Super Bowl week is almost over, and it’s finally almost time for the game. We’ve made it through two weeks worth of hot topics such as who has the best hair, the daily “Big Ben Watch”, and the always enjoyable Media Day. But now the time has come. Time to get serious and look at the two teams vying for the Lombardi Trophy.
Here’s Leisure Suit Lou’s look at some of the most important positions on each team, and who has the edge, leading up to his Super Bowl Prediction:
QBS – Aaron Rodgers vs Ben Roethlisberger
Rodgers ended the season probably playing the best of any QBs in the league. He continued his hot streak in the playoffs, throwing for 790 yds, 6 TDS with only 2 INTs. His last game in a dome (as the SB will be) he torched the Falcons for 366 yards and 3 TDs. Incredible stats to say the least. Then you have Ben going for the Steelers. No sense mentioning any stats here, they really don’t matter when it comes to his style of play. He might only throw for 130 yds, but he’ll make the big plays down the stretch to win the game for you. The biggest stat for him right now is 2-0. As in 2 victories in two Super Bowl appearances. Look up winner and big time QB in the dictionary and you’ll see his picture.
Edge – Steelers. While Rodgers is playing awesome, he’s got to face the Steeler ‘D’. And I’ll take Ben everyday in the big game.
RBs – James Starks vs Rashard Mendenhall
Starks, a rookie from Buffalo, has seemingly come out of nowhere to give the Pack some semblance of a running game. In his 3 playoff games, he’s racked up 263 yards, including a 123 outburst against Philly. Before we get to far ahead of ourselves though, lets take a look at the rest of his season. He tallied 105 yards on 29 carries. Not bad for a game, but that was his ENTIRE season. Now he has to face the best run defense on the planet. Do we really have to ponder deeply how he’s going to do on Sunday? On the other hand, the Steelers have Mendenhall running strong, and put up another 1,000 yard season. While he doesn’t dazzle like Willie Parker used to with his speed, or bust out for a huge 200 yard game, he does exactly what needs to be done. He’s capable of busting a long run on the outside, but can also get the tough 1-2 yards needed between the tackles. He goes a little more sideways than I would like, but overall he’s been getting the job done all year.
Edge – Steelers. A rookie against Farrior, Woodley, Harrison and the boys? Game over.
WRs – Jennings/Nelson/Driver vs. Ward/Brown/Sanders/Wallace
GB is deep at WR, and some have said they have the best corps in the league. Greg Jennings is their big play guy, posting back to back 100 yard games in the playoffs. Jordy Nelson is a solid 3rd year player (over 1000 all purpose yds), and Donald Driver is their wily 12 year veteran. They can get open short, mid-range, and Jennings can definitely go deep. The Steelers, however, counter with possibly their best WR corps since the 70s. Ward is THEIR wily 13 year vet, who’s done it all in this league including winning the SB MVP. And I have a feeling this might be a coming out party for “Young Money.” Rookies Brown and Sanders have shown they are ready for the big stage, and 2nd year speedster Mike Wallace has become an all-around receiver willing to do more than ‘go-routes.’ He’s no one trick pony anymore.
Edge – Push. While I love the Steelers mix of old and young WRs, the Pack seem to have the same type of mixture. These are 2 very solid WR corps.
D-Line – Raji/Jenkins/Pickett vs. Hampton/Hood/Kiesel
With the Steelers O-line injury problems, the D-line for the Pack really makes me nervous. Raji is playing lights out at NT, and seems to just eat up blockers (literally, if you’ve seen his belly…) while Jenkins and Pickett always seem to get pressure on the QB. I have a bad feeling that they’ll control the line of scrimmage against the Steelers O-line. Hampton, Hood and Kiesel play a very similar style as the Pack’s D-line, and have been dominating all season. Everybody knows they’ll stop the run, but the true test will be if they can push the Pack’s solid O-line around and pressure Rodgers.
Edge – Packers. As much as I love our guys, and Keisel’s beard, I think the Packs D-line will have better luck against a weakened Steelers O-line. Especially with C Maurkice Pouncey either out or severely hobbled with his bad ankle.
DBs – Williams/Shields/Woodson vs. Taylor/McFadden/Gay
Simply put, the Pack’s DBs have played tremendously all playoffs. Charles Woodson, the 13 yr vet, is an All-World corner and hasn’t seem to have lost a step. Rookie Sam Shield, with 2 INTs against the Bears, and Tramon Williams with 3 INTs in these playoffs, have complimented Woodson well and have been playing shut down style defense. The Steeler CBs are always mentioned as the defense’s only “Weak Link.” However, Ike Taylor has turned into a solid shut down corner, and whoever ends up playing on the other side of Taylor has done a solid job as well limiting the big plays. They might be the weak link of the #1 defense, but that doesn’t mean that they are chopped liver.
Edge – Steelers. Three words: Polomalu and Clark. Troy didn’t play the last time these teams matched up, and along with Ryan Clark will make sure the Pack won’t be throwing deep over the middle like they did last season. Clark might get overshadowed by his long haired teammate, but #25 is a sold Safety in his own right.
LBs – Hawk/Bishop/Matthews vs. Harrison/Farrior/Woodley/Timmons.
Clay Matthews is by far the best defensive player on the Packers, and is probably the 3rd best LB playing in this game. As always, the Steeler LBs are the heart and soul of their defense. There’s no better outside duo than Harrison and Woodley, each seemingly taking turns knocking QBs around. Woodley is on a 6 game (postseason) sack streak, accounting for 10 in that time. Harrison has just been himself all season, taking over games and destroying opposing QBs. While they take care of the QB, ILBs Farrior and Timmons quietly go about shutting down everything else. Farrior is the ageless one, leading the D while the youngster Timmons led the team in tackles for the season.
Edge – Steelers. The only team that MIGHT have the edge over this LB corps would be a team with Lambert/Ham/Russell….
Coach – McCarthy vs. Tomlin
Both coaches have done an incredible job juggling their rosters through seasons with tons of injuries. McCarthy has had 16 players on the IR, and still guided his team through the NFC to this point. Tomlin has a simple motto: The Standard is the Standard. We know the Steeler standard and Tomlin has made sure each player has lived up to it this season. He’s looking to become the youngest coach to win 2 Super Bowls, not bad for only being in his 4th season.
Edge – Steelers. Tomlin has been to the big game and won it, big edge. Also, if you’ve ever heard him talk, you know he gets his guys going. After listening to him mic’d up during a game, I was so pumped up I went outside looking for somebody to sack! A players coach and great motivator.
Leisure Suit Lou’s Prediction – Steelers 24 Pack 13
It should be a great game, but I think Pittsburgh’s defense will do enough to keep Rodgers in check. Hit him a few times, and he’s just not the same QB. (i.e. his second half against the Bears after getting clocked by Julius Peppers). Big Ben will make his plays outside the pocket, and I think we’ll get big games by Mendenhall, Wallace and Sanders.
Take it to the bank and…