>Saturday Lunch Special: TSL Super Prediction Special

Posted: February 5, 2011 in nfl, super bowl
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

>By TSL Staff and Friends

Check out our team previews from earlier this week: Packers and Steelers. Here are predictions about the big game from TSL associates!
Brent MacDonald
Seven months ago, I would have bet my entire Sack Lunch Blog salary that neither the Green Bay Packers nor the Pittsburgh Steelers would make it to the Super Bowl, let alone play against each other. Luckily, no one chose to make this bet with me, and with the big game just days away, it’s time to get familiar with some background information on these two teams, just in case the gambling bug strikes again.
The biggest storyline thus far has been the strong similarities between the two teams. Both the Steelers and the Packers are located in hard-working towns with quarterbacks who have been through rough times to make it this far in the post season. Ben Roethlisberger returned from suspension and a quite embarrassing legal suit earlier this year to play superb football for Pittsburgh during the playoffs; Aaron Rodgers was forced to live in Brett Favre’s shadow for years, and after throwing for 4,400 yards last season and making the Super Bowl this year, he has officially assumed his role as team leader.
Defense has been both teams’ strongest aspect of play all season. Troy Polamalu’s well-shampooed hair has been present in covering deep plays for Pittsburgh, while James Harrison has been putting a stop to run games at the line of scrimmage. For the Packers, Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Clay Matthews will be a force in the Green Bay defense that has only allowed 70 yards rushing in the post season, compared to just 115 in the regular season.
Defensive battles and quarterback productivity will be the two main focuses of this game, and it will be Green Bay that capitalizes on both. The Pittsburgh offensive line has been injury-prone lately, and there is a chance that center Maurkice Pouncey, who suffered an ankle injury in the AFC championship game, will have to sit out. The Packers’ receivers are led by ‘The Old Man,” veteran Donald Driver, and will be able to out-play and out-smart the Steeler coverage.
After witnessing the way these two teams have played all year, I’m ready to take offers on Sunday’s game. Green Bay wins, 24-20, and my entire Sack Lunch Blog salary is on the line… any takers?

