It’s the best day of the year, better than Christmas, better than any stinking birthday, yes it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and for me its a huge anniversary – my 25th Super Bowl in a row that i’ll be watching here in England.
My first Super Bowl I saw live was in 1987 as the Phil Simms led New York Giants beat the John Elway led Denver Broncos 39-20.
25 years later and I have seen some amazing Super Bowls, some amazing teams, and a few rare dynasties.
Talking of 80’s soap operas my 25th Super Bowl is taking place near to the South Fork ranch, in Dallas, Texas.
To buy a Big Ben shirt direct from Primetime Sports in the UK click here
Here goes with my breakdown of Super Bowl XLV….
The five things the Green Bay Packers need to do to win Super Bowl XLV
1) Establish the run – It seems everyone is predicting the Packers to throw on almost every down, but you don’t reach a Super Bowl without some semblance of a running game. Rookie running back James Starks only managed 101 rushing yards in the regular season, but from that cocoon he has blossomed into a post-season butterfly, carrying the ball 70 times in three wins, for a solid if unspectacular 3.8 yards a carry. The Steelers will play an aggressive defense and this could leave Starks to find some yardage on draw or delay type plays. No one really knows if Starks can catch passes if needed, as the Packers gameplan has not used Starks as a screen or short hitch type back. Maybe it happens today?
2) Shut down Mike Wallace from making big plays – Steelers WR Mike Wallace is just about the most exciting wideout in the NFL, with maybe the exception of the Eagles Desean Jackson. Wallace can go 80 yards for paydirt on any given play. The Packers cornerbacks will be well aware of Wallace’s blazing speed, and they will try to shut him down. The battle between Tramon Williams or Charles Woodson against Wallace will be huge, and one of these three could legitimately become MVP. Wallace could end the game with gaudy stats or Woodson could end up with a couple of ints and a pick six.
3) Containing Big Ben – No quarterback in the NFL is better at escaping pressure than Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, not even Michael Vick. The Packers have to be disciplined in their pressuring of Big Ben, and this means wrapping up when they get a chance to fell the double Super Bowl winner. Containing Big Ben in the pocket will be the job of the Packers defensive line and super stud Clay Matthews. I have a sneaky feeling that Packers OLB Erik Walden, if he plays, will have a big game, as he will be a little under the radar. Walden has 4 sacks in his last 4 games.
4) Packers Tight Ends showing up – The Packers lost their stud 6 ft 5 inch tight end Jermichael Finley in week 4, and have been pretty average at the position since then. Green Bay have only managed a total of 5 combined tight end catches in 180 playoff minutes this season, but here in the Super Bowl the likes of Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree will need to produce better numbers than that. Expected to do more blocking than route running, the Packers tight ends could be difference makers, and will need to be switched on in the red zone. Look for Aaron Rodgers to seek out Quarless for a td in the first half.
5) Aaron Rodgers to keep cool – This game will come down to the leadership of Aaron Rodgers, and his ability to keep cool under the constant pressure of the incredible Steelers linebacking crew. If James Harrison and Lamar Woodley start calling the shots in the first half we could be in for a long day and a 7th Lombardi Trophy winging its way to Steel Town. Rodgers will have spent the last two weeks rehearsing his ‘wrestling belt’ touchdown celebration, but he will need to avoid being grappled down by the aggressive Steelers defense, and he will need to avoid having Troy Polamalu in his head, if he is going to succeed. If Aaron starts the game with a calm drive of over five minutes then we are in for a great game.
To buy an Aaron Rodgers shirt in the UK click here
The five things the Pittsburgh Steelers need to do to win Super Bowl XLV
1) Keep Troy calm – The NFL Defensive Player of the Year was Steelers Safety Troy ‘hairy Tasmanian devil’ Polamalu. Troy is without doubt a difference maker who can turn a game with just one ultra-athletic play. His downfall, if you can call it one, is that he is so pumped up in a big game that he will play such an aggressive game that he could end up hurting himself. In the past 5 seasons Polamalu has only lasted the full 16 games just once. I love it when Polamalu leaps over offensive linemen on a short yardage play to try and crush the quarteback or the running back, but this can put his body in odd positions, and he becomes an injury risk. Providing Polamalu doesn’t wear himself out by the fourth quarter he can be the difference maker, but he needs to play within himself.
2) Miller Time – Big Ben will find it hard to constantly target his wide-outs in this game, so he will be looking to get tight end Heath Miller involved in a number of different ways, from planned plays, to being a checkdown target when he has to move in and out of the pocket. Miller has already got two rings and so he know what it takes to be a primetime performer. Big Ben will look for Miller in the redzone, especially because the Packers linebackers will be after him. Miller against the Packers safeties Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah will be a matchup to watch closely.
3) Keeping the ball – The longer the Steelers can keep the ball in drives the longer time that Aaron Rodgers and all his weapons will stay on the sidelines. The Steelers need Rashard Mendnhall, in my opinion the most under appreciated running back in the NFL, to grind down the clock and keep moving the chains. With Doug Legursky starting his first NFL game in the Super Bowl, for the injured Pro Bowl rookie Maurkice Pouncey, the Packers defensive line will be smelling blood, but the Steelers have one big games before with ‘on paper’ inferior offensive linemen. Mendnhall will need to be on top form both rushing and receiving, and could end up with 32 touches of the ball.
4) Disrupting the rhythm of the Packers passing game – The Steelers defense will be facing an offensive onslaught from Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson, and even Brett Swain, five wide receivers that can run any secondary ragged. Pittsburgh will need to disrupt Aaron Rodgers momentum early, with a mixture of pressure and man marking. Steelers cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden will need to play the games of their lives.
5) Taking a few risks – In Super Bowl XL former college qb turned slot wide receiver and punt returner Antwan Randle El tossed a touchdown to Hines Ward. Randle El left the Steelers after that game for big bucks at the Redskins, but now he is back in the Black and Gold. What are the odds of Randle El pulling of another mesmerizing trick play? Dont put it past Coach Tomlin giving it a go. After all we could see Packers nose tackle BJ Raji playing some fullback. The Steelers will throw at least one trick play in the mix, and Randle El has already got a winners ring thanks in part to his arm.
NFL Fan In England’s Super Bowl XLV prediction
This is two outstanding defensive outfits playing against each other, and two offenses that are capable of quick strikes. Ironically it could be the third units (special teams) that decide this game, with Jeff Reed and Mason Crosby’s accuracy potentially determining the outcome of this game. We could end up with a new Vinatieri or (gulp) a new Norwood.
I am nervous about the Packers ability to get rookie James Starks 23 to 26 carries of the football, but if they do and he does, he could shock the world and help Green Bay to bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Wisconsin.
Big Ben doesn’t need to have a spectacular game, he has proved that in the past.
The stadium turf will suit the Packers over the Steelers as they can use their speed as a huge weapon. Look for the likes of James Jones and Jordy Nelson to make a few humongous plays.
It comes down to turnovers and who can force their opponents into making them. I think the Packers defense will be that bit better than the Steelers offensive line can contain for 60 minutes, and for that reason I am going to call it
Green Bay Packers 31 -28 Pittsburgh Steelers – with Aaron Rodgers as MVP, despite some outstanding performances from Charles Woodson and BJ Raji.
Love to hear your thoughts people….