Super Bowl XLV: Previewing the Green Bay Packers-Pittsburgh Steelers Matchup

Alec Dopp@alecdoppCorrespondent IJanuary 24, 2011

Super Bowl XLV: Previewing the Green Bay Packers-Pittsburgh Steelers Matchup

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    Well, we're finally here.

    Super Bowl XLV will feature two of the most storied franchises in NFL history in the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers.  And if history proves right, we all should be in for a real treat February 9th.

    The Packers—led by Aaron Rodgers and a pummeling defense directed by none other than Dom Capers—will advance to Dallas having defeated the top three seeds in the NFC in the Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, and long-time rival Chicago Bears.

    Pittsburgh, on the other hand, overpowered Baltimore and Rex Ryan's Jets to advance to their third Super Bowl in the last six years.

    With both teams looking to add yet another title to their trophy case, let's take an early look at how Super Bowl XLV will match up.


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    It's no surprise how Aaron Rodgers has managed to batter opposing defenses this postseason on his way to his first Super Bowl.  Yielding 790 yards and six touchdowns, Rodgers and Green Bay's receiving corps have imposed their will on challenging secondaries.  If the Packers can execute against Pittsburgh's 12th-ranked passing defense, Green Bay should be fine.

    The leader of the "Steel Curtain", Ben Roethlisberger is no stranger to the big game.  Having already won two titles in his seven-year career, Roethlisberger is on his way to the Hall of Fame if he keeps up his winning ways.  However, facing a young, stout Green Bay secondary led by Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams will be one of the many matchups to watch come gameday.

    Matchup to watch: Ben Roethlisberger vs. Green Bay's pressure

Running Backs

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    It took a while for Green Bay to get the run-game incorporated in the regular season, however the addition of James Starks makes the Packers offense only that much more respectable.  And after a solid performance against a formidable Chicago rush-defense, Starks is certainly a name to watch.

    Rashard Mendenall is obviously one of the most explosive backs in the league today; with a firm offensive line creating holes through defenses every single week, Mendenhall could be in for a huge day against Green Bay.

    Matchup to watch: James Starks vs. James Harrison

Wide Receivers

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    Green Bay maintains one of the league's most potent aerial attacks.  And with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson, James Jones and Andrew Quarless likely to be in five-receiver sets for a bulk of the game, Pittsburgh will have their hands full.

    Mike Wallace has proved his big-play contingency time and time again this season—but that's not where Pittsburgh's talent ends.  With Heath Miller's presence in the middle of the field and Rashard Mendenhall available in screen situations, the Steelers also have enough expertise to get the job done.

    Matchup(s) to watch: Pittsburgh's receivers vs. Green Bay's secondary


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    Under defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau, Pittsburgh has seemingly solidified its defensive supremacy as second to none in the entire league.  Over the course of the regular season, the Steelers allowed just 62.8 yards per game to opposing running backs, along with sacking the quarterback a league-high 48 times.

    Green Bay's 3-4 defensive schemes have been the proverbial lifesaver the Packers have relied on all season long, most notably in their 21-14 victory over the Chicago Bears.  With Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and B.J. Raji (just to name a few) in pursuit of Ben Roethlisberger for the entirety of the game, Pittsburgh could be in for a long day.

    Matchup to watch: Aaron Rodgers vs. Troy Polamalu

Special Teams

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    Green Bay's special teams have cost them dearly all season long and will be the focal point in the next few practices leading up to their matchup against Pittsburgh.  However, the Packers did manage to shut down Devin Hester in their victory over the Bears—a much needed solid performance from their coverage teams.

    As Pittsburgh's primary kick return-man, Emmanuel Sanders averaged 25.1 yards per kick return.  And with great speed and quickness on the outside, Sanders' abilities will play a critical role in the outcome of the contest.

    Matchup to watch: Emmanuel Sanders vs. Green Bay's kick-coverage unit


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    Packers' coach Mike McCarthy has the green and gold firing on all cylinders heading into the postseason—and after a brutal victory over the Chicago Bears, the Packers are ready for what will essentially amount to their fourth road playoff game of this postseason.  However, let's not forget about the defensive mastermind that is Dom Capers—the guy is a genius.

    Nevertheless, with Mike Tomlin leading the way for the Steelers, anything is possible.  But Pittsburgh will have to rely on their defense against Green Bay—and that's where Dick Lebeau comes into the picture.  Look for exotic blitz and coverage schemes from Pittsburgh come game-time.

    Matchup to watch: Mike McCarthy's offensive play-calling

Final Thoughts...

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    Both teams ride a wave of emotion into their historic Super Bowl matchup for the ages—and one thing's for sure: We're all in for a real treat come game-day.

    With Aaron Rodgers playing the MVP-caliber football we've come to expect of him, and an electrifying defense led by future Hall-of-Famer Charles Woodson, Green Bay is showing us why they truly belong on the big stage.

    For the Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XLV will be just one of the three Super Bowls they've encountered in the last six years.  And riding the leadership of Ben Roethlisberger, nothing is impossible.

    What will we be in store come Super Bowl Sunday?

    For that, my friends, we'll just have to tune in.