Only a few hours to kick off and the excitement is building for the clash of two of the NFL’s All Time Greats The Green Bay Packers Inagural Super Bowl Winners against The Pittsburgh Steelers who hold the record for the most wins with 6 from their 7 previous appearances.
This is a hard game to call even for a life long Packers fan and viewing it impartially it is hard to seperate them. Still someone has to hoist the trophy and hopefully the stats will give us a clue.
Well as far as the 2010 post season is concerned this is all about the Packers with Aaron Rodgers QB leader, James Starks leading rusher, Greg Jennings with most receiving yards and Tramon Williams closely followed by team mate Sam Shields leading the interception tables. Desmond Bishop is also 5th in tackles made with 18, just behind Pittsburgh’s Lawrence Timmons who is on 19 and Clay Matthews is 3rd for sacks with 3.5.
Pittsburgh to be fair have played a game less and Rashard Mendenhall although 3rd in post season rushing has averaged 83.5 yards a game only just behind James Starks average of 87.66. James Harrison is the only other Steelers player to figure in the leaders tables having grabbed 3 sacks. So on post season start it looks like the Packers have the edge.
The Regular Season again sees the better showing from the Packers with Arron Rodgers in at No 3 in the QB rating table with an average of 101.2 while Greg Jennings 1265 yards receiving puts him in 4th place in the Wide Receiver rankings. Defensively Clay Matthews with 13.5 sacks ranks No 4 which indicates that the Packers may be viewed as a high octane offensive side, but they have a bit of a defense too.
The Steelers were no slouches either with Ben Roethlisberger grabbing a 97 average rating making him 5th and possibly most worrying from a Green Bay perspective is Troy Polamalu’s 3rd place in the interceptions table. Again close but the edge just goes to the Packers.
In terms of yardage the Green Bay averaged an impressive 257.4 a game while only allowing 194.2, while the Steelers only gained 225.1 while allowing 214.1. In terms of points scored and conceded things were very close with greenbay averaging 24.25 for and 15 against, while Pittsburgh averaged 23.44 – 14.5. The Steelers are the top side against the Run. however they are a little less effective against the pass. Offensively they are ok but even the most biased Steelers fan would agree that they win their games thanks to the Defense stopping their opponents. The Packers on the other hand are very effective passing the ball and pretty good against the pass. So both sides are good at what the other is not so good at making it just possible that this could end up with quite a few points on the board. Not a whole lot to choose between them here but again just the tiniest of edges to the Packers.
As far as history and experience goes its got to be the Steelers with 6 wins from 7 and two of those in the 2000’s with Big Ben at QB. Green Bay have not been to the Super Bowl since 1997 when they lost to Denver, and they have a slightly less experienced squad. Overall Big Edge to the Steelers.
Both Squads have plenty of talent however Pittsburgh will miss big rookie center Maurkice Pouncey, while the Packers should be at near full strength. With a wealth of receiving talent at his disposal Rodgers can probably play his preferred 4 wide sets without worrying too much about anyone getting injured (always a concern against the Steelers). The Steelers on the other hand are hevily reliant on defensive talent and although a top defense usually wins the Super Bowl, this year both sides have that. Overall Green bay look to have the edge in talent.
So it looks on paper at least as if the Packers should be favourites and in the UK at least this is borne out by the Bookies who have the packers 5 points clear. However the game will be played on grass so anything can happen. If both teams play to their best then the Packers will win, if both play badly then it could go either way and Pittsburgh have a knack of winning scrappy games. The pitch will be near perfect thanks to Dallas having a poor season so a scrappy game looks unlikely in what will be a setting fit for this occasion. Still the stats dont lie and the Packers are statistically the better team.
My own opinion (trying as hard as I can to forget I’m a life long Green Bay fan) is that this could be close early but I just think that as long as Green Bay don’t do a self destruct like the Ravens & Jets did against the Steelers they will have too much fire power and be just too good defensively for the Steelers. Pittsburgh could and possibly should have lost both their post season games and its highly unlikely that they will get lucky 3 times in a row. Overall they will need turnovers to win and the Packers have been quite careful with the ball this year.
A final score prediction – Green Bay Packers 28 Pittsburgh Steelers 17.