In a season in which we’ve seen everything from Michael Vick’s rebirth to Sal Alosi tripping Nolan Carroll, the NFL season is finally coming to a close. The Packers and Steelers, two of the most storied franchises in NFL history, will battle for the Lombardi Trophy, You could not ask for a better match-up for Super Bowl 45. Which ever team wins, it will be an amazing story for either Ben Roethlisberger, or Aaron Rodgers.
The entire off-season Roethlisberger was in the news for sexual assault charges, and it costed him a four game suspension to start the season. I thought this would be a tumultuous season for the Steelers, but I was badly mistaken as they would go 4-1 in Roethlisbergers absence, finishing at 12-4 for the season. Why would I ever doubt the Steelers? Criminal charges aside, Roethlisberger has a chance to do something special in this game. This would be his third Super Bowl title at just age 28, and he is not slowing down any time soon. No quarterback in the NFL knows how to win big games more than this guy, and he does it when it matters most. While he does not put up the flashy numbers that Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Aaron Rodgers put up, Roethlisberger makes the big plays when his team needs him to most.
On the other sideline, Roethlisberger will be going head to head with Aaron Rodgers. In just his third season as a starter in the NFL, Rodgers is already placing himself among the elite quarterbacks of the league. With his sharp accuracy, and ability to escape the pocket, Rodgers has become one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. In the playoffs, Rodgers has shined, highlighted by his dominant game in Atlanta during the divisional playoffs. Just to refresh your memory, here were Rodgers stats for the night: 31-36, 366 yards, and three touchdowns. Not bad huh? However, he has never been on the same stage that he will be on in Dallas on Sunday however. Throughout his tenure in Green Bay, Rodgers has been trapped in the shadow of Brett Favre, and there is no better way to get out of it than to win a Super Bowl title. While Rodgers is the hottest quarterback in the NFL right now, he does not have the experience and clutch factor that Ben Roethlisberger has. If the Packers want to win this game, Rodgers will have to be great, and I have a feeling he just might be.
And without further ado, here is my analysis of the game.
As I explained above, these are two of the best quarterbacks we have in the league today, each with intriguing story lines if they can win. Is this stage too big for Aaron Rodgers? In Roethlisberger’s first Super Bowl appearance, he struggled, but the Steelers still managed to win over Seattle. Then, in his second Super Bowl, it was Ben Roethlisberger’s pass to Santonio Holmes that secured the victory over Arizona. How he made that pass, nobody still knows, but it was one of the best plays in Super Bowl history. In fact, Ben Roethlisberger himself even said that when he threw that pass he thought it was going to be intercepted. Will Aaron Rodgers have the same type of game that Ben Roethlisberger had in his first Super Bowl win over Seattle? Don’t count on it. Both of these quarterbacks are similar in that they can both escape the pocket and are very tough to bring down. They can hurt you with their arm strength or on the ground. At the end of the day, even though Aaron Rodgers is the hottest quarterback in football, I must give the edge to Ben Roethlisberger given his two Super Bowl wins. I would not want to doubt this guy. Advantage: Ben Roethlisberger
Running Back Match-Up:
Everybody says that to win in the playoffs you need to run the football efficiently, and the Steelers and Packers have done just that. This is one of the few times where I can say that the stats don’t lie. Guess who have been the two leading rushers in the playoffs this season? The answer to that question is Rashard Mendenhall of the Steelers, and James Starks of the Packers. Mendenhall has been one of the most consistent backs all season long, and ran all over the Jets last week en route to their victory. Mendenhall’s ability to expand plays by his second effort make him that much tougher to bring down, and it has shown in the playoffs. On the other hand, James Starks has been one of the biggest surprises of the post-season. After barely playing in the regular season, Starks started in round one of the playoffs against the Eagles, running for over 100 yards. Starks leads all running backs in the playoffs with 263 yards on 70 carries. Everybody said that the Packers couldn’t go very far if they could not run the football, but they proved the doubters wrong. Who do I have faith will run the football better on Sunday? I have to give the Steelers the nod in this one. Rashard Mendenhall may be the difference maker in Sunday’s game. Advantage: Steelers
Wide-Receiver Match Up:
It’s hard to pick against the Packers in this aspect of the game. With guys like Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson, the Packers have one of the best receiver corpses in the NFL. While the Steelers recievers may not be flashy, they have a deep threat in Mike Wallace, and one of the most respected consistent receivers in the NFL, Hines Ward. Where the Steelers have the Packers beat is at the tight end position where Heath Miller does everything a tight end needs to do. Andrew Quarless of the Packers will need to come up big in this game. The Packers have been hurting at the tight end spot all season long after losing Jermichael Finley, can Quarless step up? Advantage: Packers
It comes to no surprise that both of these teams rank among the top five in the NFL in defense. These are two of the scariest defenses in football, and a battle of the hair between Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews. The difference of the game may come down to who can stop the run better. In the playoffs thus far, the Steelers are giving up just 52.5 rushing yards per game while the Packers are giving only 69.7 per game. Somethings gotta give here. Which defense will step up to the plate one last time? However, the key to this game will be which team can stop the pass best. Last year when these teams met, the Steelers won 37-36 in what may have been the best game of the entire NFL season. In the game, Roethlisberger threw for a career high 506 passing yards, while Rodgers threw for 383. Will we see another shoot out on Sunday or will we see a defensive battle? I personally wouldn’t mind seeing a similar game that we saw last year. Advantage: Steelers
For every one of these categories I have analyzed, I have the Steelers with the advantage, but that does not sell me to think they will win this game. I have been riding the Packers since before the playoffs started that they would make the Super Bowl, and I’m not stopping here. I have also bet against the Steelers all season long, and that seems like something you simply do not want to do. I have not been this excited about a Super Bowl in a long time, and I have a feeling this one will be one of the best ever. Aaron Rodgers will take a step out of Brett Favre’s shadow as the Packers win Super Bowl 45.
Fearless Forecast: Packers 31, Steelers 27
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.