Monday, January 24, 2011

NFL Playoffs: Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl XLV from Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Texas

Sunday February 6 2011 - 6:30PM ET on Fox

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers
Line - Green Bay by 3

National Anthem - Christina Aguilera
Halftime Show - Black Eyed Peas
Follow the link to join our Super Bowl Pool

How the Steelers can win: Limit Rodger's chances by giving Mendenhall the rock.  The Steelers are going to have to use their ground and pound game early and often in this one to help them win.  We all saw how hard Mendenhall ran against a very good Jets run defense, and how he dominated the half himself.  The Jets had 5 possessions in the 1st half which consisted of 3 punts, 3 three and outs, a fumble which was returned for 6 and a FG to end the half.  That's the defense that has to show up against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.  If Mendenhall gets off to a quick start then it will allow Roethlisberger to get more time in the pocket to find his guys.  However as we saw in the 1st half of the Jets game if the run game is working you don't need to pass.  However if the Steelers get off to another good start and open up a big lead they can't play a lackluster defense where they dont bring the pressure, because as we saw the Jets almost overcame a 24-0 game.  The Packers are not the Jets and can score in a hurry, so when you get off to a lead they need to just build on it and stop the Packers offense because when playing against Rodgers, no lead is safe.  But like I said it's going to come down to how Mendenhall plays, he's the most important part of the Steelers offense, as we saw him control the 1st half of the Jets game and the Steelers won the game with Mike Wallace and Hines Ward combining for 3 catches 20 yards.  Also Big Ben will have to limit his turnovers against a defense that gets after the ball.  When the Steelers do throw, watch out for guys like Heath Miller, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders to be surprise guys to make the big play.

On the defensive side, the Steelers should only focus on Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, and James Jones as James Starks should be no threat to the best run defense in the game. I'm a huge fan of this Steelers linebacker core with James Harrison, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons and Lamar Woodley.  Rodgers is extremely mobile and picks apart defenses when they bring the pressure but there is no better linebacker core that he has faced before.  The Steelers should bring the pressure from the left, right and middle all game and keep Rodgers on the ground.  The more he winds up on the turf the more uncomfortable he will be, and with Rodgers confidence sky high right now that's the best thing the Steelers defense can do.  Ike Taylor will have his hands full with a speedy Greg Jennings but safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark will have to do a good job at being aggressive and getting after the ball.

How the Packers can win: Aaron Rodgers.  Rodgers has been absolutely money so far in the playoffs this year.  However he's going to have to play better then he did against Chicago if he wants to get his first ring.  He's going to have to be on his toes in this one and be ready to scramble.  We already know he can run, but this is the best defense he might ever face in his career.  They bring the pressure and get after quarterbacks.  I can see him using a lot of screen passes to his running backs and short passes over the middle to avoid the rush.  He has such a great chemistry with Greg Jennings right now as they've connect 16 times over the past two games, going over 100 yards twice, but I expect him to spread the ball around more in this game as he'll have to get it out of his hands faster.  So look for Brandon Jackson, Andrew Quarless, James Jones and even John Kuhn to be involved in the pass game.  The Packers have won a lot of games this year with basically no run game so I expect Rodgers to be ready to take over in this one.  I also expect Donald Driver to have a big game as he's now 35 in his 12th year looking for a ring, and he might do whatever it takes to get it.

On the defensive side, I expect this defense to hold Mendenhall in check most of this game as the Packers defense is a lot more aggressive then the Jets.  Don't expect guys like Clay Matthews, AJ Hawk, Desmond Bishops Ryan Pickett, B.J. Raji and Cullen Jenkins to miss so many tackles as we saw the Jets defense do in the 1st half which is essentially why they lost the game.  Big Ben is going to have to deal with cornerbacks Sam Shields who just came off a 2 INT game and future hall of famer Charles Woodson along with safeties Nick Collins, and Tremon Williams who has 3 INT's in the playoffs.  Hines Ward and Mike Wallace might have another tough game trying to get open and the Steelers need to get the ball in Mike Wallace's hands if they want to make the big play.  This defense is young, fast and aggressive and I expect them to make a few plays which will determine the outcome of this Super Bowl.

LiLbRo's Prediction:  The way Rodgers is playing its very hard to not trust him.  Packers are playing too good right now and had to knock out Mike Vick and the Eagles in Philadelphia, Matt Ryan and the Falcons in Atlanta, and Jay Cutler and the Bears in Chicago.  Reminds me a lot of the Giants playoff road to the Super Bowl back in 2007.  In the two playoff games for the Steelers they haven't played a good 60 minute game yet.  Looked awful in the 1st half of the Ravens game, and were flat in the 2nd half of the Jets game almost blowing a 24-0 lead.  Packers are the more solid team right now and have the better QB.  I'm going Packers here, 24-20

KeithyP's Prediction:  Even though the Steelers have not played a full 60 minute football game(as mentioned above) they still won both games.  All Big Ben knows how to do is win football games and that's why the Steelers will win their 3rd SB in the last 6 seasons.  The Packers were playing perfect football before stepping onto Soldier Field and did not look like the same team that walked all over the #1 seed Falcons.  If Mendenhall can do to the Packers what he did to the Jets, than the Steelers should be able to control the clock and leave Rodgers sitting on the sidelines.  Expect Ben Roethlisberger to join the 3+ Super Bowl Ring QB Club with Tom Brady(3), Troy Aikman(3), Joe Montana(4) and Terry Bradshaw(4).

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