Shanoff's W.U.C.: How Can You NOT Pick Cards?

Today's Calls: Cardinals vs. Steelers, Coke vs. Beer Ads, Dwight vs. LeBron, Pierce vs. Rondo, St. Mary's vs. Gonzaga, David Wells vs. Joe Torre and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Super Bowl 42 changed everything. ↵

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↵If the 6-seed, road-weary Giants could beat the "G.O.A.T." unbeaten Patriots, then there is no such thing as a Super Bowl "favorite" anymore. ↵

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↵Cardinals over the Steelers? Why not? ↵

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↵Compared to the Giants over the Pats, it's not even that much of a stretch. Larry Fitzgerald is the best football player on the planet. The Cards’ D is playing out of its mind. The Steelers only have five ring fingers on one hand. ↵

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↵There are a lot of reasons to pick (not to mention root for) the Cards, but here is the best one: ↵

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↵Go back to the Friday before last year's Super Bowl. If there was one scenario even more unlikely than "Giants over Pats," it would be "The Cardinals will be the next Super Bowl champs." ↵

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↵And if it defied all expectations that the Pats would lose, how blown will your mind be when the Cardinals — the Cardinals — are NFL champs? ↵

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↵Pick: Cardinals 20, Steelers, 16 ↵

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↵Non-Story of Super Bowl Week, Cont'd: Hines Ward's knee update! It's so hard to be breathless about this. Where is the REAL controversy? Yeah, Ward practiced yesterday. Yeah, his knee will be good enough. (Is the game really going to come down to Ward's knee? No.) ↵

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↵President Obama is rooting for the Steelers: Oh, just because Dan Rooney was a big supporter? And because western Pennsylvania is one of the most important swing regions in the country? Fine. But, really: The Steelers winning yet another Super Bowl title is hardly "Change We Can Believe In." ↵

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↵Super Bowl Ad Mania: Complete rundown of winners and losers on Monday, but you can find previews of some of the ads online (watch for the most passed-around ads on Monday). ↵

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↵— Good bet to be a big winner: Troy Polamalu's Coke Zero ad (even if it bastardizes one of the all-time-best Super Bowl ads). ↵

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↵— And expect the Go Daddy ad — featuring a parody of baseball's steroid hearings (plus busty models and Danica Patrick) to generate a lot of attention from sports media. ↵

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↵Super Bowl Entertainment: Here's an easy prediction — Bruce Springsteen will be a huge hit. ↵

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↵More from Chris Mottram in Tampa. ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: The Magic are back in the East picture. After being pushed around by Boston last week, Orlando was up for doing the pushing — and the Cavs wilted when the refs let the game get physical, in what was the Magic's best win yet in an excellent first half of the season. (Dwight Howard: 22 and 18) ↵

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↵(The only good news for the Cavs: There is no way the refs will be so loosey-goosey in the playoffs, when it matters. LeBron James will be protected. The Cavs will be protected. The league might even use this game tape as an example of how NOT to handle the league's biggest star in the spring.) ↵

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↵NBA All-Star Reserves: More Magic. ↵

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↵— Orlando is the only team with three All-Stars, with first-timer Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis joining starter Dwight Howard. The first-time Stars are Nelson, Devin Harris and Danny Granger — no first-timers from the West. ↵

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↵— Biggest snub: Rajon Rondo. (Really: Wouldn't you rather see a first-timer like Rondo than his teammate Paul Pierce? I know they play different positions, so an even swap couldn't happen.) ↵

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↵— And, yes, it's nice to see Shaq back in there. He single-handedly makes the All-Star Game more fun. (Shaq has posted no Twitter reaction to his selection yet, though he may be dismayed about the accompanying loss to the Spurs.) ↵

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↵By the way: Kevin McHale is wrong about a lot of things, but he is right that Kevin Love being snubbed for the All-Star Rookie game is "utterly ridiculous." Love is having one of the all-time most prolific rebounding seasons for a rookie. Was it because he plays for the T-wolves? ↵

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↵CBB Mania: Did you stay up for St. Mary’s-Gonzaga, to see which team was the king of West Coast Mid-Majors? The result: Inconclusive. Gonzaga won the game, but the Zags benefited from two things — (1) a home-court advantage, and (2) Patrick Mills' injury, which kept him out of the second half (after scoring 18 in the first, in which the Gaels proved to be the superior team). With a healthy Mills on a neutral court, I think St. Mary's is still the best of the West. ↵

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↵More West Coast hoops: Arizona State is mystifying. A week and a half ago, they win at UCLA. Last night, they lose at home to mediocre Wazzu. That kind of inconsistency is a killer in March. I am a little shocked this team is ranked as high as No. 14. (Well, not for long.) ↵

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↵Weekend Top 5 Watch List: Once again, it's all about the Big East. (1) West Virginia @ Louisville; (2) Georgetown @ Marquette; (3) Notre Dame @ Pitt; (4) UNC @ NC State; (5) Florida @ Tennessee. ↵

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↵NFL Coaching Carousel: BC exile Jeff Jagodzinski landed on his feet, becoming the new O.C. for the Bucs. (Is that a better job than being a head coach in college football? It is if you hated coaching college football and really just wanted to be a pro coach all along, like Jag obviously did.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, Herm Edwards landed on his feet. Everyone knows that the coaching-rehab program involving a high-profile place on TV instantly turns any washed-out loser into a desirable job candidate. All through the power of media celebrity! ↵

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↵Torre Book Backlash, Cont'd: "When you break the code, you're a punk." Yes, that was David Wells calling Joe Torre a "punk," after Torre said Wells made the manager's life "miserable." (Psst: David, more than anyone else, you should see the marketing value for a "tell-all" in being forthright.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, the Yankees would like to make it a contract violation for any Yankees player (or, say, ex-manager) to talk about the team. Good luck with that. ↵

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↵The Last Word: No, seriously — unless you are a Steelers fan, how can you not be rooting for the Cardinals? ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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