One more game and another NFL season will officially be in the books – and hopefully it won’t wind up being the last one for a while.
What better way to celebrate the end of the football season than having Pittsburgh and Green Bay – two of the most successful franchises in history – duking it out in a theme park disguised as a football stadium.
OK, so there have been some issues – horrific winter weather, unfortunate injuries due to falling ice and more. But don’t let Mother Nature rain on Jerry Jones’ Super Bowl parade. The Dallas Cowboys general manager and owner has built a paradise for football fans – and here is a mini-tour of the stadium that Jones himself gave to Curt Menefee (and Fox Sports) around the time of the stadium’s opening.
Cowboys Stadium Mini-Tour
Video: Courtesy of Fox Sports and YouTube
Now, to the game itself, where this Steelers-Packers matchup is arguably one of the most anticipated Super Bowls in years. The spread opened at 2 ½ points (in favor of Green Bay), which is a rarity for Super Bowl games.
Pick Your Knows: Super Bowl XLV Prediction
Overall, the game is fairly evenly matched, but here are a few key points to note:
- Both Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers have put on clutch performances at key times, but Roethlisberger has done it more, and on this stage before, too. As a whole, Pittsburgh has more experience in this big game atmosphere. Advantage: Steelers
- Green Bay RB James Starks (70 carries, 263 yards in postseason) has added a new dimension to the Packers offense, but the Steelers had the top rush defense during the regular season. Therefore, don’t expect much of a running game from the Pack. Advantage: Steelers
- The Steelers were a little more vulnerable against the pass, though as a whole, the team improved to 12th in the NFL by the end of the regular season. For those that attribute that stat to an injury to Troy Polamalu, he was only out for two games. Advantage: Even
- Both teams have a lethal pass rush, featuring talented defensive stars such as Lamar Woodley and James Harrison for the Steelers, and B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews for the Packers. The two teams finished 1st and 2nd in the NFL in sacks during the regular season. Advantage: Even
- Pro Bowl rookie center Maurkice Pouncey has been ruled out for the Steelers, due to a high ankle sprain. Doug Legursky will start in his place. The Legursky-Roethlisberger combo made multiple errors in the AFC Championship. While the tandem will have taken plenty of practice snaps since, the loss of Pouncey will still hurt. Advantage: Packers
- The dome at Cowboys Stadium will be closed, which could mean a track meet for the Green Bay offense. Consider the following performances by Aaron Rodgers in domes this season: at MIN (21-34, 301 yds, 4 TD), at ATL (reg. season, 26-35, 344 yds, 1 TD) and at ATL (playoffs, 31-36, 366 yds, 3 TD, 1 rush TD). If the Green Bay offensive line can give Rodgers some time, the Packers should have success in the pass game Advantage: Packers
KP’s Take: The biggest key of the game will be in the trenches, and how much pressure each of the two defenses can get on the opposing quarterbacks. Both Roethlisberger and Rodgers are elusive, and able to make big plays while scrambling out of the pocket.
While the Steelers have had so much playoff success over recent years, I still give the edge to the Packers, and the fact that the Green Bay passing game could excel while playing in the closed dome at Cowboys Stadium. Pittsburgh’s defense will give Rodgers headaches, but the Packers have too many weapons with Jennings, Driver, Jones, among others.
Ben Roethlisberger will get a shot in the 4th quarter, but he will miss Maurkice Pouncey at a few key points in the game, and this time, any Pittsburgh comeback will fall short. The NFC hoists the Lombardi Trophy once again, and the Green Bay Packers win Super Bowl XLV 27-17.
Feel free to pass along your score predictions below (and vote on the Super Bowl poll questions). Enjoy the game and party safely!