There is obviously a lot to look forward to this Sunday. Super Bowl XLV will feature two strong teams and two iconic franchises. Pittsburgh has won more Super Bowl titles than any other team, while Green Bay has won the most overall NFL championships. With all the coverage of the game during the past two weeks, there are not a lot of things to say that haven’t already been said. Still here are some thoughts and observations, as well as my prediction:
1. Watching the Steelers this season, I have not been able to get the image of New England decimating them in Week 10 out of my head. The Patriots won 39-26 in a game where they decided to virtually forgo their running game, and instead chose to spread out the Steelers defense and pick it apart with the pass. The results were impressive, as Tom Brady completed 30 of 43 passes, for 350 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. It was the worst performance of the year for the otherwise impressive Steelers defense. Looking forward to the Super Bowl, that defense has an interesting matchup on its hands with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense, who may be able to do many of the things New England did back in November.
As a whole, the Steelers were twelfth in the league in pass defense in 2010, which is far from terrible. However, they only played two teams in the top-12 in passing offense, and lost to both of them (New England and New Orleans). The Packers come into the game with the fifth best passing offense in the league. Pittsburgh does have the best rushing defense in the league, but like New England, Green Bay is a relatively one-dimensional offense, so Pittsburgh will essentially prevent the Packers from doing something they do not do much of anyway. The strength of the Green Bay offense will be pitted against the weakness of the Steelers defense, and this matchup could go a long way in deciding the outcome of the game.
2. The loss of Steelers starting center Maurkice Pouncey has gotten a lot of attention, and rightfully so. The rookie and former Florida Gator has emerged as one of Pittsburgh’s better, if not best, offensive lineman, and was voted to the Pro Bowl this season. Sending backup Doug Legursky against Green Bay nose tackle B.J. Rajji will be a cause for concern for the Steelers. Also, a Legursky snap was mishandled by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the AFC Championship, resulting in a safety for the Jets, and leading to worries over the center-quarterback exchange. These fears may be overblown, however, in that Roethlisberger and Legursky have had two weeks to get their timing down. Still, Green Bay’s complex defense presents a formidable pass rush, so it goes without saying that Pittsburgh is at a disadvantage with a compromised offensive line.
Prediction: 27-20 Green Bay.