Jason Bryden’s XLV Super Bowl Predictions

By Jason Bryden
Assistant Sports Info Director

If you love tradition and success, this is your Super Bowl. You have the Pittsburgh Steelers, the most successful team in the Super Bowl era as they have won six Vince Lombardi Trophies, and the Green Bay Packers, the team who has won the most NFL Championships with 12, including three Super Bowls. Both sides have also dominated a decade too, with the Packers winning five NFL crowns in the 1960s (including the first two Super Bowls), while the Steelers won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. On Sunday at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, one of these two teams will get to add to their glorious history. A Steelers win would give them an unprecedented seventh Super Bowl Trophy, while a Packers victory would give them a 13th World Championship.

The Packers are looking for their first Super Bowl crown in 14 years, while the Steelers are looking for their third Super Bowl since 2005, as they won in 2005 and 2008. Pittsburg head coach Mike Tomlin would become the first coach to win two Super Bowls before turning the age of 40.
Pittsburgh won two home games in the AFC Playoffs to advance to the Super Bowl, besting Baltimore (31-24) and the New York Jets (24-19) to advance to its eighth Super Bowl, tying them with the host Dallas Cowboys for most Super Bowl appearances. Green Bay became the first six seed in the NFC to advance to the Super Bowl by topping Philadelphia (21-16), Atlanta (48-21) and Chicago (21-14) on the road to reach its first Super Bowl since 1997. The only other six seed to reach a Super Bowl? The 2005 Steelers.

The two sides have great quarterbacks with Ben Roethlisberger looking to guide Pittsburgh to his third Super Bowl, while Green Bay signal caller Aaron Rodgers is looking to win his first in his third season as a starter. Roethlisberger, who missed the first four games due to suspension, completed timely passes late in the fourth quarter in both playoff wins. He is 10-2 all-time in the playoffs, winning the last five. Rodgers threw for six touchdowns and ran for two more in this postseason. In the win over Atlanta, he was 31-for-36 for 366 yards and three touchdowns indoors and this game will be indoors too. Both quarterbacks are mobile and can keep plays alive.

Both teams bring tremendous defenses to the party as they have the top two defenses in the league in terms of points allowed with the Steelers ranking first and the Packers ranking second. The two teams have the prior three NFL Defensive Players of the Year. The Steelers have linebacker James Harrison (2008) and safety Troy Polamalu (2010), while the Packers have cornerback Charles Woodson (2009). Polamalu beat out Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews for the 2010 award. The Steelers have the edge in stopping the run, while the Packers have the edge at the cornerback position with the emergence of Tramon Williams and Sam Shields. Both defenses are run by great defensive coordinators: Dick LeBeau for the Steelers and Dom Capers for the Packers.

Both teams’ offensive lines have been in question this season. Right now the Steelers offensive line is a bigger question mark as center Maurkice Pouncey might not be able to go with an ankle injury he suffered in the AFC Championship Game against the Jets. Both offensive lines will face stout front sevens who can stop the run and the pass.

At the skill positions, the Packers are four-deep at wide receiver, while the Steelers are led at wide receiver by Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward. Pittsburgh tight end Heath Miller is a key part of the rushing and passing attack and running back Rashard Mendenhall has three rushing touchdowns in the playoffs. The Packers have used a running back by committee approach since early in the season when Ryan Grant went down with a season-ending injury.

The Packers have had more stability in the kicking game as the Steelers are on their second placekicker and punter this season with the latter due to an injury. Green Bay punter Tim Mashtay was big in containing Chicago’s solid return game in the NFC Championship Game. Both teams allowed a return for a touchdown this season, while the Steelers did return a kick for a touchdown as well.

Experience wise, the Steelers have a clear edge as many of their players have been on one if not both of their past Super Bowl teams, while the Packers have just two players who have appeared in a Super Bowl, neither of them on the winning end.

A couple of interesting sidenotes for this game. The Terrible Towel (the Steelers towel) is made in Wisconsin, while Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy is a Pittsburgh native. Capers was the one-time defensive coordinator for the Steelers.

Expect this to be a close game, but the difference is the Packers are much stronger at cornerback than the Steelers are and Rodgers will take advantage of that. In the climate controlled Cowboys Stadium, unless the Steelers can really cause havoc with the pass rush, Rodgers should make enough plays to win the game. Green Bay 24, Pittsburgh 20.

This Sunday down in Texas, two teams who know how to make history will make some more on the grandest stage of them all.

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