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Steelers-Packers Super Bowl Preview

It all comes down to this. Let’s get it on!

Packers On Offense – Aaron Rodgers has the hot hand, but he’s a gunslinger, like Ben. In other words, the Packers offense does not play the dink and dunk game that teams like the Pats do. That could be huge in this game. The Packers will attempt to run the ball. This is the Super Bowl, Rodgers has never experienced this and the Packers will not (at least initially) put all the pressure on him to move the offense. I could be wrong but look for the Packers to at least attempt to run it in the 1st half.

Matchups and Keys to Watch –

– Look for Ike Taylor to match up a good bit on WR Greg Jennings. He’s the go to guy for Rodgers. And if that’s the case don’t be surprised to see just a couple catches by Jennings. Taylor has to give an A+ effort in this one, though. And please, no stupid crap, Taylor!

– In some ways, Jordy Nelson is the biggest concern in the passing game for the Steelers. Who’s going to cover him? Look for him to run some seam routes and over the middle routes similar to a TE but with more agility.

– There’s been much talk about Anthony Madison playing a good bit in the dime at the expense of Lawrence Timmons being off the field. Why do this? Yes, the Packers do run true 4 wide sets but that’s still no reason to take off one of the best players for one of the worst defensive players on the team. Hopefully the dime will be kept at a minimum in this game. One reason for this is Rodgers ability to get out of the pocket and run for chunks of yards. Without Timmons in the game it hurts the Steelers ability to stop that.

– What kind of gameplan does Lebeau have in mind for this game? This will be HUGE.  This is the game to unload every single thing in the arsenal. Different looks should be the norm and pressure is the key. It all comes down to pressure. The Steelers secondary will not be able to cover every man for very long so mixing up the blitzes and big time performances from the front 7 will be gigantic in this game.

– Rodgers likes to throw passes without a lot of arc at times. The D-line should watch out for that at all times and look to bat down the ball if possible. Kiesel, in particular, has been great at doing that this season. The D-line will also have to have a great game in eliminating running lanes with the Packers in a lot of spread formations. Look for the continual evolution of Ziggy Hood.

– DB’s, do not bite on the PA!!! That cannot be stressed enough. Packers bread and butter is the passing game, no need to bite on that junk.

– The Steelers will have their hands full against the Packers offense. Fundamentals and playing smart will obviously be key. But I think it ultimately comes down to what kind of gameplan Lebeau implements in this game and how successful the defense is at confusing and getting pressure on Rodgers.

Steelers On Offense – What exactly will the Steelers offense do in this game? Running the ball is to be expected against a Packers defense ranked just 18th against the run. But how much is the question. Rookie sensation Maurkice Pouncey is out but Legursky should do at least a decent job in his place. With Clay Matthews pass rushing, Legursky starting at center and a formidable secondary Arians and Tomlin will probably start things off on the conservative side but a nice mix (come on Arians, you can do it!) will be key if that is the initial approach.

Matchups and Keys to Watch –

– How hard Mendenhall runs (and the O-line run blocks) in this game is actually one of the big keys for the game as far as I’m concerned. If Mendenhall can get some nice chunks of yards it will force the Packers defense to honor the run, which should open up the passing game. It’s a tricky proposition as the Steelers run game has not been consistent this year but was impressive two weeks ago where Mendenhall had arguably the game of his career. He needs to play like that again.

– How about the short passing game? With Matthews and a 3-4 blitzing defense going after Ben, the Steelers should focus a good bit on an area that the offense normally doesn’t focus on which is the short passing game. If the Steelers continually go for the deep ball, it could lead to potential turnovers or drive killing sacks. Throwing it deep should obviously be attempted with Wallace at WR, but mixing it up with shorter passes should be the norm.

– How will the rookie WR’s play? The Super Bowl tends to bring out the nerves. No doubt these youngsters will be nervous to start the game, but they will need to stay focused on the task at hand. They could be huge, as they have been in the earlier playoff games. They will need to come through when their number is called.

– In 2009’s Packer matchup, Heath Miller had a monster game. He could be huge again. Look for the Steelers to target him a good bit. If not, that’s a big mistake. He should be spending a good bit out in passing routes and not stuck in a sidecar next to Ben in this game.

– Remember that interception Ben threw against the Jets where the ball deflected off Mendenhall because he had stumbled? DO IT AGAIN. Hopefully the Steelers have been practicing some screen plays this week because the Packers defense could be exploited by using it. The Packers will be focused on the WR’s and getting pressure on Ben in this game. A perfectly timed screen play against a Packers blitz could go for huge yards.

– Arians actually called one of his better games as OC for the Steelers in the 2009 game against the Packers. He called a great mix of plays, short passes, long passes, passes to RB’s (!!!). Call an identical game, Bruce. Do it.

– Special teams seem to always be a concern with this Steelers team, but fortunately the Packers ST’s might be even worse. Hopefully it’ll be a wash. Brown will be given some opportunities. Make the most of them, rookie!

– This game is a heart attack waiting to happen. Don’t be surprised if it comes down to a last minute drive. Hopefully the Steelers have what it takes. Tomlin get the boys ready. Ben, Mendy, rookie WR’s, Ward, Wallace, Legursky, Troy, Gay, Clark, Harrison, Woodley let’s have a hell of a game!!!! Here we go Steelers!

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