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Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl Finale Prediciton

After countless reading and observing about the spectacle that is Super Bowl XLV, I believe the time has come for my Super Bowl prediction. But before I can do that, we have to take a look at the breakdown of both teams and who has the edge in certain categories including offense, defense, coaching, special teams and intangibles. Pittsburgh and Green Bay match-up well on paper as both are 1st and 2nd respectively in per allowed per game and also 2nd and 5th in total defense. Troy Polamalu of the Steelers won defensive player of the year with the Packers Clay Matthews coming in second and not to mention their dueling hair personality’s battle as well.




Now for the breakdowns:



Offense:

The Pack’s offense has been on attack entering this game. Aaron Rodgers has just been everything you ask for from a QB. He is able to make throws from anywhere in the pocket and also on the move. He is one of more mobile QB’s in the league and with the Packers explosive receiving corps featuring Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and Jerome James, he is able to make plays at will. Couple that with the fact that these guys now have running game thanks to rookie James Starks and you have a dynamic offense capable of putting up points on anybody. Even though the Steelers have probably the best D in the league, I fully expect Rodgers and company to move the ball on them.



The Steelers on the other hand also have one of the better offenses in the league as well. Ben Roethlisberger extends plays better than anyone in the league at his position. How many times can you remember watching a Steelers game and saying that the opposing defense just can’t get Big Ben down? He may not be your prototypical QB a la Peyton Manning or Tom Brady but Roethlisberger is a proven winner and you should want a guy on your team like that. Reshard Mendenhall had maybe his best game as a pro in the AFC championship game against the Jets. He 121 yards rushing on 27 carries and gave great balance to the offense. The Steelers also have an underrated and speedy receiving quartet led by one of the fastest men in the league in Mike Wallace. Wallace along with Emmaunel Sanders and Antonio Brown form probably the fastest ever receiving tandem in Steelers history and don’t forget about Heath Miller coming over the middle as he is the security blanket for Big Ben.



Edge: Packers



Defense: The Packers defense under Dom Capers is one of the best at mixing up their blitz packages and bringing heat off the corners. Charles Woodson was last year’s defensive player of the year and has the versatility to cover as well as blitz from his position. Tramon Williams is becoming a shut down corner as of late and gives Capers flexibility to be able call all of those blitz packages. Clay Matthews is just a beast coming off the edge as an outside linebacker and will command a double team most of the game. Even when you double team Matthews, he still will make plays. This guys motor never stops running. Anybody that pours water on their head in subfreezing temperatures as Matthews does is crazy. Sam Shields has been a pleasant surprise in the secondary Green Bay as his two interception game in the NFC conference championship proved. He adds to the confusion on the defense on the Packers as you don’t want to test him to many times either.



The Steelers have the most formidable defense in the league. They are the bullies in a league full of bullies. You can’t start a conversation about the Steelers D without first speaking about all-world safety Troy Polamalu. I’ve been noted as saying that he is the Steelers most valuable player, more valuable then even Roethlisberger. He can cover and stuff the run. His instincts are bar none as he makes at least one or two big plays a game. The offense always has to know where number 43 is. James Harrison is a ferocious linebacker known for big hits and big fines. Do not I repeat do not come over the middle while this man is roaming around because you will pay for it dearly, just ask Mohammed Massaquoi. Lamar Woodley holds down the other side of the linebacking core and is more of a pass rushing player. He is able to get to QB as good as anybody. Polamalu’s partner in crime at safety is Ryan Clark and he is a ball-hawk known for big plays as well. As you can see, the Steelers defense has playmakers all over the field.



Edge: Steelers





Coaching:

Mike McCarthy is making his first Super Bowl appearance and you know that means a few jitters but that doesn’t mean much besides that. Sean Payton appeared in his Super Bowl last year and won and even Mike Tomlin got it done in his first appearance two years ago. McCarthy has seen over the development of Aaron Rodgers and also the departure of Brett Favre. He has endured the whole saga with a humility and even-keeled nature not seen by much. McCarthy grew up in Pittsburgh while the legendary Chuck Noll was roaming sidelines and it shows in McCarthy. Both men are very stoic in nature and don’t show any emotions while coaching. That is probably the best quality about McCarthy.



