Because of this trio, it may be easy to forget that all too often; the best post-season action is served up during the Conference Championship round. 1998, for example, saw the Broncos edge out a valiant Jets effort as the Falcons upset the favored Vikings in a thriller. The Super Bowl that these two games spawned was far from memorable.
Several other games in Super Bowl history, such as the 2002 matchup between Oakland and Tampa Bay, have failed to live up to the lofty mantle that is the NFL’s grandest stage. On the day of the 45th installment of the legendary series, one has to wonder if the Steelers-Packers matchup will adequately respond to the hype.
My guess is that it will. As every major sports media outlet in the country has already told you, the Steelers and Packers create a pretty interesting matchup.
Yes, the loss of Marquis Pouncey is quite the blow for a Steelers’ offensive line that is less than impenetrable but the air attack can be carried on Ben Rothlisberger’s shoulders. Rothlisberger’s abilty to extend plays by scrambling help enable Mike Wallace and Hines Ward find space between themselves and defenders.
The Packers on the other hand will enter this game without major injury concerns…unless you consider the key stars they lost very early in the season. Green Bay was considered a top contender for the NFC title prior to the season’s start. However their two top rushers, Ryan Grant and Brandon Jackson were both lost in the opening weeks. To compound the issue, star TE Jermichael Finley also found his way to IR.
Despite the loss of these offensive weapons, the Packers rallied and entered the NFC playoffs as a dangerous 6th seed. The rest is of course history.
Back to the Steelers. Pittsburgh has accented Big Ben’s abilities with a formidable yet slightly unbalanced rushing attack. Rashard Mendenhall racked up 1,273 yards on 324 carries this season. His compliments, Mewelde Moore accumulated only 99 on his 33 carries and Isaac Redman notched 247 yards with 52 attempts. Unfortunately, those rushing yards were also accumulated behind Pouncey.
Both teams boast stout defenses and it will be the unit that plays better that will decide this game. The Packer’s can claim a stronger secondary and for this reason (as well as the talent of a Mr. Aaron Rodgers) I believe they will prevail tonight.
Enjoy the game and keep in mind that tomorrow starts the 2011 campaign (regardless of when the first kickoff happens). That means more New York Giants news and