Super Bowl XLV is just two Sundays away and our four part build-up to the biggest game of the NFL season begins with an overview of the themes that will dominate the build-up to tthe meeting between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.
Two hairy men will have an impact
Troy Polamalu, safety with the Steelers, and Clay Matthews, outside linebacker for the Packers, are two of the most dominant defensive forces in the league. Matthews, a third generation professional, is the front-runner for the Defensive Player of the Year award and has been named to the All Pro team. Polamalu has also made the All Pro team and is arguably the most important player on the Pittsburgh roster, even more so than Ben Roethlisberger. Both are known for their extraordinary hair, but unlike say Sebastian Chabal in Rugby, these players have the talent to back up their outrageous appearance.
The beaten-up bowl
Pittsburgh have used seven different tackles this year, Green Bay had a NFL leading 15 players on injured reserve. These are two seriously injury-riddled team. Pittsburgh suffered a big injury blow in the AFC Championship game when center Maurkice Pouncey went out with an injured ankle. The former Florida star insists he’ll be playing in the Super Bowl but it will be a big ask for him to be fit inside of a fortnight. The wear and tear of the 19 games up to now will be felt by all the players come the fourth quarter on Sunday week, whichever team can overcome its war wounds the most will have a huge advantage.
The best of the best
You are going to get bombarded with history lessons between now and the Super Bowl so I will be brief. Pittsburgh’s 6 Super Bowl titles is the most of any franchise while Green Bay’s combination of 9 NFL Championships from before the NFL-AFL merger and 3 Super Bowls gives them the most overall titles of any franchise in history. While relatively youthful by Association Football standards, the Packers (1919) and Steelers (1933) are two of the oldest teams in the NFL.
Rodgers and Roethlisberger
If I was a bad person I’d have used A Tale of Two Quarterbacks as the sub-headline. Aaron Rodgers entered the year as the hot favourite to be MVP. Instead he got beaten up, stuttered early, before turning in a commanding display down the stretch to lead the Packers to the final seed in the playoffs. Since getting there he’s delivered big time, including one of the finest single game performances in playoff history against the Falcons in the Divisional Playoffs. Not for the first time, Ben Roethlisberger entered the year surrounded in controversy. After serving a four game suspension, the quarterback returned to the fold to lead Pittsburgh to the AFC North title and, while far from perfect, make some big plays in the post-season. Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls while Rodgers has won just three playoff games. This duel promises to be fascinating.
We will undertake SWOT analysis of Pittsburgh and Green Bay ahead of the big game before unveiling our final preview and pick for Super Bowl XLV. Here’s when you can expect our build-up pieces to appear:
Tuesday 25 January: Hair, history, injuries, and quarterbacks.
Monday 31 January: SWOT analysis of Pittsburgh Steelers.
Wednesday 2 February: SWOT analysis of Green Bay Packers.
Friday 4 February: In-depth preview and prediction.