Super Bowl MVP Candidates
Having been reborn in the desert, Warner may join Joe Montana, Bart Starr, Tom Brady and Terry Bradshaw as the only multiple Super Bowl MVP's. He's regained the form that enabled St. Louis to win Supe XXXIV. With deft reads and precise passing, the hot hand the Cards were dealt has 770 yards passing in the playoffs and 8 TDs -- 4 in the NFC title win over Philly. Vegas odds courtesy of BoDog: 5-2.
QB or not QB? That is the question in every Super Bowl, where the MVP is often the winning QB (22 of 42 times). Not so Big Ben in his first Super go-round. Admittedly nervous throughout Supe XL, he finally drove the Jerome Bettis Farewell Tour bus safely home. Now three years older and wiser, Roethlisberger could join Terry Bradshaw as Super Steeler QB MVP's. Official Vegas Odds: 2-1.
If the kudo fits Fitz, swear it: "Quite simply, the best in the world," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin says of the NFL's finest receiver. The kid catches everything, often aloft in mid-air. Fitzgerald already has the most receiving yards in any postseason. His three TD catches against the Eagles included a 62-yarder fleaflicker on a typical Cards' trick play. His dad's even a sportswriter! Official Vegas Odds:11-2.
Now fully healthy after missing five games due to injury this season, Parker's prepared to give the Cards the willies. In the Steelers' two playoff wins, wee Willie's rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns. He puts the run in Pittsburgh's running game: in Super Bowl XL, his 75-yard TD run --the longest in Super Bowl history -- put the Steelers safely up 14-3. Official Vegas Odds: 5-1.
Leapin' lizards! There he is, leaping over center and horse-collaring Joe Flacco on 4th-and-1. And there he is again! The man of steal, leaping to pick off Flacco's last-gasp pass, then pirouetting, cutting across the field and racing 40 yards for the clinching TD. The safety with the heart and mane of a lion is a big-play, game-changing, game-winning safety supreme. Official Vegas Odds: 10-1.
The only player who shipped his own hyperbaric chamber to Tampa, Ward's rooming with it in hopes his sprained knee heals in time to resume his role as one of the NFL's most physical and dangerous receivers. If Raymond James Stadium becomes Hines' field and he goes from sprained MCL to Super MVP, Ward will be the first receiver to win the award twice. Official Vegas Odds: 10-1.
Unlike Ernie Holmes of Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain defense that won four Super Bowls in the '70s, Santonio's a lithe Holmes and lethal threat as a kick returner and receiver. He had the second-half dropsies in the AFC title game, but his 67-yard TD punt return turned the San Diego playoff game around. If Ward's hurt, maybe Santonio spurs Pittsburgh to a sixth Super Bowl title. Official Vegas Odds: 12-1.
The hardest-hitting Harrison this side of Rodney, the AP Defensive Player of the Year is another ferocious Steelers linebacker from Kent State. Think Jack Lambert, but with more teeth. Harrison led the NFL with seven forced fumbles and had a career-high 16 sacks. His pass rush in defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau's blitz schemes will be critical against Kurt Warner. Official Vegas Odds: 18-1.
It's been a big month for guys named The Edge. First U2, including lead guitarist The Edge, performs on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for President Obama. Now another Edge, long an Indy institution, has finally regained his edge -- and job -- in Arizona. He ran for 73 yards in the NFC title win. Top that in Tampa, and James may be the winning Edge. Official Vegas Odds:14-1.
Shhhhh. Forget Anquan's anger. Forget Haley's comments. Both Boldin, the Arizona receiver bound for his fourth Pro Bowl, and Todd Haley, the Cards' intense offensive coordinator, insist their sideline hissy fit against Philadelphia is history. Now Boldin, a beast of a wideout (89 catches for 1,038 yards and 11 TDs despite missing four games with injuries), can make history. Official Vegas Odds: 12-1.
Since 2004, no NFL QB has been sacked more often than Ben Roethlisberger: 192 times. As tough as Big Ben is, as proficient a big-playmaker as he's become, a big pass rush could pull off an upset. Why not Dockett, a disruptive defensive tackle? Of course, only Super Bowl XII produced an MVP from the defensive line -- and Dallas' Harvey Martin and Randy White shared it. Official Vegas Odds: 10-1 (for the field).
Adrian Wilson & Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Hey, if Harvey and Randy did it, why not this duo? You know, a 1 and 1A entry, like at the track. Two thoroughbreds in the Arizona secondary. Yo! Adrian's the senior Cardinal, an eighth-year safety and the leader of this unit. They say that breakin' up is hard to do? Not for Rodgers-Cromartie, the hyphenated rookie corner with two picks and seven breakups in the playoffs. Official Vegas Odds: 45-1 for Wilson, 30-1 for Rodgers-Cromartie.