After a championship weekend full of hard-hitting defensive play, high-flying offensive performances, near comebacks, and not a little controversy, the Super Bowl matchup is set: the Green Bay Packers are poised to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, and the reasonable odds should give Pittsburgh the edge in bringing home the hardware.
But since when has reason had anything to do with odds-making?
Hold on to your hats, Steeler Nation, the 6-time Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers are two point underdogs in this one.
You read that correctly; they are underdogs. The team with 34 post season victories to the Packers 28, the team with 52 total post season games played to the Packers 44, the team who has appeared in eight Super Bowls since the merger to the Packers two is somehow a two point underdog.
How can this be?
The Steelers have won two of the last six Super Bowls played, and the quarterback who is currently under center has both of those rings.
The current Steelers head coach was at the helm for one of the previous two Super Bowl victories; he is the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl, and the youngest coach to make two appearances as a head coach.
Of the 53 players on the Steelers active roster, 27 were present for the last Super Bowl victory—12 of whom are starters.
The Steelers return 16 players from the last two Super Bowls, 11 of whom are starters.
Green Bay hasn't been to the Super Bowl since the 1997 season and doesn't have a single player from that squad on the current roster. Green Bay has only two players, Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, with any Super Bowl experience, and neither have a championship ring.
Aaron Rodgers has undoubtedly had a good year, completing 312 passes for 3,922 yards and 28 touchdowns. His 101.2 passer rating was third best in the league, and his 8.3 yards per pass average was bested only by Phillip Rivers of the Chargers.
However, Big Ben was just as good, with the differences between the two quarterbacks being negligible.
Rodgers threw for 3,922 yards, Roethlisberger for 3,200 in four fewer games.
Rodgers' 8.3 yards per pass average was effectively matched by Roethlisberger's 8.2 yard average.
In yards per game, Roethlisberger actually outpaced Rodgers, 266.7 to 261.5 yards.
Roethlisberger also made more attempts per game, 32.4 to 31.7, than Rodgers.
Roethlisberger only threw five interceptions on the year, while Rodgers threw 11.
In four fewer games, Big Ben threw 52 passes of 20 yards or more, which is only two behind Rodgers.
In their last meeting, Roethlisberger and Rodgers matched up well, with Big Ben leading the Steelers to a fourth-quarter comeback victory over Rodgers and the Packers.
Roethlisberger ended the season with a 97 passer rating, not far enough behind Rodgers' 101.2 rating to make a difference.
Did I mention Pittsburgh's 6-1 record in the Super Bowl?
None of this seems to matter though, as the love affair with Aaron Rodgers and the hatefest against the Steelers continues. Aaron Rodgers is the darling of the league right now, while Big Ben is still making amends for his sordid behavior that resulted in a four-game suspension to begin the season.
In truth, Pittsburgh should be okay with the snub. They seem to play their best when they feel like no one gives them much of a chance to be victorious.
So go ahead, odds-makers, put the Steelers down a couple of points in the Super Bowl. In fact, why not go ahead and set the line at seven points or more?
That will just make it so much sweeter when Pittsburgh wins their seventh Lombardi trophy and starts looking for a new nickname for their city to replace Sixburgh.
I think Titletown has a nice ring to it, don't you, Steeler Nation?