Robb Davis
In the year of the immaculate reception–and hungry for a local alternative to the Eagles in my home state–I was drawn to a team that, up until then, was known more for a running back who placed goldfish in the Plexiglas heels of his outrageous (even for that time) shoes than for anything they did on the field. Bradshaw still had peach fuzz and that silly facemask, and the Steelers were just plain mediocre. Then Bradshaw grew up, a second string running back from Penn State became the symbol of an offense that really did grind people down, and the Greene-led defense became, arguably, the best defense the league has ever seen. (Check out the first downs, total yards and yards rushing that the Vikings got in Super Bowl IX: nine first downs, 119 yards of total offense, and 17 rushing yards). I won’t bore you with a history of the Steelers post-season exploits since then but merely note that what drew me to the Steelers was the total domination of their offensive and defensive lines in those days. Perfect football twins named Inexorable and Immovable. 
What I have appreciated about the Steelers over the years is that they have followed a script that has kept the twins more or less in place despite the vicissitudes of the game. They get the most athletic and unheard of players and fit them into a machine that they have faithfully oiled, periodically stripped down and rebuilt, and upgraded year after year. Why other teams have not merely copied their approach is beyond me. 
But they can be beat. They have never even gotten close to a perfect season. They win ugly lots of times. The machine breaks down and spare parts are wanting. But, most importantly, the upgrades don’t always keep up with the brightest minds operating on the other side of the ball: the Steelers can rarely stymie the Patriots’ offense just as they cannot hold back the bull rush of the Ravens. 
And that brings us to Sunday. I think they will do relatively well on offense. Relatively well for the Steelers’ offense means they will score all of two touchdowns, kick one field goal (or two field goals and a TD). They will turn it over at least once and will generally sputter up and down the field. They will lose the game on defense however because, good as it is (the first half against the Jets gave me goose bumps–it was the closest anyone of the 20 something generation will get to seeing what the Steel Curtain was really like), it cannot contain Rodgers and the creative play calling of the Packers’ offensive staff. 
Rodgers will throw for close to 300 yards, will not throw a pick, and the Packers will score four times–three touchdowns and a field goal. 
It will be a good game but never feel particularly close. 
I hate to say it but the team I have enjoyed for a generation will go down 24-13 to the imaginative Packers. When they lose, I will take consolation in the fact that I really like Aaron Rodgers’ quarterbacking and the amazing job Green Bay coaches and staff have done keeping a team on the field this year. 
Nick Gallaudet
These past two weeks, the Super Bowl has been covered from every different angle, every story has been told ad nauseam, so I figure the last thing you want is more of the same. Unlike my (correct) MLS Cup prediction, I’m qualified to pick a winner for the Super Bowl, because I actually watched these two teams play this season. I could tell you about how Pittsburgh’s experience in big games is being overrated; I could tell you how Mike McCarthy could be a bigger hindrance than help; I could tell you that Aaron Rodgers is better than Tony Romo; I could tell you that defensive playmakers are going to swing this game; but if you want all that, read my colleagues. I want to tell you that with a win, Aaron Rodgers will finally end Brett Favre’s reign of terror on the NFL. Packers fans will have a new champion to hang their hats on, it will forever put to rest the debate over whether the Packers got rid of him too soon (which they most definitely didn’t), and people will finally stop talking about the Old Gunslinger. Rodgers is on the verge of superstardom and winning this game will catapult him into the Manning-Brady-Brees class, not in terms of production, because he’s already there, but in terms of celebrity. Rodgers will be the face of the NFL, just like Brees was last season following the Saints’ Super Bowl run. All of that is if the Packers win of course.
