This is Part 1 of our 9-part Super Bowl XLV Preview series.
To read the other parts of this series, click the appropriate link below:
I hate the two weeks leading up the the Super Bowl. I really do.
We’re going to hear the same stories repeated over, and over, and over, and over, and….. Well, you get my point.
So I promise not to talk about Big Ben’s past indiscretions. I won’t speculate on whether Maurkice Pouncey is going to play in the Super Bowl (We’ll all find out when the Steelers make an announcement about it). I won’t make up stories claiming that Dick LeBeau is leaving to go to the Arizona Cardinals. And I won’t do a comparison of Troy Polamalu’s and Clay Matthews’ hair.
Instead, what I plan to do is prepare Steelers fans (and fans of other teams as well) to watch the game intelligently.
The Steelers don’t play the Packers very often. So Steelers fans may not be familiar with the Packers players. So I’m going to strive to fill in that knowledge gap. I’m going to analyze the Packers’ strengths and weaknesses, and try to make Steelers fans as familiar with them as I can. My goal is to help Steelers fans know exactly who to watch during the Super Bowl, and to know what to expect from the Packers.
Today, I am going to do a general comparison of the two teams, and then in the remaining days leading up to the big game, I’m going to do a position-by-position comparison of the teams.
The Steelers and the Packers are two of the most storied teams in NFL history. The Packers were the “team of the 60′s”. The Steelers were the “team of the 70′s”.
The Steelers have won more Super Bowls than any other team in the Super Bowl era. However, the Packers have the most NFL championships if you count those that occurred before the Super Bowl era. The Packers’ 12 NFL championships are twice as many as the Steelers’ 6 Super Bowl championships. In fact, the 6 Lombardi trophies that sit in the Steelers’ trophy case are named after legendary Packers coach Vince Lombardi.
Both teams play in small markets. Green Bay has a population of just over 100,000 people. Pittsburgh’s population is slightly over 312,000. Yet despite playing in small markets, the two teams are among the most popular in the NFL. In fact, when the AFC and NFC championships were over, I’ll bet the NFL was ecstatic to hear that the Steelers and Packers would be facing one another.
In any other sport, if two small market teams were meeting in the championship, the league’s commissioner would have probably been considering suicide. How do you think David Stern would react if he had an NBA championship that featured the Memphis Grizzlies against the Charlotte Bobcats? He’d either kill himself, or he’d figure out a way to replace them with the LA Lakers and Boston Celtics.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will not be committing suicide. He recognizes that this is a dream match-up.
The Steelers and Packers are very similar in many ways. Not only are the both legendary franchises from small markets, but on the field there are plenty of similarities as well.
Both teams have a top-notch quarterback who can will his team to victory. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger are among the most dangerous quarterbacks in the NFL when they get outside of the pocket. Las Vegas oddsmakers probably have both of them among the favorites to win the MVP Award at Super Bowl XLV.
Both teams play stifling defense. The Steelers allowed the fewest points per game (14.5) in the NFL in 2010. The Packers were second, allowing 15.0 points per game.
When watching the two teams, viewers will probably notice that their defenses are almost mirror images of one another. That’s because both teams play an aggressive 3-4 defense. In fact, Packers’ defensive coordinator Dom Capers was once an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He and Steelers’ defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau were the masterminds behind the Steelers’ 3-4 defense, Capers has obviously taken that defense to Green Bay.
Both teams feature a speedy wide receiver who can break a big play at any time. For the Packers, that player is Greg Jennings, and for the Steelers it’s Mike Wallace. Both teams also have a crafty, sure-handed veteran receiver who they can count on to make the tough catches in traffic. For the Steelers, it’s Hines Ward, and for the Packers it’s Donald Driver.
Both teams feature an outside linebacker who is among the best in the league, and who is always a threat to be NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Steelers’ James Harrison is a former winner of that award, and the Packers Clay Matthews is likely to win it this year.
The similarities between the two teams just go on and on. That’s one of the things that makes this match-up so compelling.
Tomorrow, we’ll start the position-by-position comparisons. The first position that we’ll be looking at is the quarterbacks.
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