A passing fantasy versus the immovable object

Troy Polamalu leads the No.1 defense in the NFL into Super Bowl XLIII.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In football "they" say that defense wins football games. In baseball "they" say that good pitching (defense) beats good hitting (offense).

We are about to test the theory.

The Pittsburgh Steelers own the No.1 defense in NFL, first in fewest points allowed (13.9 ppg), fewest passing yards allowed (156.9 ypg), second in rushing yards allowed (80.2) and fewest total yards allowed (237.2 ypg).

They were the second-best defense in fantasy football only because the team they beat on Sunday, Baltimore, turned more interceptions and fumbles into touchdowns to edge them in D/ST scoring by a 182-176 margin.

The Steelers faced little offensive firepower in the playoffs, facing a San Diego Chargers team without LaDainian Tomlinson and an injured Antonio Gates and a mediocre-at-best Ravens' offense.

That won't be the case in two weeks when the Steelers get together with the upstart Arizona Cardinals in Tampa.

The Cardinals finished the regular season as the No.4 offense in total yards with 365.8 ypg. They are particularly adept at throwing the ball where Kurt Warner has put together the No.2 passing offense.

Warner finished the season as the No.4 fantasy quarterback and runner-up for "TSN Best Fantasy Bargain." Not bad for a player with an ADP (Average Draft Position) of 137.

The 1999 Super Bowl MVP (with St. Louis) finished the regular season with 4,583 yards, 30 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions - worth 271 fantasy points, behind only Drew Brees (335), Jay Cutler (288) and Philip Rivers (275).

The Cardinals will also bring to the field in Tampa the best receiver in football, both in real life and fantasy in Larry Fitzgerald (96 receptions, 1,431 yards, 12 TDs, 286 fantasy points) and despite missing four games during the regular season because of injuries the No.7 fantasy football receiver in Anquan Boldin (89 receptions, 1,038 yards, 11 TDs, 219 fantasy points. They also had a third receiver who ranked No.19 in fantasy points at wideout - Steve Breaston (77 receptions, 1,006 yards three TDs, 175 fantasy points).

This will be the best passing offense that Pittsburgh will face all season... and yes I know they played against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts in November. Who would you rather have - Fitzgerald, Boldin and Breaston or Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison and Anthony Gonzalez?

And they will face them, not in the cold of February in Pittsburgh or on the slop they generously call turf at Heinz Field, but in the warmth of Tampa where the grass is green not green-painted dirt and an offense can play at their best.

The Steelers are favored by around a touchdown, and rightly so, but this will not be an easy game. It will, however, be a great test as to whether a great defense really does beat a great offense.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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