Super Bowl XLV is finally upon us after 17 weeks of the regular season games and three rounds of playoff contests. Through it all we are left with the two best teams of the 2010 National Football League season: the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. Here is a breakdown of the positions that matter and how it will affect the outcome of the game.
Immediately everyone will turn to the experience of Ben Roethlisberger to determine the value between these two quarterbacks. Even though Aaron Rodgers has not been in the league as long, nor has he played in as many playoff games, I believe at this point it will be a matter of who has better support in the passing game. This comes in forms as: the wide receivers running routes, the lineman blocking, and the running backs blocking and running routes.
I do believe that Ben Roethlisberger is underrated in the fact that he is a much better quarterback than most credit him, but his off the field antics have sullied his image to the public. With that said, Aaron Rodgers has much to prove to reach the point of respect that Roethlisberger has earned and will be given that chance on Sunday. I think Roethlisberger is becoming a better quarterback, but Rodgers is playing at an unbelievable rate.
This will be a battle of newcomers. Rashard Mendenhall has never been to a Super Bowl and both Brandon Jackson and James Starks, who will likely split time, are making their first appearance, as well. As with the quarterback position, these running backs will look for blocking help from the offensive line and the wide receivers to establish the running game; while also playing a minor role in the passing game.
The task of running against the Steelers rush defense is a tall order, but the Packers have a very stout defense that could halt Pittsburgh from making a large impact on the ground. Conversely, the Packers will look to utilize the backfield duo in the passing game with screens and short routes while Pittsburgh tends to shy away from such plays. I think Mendenhall is the better runner, but the Packers have dual threat backs.
In Pittsburgh, the presence of Hines Ward and Heath Miller has been consistent through the years while Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders have recently come to grace. Similarly, the Packers feature veteran Donald Driver and a cast of younger stars in Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones. Between the teams, they will both need a strong showing on the overall offensive product in order to lead their respective team to glory.
Everyone knows of how well the Steelers block for the run game, but little is said about the Packers as they are dubbed a pass heavy offense. This does not mean that Green Bay is not doing it, they are just less recognized for doing so. On the passing attack, it is hard to argue that Pittsburgh can match Green Bay in talent, but they have all the tools necessary to cause headaches for the opposition.
Although neither team is known for having efficient special teams play, any play could make the difference. However, this game will feature the top two scoring defenses in the league with Pro Bowl caliber talent at nearly every position. The deep talent that the Steelers' linebackers possess is one of historic proportions as they have held teams to 65-yards or less in rushing per game. On the other hand, Green Bay held opposing quarterbacks to the lowest quarterback rating for the year.
As good as the Packers have been in pass defense, the Steelers are not far off that notch as they were aggressive in making the most of every opportunity. Likewise, Green Bay has not given up more than 85 rushing yards this post season in keeping pace with Pittsburgh. I believe the Packers will play up to their potential, but the Steelers will be up to the task.
As you can tell, these two teams have been the best of the National Football League and are well deserving of their place in the Super Bowl. This game will be one that is decided late with a field goal from either team to clinch the game. I believe that the Steelers will struggle on offense and have difficulty covering all the targets of the Packers pass game. With that said, I also see the Packers having trouble in keeping drives alive with the run game.
The final score will be 27-23 in favor of the Packers over the Steelers with Aaron Rodgers as the Most Valuable Player.