Friday, February 04, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Prediction

I promised myself I wouldn't spend endless hours anticipating this game Sunday, and I have not done that. Instead, I've been trying to avoid the hype, avoid all the lame reporting about the classless Packers team photo or the drunken Steelers quarterback.

The Super Bowl is upon us, and once we get through this weekend series against the Gophers, nothing will be standing in the way.

Sunday's game pits two teams that are similar in many ways. Both have dynamic young quarterbacks. Both have explosive 3-4 defenses with elite defensive backs.

For what it's worth, even the freaking fans are similar. There probably isn't a fanbase in the NFL with a better reputation for loyalty and energy than the Steelers and Packers. This isn't like the Steelers playing the Cowboys, or the Packers taking on a team like the Patriots, where the fans have some reason to dislike the opponent.

To be perfectly frank, Packer fans and Steeler fans should generally get along better than any fans in the NFL. They've got a lot in common, and no serious reason to dislike one another.

On the field, the similarity in defensive schemes makes it very interesting. Will Dick LeBeau and Dom Capers find a way to slow down the offenses? Or will the offenses be able to adjust and move the ball because they're so familiar with what they're seeing?

Typically, when these defenses are successful in big games, it's because the coordinators have come up with something the opponent hasn't seen. A personnel package, blitz, coverage, or look of some sort that's out of the blue. B.J. Raji's game-winning touchdown in the NFC Championship came on a play the Packers rarely run. If the offense doesn't know it's coming, the defense has a huge advantage ... especially if the offense thinks it's going to be something completely different.

Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers each have plenty of weapons at their disposal.

As I mentioned earlier this week, it makes me think this game will be decided by something or someone we haven't discussed as much.

It's not a hard rule, but it seems to happen every now and then.

Add in that these teams are closely-matched, and it becomes even easier to envision the game coming down to something like special teams or a defensive lineman making a play when we're talking all this time about linebackers, Charles Woodson, and Troy Polamalu.

I don't even know why I'm making a prediction. After all, I'm relatively certain that it's against the law to pick against your favorite team in a championship game. You follow them all year to this point, hanging on virtually every play, and you pick against them in the biggest game you'll play?


But it also makes this prediction pointless. You know what's coming.

As a fan, nothing beats having your team on the big stage playing for all the marbles. It can lead to a bit of sensory overload when you watch three hours of coverage over a plane safely landing somewhere, but it's worth it in the end.

The Green Bay Packers are in the Super Bowl, dadgummit.

And this time, they're going to win it.

Packers 23, Steelers 17

Yes, I'm taking the under. I just don't see LeBeau and Capers being outsmarted all night. I think they'll get the better of the play for most of the game. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if this game makes the over, it'll be at least in large part because of turnovers and possibly defensive points.

Catch me on the Steelers Lounge podcast here.

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