1 Defense wins titles, but which one is better?
These might be the two best defenses to ever meet in the Super Bowl. Green Bay finished the season No. 5 in yardage allowed. And their 15 points allowed per game was second-best in the league, behind … you guessed it, the Steelers (14.5). Under defensive genius Dick LeBeau, the Steelers (No. 2, yards) own the fifth-best run defense, at 3.01 yards per attempt, ever.
2 Time to don the cape, lose the shadow.
The Packers talk about bringing Brett Favre back into the fold one day, but Aaron Rodgers has a chance to make that a moot point.
For all the accolades Favre receives from the media, he left Green Bay with just one ring and it took him five years as the starter to get it. With a win Sunday, Rodgers can do it in three — and finally end the Brett Favre Era in Green Bay — if it wasn’t already ended.
3 Coaching ain’t easy.
Two polar opposites will be patrolling the sidelines.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who also calls the offensive plays, is new at this whole Super Bowl thing. Yes, he is one of the smartest minds in the NFL, but can he manage the game for 60 minutes, with the circus in town?
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin is a master of game management. His call on third-and-6 against the Jets showed why he’s only lost one postseason game (2007, his rookie year).
LB James Harrison vs. LT Chad Clifton
Who wins: Harrison
Why: “Big Cliff” made Osi Umenyiora disappear in Dec., but Harrison is a different beast. He’s too physical and too dominating.
C Doug Legursky vs. DT B.J. Raji
Who wins: Raji
Why: Even if Maurkice Pouncey starts, he’ll be hobbled. Raji is a space-eater, who is also quick enough to stop the run and get after the quarterback.
CB Bryant McFadden vs. WR Greg Jennings
Who wins: Jennings
Why: Dream matchup for the Packers. McFadden is prone to jumping routes — if he times it wrong, he won’t be able to catch up.
SS Troy Polamalu vs. QB Aaron Rodgers
Who wins: Pick ’em
Why: Dick LeBeau will let the Defensive Player of the Year freelance. It’ll be up to Rodgers to diagnose it and change the play. Game’s biggest wild-card factor.
LB LaMarr Woodley vs. RT Bryan Bulaga
Who wins: Woodley
Why: Depending on how badly Clifton is doing vs. Harrison, Bulaga could get help. The rookie allowed eight sacks this season and struggles vs. the bull rush. In other words, Woodley is licking his chops.