Super Bowl XLV Prediction

February 5, 2011

After almost two weeks of waiting, we are just a day away from Super Bowl Sunday. Having two weeks between the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl just gives the media more time to change their mind on which team they think will win the game. A week ago everyone was high on the Packers, but not surprisingly, the two week break was too long for people to stick with their pick, as the Steelers are now a slim favorite by many of the media members and general public. However, like the betting odds, my pick hasn’t changed since I made it two Sundays ago.

Put all the tradition aside; Super Bowl XLV is being played in 2011, and is not at all affected by the Steelers and Packers teams of the past. With that being said, you will not ever hear me say that “the Steeler Way” or “the Packer way” will lead either one of these teams to victory. In fact, I’m kind of tired of hearing about it. I’m sure that Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger would rather people forget about the past as well.

No, this game will probably come down to something as simple as the Packers helmet logo. Although the quarterbacks are the main attraction in this game, the running game may ultimately decide who is holding up the Lombardi Trophy tomorrow night. Both defenses frequently put eight men in the box, and are very agressive in trying to get to the quarterback. Even though both Rodgers and Roethlisberger are adept at escaping the pocket and making plays on the move, both teams will tell you (and so will the quarterbacks) that they don’t want to have to rely solely on the feet on the play-callers.

Pittsburgh’s bruising running game, led by third year running back Rashard Mendenhall, is probably the better than Green Bay’s when everyone is healthy. However, the Steelers will be without All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, which is a huge blow to the team. Pouncey’s quick feet and ability to move laterally will be sorely missed by the Steelers, who have averaged 118.5 yards per game on the ground this post-season.

Green Bay’s running game has seemed to come alive throughout the playoffs. Thanks to running back James Starks, the Packers have been more than adequate on the ground, averaging 118 yards per game during the playoffs. This is the same team that seemed to be doomed after losing running back Ryan Grant to injury early in the season, and was 24th in the league in rushing during the regular season. However, the X-factor has been Rodgers, who scrambled for 39 yards in the win over the Bears, including a 25 yard scamper that seemed to take the wind out of Chicago’s sails in the 2nd quarter. However, Green Bay will be going against a rush defense that was the best in both the regular and post-season.

Much has been made over the fact that the game is being played in a domed stadium, considering Rodgers’ success indoors. I think that could be a factor, as Green Bay is the quicker team, and should benefit by playing on a surface that will compliment that strength.

Other than the rushing game and playing surface, defense will play a determining factor in this game. The team that stops the run well, and is able to keep the opposing quarterback from improvising when the play breaks down will have the edge. Since this game will be close, every point matters, and both quarterbacks have the ability to turn a sure sack into a 20 yard gain.  Preventing those kinds of plays from happening is extremely important for both teams.

I think that this game will come down to a final possession. There isn’t much separating the two teams on either side of the ball. However, I believe that Aaron Rodgers has the ability to have a game similar to the one that he had in Atlanta three weeks ago. Without Pouncey in the game, I think that the Steelers running game will be severely compromised, to the point of being almost ineffective. If the teams abandon the run by the second half, this game could end up being a high scoring affair, which favors the Packers high octane offense.

With that said, I have to take my preseason pick to win the Super Bowl, the Green Bay Packers.

Final Score:  33-30 Green Bay

– K. Becks

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