Super Bowl 2011
It's finally settled. The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers are going to the 'ship. After a grueling path through the playoffs, neither team was expected to come out on top.
Sure, the Steelers are a familiar face in the Super Bowl, but the only names I expected to hear out of the AFC were Jets and Patriots.
Then you have the Aaron Rodgers led Packers who nobody not wearing a cheese head expected to go all the way.
This game has so many stories and match ups, I don't even know where to begin.
Underrated receivers. Clutch defensive lines. Rodgers vs Roethlisberger. Terrible Towels vs Cheese Heads. Polamalu's hair vs the world!
Let's do this.
Clay Matthews (left) and A.J. Hawk
Clay Matthews has been an absolute beast of a man this year and A.J. Hawk is a beast year in and year out. The two of them, along with three defensive lineman that weigh more than 1,000 pounds together, give Green Bay the most dangerous 3-4 defense in the League.
Ben Roethlisberger scrambles far too well to be that fat.
But Ben is going to need some time to throw against the Packers. He can't scramble like he did against the Jets on Sunday and expect good results coming from either Matthews or Hawk.
The bottom line is the Steelers offensive line gave up over 50 sacks this season.
And they'll be trying to stop a defense that has racked up over 50 sacks this season.
Brandon Jackson didn't get the touches that Mendenhall got this year. With that being said, Jackson is still just a back that does his part and isn't much of a playmaker. He gets you about three yards and lets Rodgers do the work. Which is perfectly fine when you're in a pass-heavy offense.
But it's still nicer to have Mendenhall.
Rashard Mendenhall has the breakaway speed you want, plus the stamina of an every down back. I watched him just pulverize the Jets defense Sunday, who I thought were the best in the league.
Mendenhall also has a nose for the end zone with 16 touchdowns this season.
He makes it a relief for Big Ben to not have to scramble and make a huge throw every down of the game.
Just take your pick with these guys.
It's all about your preference.
If you like your receiver tough as nails with huge hits, broken tackles and fundamental blocking, meet Hines Ward.
If you like your receiver to be a deep threat with killer speed and sticky hands, meet Greg Jennings.
Any coach would like to have either of these guys on their teams. They're both clutch and both are big leaders on and off the field for their teams. It's hard to give an edge to either side.
I guess I'd have to give the edge to experience.
Hines Ward isn't even the team leader in receiving yards. Mike Wallace led the way for the Steelers this year.
But the Super Bowl is the biggest football game on the biggest stage in the world. Hines Ward has done this dance a multiple of times and played heroically every time.
Troy Polamalu is probably the best football player on the field in every game he plays in. Santonio Holmes called him "the best football player he's ever seen."
Even with an injury ridden season, Polamalu had seven interceptions and one returned for a touchdown. Pittsburgh uses him in multiple blitzes and coverages which allows him to reek havoc for offenses all over the field.
I can't tell you how many times I've watched Polamalu come out of nowhere and lay a hit that sends a crack from the pads that you can hear over the crowd.
Aaron Rodgers is pretty good though.
Some have called Rodgers the best quarterback in the NFL. He's certainly got the numbers—over 4,000 yards and 34 TD's. What makes Rodgers so good is his ability to scramble away from the pass-rush and not take off, but find an open receiver on the run.
If Rodgers is able to scramble away from Pittsburgh's defense, he can single handedly take Polamalu out of the equation. Polamalu is good, really good, but he can't cover the entire field.
If the Steelers are smart, they'll force Rodgers to stay on one side of the field and make sure Troy Polamalu is on that side of the field as well.
Cheese Heads at Lambeau Field
These two traditions from the fans may be the most legendary in the NFL.
Nobody does the towels better than the black and yellow blur that comes from Heinz Field and the Green Bay Cheeseheads are just so bizarre that it works.
Nonetheless, these two sets of fans are some of the most die hard in all sports. They endure some of the worst weather to watch their teams play on Sundays.
Both deserve the trip to Dallas.
But I have to admit, the small town feel hits a little close to home with me. I'm happy for the Cheeseheads, it hasn't been since the 90's, that they've gotten to go to the big show.
Super Bowl Victory
With endless matchups and stories that will be talked about all day for two weeks, here's my edge for who wins the Super Bowl.
Quarterback: Green Bay
Running Back: Pittsburgh
Offensive Line: Green Bay
Defensive Line: Green Bay
Linebacker: Green Bay
Special Teams: Pittsburgh
This game is going to come down to the wire like all Super Bowls do. Both teams deserve to be there and will undoubtedly bring everything they have.
History has shown that experience does not always matter (New England vs. New York Giants, 2007).
But I'm gonna go with my gut here and say:
Pittsburgh 31, Green Bay 26