evicted from Chicago and St. Louis. You think I want to see Bow Tie Billy Bidwill lifting my trophy?
"I'll be waving a Terrible Towel up here with Art Rooney, because the Steelers play my way, the right way. They hit you in the mouth, knock you down and run you over."
Don't worry, Vince; you and Art are going to enjoy this one. Arizona's change-of-pace running game won't work against the league's No.1 defense, and Dick LeBeau's blitzes will shake up Kurt Warner. Willie Parker will rip off some big runs, and as long as Ben Roethlisberger avoids bad decisions, Pittsburgh will get a ring for the other hand.
The pick: Steelers
ED MCNAMARA 132-127-7
BOB GLAUBER 125-134-7
TOM ROCK 140-119-7
ERIK BOLAND 131-128-7