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Live dispatches from Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa

Perloff
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Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward are both set to play Sunday.
G Newman Lowrance/Getty Images

TAMPA, Fla. -- Every elevator you get on, every line you wait in, any time you're around anyone with an NFL connection, you're hearing one of two conversations: "I think the Cardinals can win," or "I like the Steelers, but you never know. Just look at the Giants last year."

On paper, the Steelers are the clear favorites, but a lot of writers and players I chatted with are gun-shy about the favorites. More than 75 percent of them think the Steelers will win, but they're very careful to qualify their pick. And very few people are talking about a Steelers blowout.

I don't think all the Steelers-related caution has much to do with the actual matchup. Nothing has changed on paper. Hines Ward and Ben Roethlisberger are both healthy and ready to go and Pittsburgh appears to be as focused as ever.

With two weeks between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, sportswriters have had a lot of time to talk themselves into a new story. A lot of them have been burned by the Giants last year and the Cardinals in the postseason. Those bad predictions are probably more influential on game picks than any kind of X's and O's analysis.

Obviously, Cardinals fever isn't just hitting Tampa. The point spread moved from 7 to 6 ½ and people who bet money line -- which is based on odds, not a point spread -- are reportedly much heavier on Arizona.

If the Cardinals do win, there will be a lot of people who say "I told you so." Even the ones who officially chose the Steelers.

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