Super Bowl XLV: 5 Keys to Bringing Home the Lombardi
Here we have it, the Super Bowl XLV matchup between Pittsburgh and Green Bay. The team of the '60s versus the team of the '70s. With a win in this game, either team would be off to a good start to became team of the 2010s.
The game features even head-to-head matchups between Rodgers and Roethlisberger, LeBeau and Capers, Polamalu and Woodson, and Harrison and Matthews.
Here are the five keys that will determine the winner.
1. Packers O-Line vs. the Blitz
In their 24-19 AFC Championship win over the New York Jets, the Steelers had a great deal of success blitzing in the first half. They brought pressure from backs, linebackers and even dropped defensive linemen into coverage while everyone else blitzed. (Keep an eye on an upcoming in-depth segment on the Pittsburgh defensive schemes.)
The Packers held the Bears to three sacks in three meetings this season. Pretty impressive against an above-average pass rush. Nonetheless, the Steelers one-up the Bears in their pass rush. Their plethora of blitz packages is astonishing, so we’ll simply say that Green Bay needs to stop the blitz to sustain long scoring drives that will be essential to victory.
2. Cut the Mistakes
When two such evenly matched teams meet, the one with fewer mistakes often comes out the victor. Just look at the AFC and NFC Championships: New York and Chicago gave up points to the opposing defense in a one-score loss.
Not only do mistakes include turnovers, but also penalties, negative plays, missed field goals, bad punts, etc. Anything spanning from turning the ball over to losing out on possible points to losing the field position battle may be crucial.
3. Containing the QBs
There’s no other way to put it: Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger are among the tops in the NFL in scrambling and making plays.
Neither is as good when contained in the pocket. If defenses get pressure on them, as I’m sure they will (they ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the league in team sacks), not allowing the quarterbacks to escape the pocket will be as big as bringing them down. This may be the biggest key to the game.
4. Time of Possession
Keep your offense out there and the defense rested.
Both offenses have the ability to sustain long drives, but they will have a tough challenge in doing so against two of the league’s top defenses. A rested defense will have the advantage over the offenses in Super Bowl XLV. Long drives may deflate a defense, while keeping the other one rested. Even drives not resulting in points can win the field position battle.
I’ll say this: Whomever wins time of possession wins the Super Bowl.
5. Aaron Rodgers in the Dome
Sorry. I know you were expecting some sort of wild analysis on the long-snapper or shifting the blocking scheme to fit the defense for the fifth key. But how much more crucial can something be than Aaron Rodgers in this game?
Normally, a good run game will make a QB even better against a defense. This has been exemplified so far in the Playoffs, as rookie RB James Starks is the leading rusher in the postseason. But against Pittsburgh?
Sorry, better luck next time. The Steelers boast the No. 1 rush defense in the NFL. James Starks, meet Casey Hampton, James Farrior, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu. I’d give him 50 yards at best in this game.
So this will make Rodgers even more important. Not that he’ll have to everything by himself, but his play will be one of the top deciding factors in who hosts the Lombardi Trophy.
Bad news for Pittsburgh: Rodgers is statistically the best quarterback in the league in a dome. He passed for 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns and zero interceptions in three games this season in a dome (excluding the game at Detroit’s Ford Field when he left in the second quarter with a concussion). The Packers will gladly take their star QB’s chances in a dome for Super Bowl XLV against an exploitable Pittsburgh secondary.