5 Reasons Why We Think Our Team Will Win Sunday
1. Big Ben gets it done.
While his off-the-field antics have been questioned — and rightfully so — Ben Roethlisberger’s performance on the field during the post-season has been nothing short of spectacular.
At age 28, he has a pair of Super Bowl rings — two more than Dan Marino and one more than Peyton Manning and Brett Favre.
He will not put up gaudy passing numbers (his passer rating is 10th this post-season while Green Bay counterpart Aaron Rodgers is rated No. 1), but he finds ways to make important plays at crunch time.
Think Tom Brady would give up his 36 touchdown passes and Offensive Player of the Year award to be playing Sunday?
You bet he would.
2. The defense is deadly.
When a team can put on the field the likes of James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Troy Polamalu, James Farrior and Casey Hampton, it’s going to be good.
And the Steelers’ defense is REALLY good.
No doubt, the defense is going to give up some plays, but if the unit turns potential touchdowns into field goals, that will be bad news for the Packers.
Harrison and Woodley are going to have big games for the Steelers.
3. Underappreciated wide receiver Hines Ward.
Bet you didn’t know that Ward (954) has more receptions than Pittsburgh legends Lynn Swann (336) and John Stallworth (537) — combined.
Ward is a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was the MVP of Super Bowl XL.
He has great hands and is one of the best blocking wide receivers in the league.
When Roethlisberger needs a big play, he looks to Ward.
I would not be surprised Sunday to see Ward snag another Super Bowl MVP.
4. Packers are due for a letdown.
Green Bay’s playoff push really started in the final week of the regular season when it had to win against Chicago to earn a playoff spot.
The Packers have followed that up with trips to Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago — three division champions — to secure their trip to the Super Bowl.
I realize this is the Super Bowl, but the Packers have taken a lot of lumps this season — and I think it catches up to them and they implode Sunday.
5. The Favre Factor.
Come on... The Football Gods would NEVER let Green Bay win the Super Bowl the same year Favre retires.
No way. No how.
Karma is on the side of the Steelers.
PREDICTION: It probably won’t be the prettiest of games, which plays right into the hands of the Steelers.
I see Big Ben leading his team to a go-ahead field goal late in the fourth quarter.
And when Aaron Rodgers has a chance to answer, LaMarr Woodley or James Harrison make a game-saving play.
PICK: Steelers 20, Packers 17
1. Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood.
Quick question: Who is the top rated passer in NFL playoff history?
Not Tom Brady, not Joe Montana or even Steve Young.
It’s Aaron Rodgers.
Granted, Rodgers hasn’t played as many games as the QBs I just mentioned, but he’s made a heck of a splash in the few playoff games he’s played so far.
Rodgers has a rating of 101.2 in the regular season, but increased it to 109.2 in three playoff games this season. Indoors, his rating balloons to 115.2. Sunday’s game is in the temple known as new Cowboys Stadium. He’s completing 71 percent of his passes, has six touchdowns to just two picks and 790 yards.
Although his counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger, gets a lot of attention for his ability to keep plays alive, Rodgers has the same ability.
You can’t argue with Roethlisberger’s two rings, but if I had my choice of any quarterback playing right now to win a game, it’s Rodgers.
Yes, Pittsburgh has a wonderful defense, but it’s about to be tested.
Green Bay will not be able to run on the Steelers — that’s a given. But the Packers will be able to establish their passing game.
They feature a receiving group led by Greg Jennings with 76 catches (12 touchdowns), Donald Driver 51 catches (four TDs), James Jones 50 catches (five TDs) and Jordy Nelson 45 catches (two TDs). Running back Brandon Jackson also has 43 catches out of the backfield with a score.
I expect Green Bay to try and run the ball early, but look for plenty of four receiver sets to keep the Pittsburgh defense spread out.
When you think of the Steelers, you automatically think defense.
But Green Bay features a rather stingy defense of its own, led by the man with the best lettuce on the field — linebacker Clay Matthews.
Fellow linebackers Frank Zombo and A.J. Hawk should help to contain the run game. And watch out if nose tackle B.J. Raji drops into coverage.
The Packers’ secondary will be tested, but with 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson, it should be fine.
Believe it or not, Green Bay is actually allowing less points per game in the playoffs than Pittsburgh.
4. The Steelers can be had.
Baltimore bolted out to a 21-7 lead on the Steelers during the Divisional Round.
The Ravens did that with an offense not nearly as good as Green Bay’s.
If the Packers could get out to a similar lead on Sunday, this one will be over early.
5. The Favre Factor.
Mike Bogan said there’s no way Green Bay will win a Super Bowl the same year Brett Favre retires.
First, I’ll believe he’s retired when, or if, next season starts and he’s not there for the first game.
I believe the so-called “Favre Factor” actually works in the Packers’ favor. With a win on Sunday, Rodgers can match the legend with one ring — and in far less time than it took Favre.
Favre’s legacy is motivation for Rodgers.
Sunday, he will fully emerge from No. 4’s shadow.
PREDICTION: Go Green Bay!
PICK: Green Bay 24, Pittsburgh 20
Anyone else have a pick?