The upcoming Super Bowl matchup has already been thoroughly dissected, examined and predicted, but that hasn't stopped writers like me writing about perhaps one of the most historic games in football history.
These two teams come in with stars a plenty, but in the big games, it's always a Max McGee or Lynn Swan who steals the stage. In Sunday's matchup of Cheese versus Iron City, here are five David Tyree's to be watching out for and five of Jerome Bettis (lots of hype, nominal role/performance) to stop yapping about
He has every right to happy, especally in Dallas.
For non-Steelers fans, Antonio Brown should ring no bells unless you tuned into the divisional round of the playoffs and wondered who caught the ball against his helmet on Ben Roethlisberger's 3rd-and-19 Hail-Mary bomb. In the AFC Championship you also watched a Ben's fourth look make a diving catch to ice a trip to Dallas.
During the regular season, Brown was forgettable, swapping punt return duties with now-released Mike Logan and veteran Antwan Randle El. In the postseason, Brown has become far-and-away the clutch receiver, even when he's the designed fourth read. Watch for Brown to come up BIG if the Steelers need him and if it really is his day, I can see Brown bringing a kickoff or punt back to really put his name on the map.
The Packers refuse to let THIS happen again.
Mike Wallace has earned the hype that surrounds him this year.
For the last two years he has averaged over 20 yards a catch, become a fantasy x-factor, and is probably the fastest wide receiver in the league.
And for those who didn't know, his coming out party was against...the Green Bay Packers, catching the game-winning touchdown pass as time expired, in an eerily similar fashion to Santonio Holmes' against Arizona.
Unfortunately for Steelers fans, Wallace has grabbed the notice of opponents and been shut down during the playoffs. With the Packers very talented and athletic secondary, coupled with a Dom Capers-led pass rush, I do not see Roethlisberger having the time or the looks to hit Wallace deep, or Wallace having the underneath coverage experience or skill to make catches.
If he can catch Hester, Mike Wallace has no chance.
In the aforementioned Packers secondary, Sam Shields has been the piece to make this unit go from good to very good, many even best in the league.
A converted wide receiver his senior year at Miami, Shields is lighting fast (annually clocked in the 4.2 range), and as shown in the NFC Championship game he can make the deep, over the shoulder INT. He will be matched up on Mike Wallace by virtue of necessity. If Roethlisberger tries to force a pass to Wallace, watch for Shields to come up with a huge pick and effectively take out the Steelers best deep threat.
Greg Jennings may be the most productive Packer receiver outside of Donald Driver.
The issue with Jennings is that he will most likely be lined up alongside Ike Taylor. This matchup is nothing against Jennings, but more to Taylor's ability to cover within 15 yards like no one's business.
The Steelers pass rush will force quick passes by Rodgers and this means receivers who get open quickly will get touches. Ike Taylor can be beaten deep and after the play breaks down.
Although Taylor cannot seem to catch a cold, he will make Jennings a non-factor as long as the front seven creates pressure.
This is perhaps the riskiest pick for a player to have a good game.
William Gay learned the hard way last year that he is not a cover cornerback. He was constantly picked upon and never was able to live up to expectations.
With the acquisition of Bryant McFadden, Gay has found a role as a nickelback. He can play zone or come off the edge as a blitzing DB. Both have been successful, but this game will test all that success.
The Steelers' zones were torched by the Patriots as Gay never reached Brady, but when Gay was in coverage, he looked lost and confused. With all of the Packers' weapons, if Gay is on his game he will be a huge reason the Steelers defense will have success.
OK. Steelers fans do not crucify me.
I love this player and feel he will go down as a once-in-a-lifetime talent and defensive player enshrined in Canton.
However, with the additional week of preparation, we see that Steelers' opponents in their past two Super Bowl have been able to make Troy a non-factor.
Still working on the specifics but essentially it comes down to ensuring there will be at least one receiver in a different area code and being able to pick up his blitzing cues.
Granted, if Polamalu starts jumping over centers to make tackles again, I don't think Kryptonite could stop him, but a sore Achilles has slowed him down. Rodgers will spot No. 43 before every play and avoid him at all costs.
So essentially, I have said the Packers two main weapons will be non-factors in the game.
So why do I think Aaron Rodgers will have a respectable game? Put it in the books, I predict Jordy Nelson will have at least 85 yards and one touchdown.
Nelson will be playing as a third wideout for the Packers and possesses a huge matchup problem. He's averaging 12 yards a catch this postseason and 83 percent of his catches go for first downs. Nelson will be matched up against linebackers on the line and dealing with zones in the secondary.
I have a feeling Nelson will be the go-to man for Rodgers and will be asked to and succeed in going over the middle, probably breaking one play open as the game progresses.
A lot has been made about the former Buffalo Bull James Starks.
It's what can only be described as remarkable; he has overcome injury to become the starting running back on a Super Bowl team. While his 87.7 yards-per-game this postseason have been impressive, this Super Bowl will be all but forgettable, especially if the Packers lose.
The Steelers run defense is not just good, it is legendary, allowing the second least amount of yards-per- game in NFL history.
To only make this batch look more impressive, they gave up just five touchdowns all year. This postseason they are allowing just over 50 yards-per-game and one touchdown. Remember, they just played the number-one rushing team in the NFL. If he tries to come out of the backfield, Lawrence Timmons has proven this year he has the best closing speed of all the Steelers linebackers.
Sorry James, if you crack 50 yards and a score, keep the football because this unit is that good.
The divorce between Jeff Reed and the Steelers was messy and left the Steelers without a kicker going into the home stretch of the season.
Suisham tried out with the Steelers in camp and the preseason. He came in kicking well for the Steelers but missed his first field goal of the year in the postseason. Jeff Reed got an extra season and the franchise tag because he was clutch every time. Suisham will have to be perfect as this game will be close and scoring opportunities will be at a premium. In a domed environment there will be no excuses.
Suisham does have extra motivation as the last team to cut him was Dallas.
Alright, so I understand no one ever talks about a kicker unless his name is Adam Vinatieri, but I do believe that by the end of this game, Mason Crosby may the goat of the Super Bowl.
Ever realize how accurate the Madden simulations are for ESPN before the Super Bowl? For kicks, I ran a simulation and Mason Crosby cost the Packers the game. Crosby went an atrocious one-for-four, missing from 32, 39, and 43 yards, but making one from 50, although this kick was on the opening drive.
The 39 and 32 yarders were both to give the Packers the lead, while the 43-yarder was for the game in overtime. Crosby was 22-for-28 and his accuracy has been suspect.
If Madden is as correct as it usually is, Crosby should pack his bags for Middle-of-Nowhere, USA, ASAP.