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Super Bowl XLV Predictions & Preview – Inside the Wheelhouse

Clay Matthews will get another shot at Ben Roethlisberger at Super Bowl XLVSuper Bowl 45
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers

I’ve said it all season long, defense wins Championships and the best defense is going to be Super Bowl Champions this Sunday.

This is a Super Bowl matchup that nobody saw coming. If you told me at the start of the season the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers would be in the Super Bowl I would not believe you. I’d believe that Green Bay would be in the Super Bowl but not the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh entered the season with Ben Roethlisberger serving a four game suspension. The season prior they failed to make the playoffs after another season of controversy involving their star quarterback. There were even rumors days leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft that the Steelers were looking to trade their two-time Super Bowl winning QB.

The Steelers appeared to be more of a sinking ship then a team that was on the verge of being a dynasty, like they are now, should they win Super Bowl 45. Three Super Bowls in six years clearly equals a dynasty to me should they win the Sunday.

People in Pittsburgh were even wondering if Mike Tomlin was going to be done in the Steel City should the Steelers miss the Playoffs again this season. Instead Tomlin will be on the sidelines in the Super Bowl, the seat that was once hot at the start of the season is now ice cold as his time in Pittsburgh appears to be locked for quite sometime.

Green Bay, while a popular pick at the start of the season to be a Super Bowl favorite, wasn’t quite the popular pick at the halfway point. They dealt with injuries all season long including one to their franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers and were not looking like the Super Bowl favorite people thought they would be. They were looking like a team that come January would be sitting at home while six other NFC teams would be playing for the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.

It would be thanks to the Philadelphia Eagles miraculous come back against the New York Giants in Week 15 that actually kept the Green Bay Packers as if New York won that game, the Packers season would be done. The Packers would win two straight elimination games in Week 16 (vs. New York Giants) and in Week 17 (vs. Chicago Bears) to go to the playoffs as the 6th seed.

It was in the playoffs where Green Bay looked like the team they were supposed to be at the start of the season as despite the 6th seed, they would go on the road against the top 3 NFC teams (Philadelphia, Atlanta & Chicago) and head to the Super Bowl. They now enter the Super Bowl as the favorite by the odds makers against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a #2 seed in the AFC playoffs.

Super Bowl 45 is everything that the NFL wanted as they are two of the most popular teams in the NFL, with some of the largest fan bases, on the grandest stage of them all. Come Super Bowl Sunday the Fox network is going to be licking their chops as the Super Bowl could very well eclipse the ratings records it set last year in Super Bowl 44.

The Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers are two even teams. As I write this, the spread is 2 1/2 points, it could literally be even as there truly is no stand out favorite for this year’s Super Bowl. With that being said, lets take a look at each on the offensive and defensive side of the ball for this Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The Quarterback position to me, is one sided when you look at Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers has proved to be the MVP of the Playoffs thus far, putting the Green Bay Packers on his back, when no one believed in them and taken them to the Super Bowl. Win, lose or draw, Rodgers has finally proved himself in Green Bay as the leader of that franchise. He is hoping to get completely out of the shadow of Brett Favre and win his first Super Bowl, a determined Aaron Rodgers can be a dangerous Aaron Rodgers for the Steelers defense.

Now Ben Roethlisberger is a Quarterback who is way underrated. For some reason Roethlisberger isn’t looked at like a Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. If he wins his 3rd Super Bowl this Sunday, you have to put him in that category. Roethlisberger is as clutch as they come in the playoffs, despite not having the most dominant statistics, he still finds a way to win and that’s all that matters.

Quarterback: Packers

While the Quarterback position shows in the favor of the Green Bay Packers, the running back position isn’t even close between the two teams. The Steelers are above and beyond dominant when it comes to the running back position between the two Super Bowl squads.

Rashard Mendenhall has become one of the best running backs in the NFL that you have never heard of. Mendenhall is not a household name (yet) and that’s a damn shame. Ask the New York Jets how dominant Mendenhall is as he took the Jets defense apart in the AFC Championship Game to be the offensive leader for the Steelers.

