Super Bowl XLV (that’s 45 to the non-Roman numeral scholars out there) pits the NFC Champion Green Bay Packers against the AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. The Packers will be appearing in the Super Bowl for the fifth time while the Steelers make their eight appearance in the big game. Super Bowl XLV features two of the leagues’ most historic and successful franchises as it marks only the fourth time that two teams prior to the NFL’s expansion will meet in the
Super Bowl (for those who care: XIV, XLI, XLIII). With six titles, the Pittsburgh Steelers hold the record for most Super Bowl victories, while the Packers hold the record for overall NFL titles with 12 championships (nine league titles prior to the Super Bowl-era and three Super Bowl wins).
So, what do we do with all these trophies lined up on the shelf? We respect them. For our purposes, though, examining each team’s recent history will provide more insight into this year’s matchup than revisiting bygone gridiron glories.
This battle comes down to one game. Long gone are the days of Packer immortal coach Vince Lombardi and Steeler ironman quarterback Terry Bradshaw. For Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger looks to etch his name into Steelers’ history with a third Super Bowl ring. Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers is attempting to clear the final hurdle in stepping out of the shadows of Brett Favre after he won three consecutive road playoff games. Without further ado, here is my pick as to who will hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy in North Texas on Sunday.
Percentages taken from fan voting on LI Press Picks Football Pool. Pick indicated in bold.
Pittsburgh (12-4) 44% picked @ Green Bay (10-6) 56% picked
There are oh so many ways to break down this game, and if you’ve flipped to ESPN in the two weeks prior to the Super Bowl, you’re well aware of all the alleged advantages and disadvantages each team possesses over the other. No matter which way you break it down, Sunday’s matchup should prove to be an excellent one between two teams who are more similar than they may appear.
Both teams feature tremendous defensive units with each led by the most premier defensive players in their leagues. In an award race that was decided by a hair (literally), Head and Shoulders spokesman and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu was named the AP defensive player of the year, edging out Packers linebacker Clay Matthews for the award. While Polamalu has been battling a sore Achilles in his right ankle this season, Steelers defensive coordinator and Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau dubbed him the most versatile defensive back he’s ever worked with in the NFL. The race between Polamalu and Matthews was decided by just two votes, but the Super Bowl will provide a platform for each player to prove their worth.
Defensively speaking, the Steelers are loaded with playmakers that could change the game at any moment by forcing turnovers. Steelers linebacker James Harrison finished third in the voting behind Matthews and his teammate Polamalu. He is mostly remembered for his pick of Arizona Cardinals QB Kurt Warner’s pass at the end of the first half of Super Bowl XLIII. The 100-yard “Immaculate Interception” as it’s known to Pittsburgh fans is the longest return in Super Bowl history.