Novacek: Steelers vs. Cards in Super Bowl - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Novacek: Steelers vs. Cards in Super Bowl

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Eagles (11-6-1) vs. Cardinals (11-7)

Both of these teams feature offenses that use the passing game to set everything up. Kurt Warner and Donovan McNabb are accurate passers who do a great job spreading the ball around to several different defenders.

Yet, defenses are going to play an even bigger role on Sunday.

The Cardinals' defensive line has been crucial to their playoff success. They disrupted the Falcons' running game and made life miserable for Jake Delhomme last week. They've been able to rush the passer and shut down running lanes.

If Arizona can get the same kind of pressure on McNabb, it has a great chance of advancing to its first Super Bowl.

The Eagles will try to do the same thing to Warner. Philly's defense dominated during the Eagles' 48-20 regular-season win, which should cause some concern in Arizona. Few teams are harder to prepare than Philadelphia because of their blitz packages.

The Eagles thrive at pressuring the quarterback, which is made easier by one of the league's best defensive backfields. Asante Samuel and Brian Dawkins are quite a safety valve.

Can the Cardinals make enough adjustments during the game to beat the Eagles' defense? It won't be easy, but I think Warner can find a way. He does a great job of getting the ball to guys like Larry Fitzgerald, who do a great job of making big plays with the ball. Call it a home-field hunch for Arizona.

Ravens (13-5) at Steelers (13-4)

Baltimore will continue to rely on its exceptional defense. The Ravens do everything well, but aren't exceptional at any one thing. That's probably why they're so good -- they have no weaknesses and don't have any areas they over-emphasize.

Still, I'm not sure the Ravens' defense is better than Pittsburgh's. The Steelers are tough up front, have great linebackers and a hard-hitting safety in Troy Polamalu. You can't ask for more.

The matchup I'll be the most interested in is how the Ravens' offensive line holds up against Pittsburgh. That's been one of Baltimore's best assets this season and will have to thrive again on Sunday if the Ravens want to run the ball and give Joe Flacco time to spot his receivers.

Pittsburgh doesn't have as many worries on offense. Ben Roethlisberger has been roughed up by defenses all season, yet he continues to thrive. You'd never know the guy was hurt by the way he plays.

The odds of this game turning into a rout are minimal. The defenses are too good, the teams are too familiar with each other and the stakes are too high. This is going to come down to the wire.

And it should. The Steelers won both regular-season games either in the final minutes or in overtime. This won't be any different.