After a grueling NFL season, Super Bowl 2011 is finally here, and it features two of the league's most historic franchises in the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.
The Packers survived a late-game scare from the Chicago Bears and prevailed 21-14 to win the NFC championship. Despite going scoreless in the second half, the Steelers were able to halt a furious second half comeback by Mark Sanchez and the Jets to reach their eighth Super Bowl.
Now, millions of people will be treated to Super Bowl XLV with two teams that boast nine Super Bowl championships between them.
The showdown in Arlington, Texas will be one for the ages, but this year the AFC will be hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy as Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers will grab their third championship in the last six years.
The matchup between Pittsburgh and Green Bay will be a largely defensive battle, as the Steelers and Packers showcase two of the best defenses in the NFL. The Steelers allow a mere 14.5 points per game and the Packers are right behind them at 15 points per game making them No.1 and No. 2 in points allowed, respectively.
Additionally, both squads are in the top five in the league in yards allowed per game, so this game will certainly have a lot to do with who has the better defense.
Let's take a more extensive look into the Pittsburgh defense that will be undoubtedly hassling Green Bay on Super Bowl Sunday. The Steelers were able to limit the potent Jets rushing attack of Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson to 70 yards on 22 carries. The Packers don't have the same running abilities of the Jets, so they can't expect rookie James Starks to have another solid game against the Steelers' ferocious rush defense.
As for the secondary, the Steelers might have some problems with Green Bay's four-receiver set of Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson. Pittsburgh gave up 19 points in the second half to New York, mostly on passing touchdowns, while failing to score themselves. Their poise and ability to handle the Packers' deep threats.
However, as much as this will be a battle of defenses, this game also features two of the league's premier quarterbacks in Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers. Big Ben overcame his offseason controversies and early-season suspension to lead his team to his third Super Bowl appearance, while Rodgers has completely erased the memory of Brett Favre in Green Bay to get the Pack to their first Bowl since 1997.
So, as much as this game will be a defensive battle, it will also come down to who has the smarter guy under center. The fact is that Big Ben is a two-time Super Bowl champion with lots of postseason experience, while Rodgers is in just his first title game.
Roethlisberger is one of just 10 quarterbacks with multiple rings and could join an elite list if he wins his third ring as he would be the fifth QB in NFL history to have three rings. Although defense is a major factor, it's the experience and poise of Big Ben that will lead the Steelers over the Packers in Super Bowl 45.
This will be no easy task as Green Bay has proved themselves as a very formidable opponent, being that they're a No. 6 seed that has knocked off the top three teams on the road. However, the Steelers' experience will shine through in the end.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has led his team to the postseason in three of his four seasons and twice reached the Super Bowl, which easily overshadows the resume of Mike McCarthy. Tomlin has a great understanding of the game, and he will be able to set the tone right from kickoff. His playoff experience will really make a difference in this game.
In the end, both the Packers and Steelers' defensive schemes are similar, so it will come down to more than just a defensive duel. While the Packers might be slightly favored, the experience of Coach Tomlin and No. 7 will guide the Pittsburgh Steelers to their seventh Vince Lombardi Trophy.