I know this is an MLB blog, but this game has implications in Pittsburgh and thus I post my predicition. Tomorrow night the Steelers will try to win their seventh Super Bowl which would extend their lead for most Super Bowls done. To do it, they will have to beat a worthy and equally historic Green Bay Packers team. Here is how I see things turning out.
Quarterback: The matchup simply comes down to Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. Both have had their troubles this season, as Ben Roethlisberger was suspended the first four games of the season due to a much publicized off-the-field matter. Coming back, it took him a game or two to get accustomed to his surroundings. The team did go 3-1 in his absense. Rodgers has already suffered two concussions and rumor has it that he suffered a third in the NFC Championship game against the Chicago Bears. Rodgers is a better passer overall than Rodgers, however he lost his running game for the entire regular season, and also lost his favorite target in tight end Jermichael Finley. Rodgers overall is the better passer, however Roethlisberger has two things on him. The first is that he has two rings. I know that Roethlisberger did not play well in Super Bowl 40 against the Seattle Seahawks, but he made the big throws when he had to. Roethlisberger had a clutch performance in Super Bowl 43 against the Arizona Cardinals and was the key to the Steelers win. Also, when the two minute warning comes, there is no quarterback in the league better then “Big Ben”. The game should be a close one and if the Steelers end up with the ball, then look out.
Running Backs: This matchup is much closer than you would have expected. For Green Bay when Ryan Grant when down for the season early, you would have thought that the season was either over or close to it. People knew that Rodgers would have to carry the load. Many did not pick Green Bay to make the Super Bowl. This actually was what I predicted the Super Bowl Matchup to be from the beginning and I stuck with it. Brandon Jackson did not get the job done for Green Bay and in the playoffs James Starks has come up big. He has not faced a defense like Pittsburgh’s though and it looks like the James Starks bandwagon may finally come to an end. With Pittsburgh, the key for them is running. Green Bay has a great pass defense, and they will have to run the ball on Green Bay’s suspect run defense. Perhaps a similar strategy to the one they used in the AFC Championship game, where they ran the ball down the New York Jets and their throats early and often will be in effect. Also Issac Redman could be a huge X-Factor. You remember in Super Bowl 43 Gary Russell had negative yardage but he scored a touchdown. I really think that Redman could score a touchdown. I think that this is where the Steelers will win or lose the game.
Wide Receivers: Wow, this is really close because the wide receivers are so similar to each other. Essentially Donald Driver is Hines Ward. Both are leaders, and possession receivers meaning they know where the marker is and they can get you a first down. Edge to Ward for leadership and that Driver drops the ball a little bit more. Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings are similar in that they are both the big deep threats for their respective teams. A rather larger edge to Jennings because he can go deep, but he also can be a possession receiver, which is a part of Wallace’s game that he does not do well. Both teams have good supporting receivers, as Jordy Nelson comes to mind for the Packers and both Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown come to mind for the Steelers. Brown came up huge against the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens making two clutch catches to seal the win for Pittsburgh in both games. Nelson is equally huge especially in that NFC Championship when he was making all kinds of catches.
Defense minus safety/cornerback: The Steelers have a huge defense with all kinds of players, as James Harrison, Lamarr Woodley, James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons among others really have come up huge this season. Green Bay has been led by B.J. Raji and Clay Matthew but their front is nowhere near as intimidating as the Steelers. It is only close because the Steelers have an offensive line that is devastated by injury.
Safety/cornerback: I made this a separate category because the difference right now is dramatic. Troy Polamalu may be one of the best players in the game, but right now he is not even close to 100% and you can tell because he is missing tackle and is just not playing like himself. Charles Woodson has pumped himself up so much that he already envisions himself into the White House. The Packers have had their cornerbacks come up much bigger in the playoffs as they shut the Bears down. The corners are so much better prepared in Green Bay.
Coaching: The Steelers are led by Mike Tomlin and the Packers are led by Mike McCarthy. We all know that McCarthy has tied to Greenfield in Pittsburgh. He also was able to come in and move past the Brett Favre drama and move over to Rodgers who knows what to do know and is equipped with all of the tools to become a winner. Tomlin also is a winner and the youngest coach to win the Super Bowl in its history. Tomlin has to believe that he is in a good position to win again. The team has definitely improved in special teams and has Dick LeBeau as its defensive coordinator. He definitely has the edge over Dom Capers in that regard.
Hair: Both Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews have taken great hair to the next level. Polamalu has to get the edge because his hair is insured and his Head and Shoulders commercials are funny.
Prediction: I think this game will be a close one. Much like the BCS Championship, this game is expected to be high scoring, but I do not expect that to happen. I do think that the Steelers will miss Maurkice Pouncey and his replacement Doug Legursky will face early tests. The Steelers offensive line may not be able to hold it together, and I think that Roethlisberger will face a lot of pressure all game. I think when push comes to shove, the Packers will be leading at the two minute warning and the Steelers once again will have the ball. Two minutes is way too much time for the Steelers and as I said before, no one does the
two-minute drill better than Roethlisberger. I do think the Steelers will emerge victorious in the end.
Final Score: Steelers 28 Packers 24
MVP: Ben Roethlisberger