If Pittsburgh wins the Super Bowl this Sunday I guarantee that Mendenhall will become a huge name to draft in next season’s Fantasy Football leagues. Mendenhall is one of those players that I could see be named the Super Bowl MVP if the Steelers win in Dallas.

As for the Green Bay Packers, the running back core are not household names, even for Packers fans. You have the rookie James Starks, who has a chip on his shoulder after being an oversight on most teams draft boards in this years Draft and Brandon Jackson who has been the starter in Green Bay ever since Ryan Grant went down in Week 1. The Packers offense will only be as strong as their running backs will be this Sunday.

We have seen so far in the Playoffs that when the Packers running game is on their offense explodes. The running game for Green Bay was dominant in the games against Philadelphia and Atlanta while they struggled against the Bears. The game against the Bears proved to be the tightest game of these playoffs thanks to the running game never getting going, they will need the running game to get going against Pittsburgh if they want to win.

Running Backs: Steelers

When it comes to Wide Receivers the Green Bay Packers slightly have a better core then the Pittsburgh Steelers thanks to the person who is throwing the ball to them. Greg Jennings, like Rashard Mendenhall is a name that should be in every household in America but he’s not, right now. Jennings is the best Wide Receiver playing in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

Green Bay & Pittsburgh both have their veteran Wide Receivers as the Steelers have Hines Ward and Green Bay has Donald Driver. These two veterans can also prove to be the game changers as when your looking for players that could be Super Bowl MVPs, these two players should be at the top of your list. Hines Ward has the edge in this one as he has played on the grand stage two previous times while this will be Donald Driver’s first in his career.

Then you have the young talent wide receivers in Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson, James Jones and the Steelers Mike Wallace. These young talents are great wide receivers and someday will be slotted to be these two franchises #1 & #2 receivers. Out of the three of these young talents, it’s Mike Wallace who is the most talented but Green Bay who has the talent more spread out.

Wide Receivers: Packers

Finally it comes down to the Defenses. The reason why both of these teams are where they are. The phrase “defense wins championships” pertains to these two teams and the team with the most dominant of defenses will prove to be the Super Bowl Champion.

It is extremely hard to find areas of the defenses where these two teams have an edge. When you look at the defensive backs, both teams are even. When you look at the linebackers, they are both even. The only area where there appears to be any slight advantage lies in the defensive lines.

The Green Bay Packers Defensive line has a huge edge this Sunday when they go head-to-head with the Steelers offensive lines. The Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey is doubtful for Sunday’s Super Bowl with a high ankle sprain and a broken bone in his ankle. The Steelers will miss the Rookie Pro Bowler in the most important game of the year.

The Green Bay defense will be looking to take advantage of that huge hole in the Steelers offensive line this Sunday and it holds to be the only thing that separates these two defenses apart. If Green Bay can take apart the weakness on the Steelers offensive line, they will prove to be the better defense on Super Bowl Sunday.

It will ultimately come down to which defense causes the most mistakes, in which I feel Green Bay is the stronger defense of the two.

Defense: Green Bay

This will be a very close Super Bowl that will be limited to points on the scoreboard. Green Bay and Pittsburgh should have a Super Bowl for the ages as these two historic franchises look to create more history this Sunday.

I completely expect this game to be decided towards the final quarter of the game as there should be no clear cut winner for the most part. Look for a small point scoring game with one player changing the outcome with a moment that will live in the Super Bowl history forever. This game should be a great one and live up to the Super Bowl hype.

Prediction: Packers 17 Steelers 14

As always for more NFL coverage check out my sports podcast “The Wheelhouse”over at www.wheelhouseradio.com!

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse and at www.errorfm.com @ 2am ET/11pm PT

Jeff also co-hosts “The Still Real to us show” with Eric Gargiulo which can be available at www.wheelhouseradio.com and can be downloaded in the “Real Guy Radio” section of the site..”

If you would like to subscribe to “The Wheelhouse” on iTunes simply subscribe for free at iTunes by typing in “Wheelhouse Radio!”

You can follow “The Champ Jeff Peck” on Twitter at www.twitter.com/therealjeffpeck you can also follow Wheelhouse Radio on twitter at www.twitter.com/thewheelhouse and you can e-mail them @ [email protected].

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Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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