Its now Super Bowl eve, and I can’t keep America waiting any longer for my prediction. Over the last twelve years, I’ve correctly predicted ten Super Bowls. That’s a good record, but I want to improve it, and this year’s contest between the Steelers and Packers makes that difficult. The two teams appear to be evenly matched, but I feel pretty confident that Green Bay will prevail. In fact, I won’t be surprised if the Packers run away with it. (Having said that, the last time Pittsburgh played in the Super Bowl, I wrongly picked against them. So perhaps they will foil me again.)
Here are my reasons for siding with the Cheeseheads:
1. The Law of Averages — Pittsburgh has won six of the seven Super Bowls in which they’ve appeared. Other things being equal, one should expect a franchise’s win/loss record in Super Bowls to be approximately .500. A Steelers loss tomorrow will provide some correction in that direction.
2. The Better Quarterback — Ben Roethlisberger is a skilled QB, to be sure, and he has a strong playoff record. But the Packers’ Aaron Rodgers is in top form at this point and superior to Big Ben in key respects. He’s the more accurate passer and he’s more fleet of foot, which should help to neutralize the Steelers’ pass defense. Look for Rodgers to avoid numerous sacks and find receivers while scrambling out of the pocket. I also expect the Packers to come out passing rather than trying to establish the run. The Steelers’ run defense is one of the best in the league, so the Packers would be foolish to build their game plan around the run.
3. Superior Pass Defense — Green Bay’s pass defense is peaking at the right time and should cause serious problems for Big Ben. Defensive back Tramon Williams has been on fire in the playoffs, making game changing interceptions against both the Eagles and Falcons. Look for this to continue against the Steelers tomorrow.
4. Key Injury — The Steelers Pro-Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey has been scratched for the big game, due to a high ankle sprain. In his place, back-up Doug Legursky will have his first NFL start in the Super Bowl. Gulp. Legursky struggled mightily in the AFC championship game against the Jets after Pouncey went out of the game. This will provide a significant edge for Green Bay’s defense, which is menacing enough as is.
5. Recent Performances — Green Bay is on a major role, having won three consecutive playoff games on the road, including a blow out against the top-seeded Falcons. And while it can’t be said that the Steelers don’t deserve to be in the Super Bowl this year, their play has been inconsistent recently. They played a poor first half against the Ravens in the divisional playoff, just squeaking by with a victory at home. And two weeks ago against the Jets they nearly squandered a huge lead. Such droughts will be much more difficult to overcome on a neutral field against a stronger Green Bay squad.
Final Score: Green Bay 27 Pittsburgh 19
After some concern in the first half, I felt good about my Steelers prediction…until they showed a great lack of creativity on their last drive.
I am taking YOU to the racetrack.