The NFL is a league of quarterbacks, and despite the fact that everyone knows that quarterbacks don’t actually play each other, the matchups are billed as such, so this game seems to be a battle between Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, both hoping to solidify their spot in the top tier of quarterbacks. While examining this matchup, I couldn’t help but think Rodgers’ victory was preordained. Rodgers’ ascension has played out to me like a cross between Macbeth and Beowulf, with Packers General Manager Ted Thompson starring as the three witches and foreseeing Rodgers’ path to a Super Bowl championship. Jettisoning Favre and giving Rodgers the starting job was the first step, then making the playoffs, and now winning the Super Bowl completes the prophecy, just like Macbeth becoming Thane of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor, and finally, the King of Scotland. The only problem is that Rodgers is the good guy. If Michael Vick was playing for the Super Bowl, then the murderous part of the Macbeth analogy would be apt, but alas, Vick was defeated by Rodgers, which is where Beowulf comes in. Beowulf first defeats the murderous Grendel (Vick), then Grendel’s mother (Cutler), but there is still the dragon (Roethlisberger) to be slain, and on Sunday, we will see how that plays out. Obviously, this can’t be taken literally, I mean I’m not saying Rodgers is going to die after the Super Bowl like Macbeth and Beowulf did (Spoiler alert? Too late, I guess, oh well). Basically, what I’m trying to say is that if I learned anything from ninth grade English, it’s that the Packers will win the Super Bowl and Rodgers will be the King of Scotland, 27-14.
Evan Ream
I know that this is going to be cliché, and it is probably what you have been hearing in all the Super Bowl predictions over the last couple of weeks, but this game really comes down to one player: Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers has been unstoppable in the playoffs in good weather situations (which we will see Sunday), passing for ten touchdowns against just one interception in three games. Rodgers didn’t play his best in the NFC Championship, but he still made the throws he needed to make when he needed to make them. Rodgers is the best and most important player in this game and he will have to show it if the Packers are to win.
Conversely, the Steelers are more of a grind-it-out, hard-nosed, old school football team. They run the ball well and stop the run well. Unfortunately, when the other team is putting up yards in chunks and you can’t stop its pass game, there isn’t a lot of time to be running the ball. I think the Packers will win simply because the Steelers won’t be able to guard all of their offensive weapons at one time. The Packers go four deep at receiver with Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelsen. All of them should have big days in a 28-14 Packers victory.greg-jennings
Dylan Davis
The favorite’s offense is way too good. The quarterback of the favorite will have no trouble picking apart the opposing secondary. This performance will vault that quarterback into the next level. The underdog will have to play perfectly to have any chance to win. Before the start of Super Bowl XLII between the undefeated Patriots and Giants, this was all we heard for two weeks. Before the start of this Super Bowl between the unstoppable Packers offense and the banged up Steelers, Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers have been lauded much the same as that New England juggernaut. Now, I’m not saying that a Steelers victory would be anywhere near the magnitude of the upset the Giants pulled off, but when a team is talked up as the next great thing for two weeks, that’s when strange things happen.
imageWhen Green Bay went into Atlanta and destroyed the Falcons, people assumed that was the beginning of a great playoff run for the Packers. One game seemed to vault the Packers from, “banged up team with a good quarterback” to “unstoppable force who will win it all.” People seem to forget that three of Green Bay’s losses came against non-playoff teams while the Steelers lost their four games to teams that all made the tournament. Throw out one bad game against the Pats and Pittsburgh lost its three games by a combined 18 points to New Orleans, the Jets, and Baltimore (without Big Ben). Two things that set apart championship teams are the ability to beat teams they should and winning close games. Pittsburgh went 8-3 in games decided by single digits while the Packers were only able to pull a 6-6 record in those contests. If Michael Vick throws a little better ball in the 4th quarter of the divisional round, we may be looking at an all Pennsylvania Super Bowl.
I’m obviously a little biased, as I have seen ¾ of Pittsburgh’s games, but I know that this is a team that can win games no matter the situation. Having a quarterback of Roethlisberger’s size and abilities means that they are never out of the game, while the defense has been its usual suffocating self. I think that on Sunday Ben will be able to move around much like he did against the Ravens and Jets and make some big plays. After hearing how great the Packers are for 2 weeks, the Steelers defense will come out fired up to show why they led the league in scoring defense. I predict the first half will be a little sloppy offensively but the fourth quarter will match the intensity and entertainment of Super Bowl XLIII between the Steelers and Cardinals. I believe the difference in the game will be the experience of the Steelers and Rodgers will make one more mistake than Roethlisberger.
Steelers: 24 Packers: 20
MVP: Ben Roethlisberger

