With the 2011 Super Bowl stage now set, which quarterback will prove to be the better contender as two of the leagues top defenses square off in Dallas?
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers finished No. two and No. five respectively in the overall defense column, accordingly; this season’s finale is going to be a hard-hitting blood bath. After a season of the NFL’s attempts to eliminate the dangerous hits from defensive players, I see nothing being held back from this game’s participants.
The Packers’ defense, led by Clay Matthews has been dominate against the rushing game, only allowing 70 rush yards per game in the postseason. Prior to Sunday’s game with the Chicago Bears, Matthews had sacked Jay Cutler twice in only four games ending up with 23.5 sacks in his first two NFL seasons.
In addition to growing long golden locks throughout the 2010 season, Matthews has been training with Jay Glazer at MMA Athletics to help approach the sport from a different angle. Training in a professional MMA gym has given Matthews more awareness of how to properly focus his strength into leverage usable on the football field.
On the other side of the ball, Aaron Rodgers was unmistakably the hottest quarterback in the league before Sunday’s game with Chicago. His 136.8 QB rating against the Falcons this postseason was the 10th best performance in the playoffs since 2000, but after slipping by the bears with two interceptions Sunday he is back to looking human. However Rodgers does hold one of the best current TD/INT ratios in recent playoffs with the 2010 ratio being 8/2 (compared to Ben Roethlisberger’s 3/2). If he can stay focused and study the film before the Super Bowl, look for Rodgers to come out hot in Dallas against the Steelers defense.
Which brings me to just that. When the Steelers defense comes to mind you see a large Samoan head of hair wearing No. 43, and with seven interceptions and 70 tackles on the season, that is an accurate vision. He is everywhere. One of the most versatile athletes in the league, Troy Polamalu knows how to read the play calls, avoid blocks, and get there to make the tackle faster than anyone.
However Polamalu is not the only threat on the Steelers defense. Linebacker James Harrison joins No. 43 in the 2010 Pro Bowl selections, and if the shoulder injury doesn’t affect him come February sixth, look for Harrison to lead both teams in tackles.
No final predictions from me for this years Super Bowl, but I am willing to project that this years match up will be one of the closer, more intense games than in the past few years.