Mike Tomlin can be described as opposite of McCarthy. You will see him getting into his players on the sidelines and also very demonstrative when he engaged with the refs. The players seem to feed off his energy. I guess when your one of the youngest coaches in league not to mention the youngest to win a Super Bowl, its makes it that much easier to move around on the sidelines. Tomlin is one of the most comical men in a press conference. His answers are always straightforward, honest and to the point. His teams stay true to their Pittsburgh tradition as they are big, strong and physical teams. He has proved he is able to handle the big stage as he already has one Super Bowl ring. That is the only reason I will give him the edge in this category over McCarthy because there is no way of simulating what the biggest game of your life is like until you have participated in one. Tomlin looks just like this actor to me as well which makes it funny every time I see him http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=mike+tomlin&view=detail&id=A4815F5924047CBBCFBA177F104C8611D81AF30B&first=1&FORM=IDFRIR&qpvt=mike+tomlin



Edge: Steelers




Special Teams:

In a game that is evenly matched as this one, they usually come down to one big play or special team play. The Packers have one of the best kickers in football with Mason Crosby. The guy doesn’t miss much and has +50 yards range. He is a definite plus to have in a game of this magnitude. Rookie James Starks and veteran Charles Woodson handle the kick off returning duties for the Packers and are decent in that aspect.



The Steelers cut their long time kicking ace Jeff Reed mid-season after he missed seven of 22 attempts overall, including all four between the 40- and 49-yard lines. He was 4 of 9 at Heinz Field, where swirling winds and mushy grass make kicking difficult. He was replaced by Shaun Suisham the former Washington Redskin kicker. Suisham has been solid in the postseason as he has made all of his field goal attempts but he was always shaky in Washington. The kick-off return tandem of Antwaan Randle El and Antonio Brown is respectable but nothing spectacular.



Edge: Green Bay



Intangibles:

The Packers were among the worst hit team for injuries this year as they had to overcome. The list includes some of their key contributors in starting TE Jermichael Finley, Starting RB Ryan Grant and Starting LB Nick Barnett. All of these players are vital to the Packers but some kind of way GM Ted Thompson and HC Mike McCarthy continue to plug the holes so they don’t sink the ship. That shows resiliency not only by the front office but for the players as well as the backups have come in and held the team steady throughout the season. Aaron Rodgers, Charles Woodson, and Clay Matthews provide leadership and their even-keeled coach keeps them at an even pace not to get too high or too low in any series of events



The Steelers had to endure the Big Ben saga that seemed to take over the summer and also losing him for the first quarter of the season. Charlie Batch came in and played admirably and led them to a 4-1 record over that span. This team probably is the toughest mentally you will ever come across. Remember in the AFC divisional round when they were down 21-7 to the Ravens and all hope seemed lost? Remember when the Pats blasted them at home and everybody jumped off the bandwagon? I do, and every time this team faced some type of adversity they have resoundingly taken care of business. This is a team that is used to winning so this won’t to big of a stage for them to handle. Mike Tomlin is a tough minded coach who doesn’t concern himself with nothing other than winning football games.



Edge: Steelers





This should be an epic game featuring two of the storied franchises in the NFL. Both teams have an already decorated trophy case and would like to add to their accomplishments. It’s sad that this is the last game of the season and maybe even beyond that with the cloud of uncertainty surrounding the upcoming labor dispute between the owners and players. So everyone should enjoy this game. Call over you family and friends and forget about all of life’s everyday problems and enjoy America’s game for one evening. Enjoy the lavish accommodations that Jerry Jones has bestowed upon us for this grand finale to the season rather if your swinging your terrible towel or wearing your cheesehead. So with all that being said here is my prediction



Steelers 28 Packers 24


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