February 3rd, 2011
There may be snow and ice in Dallas now, but in a few days, it’s going to be hotter than hot in the Lone Star State. The two best teams in the NFL are just days from the final showdown for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Let’s compare the matchups for these two teams:
QB: The Packers bring to the table one of the most efficient QBs in the NFL this year. Aaron Rodgers has finally gotten out of the looming shadow of Brett Favre (who says he will retire, AGAIN) and has established himself as one of the elite signal-callers in the league.
The Steelers are led by Ben Roethlisberger, who missed the first four games of the season, but upon his return soon went about making Pittsburgh a Super Bowl-caliber team. While the hallmark of Steelers football has always been a grind-it-out, three yards and a cloud of dust style of football, I (begrudgingly) admit that they’ve found a pretty solid quarterback.
ADVANTAGE: We’ll call this one a tie. Roethlisberger has the playoff experience, but Rodgers could be the Drew Brees of this year and lead his team to a title.
OFFENSE: The Steelers return to their hard-hitting style of play in the run game. However, Rashard Mendenhall has turned out to be one of the better backs in the postseason, despite missing most of his rookie year with a fractured shoulder.
The Packers lost Ryan Grant, their starting running back, earlier in the season. Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn have done a remarkable job carrying that Green Bay ground attack so far this year. Will they stack up to Pittsburgh’s ground-and-pound offense?
ADVANTAGE: This one will have to go to the Steelers. Mendenhall has just been too solid to ignore.
DEFENSE: It’s hair vs. hair, and the “mane” event on the defensive side of the ball may very well be the comparison between two of the best defensive players in the National Football League. Clay Matthews and Troy Polamalu have proved themselves to be in the top cut of players in the game right now. In fact, both men were finalists for the Defensive Player of the Year award, with Polamalu winning by the slimmest of margins. One man cannot win a game all by himself, and that’s where others come in.
Pittsburgh has one of the best supporting casts as you can imagine, with players like James Harrison and Lawrence Timmons. Green Bay is good as well, with A.J. Hawk (who also has a considerable head of hair) and Charles Woodson (the only defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy).
ADVANTAGE: This one will be fun to watch. The Steelers unit has played together for years- we all know they are a formidable squad. The Packers have surged and showed that quality football is still played in a few feet of snow and freezing temperatures! I think the edge may go to Pittsburgh anyway, but Green Bay has surprised us all this year. Will they do it again?
SPECIAL TEAMS: The game will be played with the roof closed at Cowboys stadium, so unless it comes down to a field goal, these two teams should be about even.