This should turn out to be a great game. Both of these teams have a great tradition in the NFL (though I noticed that every newly-hired coach compliments his new franchise’s tradition, these two teams actually have it). Not only that, but they’re about as complete as you can have two teams in today’s NFL. I’m looking forward to Sunday’s game, but have an idea which team is going to win.
Both teams have built their teams through the draft, and it’s usually easier to pull for a team that doesn’t have new players from free agency all season long. This of course is the aim of the Bills, and with a high draft pick, they will have no excuse to not start turning this franchise around. If you want a blueprint of how to do this, take a look at these two teams. Great quarterbacks + great defenses = Super Bowl appearances.
The Packers come in as favorites, -2.5 in the game tomorrow. They beat probably their toughest playoff opponent in the Eagles in the Wild Card round, followed by wins in Atlanta and Chicago to end up in Dallas. Aaron Rodgers has had unbelievable postseason numbers and is throwing his name in the hat for best QB in the league. With Manning and Brady at least starting the downsides of their careers, it is impossible to ignore that Rodgers isn’t at least knocking on the door. Dom Capers has a proven track record as being a great defensive coordinator, and has built the backbone of this team with a great pass rush and a quality secondary (I wonder how their pass rush would look with Aaron Maybin as opposed to Clay Matthews?).
The Steelers were the #2 seed in the tougher AFC and were able to earn a first round bye without their franchise QB playing the first four weeks of the season. They also lost Santonio Holmes this offseason, but did not miss a beat with Mike Wallace stepping in for him (another Pittsburgh draftee). Their defense has been outstanding once again. They’re physical, they pressure the QB, and they have an all-time great rushing defense. With Troy Polamalu in the game, this defense is probably the toughest in the NFL. They were able to beat two physical teams in the Ravens and Jets to get to this point.
I was actually surprised when the Packers were favored to win this game, as they were the six seed in the weaker NFC. However, they have been able to overcome a lot of injuries and didn’t lose any games by double digits the entire season. That being said, the Packers defense is very good, and Pittsburgh’s might be great. While I think Rodgers is the better passer, the Packers will be one-dimensional against Pittsburgh and then you’ll see Pittsburgh’s fierce pass rush. As always, a big play one way or another could swing such a closely contested game, but I think that Pittsburgh will be able to maintain some balance and end up being too much for the Packers (who I will actually be rooting for).
Since I am 8-2 in predicting winners (7-3 against the spread), I’m feeling pretty confident in my upset pick. I like the Steelers to beat Green Bay tomorrow, 20-17.