Today is part 1 of 2 where we discuss the unrecognized national holiday this weekend that is Super Bowl Sunday. Today, we’ll talk football and tomorrow we’ll discuss the other reason people tune in — commercials and marketing.
Super Bowl XLV: Sunday, Feb. 6 in Arlington, TX
Favorite: Packers by 3
How They Got Here: The Steelers (14-4) beat the Baltimore Ravens 31-24 in the divisional round before defeating the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game 24-19. The Packers (13-6) beat the Philadelphia Eagles 21-16 in the wild card round, then leveled the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional round 48-21, and won the NFC Championship by beating the Chicago Bears 21-14.
Impact Players: Steelers — QB Ben Roethlisberger, S Troy Polamalu, LB James Harrison
Packers — QB Aaron Rodgers, LB Clay Matthews, CB Tramon Williams
Review: It goes without saying that not many people had the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that didn’t even make the playoffs last year with their starting quarterback coming off a sex scandal and 4-game suspension, and the Green Bay Packers, a team who came into the season with severe questions about their offensive line protecting their QB who had only two season earlier replaced a legend (Brett Favre), making it to Dallas this weekend. But here we are, with a 6-seed wild card team from the NFC that has the aura of defying the odds and a 2-seed from the AFC that many people feel got lucky because they didn’t have to play the New England Patriots.
The way these teams made it here are fairly similar: defense and clutch quarterback play. While many people will refuse to admit it, even the quarterbacks (Pittsburgh’s vilified Ben Roethlisberger and Green Bay’s sudden golden boy Aaron Rodgers) are similar in the way they’ve had to overcome difficulties this season — Roethlisberger faced sexual assault allegations filed by a young woman in Milledgeville, GA that resulted in a four-game suspension under the NFL’s personal conduct policy (not to mention a PR nightmare) and Rodgers faced public questions about his ability to inherit the Favre throne after struggling in his first season and being eliminated in the wild card round of last year’s playoffs.
Plus, the teams are two of the most storied in NFL history: the Packers building their legacy by winning the first two Super Bowls under Vince Lombardi and the Steelers winning the most Super Bowls in league history (6-1). The teams rely on a fast, physical defense to create turnovers and make big plays which brings back memories of glory days past. With all that take into account, it seems only fitting that these teams should eventually square off when it matters the most.
Who to Watch For: As for the Steelers, that’s easy. It all rests on the shoulders of their QB. He’s big, strong, mobile, and experienced having won two Super Bowls already (beating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL and the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII). If Roethlisberger can stay upright and not make any mistakes, his defense should handle their end and he can have the comfort of no pressure to score.
For the Packers, the answer may surprise you…Tramon Williams. The Louisiana Tech walk-on made a name for himself this post season with three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. He put on his big boy pants at the right time of the year and has got the attention of opposing quarterbacks, elite quarterbacks, to throw away from him. Look for Roethlisberger to test him and Williams to rise to the occasion.
Who should win: It’s the old adage of experience versus youth. The Steelers have 25 players on their roster who have played in the biggest game of them all, while the Packers have a mere 2. Both teams have proven they can blow out their opponents, withstand a comeback, and play against adversity. The real X-factor here is momentum. The Packers seem to have it, believing they’re a team of destiny while the Steelers seem nonchalant, almost entitled to be there.
Who WILL Win: In this scenario, I think swagger and experience overwhelms momentum and an underdog mindset. Look for the Steelers to win in a close, defensive game 21-13.