by Tom Weppel
After a full week of Media coverage, we’ll get down to business on Sunday evening, when the Steelers and Packers play in Super Bowl XLV (45). The game will begin around 6:30 p.m., EST, airing on FOX. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will call the action.
The NFL couldn’t ask for two more ideal franchises to be playing this weekend. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh have Super Bowl traditions, from the success of their teams in past years. The Steelers have won five Super Bowl championships, while the Packers hold three. Each franchise has lost one Super Bowl.
Add to that the fact that there are simply a lot of fans who connect with either one of these franchises, whether they still live in their respective zones or not, and I can guarantee you there will be a lot of Packer and Steeler fans in front of their TV sets for this game, nationwide!
That said, the two squads are getting together in what is shaping up to be a very, very interesting battle, with plenty of storylines working.
From the NFC, we have Green Bay…a team that came into the playoffs as a wild card entry, then proceeded to run the table in beating three teams, all on the road, to get to Dallas. The Pack beat the Eagles, Falcons, and Bears, making key plays when necessary. They have come through and prospered, garnering the attraction of a lot of NFL fans overall!
That all is quite quirky, considering their start. Green Bay went 3-3 in their first six games to start the season. They lost their standout RB, Ahman Green, to injury, and therefore had no ground game. At 8-6, they had to win their last two to sneak in, which they did, beating the Giants and Bears.
And so they come in riding a five-game winning streak, having won their last two regular season games, plus their three playoff contests. Head Coach Mike McCarthy has his guys on a nice roll…hence, them being a three-point favorite going into this one. They have been winning with QB Aaron Rodgers doing a great job getting the ball to his teammates, including WR’s Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and Donald Driver. They have gotten some good running from young RB James Starks.
On Defense, they have been airtight with their DB’s. CB’s Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson have been solid, and Sam Shields had a big game in Chicago, with two INTs. DT B.J. Raji and LB Clay Matthews are big playmakers as well.
They will be going up against the Steelers, who feature the 2d-best Defense in the NFL, Their run-defense is ranked statistically the best overall, behind LB James Harrison and S Troy Polamalu. They have shut down teams, making them one-dimensional, which helps them win the turnover battle. That has been a major key to Pittsburgh’s success.
On Offense, they have been balanced and efficient. They have relied on their O-line and RB Rashard Mendenhall to gain chunks of yardage, while letting QB Ben Roethlisberger throw the ball to WR’s Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, and rookie Antonio Brown. TE Heath Miller has been a key ingredient as well.
The Packers will try and stop the Steelers by running a five-DB Defense. Look for Green Bay to go with three DL, three LB’s, and five DB’s, including T.Williams, S.Shields, and Woodson. It will be interesting to see how that scheme works, for both sides.
Conversely, a major key will be in what the Packers do running their Offense. Their running game might be quite minimal. Pittsburgh will want to keep Green Bay throwing the ball a lot. We shall see who wants to do what to, for and with whom! If Aaron Rodgers is able to complete passes and move the ball, look for the Packers to score some points.
For all intents, both teams carry a blue-collar image and a tough-guy attitude and demeanor. They both have come through and gotten nasty when necessary, all in order to win games and move forward. When they meet up on Sunday, it should be a tough, nasty battle!
Overall, this game might come down to a) turnovers, as in who forces the most, and b) big plays, as in who takes advantage of situations to make the plays necessary. It could come down to one or two plays at the end of the game, which could and should make this game that much more exciting!
SUPER BOWL XLV
by Tom Weppel