If you’ve been paying close attention, you would know that over the past two days I have outlined what each team needs to do to win Super Bowl XLV. With all of that behind us, now it’s time to figure out which team will be able to execute and become world champions.
This should be a great game. It matches two of the leagues all-time great teams, both of which sport a tremendous amount of tradition. The Packers and the Steelers have seemingly withstood change over time. They’re always good, they always have some of the league’s best players, and hell, even their uniforms have remained unchanged. This is what everyone imagines when they think of a Super Bowl matchup.
The story of the game will no doubt be the performance of the two quarterbacks. For Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers is the squeaky clean guy that everyone loves. A victory on Sunday would help establish himself as the league’s premier QB and finally exercise the demons of Brett Favre. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger is looking for a shot at redemption. He had a very tumultuous offseason and is looking to reestablish his reputation. A third Super Bowl victory could do just that. When you get down to it, they couldn’t be any more opposite. Even their games are stark contrasts to one another. Rodgers is the typical drop back pocket passer who will put up 300-400 yards a game throwing. Roethlisberger is a backyard quarterback excelling when things break down and he’s running for his life looking to make a play.
The other big story line for Sunday’s game will be the play of the defenses. Green Bay and Pittsburgh have two of the NFL’s best defenses and their are superstars everywhere on the field. Names like James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley, Clay Matthews, AJ Hawk, and Charles Woodson stand out right away. Both are swarming and neither gives up big plays so points may come at a premium. I also wouldn’t be surprised if this game bucks the trend of offensive players winning the MVP award. Any of the above players mentioned are more than capable of making the play that turns the tide of the game.
So where does that leave things? Everyone thinks that this is going to be one of the highest scoring Super Bowls of all-time with both teams scoring 30-40 points. I don’t see it. These defenses are too good. I think this game will settle somewhere with both teams scoring in the low to mid 20’s. i wouldn’t even be surprised to see one of the stuck in the teens. Coming off of the bye week with all of the extra distractions the Super Bowl brings combined with these defenses? Yeah, I don’t see a shoot out.
Like any close game it’s going to come down to who can make the one or two big plays and who can avoid the big mistake. In all honesty I think that team is the Packers. They are the superior offensive team and have more talent than the Steelers. That’s not a slap in the face of the Steelers, they are quite talented in their own right. I just think the Packers are more loaded offensively and will be able to move the ball more effectively than the Steelers will be, even without an effective running game.
I also don’t like the injury situation of the Steelers offensive line. They seem to lose an offensive lineman every game, the most recent of which being pro-bowl center Maurkice Pouncey. With Green Bay’s size on the defensive line with BJ Raji and the speed of their linebackers, I think Roethlisberger will get beat up. Unlike other linebackers, I think Matthews and Hawk will be able to wrap him up and actually bring him down. On top of all of those problems, Green Bay’s secondary is outstanding. Woodson and Williams are big physical corners who can beat up the Pittsburgh wide outs. Even if Roethlisberger can avoid the pressure coming at him he also has to hope he can find someone open. That could be a problem also.
So what is my verdict you ask? I think the Packers win the game 20-17. However… I wouldn’t be surprised if it were 20-17 in favor of Pittsburgh. These two teams are that close. I just think that they Packers have a little bit more all around to help swing this game in their favor. My prediction for MVP… I’m not crazy enough to go against the grain. I’m taking Aaron Rodgers.
So get ready Packers… you going to Disney World!