Sunday, February 6, 2011

Superbowl XLV

The NFL playoff system is like no other, in that the two best TEAMS will play each other for the championship. No individual player can carry his team to the Superbowl by himself, unlike any other sport.  Lebron James can score 50 points a game, Cole Hamels can win two games in the World Series on his own, but no popular American sport requires 11 people to contribute each and every play.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are the #2 seed for the AFC, but are underdogs to the #6 NFC seed, the Green Bay Packers.  In all logic that doesn't make any sense, but the Packers are playing the best football in the NFL.  Their road to the playoffs involved a win in Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago.  Three wins on the road against the 1, 2, and 3 seeds are simply incredible.  On the other hand, the Steelers have a legitimate case as well, receiving a bye for the first round of the playoffs after a 12-4 season.  Pittsburgh beat the Ravens and Jets at Heinz Field, defeating two of the top defenses in the league.  

Pittsburgh's claim to fame is their defense, but the offense is the key.  There is no doubt the Steelers will put pressure on Aaron Rodgers, but will Ben Roethlisberger be heroic once again?  Big Ben has two rings already and is determined to get his third after starting this season on a 4 game suspension, in which the Steelers went 3-1.  With injuries to key players (Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Smith), Pittsburgh will have to make do without them.  The offensive line will be the key to the game for both teams, defending two of the best defensive fronts in the NFL.  Ben Roethlisberger presents the toughest quarterback to sack or tackle.  As most experts say, the Steelers offense starts after the first defender gets a hand on Big Ben.  He has the elusiveness to break any tackle, so the Packers must apply pressure from different areas to force him into tough spots.  

Pittsburgh has the best defensive front seven in the league, so it will be important for the Packers to protect Aaron Rodgers and give him a nice pocket to throw to his speedy receivers.  The Packers use quick slants throughout the game, which could work to their advantage, not allowing the Steelers pass rush to get to Rodgers.  Rodgers runs out of the pocket very well and does have great speed, but the Steelers have plenty of that on defense.  Look for Troy Polamalu to play as a ball hawk, getting to Rodgers if he scrambles and making tackles near the line of scrimmage.  No safety is better at the point of attack than Polamalu, as he is all over the field.  

This game could be a blowout either way, a nail-biter, a shootout, or a defensive struggle.  The Steelers and Packers represent the top two defenses in the league, but have two great quarterbacks as well.  Both rely a lot on speed, and may seem like a pass first offense, but rely heavily on the run as well.  These two teams are very similar and have Pro Bowl caliber players at most positions.  Chances are that the defense or special teams will make a huge play that will have a significant impact on the result of the game.  

Prediction: Steelers 34 - Packers 31

A game dominated by defenses forcing fumbles and a special teams touchdown or two.  This game will be close to the end, but the Steelers will prevail with the help of Big Ben Roethlisberger's late touchdown pass to Mike Wallace. 

Feel free to comment with your prediction as well!

1 comment:

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