Super Bowl XLV Preview and Prediction

Josh McMullenCorrespondent IFebruary 1, 2011

ARLINGTON, TX - FEBRUARY 01:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers speaks during Super Bowl XLV Media Day ahead of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium on February 1, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium.  (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Michael Heiman/Getty Images

In the preseason, no one expected these two teams to be playing for football’s biggest prize. The Green Bay Packers were still trying to wash off the stain that was the Brett Favre controversy and the Pittsburgh Steelers were trying to clean up messes of their own. Yet, through all the adversity these two teams have had to go through, they’re at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas playing for the Lombardi Trophy. Who goes home with the silver Lombardi trophy, and who goes home with nothing but pictures and a good story to tell? Read on, dear reader, read on…


Why The Steelers Will Win:

Clash of the QBs: This game certainly will be, like last year, a clash of two of the NFL’s top-tier quarterbacks: Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger versus Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Of course, Roethlisberger has been here twice before, while Rodgers is in his first Super Bowl. Roethlisberger certainly has the edge experience-wise, and he certainly has proved that he is deserving of being a top-tier quarterback. Rodgers, after two years of living under the shadow of Favre, is inexperienced, but has shown he is capable of making his own legend in Green Bay. So it comes down to the question: Who is the better quarterback?

The answer, in this case, is Roethlisberger. He can dominate through the air and on the ground. While he can’t hold on to the ball as well as Rodgers (three fumbles lost this year to Rodgers’ one), he is an experienced leader on the field (off the field is another matter). He certainly will be tested against a strong Packer defense, but as he has done twice in the playoffs so far, he’ll find a way to pick it apart and come out on top.

Deferring the Distractions: Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you know that throughout the course of the regular season, the Steelers have had to live with plenty of distractions, mainly from Roethlisberger’s misconduct off the field. The Super Bowl is well-known for being chock-full of distractions, and this one certainly will not be any different. However, with the fact that the Steelers are fully aware of what can happen during Super Bowl week coupled with their resilience with their regular-season distractions, Pittsburgh will be fully prepared for anything that comes their way, and that will be huge if they want to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Luckily, they will actually rise above the distraction and play their hardest where it really matters: on the field.

Winning the Defensive Battle: Both teams have dominating defenses which have definitely helped them get to this point. However, the Steelers have the edge here because they have more experienced and bigger threats on the defensive side of the ball. Troy Polamalu can disrupt the deep threat, while the linebackers, led by the “James Brothers” (Farrior and Harrison), will plug up the Packer running game pretty well. They’ve shut down offenses all season (giving up an average of only 18 points all season—regular and postseason), and there’s really no reason to believe they’ll have a meltdown now. They should be able to shut down the Packer offense pretty easily and take their seventh Super Bowl title home.


Why The Packers Will Win:

Defense Wins Championships: Sure, the Steelers’ defense is dominating, but the defense in Green Bay is just as stifling. The Packers’ defense has only allowed an average of 70 yards rushing in the postseason (compared with an average of 115 yards in the regular season). The Pittsburgh offensive line is riddled with injuries (in fact, starting center Maurkice Pouncey, who went down in the AFC Championship Game with an ankle injury, has said there’s a 75 percent chance he’ll play), and that spells a big day for the Packers defensive line and linebackers. Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Clay Matthews has been the definitive defensive leader of this team, and with the Steelers’ offensive line being banged up as it is, he should be meeting up with Roethlisberger a lot over that 60 minutes.

Youth Is Served: The Packers have only four players on their roster who have been in the NFL over ten years (in fact, the longest-serving players on the Packers, cornerback Charles Woodson and receiver Donald Driver, have been in the NFL 12 years). Now, most people might think that inexperience might be the downfall of the Packers in this Super Bowl, but I think the exact opposite. Now, don’t get me wrong, both teams will still come hard. However, I think the younger players’ desire to impress the people in their first Super Bowl (none of these players were on the team when the Packers appeared in their last Super Bowl in 1997; in fact, Rodgers was only 14) will compel the Packers to not only play well, but to dominate the Steelers. If they get on them quickly, the older Steelers will tire very quickly, which should give the Packers a chance to pull away in the later stages of the game.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All: When the running game begins to get bogged down by the stingy Steeler defense, they can easily turn to their passing game. They have a great quarterback in Rodgers, who has thrown for over 4,500 yards this season. They also have a very good receiving corps, led by Driver and Greg Jennings, with six receivers with over 25 catches and over 300 yards. It will be a test for Polamalu and the Steeler secondary, and one they might not be able to keep up with. If the Packers’ passing game is up to the challenge posed by the long-haired Polamalu, the Lombardi Trophy might be headed back to Green Bay for the fourth time in Super Bowl history.


Prediction: Steelers 31, Packers 21.

Both defenses are dominating, but experience definitely will win out over youth this time. The Steelers’ defense is much too dominating for this young Packer defense, and Roethlisberger, Polamalu and the rest of the Steelers will celebrate their third Super Bowl win in five years.

So there you have it: the Steel City will have yet another parade for their beloved Steelers. Does the glass slipper fit the Cinderella Packers, or will the dominant Steelers win one for the index finger on the other hand? You’ll have to watch on Super Bowl Sunday to find out!