The Super Bowl is once again upon us, when the collective attention of the nation will be directed towards their TV screens watching the Packers and the Steelers take one another on in Dallas. Who will win? The Tech’s Sports staff weigh in, with bragging rights on the line …
Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl XLV promises to be a game to remember, pitting the NFC wild-card Green Bay Packers, who have managed to win on the road throughout the playoffs, against the persistent AFC North Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams have tremendous confidence going in to this final game on both sides of the ball, but in the end, expect the Packer offense to outlast the Steeler defense.
The NFC Packers, after sneaking into the playoffs by winning their last two regular season games, have been nothing short of spectacular lately as they fended off Vick and the Eagles, cruised by the top-seeded Falcons, and delivered a decent beating to the Bears to reach the Super Bowl. Led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay has proven to be the best offensive team in the NFC. On defense, look for the veteran cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson to shut down Hines Ward and the Steeler passing game. Defensive end Aaron Kampman shouldn’t have too much trouble getting to Roethlisberger to force some bad throws, and this should be enough to keep the Steeler scoring in check.
The AFC Steelers have been somewhat shaky at times. Against the Ravens in the AFC Divisional game, the Steelers were able to pull out a victory thanks to Baltimore’s lackluster offense, which gave the Steelers hope after they were down two touchdowns in the second half. Don’t expect the Packers offense demonstrate this kind of generosity. With Rodgers finding his key receivers, Jennings and Driver, every game, he should have no problem in picking apart the Steeler defense. Free safety Troy Polamalu is a potential interception threat, but the Packers offensive line should be able to buy Rodgers enough time to make accurate completions.
The Steeler defensive line will get to Rodgers, but don’t exclude the possibility of him escaping the rush, scrambling outside of the pocket, and hitting a wide-open tight end or wide receiver. This will be the story of the game, and this is why the Packers will pull it out late. Prediction: Packers, 27-24.
In this matchup between two storied franchises, the Steelers will be seeking their record seventh Super Bowl win, and the Packers their fourth.
Both teams feature strong defenses, as the Steelers gave up the fewest points per game during the regular season, 14.5, and the Packers were second with 15. In the NFC Championship game, the Packers’ defense forced three interceptions, including one for a touchdown. Although two of these came against Chicago’s third-string quarterback, the Green Bay secondary should be able to force mistakes from Ben Roethlisberger (who threw two interceptions and had a 35.5 rating against the Jets).
The Packers will shut down the Steelers’ offense, and Aaron Rodgers will find a way to score enough points to pull out the victory. Prediction: Packers, 21-17.
The New England Patriots ended their season with an eight-game win streak, a stretch of dominance that included victories over both the Steelers and Packers, as well as the Colts, Jets, and Bears. The Jets were embarrassed (if not silenced) in a 45-3 loss; the Bears were manhandled in the snow at Soldier Field, losing by 29 points. The Steelers couldn’t hold their own in the Yellow Sea of Terrible Towels at Heinz Field, losing by 13. The Colts and Peyton Manning, or maybe just Peyton Manning, put up a fight but came up short by three points. After New England had built up a full head of steam, the Packers came to town, but without their star quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. Instead, they had Matt Flynn, with his 17 career passing attempts, at the helm. They pushed the Patriots to the brink, losing 27-31. Flynn turned in a fantastic performance, no question about it, but I have to believe that the Packers would have pulled that game out if they have Rodgers at quarterback.
Against the NFL’s gold standard of the regular season (the Patriots) and in the face of considerable adversity, the Packers showed a resilience that will serve them well against the Steelers. As long as James Harrison doesn’t knock the daylights out of Aaron Rodgers, I think that Wisconsin will be celebrating a Super Bowl victory on Monday. Prediction: Packers, 35-24.
Though the Packers come into the Super Bowl the hotter team, the Steelers will be left standing at the end as Super Bowl champs. Yes, the Steelers will have a tough time matching up against Rodgers and the Packers’ rotation of receivers, but they’ve faced off against teams better in every other phase of the game, and came out ahead. The Pack, on the other hand, haven’t seen an opponent in the playoffs with as good a front seven as Pittsburgh’s. If they can manage to get pressure on Rodgers and hurry him more than they had on any other team these playoffs, the Steelers will have a good chance to end some Packers drives very quickly, and give the ball back to Roethlisberger and their methodical offense. As long as their offense manages to grind out drives into points, Pittsburgh should be able to thrive off of the luxury of playing from in front, and grind out the victory. Prediction: Steelers, 24-19.
Based on their performances throughout the season, the two teams should be well-matched offenses. Roethlisberger has a veteran advantage, having won two Super Bowls in the past. However, Rodgers is sure to use his skills as a long passer to pick apart the Steelers’ defense. It will likely be both a close offensive battle with the Steelers showing how they can run the ball in their game against the Jets a few weeks ago. The Steelers will come out on top, as their defense appears strong enough to combat the Packers’ feisty offense. Prediction: Steelers, 24-21.