Cardinals Keys to Cover

The Arizona Cardinals have had one magical ride in 2008 and now they can cap their successful season off with a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.

So what do they have to do to be successful and more specifically for bettors, produce a cover? We lay out a couple of keys for a successful Cardinals’ game plan.

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Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Cardinals a 7-point underdog against the Steelers in Super Bowl 43. Considering the Giants shocked the Patriots in last year’s Super Bowl as an underdog, taking Arizona and the points might be a wise play.

First and foremost, the key to not only a Cardinals’ cover but also a victory is quarterback Kurt Warner. If he has time to throw, he’s already proven all season that he’s as good as any quarterback in the league. He’s smart, instinctive and he knows where to go with the ball as soon as it’s snapped into his hands.

But the Arizona line has to provide protection for him or he’ll look as bad as any signal caller would if he doesn’t have time to throw. Warner is also susceptible to turning the ball over when faced with heavy pressure, so again, keeping Pittsburgh defenders from crashing the pocket is something the Cardinals’ offensive line will be challenged with all game.

It would also go along way for Warner’s effectiveness if Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower can get the running game going early. One way to neutralize the Steelers’ blitz schemes is to remain balanced offensively. If James and Hightower can move the ball on the ground, Pittsburgh might start to cheat up in efforts to slow down the run and then Warner can strike for big plays over the top with explosive wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston.

Memo to the Cardinals defense: Keep doing what you’re doing. Arizona has forced 12 turnovers this postseason, which has created easy scoring opportunities for the offense. The last time the Steelers lost was Week 16 in Tennessee when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles. The Cardinals’ defense is vastly underrated and very opportunistic, so getting some takeaways isn’t out the of question.

All in all, the Cardinals are going to have to play a perfect game. The Steelers have the best defense in the league and can force turnovers with the best of them. But the Cardinals didn’t get this far on accident and considering they could win the game outright, the 7 points given by oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com might be a gift.

More Super Bowl XLIII Coverage

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- Super Bowl 43 Picks – Why the Cardinals won’ win the 2009 Super Bowl

- Super Bowl XLIII Official Game Preview: Cardinals vs. Steelers

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- 2009 Super Bowl XLIII Betting Trends

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Posted: 1/30/09 12:47PM ET

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