For the past 44 years, it always seems like time stands still just once a year. Is it New Year’s? Nope. It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and there is no better final game than the one we have this week as two of the NFL’s most storied teams will battle it out for league supremacy in Dallas.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it didn’t start out too well. It took them 41 years to win a title. But since then, it’s been like clockwork. They’ve won six Super Bowls since 1974 — the most by any team in Super Bowl history. Led by a great quarterback and a solid running game, the Steelers will try to ride all the way to their seventh Lombardi Trophy.
For the Green Bay Packers, it’s been 14 years since a title, but there is no more prolific team in terms of championships than the Pack. With a league-record 12 titles, Green Bay has achieved far more than imagined when this tiny city entered the league back in 1919.
This will be the first time that these two teams have ever met in the postseason, and it’s only fitting that it’s this season, when both have had such tumultuous seasons that aren’t at all reminiscent of their past successes. From Pittsburgh losing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for four games due to a league suspension, to Green Bay losing 15 players to season-ending injuries — it has been quite the roller coaster ride for both. But now, on to the preview for the game.
With quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay probably has the hottest player on the planet as of this week. He has absolutely torn up the league during this postseason, but it has really been the emergence of running back James Starks that has opened everything up. His presence makes teams at least think about the run, leaving holes that Rodgers can pick apart in the passing game. With receivers such as Greg Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones out there, I expect a big day for the Packers’ offense.
With Pittsburgh, it’s all about experience. They’ve been here recently, in 2008, and most of their starters from that team remain. They still have Roethlisberger, as well as receiver Hines Ward, but running back Rashard Mendenhall is the Steeler X-factor. Green Bay’s only weakness on defense is the run game, and for Pittsburgh to win, they need a big game from Mendenhall.
Defensively, it is a push. Both teams are the top two scoring defenses in the league, and both are amazing at getting to the opposing quarterback. That’s where the offensive line comes in, and Green Bay gets the slight edge due to Pitt center Maurkice Pouncey’s ankle injury. Pittsburgh’s O-line will have a hard time stopping Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji, but also watch out for A.J. Hawk and Cullen Jenkins.
In the secondary, two of the premier players of the past decade are playing — one on each side, in Green Bay’s Charles Woodson and 2010 Defensive Player of the Year Troy Polamalu for the Steel Curtain. Neither team gives up much in the passing game, so that will be entertaining.
Now, whoever wins this game will win the turnover battle and win on special teams. That’s why I’m going to pick the Packers to win this game. Kicker Mason Crosby has the leg, and punter Tim Masthay has been flawless in the playoffs, consistently pinning teams deep in their own territories. And the Packers have forced the most turnovers of any team in the league this year.
I expect a big game from Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ defense, and it’s enough for them to pull out a close 24-21 victory to win their 13th championship.