During the test run/beta of the upcoming internet radio program, “The Altered Statesman” I was asked my thoughts and prediction of the big game this Sunday, Super Bowl XLV. Spurred by that query I thought about it some more and here is what I came up with:
I can’t see either team getting blown out. Both teams have great defenses, great coaching and it would take a turnover festival along the lines of the Bills in Super Bowl XVII…
painful flashback, I had to stave off some vomit there
Okay, I’m back. It would take a turnover festival of Billical proportions for this game to get out of hand. I expect it to be tight throughout.
Some Key Players:
If Troy Polamalu is a shadow of his normally brilliant self, as he was throughout the playoffs as he dealt with an Achilles issue, the Steelers are in trouble. He elevates the Steelers D from great to elite when he is healthy. I would put him among, if not at the top, of all the safeties I have ever watched. When he is at 100% he is a joy to watch, and a nightmare for the other team’s OC and QB.
Ziggy Hood really stepped up for the Steelers this year. I thought when the perennially underrated Aaron Smith went down earlier this year that the Steelers run D would take a big hit. Hood nixed that notion with his strong play at the line of scrimmage against the run and in addition he did and excellent job of pushing the pocket on passing downs. He will need to play another strong game for the Steelers to win this one.
Heath Miller is another one of those Steelers who does not get the credit he deserves. He is a good blocking Tight End and a key target for Big Ben on 3rd downs. I guess because he is not a fantasy stud that he does not get the ink (or characters) that he deserves from the press or the admiration that he deserves from fans outside of the Steel City.
B.J. Raji should have a monster game. I expect him to have then Big Ben will be running for his life. This guy is a stud and the true hero of the Packers D ( as all Nose Tackles are in the 3-4 scheme).
There can be no drops this game, you don’t get second chances against the Steelers. James Jones needs to be a reliable target for Aaron Rodgers. His drops late in the year were brutal. While he made that amazing catch in the Falcons game he had too many plays in the other games for it not to be something to watch.
James Starks needs to be at least adequate for the Packers to thrive against the Steelers D. The Packers need to get to as many 3rd and shorts as possible, and Starks hitting the right holes in the Pittsburgh D is key. There will not be many, and they won’t be there long so James needs to hit them when he can. If Dick LeBeau and his linebackers don’t have to worry about the running game and there are too many 3rd and longs, then Aaron Rodgers could be in for a short day given his concussion history. That potential issue is compounded by the fact that James Harrison is on the other side of the ball, cheap shot, I know.
More Cheap Shots:
- Jonathan Scott has done the unthinkable, he has usurped the title of worst Left Tackle to ever start in a Super Bowl from Mike Gandy of the Cardinals from Super Bowl XLIII. I know that sounds harsh, but I watched both play for the Bills; both guys are brutal. Big Ben makes Scott look better than he is. Trust me, the guy is a turnstile.
- If James Starks is truly the 3rd string halfback for the Packers, as they claim on their online depth chart dated 1/26/11, they are in trouble. I think Brandon Jackson is the guy for passing downs as he is a more experienced blocker, and you need that against the Steelers. But Starks won them the Eagles game and is the type of physical runner you need against the Steelers. He needs to touch the ball more than John Kuhn, who is listed ahead of him on that same chart. I smell gamesmanship on the part of the Packers.
The Steelers will not be able to overcome the injuries on the Offensive Line, in particular Maurkice Pouncey. B.J. Raji is a beast and I think he cause just enough problems for the Steelers to tip the balance of the game. This game will go down to the wire, but in the end the Packers will bring Lombardi home.
Packers 24 Steelers 20 “Mark it Dude”