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Super Bowl XLV Prediction: Packers offense will prove to be over-rated

DePaoli’s Super Bowl XLV Prediction

Leading up to the Super Bowl week, things have gone as predicted. The hype has surrounded the 13-6 Green Bay Packers not the 14-4 Pittsburgh Steelers who have won 2 of the past 5 Super Bowls and are seeking their 3rd super title in 6 years.
Pittsburgh is also the team with the quarterback who is 10-2 all-time in the playoffs and 2-0 in Super Bowls. Oh yeah, Pittsburgh has the league’s No. 1 ranked defense. The Steelers led NFL in 8 defensive categories, including points, touchdowns, sacks and rushing yards.
Despite all of that, the Steelers defense has been under-appreciated leading up to the Super Bowl.
All of the buzz is about how great the Green Bay Packers offense is and how they pose a major matchup problem for Pittsburgh’s No. 1 ranked D. Everyone points to the Patriots having success against Pittsburgh, therefore the consensus appears to be that the Packers are a lock to pose the same problems.
The Packers offense is explosive and very good but there is an over exaggeration from the media about how good they are. The reason for that is coming from Green Bay putting up 48 points against the No. 1 seed Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round.
That performance from the Packers was a great one but too much stock is being put into the offensive outburst from the Packers in that game.
This is an offense that can be slowed down even in the midst of their 5 game winning streak. Chicago limited the Packers to 10 points in week 17 and 21pts in the NFC Championship, while Philadelphia also kept the Packers at 21pts in the wildcard round.
This is not an unstoppable offense that the pundits are making it out to be.
One thing that should be noted is that the Packers offense is not the Patriots offense. Some similarities are how the Packers like to spread teams out and are excellent with their slant packages at exploiting defenses.
Two big differences is that the Packers receivers run longer routes and Aaron Rodgers does not get the ball out as quickly as Tom Brady.
The Packers do pose potential problems for Pittsburgh, lets be clear on that, but it’s bold for pundits to think the Packers are going to be able to beat the Steelers without having to establish any kind of rushing attack.
Statistically, Pittsburgh is one of the top teams in NFL history this season against the run. In two of their losses this season against New York and New England, both teams were able to to establish a ground attack. The feel from my standpoint is that Green Bay is going to need to have at least an adequate rushing attack that the Jets and Patriots were able to establish in their regular season wins.
In the Jets 22-17 win against Pittsburgh in week 15, Ladanian Tomlinson rushed for 49 yards on 11 carries, averaging 4.5 yards per attempt as the Jets rushed for 106 yards .
Meanwhile, BenJarvis Green-Ellis had 18 carries – 87 yards, 4.8 yards per attempt as the Patriots rushed for 103 yards in their 39-26 win over Pittsburgh in week 10.
One thing that continues to get overlooked is how many playmakers the Steelers have on the defensive side of the ball.
For all of the talk of Clay Matthews being the big matchup problem of the game for Pittsburgh, the major matchup problem is for Green Bay with LaMarr Woodley (10 playoff sacks in 6 career games) vs right tackle Bryan Bulaga who has given up 11 sacks in 12 starts and James Harrison going up against left tackle Chad Clifton.
For Pittsburgh offensively, the loss of Maurkice Pouncey is devastating, losing one of the games best centers, especially in a matchup against emerging star B.J Raji.
The Steelers though find ways to get it done without their injured stars and Doug Legursky is good enough to hold serve for one game. It’s advantage Green Bay but it shouldn’t lead to Pittsburgh’s offense taken significant steps back. They have had two weeks to get Legursky ready and he played over three quarters in the AFC Championship game which is good going into the Super Bowl.
A great matchup will Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown and Hines Ward against the likes of cornerbacks Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and safety Nick Collins.
The sense is Pittsburgh will look to attack Charles Woodson early. One thing the Steelers have is speed with Wallace, Sanders and Brown. Wallace has been very quiet in the playoffs and he’s due for a big play or two indoors.
Pittsburgh is going to be able to stretch the field, which could make Heath Miller a vocal point once again if the Steelers don’t have to keep him lined up as a blocker to slow down Clay Matthews.
The Packers struggle at covering tight ends, just like they did last season. Heath Miller had 7 receptions for 118 yards in last years meeting (week 15).
The Steelers have to make sure they identify the Packers blitz schemes under defensive coordinator Dom Capers. They are going to look to nail the Steelers for that one game changing play that the Steelers do under Dick LeBeau.
Charles Woodson will likely be moved around and is someone the Steelers will have to identify in around the line of scrimmage like the Packers will have to with Troy Polamalu.
The key playmaker for the Steelers could end up being Rashard Mendenhall who had 121 yards on 27 carries against the Jets. Just a gut feeling, but I think he’s going to have a big game, despite the loss of Maurkice Pouncey.
Roethlisberger should also look to get Mendenhall involved in the passing game. Pittsburgh had 9 receptions to running backs in last year’s meeting. Mendenhall had 6 for 73 yards.
As many former NFL players who have played in previous Super Bowl’s stated this week, experience of playing in the Super Bowl is a significant edge. 25 of 53 Steelers have played in at least one Super Bowl. The Packers have only two players who have played in the big game.
This game has the look of one that’s going to be close and Pittsburgh’s experience is going to be crucial down the stretch. They know how to close out Super Bowl’s and big games.
The Packers are 6-15 {0-5 in OT} in games that have been decided by 6 points or less, since Aaron Rodgers took over at QB in 2008 for Brett Favre.
I’m not someone whose going to pick the Steelers just because their the hometown. Their going into the Super Bowl under-appreciated in several areas from their defense to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Come Sunday night, the Steelers defense is going to make the Packers offense look over-rated and Ben Roethlisberger will show Kurt Warner, that yes again, the guy with 19 career 4th quarter comebacks can carry a team as Kurt somehow forgets about the ending of Super Bowl XLIII.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 31 – Green Bay 20
MVP: Rashard Mendenhall

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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