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Super Bowl Preview & Prediction: Packers vs. Steelers

Two smash-mouth, old school, legendary football teams will meet across the Cowboys Stadium field from each other on Super Bowl Sunday. One team, the Green Bay Packers, is known in the annals of football history for their former coach, the same one the winner's trophy is named after: Vince Lombardi.

This year the Packers team is known for having the whole package: unstoppable power on defense and offense and great coaching to boot. The Pitttsburgh Steelers come in with that old familiar feeling, and they can count on a coach and a QB who have great Super Bowl experience and the rings to show for it. 

The Steelers may be favored by the Madden Simulator in this one, but the reality is the Green Bay Packers have all the tools to edge Pittsburgh in what is almost guaranteed to be a tight contest. The greatest strength Pittsburgh seems to have is the dominant defensive scheme against the run, but Green Bay's offense and coaching staff will manage that threat and work around it.

Offensively Green Bay has the best core group of receivers in the game, the best running QB to make the playoffs (Aaron Rodgers is also his team's third leading rusher on the season). The Packers even come into this contest with a defensive coordinator (Dom Capers) who used to operate the Pittsburgh Steelers defense once upon a time (1992-1994). The experts are leaning heavily toward Green Bay for this full tilt battle. 

Aaron Rodgers is hungrier, more talented, and way more mobile than Ben Rothlisberger as far as the quarterback matchup. The Green Bay Defense is not often the gamebreaking difference because of how smoothly Rodgers runs his offense, but they could certainly rise to the occasion and play that role if they were forced to. Green Bay heavily favors the pass with 4,124 total passing yards on the year and just 1,606 total rushing yards. Just when you think the Green Bay running game is sleeping on the job, though, that's when it hits you full force as an opposing team.

The Steelers run defense is the best in the biz this year, but Green Bay won't be poking much of a stick at it if they can get the job done through the air and Rodgers can run for the sidelines or a quick scramble up the middle for his 3rd down conversions when everyone's covered. Troy Polamalu is the best player the Pittsburgh secondary has to offer, and he's been banged up throughout the playoffs.

Those who like Pittsburgh's chances know they've been in (and won) the big game more recently (2005 and 2009) than the Packers. The Pack lost in their last appearance on the big stage in 1998 against the Denver Broncos and won the year before against New England. Still, the Steelers will have to really work to win this game. Their phenomenal and time-killing opening drive in their last game against the Jets will not be so easy to pull off against the Packers.

Super Bowl rings also don't mean anything when it comes to the dynamics of gameday for this one, either. Just as not having enough confidence can kill a team, that over the top swagger and "we've been here before" approach can also be a detriment to success in a game like this with everything on the line. If Pittsburgh does surprise the majority of the experts and pull off this win it will be with their running game and Rashard Mendenhall's nearly 4.0 yards per carry average driving the offense and opening up the secondary for the key passing plays.  

This should be a tight affair with no more than a field goal or a touchdown separating the two teams. Both will be at their best, and since this season has been so hard to predict no team is a solid sure thing, but Green Bay has a lot of NFL pundits convinced this year they are the true real deal.

My guess is they can beat any team you put in front of them right now, and the Pittsburgh steelers are no exception. I like Rodgers to score the game winning touchdown late on his feet in the 4th quarter with a rollout, a pump fake, and three or four yard dash for the score. From there the Green Bay defense will lock the game down and prevent any last second Steeler theatrics.   


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