Aaron Rodgers

Let's be honest. This all comes down to Aaron Rodgers.

Steffen: First of all, I just want to say that this is truly a great Super Bowl matchup. Football fans should be thrilled (apologies to Chicago, Minnesota and New Jersey).

There isn’t a single bit of analysis I can offer that you haven’t already heard.

“Pittsburgh has more experience, blah, blah, blah. Aaron Rodgers is on fire, blah, blah, blah. Great defenses, blah, blah, blah.”

I’m not going to try to play the part of football analyst. It doesn’t matter. These are about as equal as teams get. They cancel each other out across the board.

The biggest difference, in my mind, is Pittsburgh can win games even if Ben Roethlisberger has a bad game statistically. The same cannot be said about Green Bay. Their success is firmly attached to Aaron Rodgers’ performance in every game.

Now, here my thoughts — the thoughts of an emotional fan.

Fuck the Steelers. Honestly.

Where do I even start? How about their smug “we’ve been there, done that” attitude that so many football analaysts are buying into?

Yep, a whole lot of good that did for the Colts last year, right? Listen, Green Bay Packers fans — don’t buy into that crap. Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the team sure as hell aren’t, so don’t let anyone tell you experience is a critical factor.

How about James Harrison and his pathetic martyr act? He’s been going at it for months. I’m really sorry you keep getting fined, James. And I know you get a lot of sympathy from your teammates.

When the rest of the league has been able to adjust their play to sub-homicidal levels, perpetually pouting about getting fined for continually going after people’s heads makes you look like a psychopath, not a victim. This guy is the dirtiest player in the league and I’m really tired of his act.

Big Ben Roethlisberger. I know no charges were filed against Ben and I’m absolutely certain that has nothing to do with the millions of dollars he has at his disposal.

Positive. Right?

This sack of trash doesn’t deserve another ring. For me, if I didn’t have a horse in this race, that’s what it would boil down to. “Oh, that team’s QB got away with forcing himself on a college girl? Oh, okay. I’m rooting for the Packers then.”

The cagey vets of the Pittsburgh Steelers got their rings already. There are a couple hall-of-fame-type players from Pittsburgh that deserve a ring, just not another one. On the other side, there are a couple Packers, like Charles Woodson and Donald Driver that deserve their first.

Their time is now.

Adding to that is the satisfaction that Mike McCarthy, Ted Thompson and Aaron Rodgers are so close to feeling. They have successfully navigated out of the cesspool that was the Brett Favre situation and with a win on Sunday, they will be validated.

With the remarkable run they’ve been on over the last few weeks, Green Bay has captured the imagination of much of the country. A Super Bowl victory is the perfect way to cap it off.

Every game in the playoffs has featured unexpected heroes stepping up to make big plays. Look for Jarrett Bush to make a play to redeem himself for mistakes of the past.

Packers 31, Steelers 23

Sarah: This is a tough game to predict.

Both teams have great quarterbacks. Both teams have outstanding 3-4 defenses. Both teams have a lightning-fast corps of receivers and coaches who know a thing or two about big games.

In fact, these two teams are so evenly matched that Pro Football Reference picked each to finish the regular season with an expected win-loss record of 12.1-3.9, based on their statistical analysis.

The bottom line is they’re essentially the same team.

That doesn’t mean the Super Bowl is going to be an intrasquad scrimmage, but it does mean it’s going to be close. Too close. Maybe even overtime close.

The key, as in all good games, will be turnovers and penalties.

The Packers have won that battle throughout the playoffs, coming up with key interceptions to either end or alter the course of each game.

Tramon Williams picked off Michael Vick on Philly’s last play, then took it to the house the next week after intercepting Matt Ryan at the end of the first half, effectively squashing Atlanta. B.J. Raji did the same to the Bears’ Caleb Hanie two weeks ago and Hanie’s last pass was intercepted by Sam Shields.

I think Green Bay’s stellar defense will have to come to the team’s aid again in its final game this season.

Pittsburgh’s defense is good. Really good. And they’re likely to have some impact on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. So the defense will need some big plays to either score or get the offense into the red zone for an easy touchdown or field goal.

The advantage lies with the Green and Gold.

Packers 23, Steelers 20

Shawn: We’ve heard a lot, at least locally, about the surprise of the Packers making the Super Bowl and being favored. However, the Packers were picked by many in the national media, even the notoriously wrong Peter King, to make it to this game. The only real surprise is HOW they got here.

Actually, if you saw enough of the Steelers this year to know them beyond their 12-4 record, I think you’d say it’s more surprising they are in this game. In the Steelers’ first three games against other AFC contenders — the Ravens, Jets, and Patriots — they were 0-3, including a mauling by the Patriots who spread them out and put up 39 points.

Unfortunately, the Packers don’t have the tight ends or pass-catching running backs to do what the Patriots did. Instead, they’ll try to do something similar with their wide receivers.

The Buffalo Bills did it in Week 12. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a mediocre game, going 23-of-45 for 265 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. However, the Bills nearly pulled the upset before losing in overtime, 19-16. They only ran the ball 15 times, which could be what the Packers do.

That game is also a good comparison point, in that the Bills run a 3-4 defense. Against it, the Steelers ran Rashard Mendenhall 36 times for 151 yards. I would expect the Steelers to try and do the same against the Packers. For all we’ve heard about Big Ben going for a third ring, he actually hasn’t played particularly well in the Super Bowl, and he’s only been mediocre this postseason, with a 73 passer rating.

The Steelers will need Mendenhall to have some success if they want to win this game.

Really, for all the attention the skill positions get, the offensive lines likely hold the key to the game. The Steelers need to handle the Packers pass rush and have some success running the football. On defense, it’s absolutely crucial the Steelers get their blitzes home against Aaron Rodgers. The Steelers rely more heavily on deception to get to the passer, rather than winning individual battles, which actually works well against the Packers. The Packers offensive linemen are more prone to mental errors than they are to being beat outright.

If the Steelers don’t get to Rodgers, I don’t see how they can win this game. It will be a Packers blowout if the Packers’ offensive line outplays the Steelers’ line. However, the trend in recent Super Bowls and the fact that we have the No. 1 and No. 2 defenses in points allowed in this game, I believe the most likely outcome is a close, low-scoring game.

Charles Woodson and Troy Polamalu are both darkhorses for the MVP in this game.

The over, at 44.5 points, is a sucker’s bet.

Packers 24, Steelers 15

Monty: Fuck the fucking Pittsburgh Steelers.

Oooooooooh! They have experience. Oh my! I’m fucking shaking in my boots!

The Steelers are good, don’t get me wrong, but look what happened when they played New England and New Orleans — two teams that don’t bother to run the ball and just throw it all over the place. They lost by a combined 23 points. The games weren’t even close.

The Green Bay Packers are in the same mold.

Who cares if they run the ball?

Surely they will, to keep Pittsburgh honest and set up play action, but it doesn’t matter if the Packers gain negative 15 yards on the ground on the day.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers receivers will own Pittsburgh’s secondary.

The Packers defense will blitz the hell out of Pittsburgh’s beat-up offensive line and disrupt Ben Rapelisberger.

Packers win big indoors, just like Atlanta.

Packers 35, Steelers 14

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