The Super Bowl XLV (45) is scheduled to kickoff Sunday at 6:29 PM ET on FOX. The game features stout defenses, excellent quarterbacks, and great coaches that will hopefully produce an exciting game. Here are three things I will have my eye on that could have a major impact on who becomes champion of Super Bowl XLV.
1. Can the Green Bay offensive line protect Aaron Rodgers against the Steelers front seven?
Photo via zimbio.com
The Packers aren’t known for having the best offensive line in the NFL – they struggle to run the ball and are decent in pass protection. This could be a major issue for Aaron Rodgers (pictured above) who will be facing arguably the best defense in the league. Not only will the Packers need to be able to run the ball occasionally – just to keep the Steelers from teeing off on Rodgers all day – but the offensive line will also need to protect Rodgers in the passing game so the Packers can take their shots down the field. Rodgers will need to know where LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison (perhaps the meanest, scariest person on the planet) are at all times.
2. How will the Steelers fare without injured center Maurkice Pouncey?
Steelers Rookie second team All-Pro Center Maurkice Pouncey injured his ankle against the Jets two weeks ago and is expected to miss the Super Bowl. This could create issues for the Steelers as they try to run the ball and in the passing game. The center is required to read the defense pre-snap (similar to the quarterback) and help ensure the protection is ok. Without Pouncey to call the shots on the offensive line and his ability to reach the second level (linebackers) on running plays, the Steelers could be in trouble against an active, aggressive Packers defense. Despite having an extra week to prepare – back-up center Doug Legursky will have his hands full with Packers DT B.J. Raji and the rest of the Green Bay’s defense.
3. Can the Packers sack Big Ben?
Photo via guardian.co.uk
Dom Capers’ defense is going to pressure Ben Roethlisberger (pictured above) with a variety of blitzes and zone blitzes throughout the game. The Packers tied for second in regular season in sacks (47) and lead all playoff teams with 10 sacks this post season. Getting consistent pressure on most quarterbacks will force them out of their comfort zone and cause them to make poor decisions – but that simply isn’t the case with Big Ben. Because he is so big – listed at 6’5″ 241 lbs – he simply isn’t scared, phased, or intimidated by oncoming defensive lineman or linebackers. In fact, Roethlisberger makes some of his best plays with defenders draped all over him. For the Packers to be successful, they need to pressure AND sack Big Ben on Sunday – which is never an easy task.
Bonus – Watch the Hair:
Keep an eye on Clay Matthews (#52) for the Packers and Troy Polamalu (#43) for the Steelers – both have extremely long, noticeable locks and expect both to be around the ball on Sunday. The former USC Trojans have the most famous hair in the NFL and are coincidently two of the most exciting defensive players to watch – just look for the hair.
Prediction: Green Bay 27 – Pittsburgh 24
What do you think? Any predictions or keys to the game?