Super Bowl XLV Edition
- Red Card Nation, I hope that you have managed to stay warm throughout “Snowmageddon.” I know that normally the weather is different everywhere, but it appears as if mother nature got the last laugh on everyone this year. I mean honestly, -30 degrees is ridiculous, even for the eskimos. Heck, even Dallas, the home of Super Bowl XLV is feeling the wrath of “Snowmageddon.” Monday and Tuesday produced 50 year record lows in north Texas, but luckily Packers and Steelers fans embrace the cold, so the party hasnt stopped. At least the groundhog didnt see his shadow Wednesday, which will hopefully mean a quick reprieve from the winter elements!
- Before I divulge my keys to big game, lets take a look at what we know about Super Bowl Week:
- The Super Bowl is not about a game, it is about how much money the NFL can make in 1 week. It is about creating, what many think of, as the greatest party they have ever attended. Make no mistake though, first and foremost, it is about money.
- For the millions of football fans who watch the game from home, the Super Bowl is still aimed to make money off of you. The commercials are what many casual observers see as the highlight of the experience, not the game itself. Every year, fans, media, and even the President of the United States wait to see what type of new creative ads will come out. Then, once the game is over, the next week is designated for talking about the best and worst commercials featured during the game. Even if you arent at the game, the NFL is still going to make money off of you.
- Someone you know will be competing with someone else you know to throw the best Super Bowl party. Its a fact of life. Honestly, some people get so into throwing the best party of the year that they should probably just go to the game itself. RED CARD.
- The Super Bowl is also media circus intended to make the drama of the game seem more intense. There are more dumb, inconsequential questions asked by the media during this week then maybe all other weeks of the year combined. It is almost like TMZ takes over the national sports outlets (see Maria Menounos stroking Clay Matthews hair). RED CARD.
- Distractions are plentiful. There have been classic cases over the last few years of late night parties, arrests, ect. just days before the Super Bowl. Every company imaginable is throwing a “cant miss” Super Bowl bash, and sponsors are trying to get player appearances every second of everyday. Most of the players are there for business, but you can definitely tell that there are those who are there on vacation. RED CARD.
- The stars will come out to play. This is the marquee championship that the United States has to offer. It is exciting, glamorous, and riddled with stars who go just be in the spotlight. They play a big role in the previously mentioned distractions.
- The city of Dallas and Jerry Jones will try to do everything previously mentioned at 10x the level it has ever been done. More parties, more distractions, and most importantly, more money. There are stories of some parking spaces costing up to $990. Are you serious? RED CARD.
- Opposing players will give each other some bulletin board material. No matter how diplomatic both teams, coaches, and players try and be during the week, somebody will say something that will upset the other side, thus creating a storyline and bulletin board material. Exhibit A: Shannon Sharpe and Ray Buchannan. Most of the time now, though, the battles are done over twitter, which I will RED CARD.
- Old players and coaches from each team will flood the site of the Super Bowl and argue about how great the glory days were and offer opinions on the game. There is no escaping it.
- Brett Favre will get mentioned at least 100 times. Why? I have no idea. RED CARD.
- The game will most of the time be very competitive, but very few make the instant classic category.
- The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will resort to pandering in the media, and nothing will get accomplished.
- Now that we know what to expect from the Super Bowl itself, here is how both teams got here:
- Super Bowl XLV: Steelers vs. Packers. Well, here we are. If you are an NFL purist, then you are salivating over this match-up of arguably the NFL’s two greatest franchises. If you are a casual observer, then you are probably talking about whether Steelers safety Troy Polamalu or Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has the better head of hair. There is a great deal of buzz in the air for this match-up, not only because it is the Super Bowl, but because of what both teams had to overcome to get to this point.
- Lets not forget, the Steelers had to play the first 4 games of the season without Ben Roethlisberger due to suspension. Most of the city of Pittsburgh had come close to disowning Big Ben due to his life off the field. Nobody had any idea how the team would respond to those 4 games without their QB. All they did was go 3-1 and establish themselves as a contender right out of the gate. They got back to running the football instead throwing on almost every down like they did the previous year. Then Big Ben returned from his exile to lead them to the #2 seed in the playoffs, and ultimately to the Super Bowl while winning the respect of his teammates and fans back along the way.
- In Green Bay, the season started off with a bang, literally. The Packers lost 17 players to significant injury throughout the year, including starting linebacker Nick Barnett, starting tight-end Jermichael Finley, and starting running back Ryan Grant. For a team that had so much potential to start the year, reality set in fast. The Packers didnt lose Aaron Rodgers though, and good thing they didnt. Rodgers started to get out of the Brett Favre shadow in Green Bay by having a stand-out season. Through his first 3 seasons in the NFL, Rodgers has the best passer rating of all time. The Packers didnt always win with a lot of flashy plays and scores, they had to learn to win ugly. They also had to rely on their young, underrated defense to step up and make big stops throughout the season. The ‘D’ definitely did not disappoint. Led by Clay Matthews, the Packers defense were a big reason that the Packers were able to clinch a wild-card spot and lead the team through the playoffs and on to the Super Bowl.
- Here are my keys to the game for each team:
- Packers: This game will be about defense. I say that because points will be at a premium in this game. If the Packers defensive line can shut down the Steelers running game early, it could force Big Ben to make some bad throws as he tries to jump start his team. It is no secret that Packers love to pressure the quarterback, but Big Ben isnt easy to bring down, even if you do hit him hard. The Packers will have to play gap responsibility up front, and contain Rashard Mendenhall if they want to have a shot to win this game. This game will rely heavily on Cullen Jenkins, B.J. Raji, and Clay Matthews to force Big Ben into mistakes by taking away his safety net, the running game. Aaron Rodgers will also have to be locked in against the Steelers defense. They will get after him with every blitz imaginable, so he better be alert and have a great pocket presence to avoid turning the ball over. If there is one weakness that he could exploit on the Steelers D, it is the secondary on intermediate routes.
- Steelers: For the Steelers, the whole game rides on how well their makeshift offensive line will hold up against the Packers front 7. If the line can stick together and give RB Rashard Mendehall lanes to run through, the game could go their way. If they cant handle the pressure and the Packers get to Big Ben repeatedly, then it could be a very long night. It looks unlikely that starting Center Maurkice Pouncey will be able to go, which means that rookie Doug Legursky will start in his place. That could be the weakness that the Packers try to attack, so look for Roethlisberger to run bootlegs and play-action to give himself more time to throw. If he can get the Packers secondary to bite on play-action, his receivers are fast enough to make them pay.
- Prediction: Steelers 31-28. Confidence: 6. Given Big Ben’s track record in big games, I think that he will be more comfortable on Sunday and will make a late play to win the game.
- Thanks again for reading! Ill be back next week will a full college football recruiting recap!