Steelers pass offense vs. Packers pass defense
Each of these groups can do serious damage. The Steelers have cagey Hines Ward, sure-handed Heath Miller and three young speedsters. No quarterback is better at extending a play than Ben Roethlisberger. The Packers counter with an elite pass rusher, Clay Matthews, and two fantastic corners, Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams.
Steelers run offense vs. Packers run defense
The Packers have done a better job against the run in the postseason (3.5 yards per carry) than in the regular season (4.7). They will need to perform like that against the Steelers, who did a beautiful job of controlling the clock against the New York Jets with Rashard Mendenhall.
Packers pass offense vs. Steelers pass defense
Aaron Rodgers is scary-good, and the Steelers should be concerned. Green Bay goes five deep at receiver, and Pittsburgh does not have nearly the depth in its defensive backfield. The Steelers do have playmakers back there, however, and ferocious pass rushers in outside linebackers LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison.
Packers run offense vs. Steelers run defense
Pittsburgh was absurdly dominant against the run this season, giving up 62.8 yards a game. (Chicago was second at 90.1.) Even though rookie James Starks has done an admirable job in the postseason, the Packers are not likely to put much of a dent in that defensive front.
Both teams are decent in returns and coverage. The battle to watch is between the kickers, especially because these great defenses could force the offenses to settle for a lot of field-goal attempts. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham, right, has been hot lately, making 16 of 18 field-goal attempts since replacing Jeff Reed. Packers kicker Mason Crosby has made 24 of 31, including a 56-yarder. As well as Suisham has played, Crosby has consistently shown better range.
As a play caller, Green Bay's Mike McCarthy has been on an incredible roll. He is seeing the game and creating mismatches the way New Orleans' Sean Payton did a year ago. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers used to have the same job with the Steelers, so he is familiar with their philosophies and tendencies. The Steelers have a Super Bowl-winning coach in Mike Tomlin, a guy who held the team together when Roethlisberger was suspended for the first four games this season. On defense, the Steelers have a legend in Dick LeBeau, a mastermind who already is in the Hall of Fame. Tough to beat that.
As evenly matched as these teams are, this game will be decided by one or two plays and maybe a turnover. The Steelers get the edge based on experience. Whereas Rodgers picked up his first postseason victory this year, Roethlisberger already has two rings. As long as Roethlisberger doesn't hang on to the ball too long, and he avoids the big interception, the Steelers will win.
PICK: Steelers 28, Packers 24
Super Bowl XLV: How they match up
Who has the edge going into Sunday's game?
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