Most fans, players and coaches would agree with the common football philosophy—"defense wins games."
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers were the top two in the league in many categories. These numbers could be used to prove that defense wins games.
Two Defensive Players Of The Year, 2010 winner Troy Polamalu and James Harrison (2008), lead a Pittsburgh defensive unit that is known for its physical play. This defense has play makers, other quality starters and depth. Three things defensive minded teams need to succeed.
Also the greatest linebacker core in league history (in my opinion) with Harrison, Lawrence Timmons, James Farrior, LaMarr Woodley and Larry Foote.
The Packers defense is led by DPOY runner up Clay Matthews and 2009 winner Charles Woodson. That is three straight years these two teams have had the defensive player of the year on their team.
While the Steelers have more established starters, the Packers have had many younger players step up during the season.
B.J. Raji, Tramon Williams, and Matthews are just a few examples.
One X-factor will be the youth on defense that Green Bay has.
Offensively, both teams will struggle.
Big Ben Roethlisberger is becoming legendary in Pittsburgh. However, in both previous Super Bowl appearances, Ben has played very poorly.
Unless Rashard Mendenhall tears up the Packers defense, if Ben struggles, then the offense will likely struggle.
Aaron Rodgers has been displaying why some think he will go down as one of the greatest of all time during the postseason. Though statistically he struggled in the National Football conference Championship, his performance was better than his numbers.
Leading Green Bay to the first Super Bowl since the Favre days, I'm not convinced he is ready to go off against the Steelers defense.
Also, the team can't fall back on James Starks, despite a few decent games rushing this postseason. A Timmy Smith caliber game is not in sight.
One interesting matchup would be Sammy Shields lining up against Mike Wallace. Shields had a great game in the NFC Championship, but are the Packers ready to rely this heavily on him?
Charles Woodson will likely cover Hines Ward. This matchup will be very entertaining as both players are very physical.
Finally, Greg Jennings could thrive against Ike Taylor because of Taylor's inconsistency. Could he recreate Larry Fitzgerald's embarrassment of the Steelers' pass defense?
Troy Polamalu will have to contribute after being nearly invisible (other than missing a tackle in the backfield and getting burned by Fitzgerald) in Super Bowl XLIII.
As I've been on an anti-Clay Matthews bandwagon all season, I think he could be a non-factor in this game. Please pour on the criticism.
I just don't see why everybody thinks Matthews has set himself above DeMarcus Ware, Cameron Wake and Tamba Hali. Maybe the terrible haircut? Matthews did make me five dollars from a bet that he would not win DPOY.
Instead, B.J. Raji could thrive similar to the legendary "Refrigerator" Perry's Super Bowl performance, and should help stir up the Steelers offense.
After all those random thoughts, a score prediction.
Packers 17, Steelers 14