How do you turn 12 minutes into two weeks?

"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles, CEO Sports Network

Hatboro, PA (Sports Network) - Take Arizona, Pittsburgh, the NFL, mix with a dash of vodka, shaken, not stirred and you have it. A game that actually takes 12 minutes converted into two weeks of coverage, frivolity, analysis, introspection, guesses, feature sports articles, interviews, corporate parties, product sales and, yes, wagering on every facet of the game imaginable - from who will win the opening coin toss to the final tally of the actual game.

The guess from this corner, upset of the Eagles aside, Kurt Warner enjoying his moment as a born again NFL Player reconsidered, and the acrobatic antics of Larry Fitzgerald on hold, the Steelers have to be the choice for the NFL intergalactic contest to establish presumed supremacy in the sport. These two teams will be there, in Tampa, and have seemingly earned the right to compete for the heralded Vince Lombardi Trophy but they are not the two best teams in the NFL. Cardinal and Steeler fans will contest that with, "But we are there, so go perform an unnatural sexual act," and there is no denying that...They are there and the act has been put on hold.

The bottom line of all this is that the game will take, with fast- forward...elimination of commercials (often the best part of the game)...time- outs discarded...huddles and helping teammates (hardly ever the competition) up from the turf...replays scrapped...halftime extravaganza omitted...touchdown celebrations scratched...and various other non- participatory or actionable happenings purged and we have a contest that takes about 12 minutes, give or take a few seconds.

"You're kidding, right?"

Nope, bring a stopwatch to the den with you on February 1st and keep your own tally. Lots of events, spectacles, excess, corporate productions, phantasmagoria to do Disney proud, glitter and tinsel that belongs in the Rose Bowl and Macy's Thanksgiving Day parades, a preposterous panorama of the NFL on display and at its best. That is the Super Bowl. Yes, there is a game as well. It is an event where many relish being able to say, "I was there!" but that has to be equated, together with New Year's Eve in Times Square, the Finals of March Madness, the World Series or the recent Presidential Inauguration against watching it all in the comfort of your own home. Certainly not there in person, but is that the ultimate deciding factor regarding I was there? Or, is seeing, hearing, witnessing, OK without adding in attendance?

Sounds OK to me.

Mike Tomlin
TSN CEO Mickey Charles thinks Mike Tomlin and his club will hoist the Super Bowl Trophy in Tampa.

Which brings us to the sought-after prognostication of the "big game." Yes, Arizona has won its last four games but against Seattle, a bad team for most of the season; Atlanta, with a heralded quarterback that forgot who he was supposed to be that day; another quarterback at the helm of Carolina but who played like he was just entering high school; and then the Eagles, with a history of playoff failure. Three of those four games were also played in the friendly and confidence-building confines of University of Phoenix Stadium. On the other hand, the Cardinals were crushed by some pretty good teams during the course of the regular season. And, the one that they are meeting very soon is a pretty good team.

Enter the Pittsburgh Steelers. They are not only hot, but have a steel-trap door as a defense. The Kurt Warner/Larry Fitzgerald aerial circus just might not work here. It will be especially ineffective from the bench, which is where the boys from Heinz Field hope to keep them for extended periods of time. Pittsburgh has been installed by those that ostensibly know, but whose task it is to really confuse the public, as a six-point favorite, and the projected number of total points that these two might score is hovering at 47. The first sounds real, although I would have made it higher, and the second is too high in my opinion. The Steelers can certainly score but they do not run it up with intent, but more by accident, and the result of miscues by the other side. Then the defense settles in and seems to get stronger and tougher.

I do not think the Cardinals will be able to drop footballs onto the Steelers' secondary like raindrops falling on their heads. Nor do I see anyone wearing red picking up sizeable portions of the field during an orchestrated ground attack. But I can see Ben Roethlisberger doing both...completing passes and handing off to his real estate merchants intent upon picking up segments that will take them from one end of the field to the other while the clock continues to click down to the inevitable.

Pittsburgh is a team that will score in the 20's one way or the other...on offense, advantaging a lapse or error by Arizona and combining two to three field goals with a couple of touchdowns, maybe three. The Cardinals will be held in check whether they craft a TD in the early-going or get a meaningless "gimme" near the end, when the prevent defense prevents nothing.

That makes the final score Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 17 (maybe less). In any case, more than 6 and less than 47.

"Can I take that to the bank, can I get out the lease to the farm?"

Despite the final playoff week's 6-0 record, you gotta be kidding!

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