he moment we've all been waiting for has finally come! That's right, it's almost time for the Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show featuring The Black Eyed Peas.
Wait... I'm being told that there is also a game being played. Also, I hate The Black Eyed Peas.
Obviously, the game is what everyone has been waiting for. NFC vs. AFC. Cheese-heads vs. Terrible towels. Wisconsin vs. Pennsylvania. Green Bay vs. Pittsburgh. Packers vs. Steelers for the Lombardi trophy.
Now, lots of people like to make predictions, but predictions, by definition, are more than likely wrong. Most people, on so-called "professional" websites, claim to give you their "best" prediction, not here on SB Nation Seattle. Here, I pride myself on giving the right prediction. In fact, I guarantee a correct prediction. If I'm wrong, I'll give you back all of your, totally free (So therefore non-existent), subscription payment. That's the SB Nation Seattle guarantee.
Let's start by looking at who has the advantage in each separate position.
Key Players: Ben Roethlisberger vs. Aaron Rodgers
Roethlisberger is making his third Super Bowl start. Of course, we here in Seattle remember his first start. Meanwhile, Rodgers is in his first long playoff run after losing in the Wild Card round one year ago. If we base this matchup on purely how many rings each has, it has to go to Big Ben. But I'm not going to do that...
Pass offense: PIT: 14th in NFL (225.1 yards per game), GB: 5th in NFL (257.8 yards per game)
The thing that hurts The Steelers in this matchup is the injury to star center Maurkice Pouncey. It doesn't matter what tools Roethlisberger has to throw to, if his offensive line can't keep him upright. Doug Legursky, who made four starts at guard earlier this year, will start in Pouncey's place making his first start at center. The Steelers are confident that Legursky will be able to fill the slot, but I'm not so sure. I'm giving the edge to Rodgers and Green Bay.
Key Players: Rashard Mendenhall vs. Brandon Jackson
The Packers, who have had a lackluster run game all year long, have seen a late season surge from James Starks, who ran for 73 yards in week 13 and 123 yards in the wild card playoff game against Philadelphia. But against a very good Steeler rush defense, Starks is going to need to step up his game.Meanwhile, Rashard Mendenhall has been on all season, he leads the team with 1273 rushing yards averaging almost four yards per game.
Rushing yards: PIT: 11th in NFL (120.3 yards per game), GB: 24th in NFL (100.4 yards per game)
I think that it's clear, especially with how good the Steelers are on defense against the run, that Pittsburgh has the clear advantage. As mentioned above, the injury to Maurkice Pouncey could hinder Mendenhall and the Steeler's rushing game but, I just don't think that the Packers will be able to keep up this late season running game resurgence. Give the edge to Pittsburgh.
Key Players: Mike Wallace vs. Greg Jennings
Green Bay may have a supreme pass defense, but Mike Wallace has been on a tear lately. Wallace had over 70 yards receiving in eight of his last nine games. Greg Jennings hasn't had a bad year himself. He leads the Packers with 1265 yards.
Passing yards: PIT: 14th in NFL (225.1 yards per game), GB: 5th in NFL (257.8 yards per game)
The two are pretty evenly matched in this department. They both have a ton of talented and capable receivers, but in the end, I'm going to have to give the edge to Green Bay. The Packer offense is more tailored to taking it to the air and, with the middle of the road pass defense expect Pittsburgh to exploit this area.
Key Players: Troy Polamalu vs. Clay Matthews
Ok, so I only picked this matchup because of the hair... The glorious, glorious hair! These two are, arguably, the best players on their respective defenses. Polamalu leads The Pittsburgh defense with seven interceptions (The next closest is a six way tie with two each). Matthews leads Green Bay with 13.5 sacks (The next closest is Cullen Jenkins with seven). These two take control of their defenses and it's fun to watch.
Rush yards allowed: PIT: 1st in NFL (62.8 yards per game), GB: 18th in NFL (114.9 yards per game)
Pass yards allowed: PIT: 12th in NFL (214.1 yards per game), GB: 5th in NFL (194.2 yards per game)
The key stat is the rush yards allowed stat above. Green Bay has, at best, a lackluster run game (ranked 24th in the NFL). What Pittsburgh tackle leader Lawrence Timmons and the rest of the front seven bring to the run defense is valuable and it will give Green Bay fitz in the running game. That's the main reason that I'm giving the edge in the defense category to Pittsburgh.
So we're even, tied at two a piece. When kickoff rolls around, I think we'll be looking for a close, lower scoring game. Look for Aaron Rodgers to throw for at least two touchdowns and look for Rashard Mendenhall and The Steelers to run it in for a couple too. The key to the game will be who can break through the others defensive specialty first. Can Green Bay run against a supreme Pittsburgh run defense? Can Pittsburgh throw against a very good Green Bay pass defense? I'm going to say that I have more faith in Big Ben, Mike Wallace and company than the recently resurgent Green Bay rushing game.
Final Score: Green Bay 24 - Pittsburgh 28