This is one of the tightest Super Bowl matchups in history, evidenced by the tight betting line that has the Packers favored by 2.5 points. If that line holds true, it will be the fourth-closest line in history and the tightest since Super Bowl XLV.
The Packers and Steelers appear to be very evenly matched, which decreases their margin for error and should make for a great game.
While both teams are similar, the Packers should have the advantage due to a superior offense. The Steelers have a slight edge among the two defenses, but the Packers’ unit is merely a tick behind and has only surrendered 14.2 points per game during their five-game winning streak.
The Packers’ priority has to be containing the Steelers’ outside linebackers — James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley — who are relentless pass rushers. If Packers tackles Chad Clifton and Bryan Bulaga can handle the pair by themselves, they’ll have an ability to spread out their elite corps of wide receivers and pick apart Pittsburgh’s zone defense, which is hampered by a pair of subpar cornerbacks.
Green Bay’s strength is in the vertical passing game — that will be aided by the turf and a domed stadium, by the way — and the Steelers struggle to defend the seams. Without any continuous pressure on quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Steelers won’t have a great shot to squash that aerial attack. With pressure, though, the Packers will have to reel in a tight end, which will take away a slot receiver, and things will get a lot trickier for Rodgers.
Green Bay has also struggled to run the ball through the majority of the season, but James Starks who missed nearly two full seasons of football, has emerged in the last month and has led the league in rushing throughout the playoffs. All the Packers need is the threat of a run because, quite frankly, no one runs on the Steelers anyway. The Packers’ chances hinge on their throwing game and defense, and that’s the bottom line.
Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, cornerback Tramon Williams, defensive lineman B.J. Raji and safety Nick Collins have led the Packers' stout defense, which has surrendered a meager 14.2 points per game during their clutch five-game winning streak. They’re well-rounded up front, and they get excellent play from their cornerbacks, who make their defensive scheme more dangerous than the Steelers' identical version.
When it comes down to it, these are two really good teams, but I think the Packers have the slight edge. They’ve essentially faced elimination for five consecutive games, and that's when they've been at their best. That’s why I’m taking Green Bay, 24-17.
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