Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Big Game

We've reached the Super Bowl and all the glitz, glamor and Dallas ice storms that come with it. You know how I feel about the event in general, but once the coin is tossed there may not be a more anticipated four-hour stretch of the sports year. Between the lines, Super Bowl XLV may actually live up to its hype, despite the overload of "storied franchise" headlines we've been fed over the past two weeks. At the very least, the game is assured to be pleasing from a visual standpoint, as the Packers and Steelers have two of the NFL's best uniform combinations (and for a shameless plug, check out your boy getting his name mentioned in Uni Watch here). Anyway, with a little bit of luck I'll crack the dreaded .500 mark for the postseason and end up with a (barely) profitable NFL season.

Green Bay (-3) over Pittsburgh
I probably had this pick made up in my mind before the matchup was even set. I've picked both for Green Bay and against Pittsburgh this entire postseason. To me, winning a Super Bowl comes down to being able to put together four solid quarters and get a big-time, momentum-turning play at the right moment. The Steelers have managed to win both of their playoff games despite playing a putrid first half against the Ravens and an equally putrid second half against the Jets where they were quite fortunate that Mark Sanchez's helmet communication system stopped working down near the goal line. The Packers come in flying high, winning five straight games and getting near-flawless play from Aaron Rodgers and their defense. The two-week layoff between the Conference Championship round and the Super Bowl always intrigues me in terms of coaching and how each staff chooses to approach the game after they have 18-19 games out there on film already. The issue (as I've said numerous times) with facing Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense often lies with how much pressure you plan to put on him - forcing Big Ben to buy time outside of the pocket can often be a death wish. Fortunately for the Packers, the strengths of their defense play very well into that hand (similarly to the Jets, who only gave up just 17 offensive points in a valiant effort two weeks ago). You figure the Packer cornerbacks can deal with Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders down the field, which leaves the linebackers and safeties to deal with Heath Miller and Hines Ward over the middle. If I'm Green Bay, I'll take my chances with the same approach the Jets used and hope that my secondary continues to play out of this world. On the other side of the ball, I won't be surprised if the Packers change everything up and go with a run-heavy approach early on (yeah yeah yeah I know the Pittsburgh run defense only gives up 62 yards a game), if only to try to keep the Steeler defensive backs from getting into a rhythm. In the end, covering the whole field when Green Bay does stretch it out will be too tall a task for Pittsburgh. My gut says a long Greg Jennings touchdown in the fourth quarter puts this one away. Packers, 31-20.

Last Week: 1-1-0
Postseason: 5-5-0

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