Brett Andersen
What are the odds that within a one-month period, the two football teams I despise most in this world would compete for the championship in their respective leagues?
Last month, the ugly and fowl (ha!) Oregon Ducks competed in the BCS National Championship, fortunately losing to the Auburn Tigers. Now, the NFL team who I hate most is competing in the Super Bowl versus the Green Bay Packers.
However, as opposed to last month when I predicted the Auburn Tigers to satisfy me by dispatching the hated Ducks, I have my life savings of $23.04 and whatever spare change is under the front seat in my car on the Pittsburgh Steelers winning this edition of the Super Bowl.
As much as it pains me to predict them to win, it came to me as the most logical conclusion. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, head coach Mike Tomlin included, simply have the experience to take care of business and take home their third ring in the past six seasons.

The Steelers defense is their strong suit, led by Defensive Player of the Year, safety Troy Polamalu. He teams up with Ike Taylor and Ryan Clark to form an above-average secondary, but the meat of Pittsburgh comes from their front seven. Linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley are certainly going to be a burden on the Green Bay offensive line and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The pivotal matchup in my mind is that front seven for Pittsburgh versus the offensive line and other blockers for the Packers. The running backs and fullback for Green Bay will be called upon to protect Rodgers when he sends three or four wide receivers out for a pass.
Whoever has the greater push in this matchup will give their team a chance to win. If the Packers can give Rodgers time to pass, I think he has the ability to take advantage of a Steelers secondary that isn’t terrible full of depth. Rodgers is quickly becoming an elite quarterback, ready to join the realms of the Manning/Brady/etc. in due time. But if the Steelers can knock Rodgers down and get to him, it’ll take a toll on him and Pittsburgh will be in great shape to put yet another ring on.
The football gods already did me one favor this year by not letting Oregon win the BCS National Championship, so I feel as though they won’t give me one more opportunity to see the despised Steelers falter.
Not that they’ll need any help though, they have this one in the bag. Steelers 23, Packers 20.
Matt Ream
For those of you who know me, I only really care about one sport. Soccer. Of course I will watch many other sports if soccer is not available on TV, which, let’s be honest, historically has not gotten a whole lot of airtime. Today I even watched unranked Baylor defeat number sixteen, Texas A&M in overtime. That was an exciting game.
But I digress. This piece is supposed to be about who will win Super Bowl XXXXXVVVIIII*&^$*&^ between the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburg Steelers. So without further ado, here is my pre-game analysis.
This game features two in form quarterbacks in Aaron Rogers and Ben “The Rapist” Roethlisberger. Both teams have standout defensive players in Clay “Thor” Matthews III and Troy “Head & Shoulders” Polamalu. But this game will come down to more than just those players will. It will come down to the cheerleaders.
“But wait,” you say, “Neither team has a cheerleading squad!” That’s true. It’s really cold in Green Bay and while it is also cold in Pittsburg, the simple fact is that the Steelers just couldn’t put their trust in Big Ben to perform well while surrounded by scantily clad women. The liability is just too much.
That being said, since this version of “the big game” is in Dallas, I’d expect to see a plethora of fake-breasted Texan women at the game. So, what it really comes down to is whether the ladies’ man himself can ignore those tantalizing images and concentrate on winning his team another title.
My prediction? Roethlisberger goes AWOL and starts running amok through the crowd grabbing boobs while Rogers kicks some ass. Green Bay 5, Pittsburg 3 ½.
Russell Jordan
To be honest I hope both teams lose the Super Bowl. I hate both teams with a passion. The Steelers are hated among Cowboys nation because of their battles in the seventies that were mostly won by the Steelers, the lesser team if you will. The Packers are mortal enemies of the Cowboys for multiple reasons.
1. The Ice Bowl: The Packers faced the Cowboys in the 1967 NFL Championship game. The weather was terribly cold and ice covered the field, thus giving it the name “The Ice Bowl.” The Packers ended up winning a hard fought battle 21-17, probably because the referees fixed the game or something.
2. The “Lombardi” Trophy. Look, everyone knows Vince Lombardi was a great coach, and an even better motivator. But was he a better coach than Tom Landry? Not. Even. Close. Lombardi had great players, he was known for running the same 12 plays, and his players were so good no one could stop them. Does that make him a good coach? No, it makes him a guy who knows how to call 12 plays. Tom Landry coached 20 consecutive winning seasons, a record that will never be broken, won two Super Bowls and, commanded respect from his players. The man in the fedora was an icon a legend. Lombardi was a loud-mouthed alcoholic that knew his team couldn’t be stopped.
3. Packers fans. Talk about delusional, these guys take the cake. First off, they think NFL Championships count for something; well I got news: THEY DON’T. I don’t care that your team won it all when there were 12 teams in the league and no playoffs, that’s like bragging about how good your tee ball team was in grade school. Then Brett Favre was the best QB ever, one shaky offseason and he’s turned on by a bunch of ungrateful spoiled brats. Now Clay Matthews is the best LB in football… not according to DeMarcus Ware. Who knows where it will go next, I’m sure somewhere there’s a Packers fan saying Mike McCarthy is the best coach in NFL history, actually he’s probably saying second best to Lombardi.
Ok so if it isn’t obvious, I hate the Packers, but I can’t deny they are by far the best team in the NFC this year. That offense is amazing and they have the best (and most underrated) receiving corps in football. Rodgers is a good QB, not ready to jump on the bandwagon yet though, most of his throws are simple and easy to make, and he doesn’t quite command the offense yet like a Brett Favre once did for the cheese heads. The Packers D is great, best secondary in football, but their LB and DL core seem to struggle in anything other than blitz scenarios.
The Steelers are the veterans. Big Ben commands his offense and they have a great mix of veterans and young guys. The Steelers D is the best overall in the NFL, veterans everywhere that have the ability of third year players; it’s scary what this D can do.
This is a tough game to predict, but I’m going to go with the team that’s been there before. I think the Packers can win it all, just not this year; they don’t have the experience. Going to be close though. Steelers take it late.
Final Score:
In other must watch football on Sunday, Fernando Torres will be making his debut for Chelsea against his former club Liverpool. This is MUST SEE TV PEOPLE. Bad feelings between players and fans, gonna be an all-out brawl.
I like Chelsea 2-1 (Torres with the winner)
Will Robinson
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, this is it. This is the ultimate moment of the 2010-11 National Football League season. Two of the premier, classiest, more storied franchised in the league’s history meet for the first time in any incarnation of the league’s championship game. Despite the week in Dallas being disrupted by the poor weather, this game has all the makings of a classic. One thing that does concern me is that so many people say it will be a great game that would make a letdown hurt more. I personally forget all of that, and I am stoked for what may be the last game in a long while, if the owners and the players union cannot work a deal out.
As I had previewed earlier this week (Packers and Steelers), both teams have a great passing attack fronted by elite quarterbacks who will likely decide the game with their play. Each of the teams have great receivers (Jennings and Mike Wallace, leading the way) and over-performing offensive lines; yet, the Steelers have a distinct advantage in the run game with Rashard Mendenhall, Mewelde Moore, and Isaac Redman. Both defenses are very good and feature their own various playmakers.p1_woodson
With all that being said, I am extremely troubled about this game prediction. I chose the Packers in the beginning of the year to make it to Dallas and defeat New England. They didn’t quite take the route I was expecting, and obviously, they aren’t playing New England. Rodgers has been playing lights out, but he has not really encountered a defense this post season with this many playmakers and aggressive blitzers. I would much rather have Roethlisberger in this game, as he has the big game experience, but I will be sticking with my pre-season pick. Green Bay will win 24-20.

  1. >hahaha Brent 7 months ago you neither wrote for TSL nor had a salary.-Evan

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