Throughout the season, 49ers Pro Personnel Scout Quentus Cumby helps do the advance scouting which entails traveling each weekend to watch the 49ers next opponent and then providing evaluations and tips for the coaching department. The pro department is also responsible for evaluating tape of potential free agents. Since he's watched a majority of the NFL teams, 49ers.com invited Cumby to return for year two of What to Watch For in the playoffs. Here's his overview of the Super Bowl.Cardinals vs. Steelers
I've been saying the Ravens were going to go to the Super Bowl all through the playoffs and I thought they were going to pull it out against the Steelers, but that's what happens. Pittsburgh's defense just made more plays than Baltimore's defense. Troy Polomalu made a lot of good plays for them in the secondary. It was a typical Steelers performance. They ran the ball, played good defense and controlled the time of possession.
I did pick Arizona to beat Philadelphia. I knew after the Cardinals went to Carolina, in that environment and beat them the way that they did, that they would beat the Eagles. Philly wasn't going to come across the country and beat those guys. It just depended on which Donovan McNabb showed up. I don't think he played bad and cost them the game, it was just Arizona's time. The stars have aligned for them.
Overall, I'm 6-4 and I've clenched a winning record in the post season so I'm excited about that.
It looks like Arizona will have Anquan Boldin back for the Super Bowl. The way they're playing right now is like night and day from the start of the season. They run the ball and play balance which makes them so much more dangerous. When you have a quarterback that can make plays and get the ball to his receivers as well as a potent running game, it's a dangerous combination.
Larry Fitzgerald has been making plays all through the playoffs and he had some amazing catches against the Eagles. He gets out of bed making those kinds of catches. He's really elevated his game. Not only can he go up and make big catches, but what he does after the catch also impresses me. It's not an easy tackle once he makes the catch. You have to bring your helmet to him, wrap him up, bring your legs and drag him down. He's so strong in his lower body that he can easily break tackles. He can turn a 30-yard catch into a 55-yard catch or even take it in for six. He's added that element to his game.
Boldin's had two weeks off and had treatment so he should be able to go. The third guy, Steve Breaston, has also been playing well for them. They're a dangerous group of receivers.
Arizona also has some tough guys on defense and I've been saying that in all of these columns. They'll fly around and they'll hit you in the mouth. They bring an intimidating presence to the table. There are some similarities between Arizona and Pittsburgh in terms of their defenses. They are both tough and get to the football. In terms of personnel, Arizona is pretty good. Both teams can get to the quarterback as well.
It will be a tough matchup for Arizona's offense going up against the Steelers defense. They match up well with the Cardinals' receivers. They also have James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley at outside linebacker, which has to be one of the best tandems in the league. Those offensive tackles for Arizona are going to have their hands full with those two guys.
Hines Ward says he's going to play, but sprained knees take a while to heal. I wouldn't be surprised if he plays because that's the type of guy he is, but he's not going to be 100-percent. Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington will have to step up as will the tight end, Heath Miller. Their running game will have to get going too because Ward is the guy who really makes that offense go. Roethlisberger is playing well he's doing what he's supposed to do.
It's a weird game, but it's not weird for Pittsburgh – it's like a tradition for them. It's a holiday every year for them. Going into the playoffs, I did not think they would be in the Super Bowl, especially considering the way people were talking about the NFC West. You might have thought one of the NFC South or NFC East teams would be there, but Arizona turned it on and now they have a chance to win this football game.
For Arizona to win, they have to continue to do what they're doing on offense. If they can make plays down field and run the football effectively, they'll be fine. The second thing they need to do is not turn the ball over. That's very important.
For Pittsburgh to win, it's plain and simple. They have to stop Arizona's offense and be able to run the football. They just need to play Steelers football. They don't know how healthy Ward will be so it could come down to how well their quarterback and their running backs play.
I've been thinking about who I was going to pick in this one for quite a while now. I think Arizona's going to go down to Tampa with a chip on their shoulder and they want to prove that this is not your granddaddy's Arizona Cardinals. I think they're going to win the Super Bowl. They have plenty of bulletin board material. People are wondering if they even belong there. Every time I turn on the TV, all I hear is, "The Arizona Cardinals? What's the world coming to?" In my experience as a play, you hear that kind of stuff and you take it as a slap in the face. A lot of those guys on the Cardinals have been through the tough times and I don't think they're done. Pittsburgh's been there and done that. I do think the Steelers are hungry and they want to win the Super Bowl. The Steelers will be fired up and ready to play. Arizona has been through so many years of not eating and now they have a buffet in front of them. I'm going with Arizona and I think they're going to shock the world.
The first half of the game, I think both teams will be feeling each other out and Pittsburgh may have the upper hand early on. As soon as Arizona realizes that it's just another football game, I think they're going to explode.
Thank you all for reading these columns throughout the playoffs. If you've made any money off my picks, I expect my check in the mail. Just send it to 4949 Centennial Blvd. and attention it to Quentus Cumby. It's been fun doing these columns though. If you love football like I love football, it's an easy thing to do and I've enjoyed it.