Pittsburgh Steelers (14-4 SU, 12-7 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (13-6
SU, 12-7 ATS), NFL Super Bowl 45, 6:25 p.m. EST, Sunday, February 6,
2011, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas, TV: FOX
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Pit +2.5/GB -2.5
Over/Under Total: 45
The National Football League and the Fox Network couldnt have
written a better script for Super Bowl XLV, when the Green Bay
Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers go to battle for the Lombardi Trophy
in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington Sunday, February 6th.
Two legendary and storied franchises, two rabid and loyal fan bases,
two top-notch young head coaches, two spectacular defenses and two of
the games most exciting young quarterbacks are all set to clash in
the leagues newest and biggest billion-dollar venue in front of up
to 100,000 fans for the NFLs top prize the Super Bowl just doesnt
get much better than this.
The Pack earned a chance to bring its fourth Lombardi Trophy back to
Titletown with a hard-fought, 21-14, victory over the rival Chicago
Bears in the NFC Championship game last Sunday. With all of the hype
surrounding the two rivals playing for the NFC title, the game itself
didnt quite live up to expectations as Packers quarterback Aaron
Rodgers struggled against the Bears defense and the Bears offense
couldnt muster up much of anything until the last five minutes of
the game behind third-string QB Caleb Hanie.
Pittsburgh earned a shot at a record seventh NFL title with a, 24-19,
victory over the New York Jets in the AFC Championship game Sunday in
a game that played out as two completely different halves of
football. The Steelers owned the first half, jumping out to a 24-0
lead, then held on for dear life in the second half as the Jets came
back to threaten the game in the closing minutes.
The two victories in the Championship round set up an instant classic
to conclude the NFLs 2010-2011 season, since both teams are so
similar its like they will be playing themselves for the Super Bowl
The Las Vegas Sports Consultants were the first to open up the
betting odds on Super Bowl 45, setting the point spread with the
Packers as slim 1.5-point favorites. Nobody took their advice though,
as most of the sportsbooks in Las Vegas opened the game with Green
Bay as 2.5-point favorites, and there are already several offshore
sportsbooks listing the number at 3-points, so theres already plenty
of money coming in on the public-heavy Packers.
The over/under total opened at 45 late Sunday night and has held firm
for the most part, although you can find a few 45.5s listed on the
board at a few sportsbooks where the book managers have moved the
total up the hook to take the push outcome out of play.
What is going to make the Super Bowl so interesting, from an
offensive standpoint, is the fact that these two teams run exactly
the same defense scheme.
Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers learned the fire-zone scheme during
the 1992 through 1994 seasons when he spent time on the Steelers
staff with Dick LeBeau and Bill Cowher. But even though the two teams
use the same scheme and same philosophies, the difference in
personnel make each unit a little bit different as far as strengths
and weaknesses are concerned.
Pittsburgh would like to try and run the ball with Rashard Mendenhall
as much as possible, getting as close to the 43 carries and 166 yards
they were able to pile up on the Jets in the Championship game to
take pressure off of Ben Roethlisberger. The Packers are a little
more vulnerable against the run (18th at the end of the season), but
they did hold the Bears to just 83 yards (3.4 ypc) in the NFC title
game and they are healthy and deep along the defensive front to
withstand the pounding with Cullen Jenkins back to team up with B.J.
Raji and Ryan Pickett.
The question the Steelers will find out quickly is whether or not
they are healthy enough along the offensive line to keep pounding
away all game. All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey left the Jets game
with a high-ankle sprain, and he vows to be ready for the game in two
weeks, but if hes unable to go backup Doug Legursky would be the
third backup lineman in the Steelers offense front already this
season (both starting tackles Max Starks and Willie Colon are on IR).
GB has found a running game in the past few weeks with rookie
James Starks (22 carries, 74 yards, TD vs. Bears), but the Steelers
defense has been the top run-stuffing unit in the league the last
decade it seems, so it would appear unlikely (and downright stupid)
to try and pound away at an immoveable object that held the heralded
Jets running game to just 70 yards last week (3.18 ypc).
What is more likely is that the Packers will utilize their deep and
talented receiver crew to stretch the field in 4- and 5-receiver sets
and pick apart the Steelers secondary at the seams. A lot will be
made of the fact that Rodgers and the Packers receivers play better
in the controlled conditions of the indoor stadium (Cowboys Stadium
is a retractable roof), and that the Steelers cornerback team of Ike
Taylor, Bryant McFadden and William Gay have had their issues in
coverage in the past.
A passing free-for-all is what these teams played in their last clash, a late-December matchup last season that the Steelers won,
37-36, in the closing seconds. With only 31 running plays in the
entire game, Roethlisberger outdueled Rodgers with 503 yards passing
and three scores (on 29-of-46 passing) to Rodgers 383 yards and
three scores (on 26-of-48 passing) in the shootout. The narrow defeat
allowed the Packers to cover the point spread as 2.5-point underdogs
in last years game, in a game that way over the closing total of
41.5, but with such a small sample size (Packers and Steelers have
played only five times in the past two decades) its hard to develop
any trends worth following.
With a lack of strong head-to-head betting trends to follow, there
are a few in general trends worth noting on this matchup.
Pittsburgh is a rock-solid 9-1 ATS in their last 10 playoff games
overall, including a 4-1 ATS mark when they are the listed underdogs
in the game. Meanwhile, Green Bay is just 2-5 ATS in their last seven
playoff games when listed as the favorite on the board.
The over wager may turn into the best bet on the board on Super
Sunday, since the Steelers have gone over the total in 16 of their
last 21 playoff games including a 5-1 mark when they are dogs. The
Packers have only gone over the total in two of their last seven
games on fieldturf, but they did put up 48 in the Georgia Dome three
weeks ago and could be poised for another huge scoring game
especially if Rodgers has to throw the ball to win.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The wagering value in this year’s “big game” isn’t with the Packers or Steelers. It’s with the UNDER 45. I fully expect this game to go under 38 points. Bet the total to go UNDER 45!