— After a day in frigid Dallas, it is time to get busy breaking down Green Bay and Pittsburgh. All contributions and comments are welcome.
These are just daily conversation starters. I have studied both championship games and last year's game between the Packers and Steelers that resulted in a 37-36 last-second win for Pittsburgh. We can only hope this Super Bowl is as good.
Hit the quarterback
The Steelers and Packers are probably the two most dangerous pass-rushing teams in the NFL. What makes that even more interesting is that with the exception of Mike Vick, we may have the two best quarterbacks at escaping pressure. In the game last year, Cullen Jenkins and Clay Matthews were unblockable at times. The Packers were a rare team that managed to get Roethlisberger on the ground. The flip side is that while Aaron Rogers didn't get sacked as much, he took some big hits from blitzes. The blitz that got home the most was the cross blitz by the two inside linebackers James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons.
Packers tackles have to be stars
The Packers depend on their tackles to win one-on-one battles with outside pass rushers. Bryan Bulaga and Chad Clifton against James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley may well decide this game. In the game last year, Clifton did a very good job against James Harrison pass blocking. Rookie Bulaga gets the spotlight in this one. If he can handle Woodley by himself, the Packers should win the game. Not many teams can get away with blocking those two guys with one person, but the Packers will try.
Packers won't blitz
Based on what I saw last year, I will be surprised if the Packers blitz much. Dom Capers was pretty conservative limiting his rush to three, four and five guys and keeping two safeties deep most of the game. Without question rushing four worked best. When they rushed three Roethlisberger had too much time and picked the Packers apart. When they rushed five, Ben escaped and hit big plays down the field. The four-man rush with Jenkins and Matthews almost won the game, but the Packers' secondary gave up too many big plays.
The Packers' secondary was not even close in 2009 to what it is today. Jarrett Bush had a tough time with Mike Wallace, but won't be a factor in this one. Sam Shields and Tramon Williams have made a huge difference with their speed and game experience this year. I will be surprised if the Steelers hit the big plays they hit a year ago.
Troy Polamalu factor
Polamalu did not play in last year's game, and the Packers hit many big plays down the field. We talk about it a lot, but Polamalu is the X factor that quarterbacks hate. He is never where he is supposed to be. He takes chances and Ryan Clark covers for him. They communicate pre-snap and Polamalu knows that he can play his hunches. Polamalu creates uncertainty in a quarterback's mind that is probably even greater for a first-time Super Bowl participant such as Aaron Rogers.
If the Packers use a spread formation, the Steelers know that Rogers will have no more than 2.5 seconds to throw the ball. That allows Polamalu to guess even more. You know Capers and Dick LeBeau have big surprises planned for this one, and Polamalu will be a huge part of it.