Ralph Melton (ralphmelton) wrote,
Ralph Melton

Go Steelers!

I have traditionally not been much of a sports fan. But right now, I really care about the Pittsburgh Steelers--so much so that it surprises me. I've been reading articles about the Super Bowl obsessively, and worrying about details of the game. It's very unusual for me, but I've been having fun.

Pittsburgh is a great town in which to be a football fan. Even during the regular season, you'll often see grocery store clerks and restaurant waitstaff wearing game jerseys, and I can think of a couple of houses displaying more than twenty pieces of Steelers iconography. (I wonder what the celebration is like at those houses. It might be huge, or it might be no-celebration-see-you-when-we-return-from-Tampa.) It's certainly true that part of my present passion is fueled by watching the playoffs with friends.

My own guesses about the Super Bowl, based on all my reading:

I think that the Steelers are more likely to win than the Cardinals are, but it's not a sure thing at all.
The Cardinals do have a very strong offense, but their regular-season performance argues that it's not absolute.
I've read a lot of stories about the Cardinals being on a streak right now, but I'm skeptical of that argument because of selection bias--any team in the Super Bowl would have won at least two games in a row, so that in itself is not a solid argument.
The Steelers do have a lot more Super Bowl experience than the Cardinals do. I would be skeptical of that as a significant contributing factor, but Ben Roethlisberger has said that in his first Super Bowl, the Super Bowl nerves got to him--and he is in a better position to judge than I am.
Las Vegas is offering 6 1/2-point odds on the Steelers, but I think that might be a little high. I think there are more people who would bet for the Steelers than the Cardinals if they were evenly matched, so that would lead bookmakers to set the bar higher for the Steelers.

In RPG terms, I think that the game is likely to be decided by critical successes and failures.
In football, the crits are the plays that get shown over and over on highlight reels. For example, in the AFC championship game, I can think of two critical failures on the Steelers' part--letting the time run out without a field goal in the first half, and Limas Sweed's dropping a touchdown pass. I count Troy Polamalu's interception for a touchdown return as a critical success. These balanced out in that game.
In this game, there are several players who can generate noteworthy numbers of criticals: Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald have generated a lot of crits for the Cardinals; Troy Polamalu has gotten a lot of crits for the Pittsburgh defense.
Statistically, the crits probably balance out between the two sides, leaving Pittsburgh with the advantage predicted by the regular season record. But for a sample as small as one football game, there is a very high chance of unequal distribution of crits--and an unequal distribution of crits could easily skew the score substantially.

Hours until game time still to go.

Go Steelers!
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