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Steelers TD favorite in Super Bowl opening odds

A black man is president of the United States and the Arizona Cardinals are in the Super Bowl. For various reasons, neither seemed like they would ever happen but here we are with Barack Obama becoming the 44th US commander in chief and the Cardinals trying to become the 43rd winner of football’s Holy Grail.

Super Bowl XLIII odds - Pittsburgh Steelers -6.5 vs. Arizona Cardinals O/U 46.5

The opening odds for Super Bowl XLIII have the Steelers as a 6.5-point favorite with a total around 46.5 points.

The team that can execute its strength in Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa Bay should determine the total. If the Steelers’ defense dominates, the total should be Under, but if the high-flying offense of the Cardinals can’t be stopped, the total should go Over.

This is the fourth straight post-season game that the Cardinals have been the underdog, but can they score another upset against a Steelers’ defense that is stingy giving up yards, much less points?

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The key to this game is how the Cardinals offensive line protects QB Kurt Warner. They played solid in the NFC title game against the Eagles. In the Super Bowl, they will have to deal with the league’s best defense and a ferocious pass rush.

The Cardinals rushing attack is not great, to say the least, but they have to pick up some yards, so Steelers’ defense does not only focus on Warner and defending the pass. Arizona’s ground game has improved the past few weeks.

Besides getting to Warner, the Steelers’ defense will have to rein in Cardinals’ WR Larry Fitzgerald, who has been stellar in the post-season. The Steelers need to cover him well and not let him make the big play downfield.

The Cardinals defense has been impressive in the playoffs, as they have grounded three of the better RBs in the league in Atlanta's Michael Turner, Carolina's DeAngelo Williams and Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook.

They will have to continue that trend and contain Steelers’ RB Willie Parker. If they can do that, Ben Roethlisberger will have added pressure to move the chains.

The Cardinals will blitz all game and the Steelers’ offensive line is mediocre at best and they will have to step up or Roethlisberger will spend a lot of time on the turf.

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This regular season, both teams were 9-7 ATS. Even though the AFC has dominated the Super Bowl in recent years, the conference is under.500 ATS. In the last 11 Super Bowls the AFC is 8-3 SU, but only 5-6 ATS. In the last four Super Bowls, the total has gone Under.

In the playoffs this season the Cardinals have scored upsets in three straight games, while the Steelers have covered the spread in their two post-season games.

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