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Super Bowl XLV: Early Thoughts

The free B.J. Raji piggy back rides will be the most popular attraction at media day for those under 48 inches like LupicaWe’ve got 13 days until the Super Bowl is played, and every possible story, from the long snapper’s narcolepsy (which I’m assuming will be revealed in 8 days) to Ben Roethlisberger finding the love of his life will be covered. I’m still formulating my thoughts on the game, and I’m a bit of a procrastinator, truth be told. Official pick will come twenty articles later.

Right now, I’m basking in the glow of being the Ben Roethlisberger of sports picks, turning in a solid but unspectacular regular season (44-34-2 on top picks), and elevating to 8-2 against the spread in the playoffs. Sometimes, I even get credit when I made the right pick for the wrong reason, like when I picked Pittsburgh because their pass offense was better. Obviously, I’m a gamer. For now, I’ll start Super Bowl week with some random thoughts.

These teams are pretty even at first glance. The point differentials are similar. They finished #1 and #2 in scoring defense, operate out of base 3-4 defenses, and have plenty of playmakers on defense. They both have deep receiving groups, and quarterbacks that can hurt you by moving outside the pocket. I give a slight edge to the Packers on offensive line play.

Can Packers duplicate the Patriots game plan? No team has frustrated the Steelers’ defense more than the Belichick Patriots. They do it by spreading the field and utilizing Tom Brady’s short passing accuracy and quick release. The Packers have the personnel (Jennings, Driver, Jones, Nelson and Quarless) to spread it out, and the quarterback to handle the game plan. They also should realize they are not going to run effectively against the Steelers top rush defense if they just line up and go at it.

Big Game Experience doesn’t really matter. Teams that have played in a recent Super Bowl (last four years) against an opponent making its first appearance in a while are only 4-9 against the spread, though in most of those, the “experienced” team, like the Steelers are this time around, was favored.

Fan Bases will be discussed-ad nauseum. Get ready for lots of discussion that these are the two best fan bases in the NFL. If they mean they have the largest following outside their home territory, I probably agree. But I’m not going to say the fans themselves are any better than other teams. The Packers were the team of the ’60’s and many people became fans around the country during that time. The Steelers were the laughingstock of the NFL before the merger, but were the team of the ’70’s. I knew Steelers fans growing up in Kansas City because of this, and had friends in college who were Packers fans and never grew up in Wisconsin. When you are good, you get fans, and these two franchises happened to be very good at a time when the league’s popularity was exploding.

Which attention whore will try to interject themselves the most over the next two weeks? Brett Favre will be sending random texts to Ed Werder throughout the next two weeks, and you’ll be sure to see it on the ESPN ticker. First, we will find out he forgot to make copies of his retirement paper work, and has asked the league to send the originals back, fueling a one hour segment on ESPN. Then, he will talk about how he always saw this in Rodgers and was glad to have mentored him. Later, he will return the retirement paperwork without the signature page, triggering another ESPN segment. To counter, Bill Parcells will reveal that he was involved in recommending an unknown Aaron Rodgers to the Packers organization while coaching the Cowboys.

Jerry World. No team has played a Super Bowl in its home stadium, though San Francisco (1984) and Los Angeles (1979) played in their home region. The team from the same conference as the hosting team for the Super Bowl is 23-15. That said, neither of these teams has ever played in the two year old palace, so there is no likely advantage for either team playing in a new stadium.

Defense Wins Championships (TM). Be on the lookout for this phrase over the next two weeks. It might be mentioned, as the media scrubs last year’s Super Bowl from their memory, and ignores the passing game for both these offenses. I’ll probably take a closer look at where the Super Bowl participants have ranked in various categories over the years.

[photo via Getty]

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