FELDY: So we're still 90 minutes from kickoff of the biggest NFL game of the year (and, maybe the last NFL game we see for some time, depending upon whether NFL owners or the NFLPA are pacified first), which means there's still time to make a prediction. I know you've all (or one of you, at least) have awaited this, so here we go.
I'm convinced Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel's beard holds the key to this Super Bowl. (It has its own Facebook page, for crying out loud).
Kreisel's beard is so long and scraggly that there are some Steelers interns from 2008 still stuck in there somewhere. It's probably pretty smelly, too, which could significantly throw off the timing and concentration of Packers rookie tackle Bryan Bulaga, who is no relation to one of these. Then again, Bulaga has had two weeks to prepare for The Beard, so I'm guessing he'll find a way to use it as leverage, you know, pull Kreisel around by the beard, somehow hiding it from the officials.
When it comes to predicting an outcome — hey, wait a minute. Aaron Rodgers is now on the Super Bowl pregame show doing an interview wearing a purple sweatshirt. Does his taunting of Vikings fans never end? When it comes to predicting an outcome, let's look at pros and cons for each team.
Pros: 1. The Steelers front seven is extremely difficult to run against. This might actually work in Green Bay's favor because it obviously excels at the passing game. But, when it comes to those third-and-short situations, I'd put my money on the Steelers. That's if I was a betting man. I'm not; can't afford it.
2. The Steelers are outstanding in big games. They're 9-1 in the playoffs since 2005, with two Super Bowl wins (though, we could argue they beat two not-so-great teams in those Super Bowls, Seattle and Arizona).
Cons: 1. This guy is starting at center. BJ Raji might eat him for a supper. Literally.
2. Pittsburgh hasn't been great against the league's best QBs (no, Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez don't qualify as among the league's best QBs).
Pros: 1. The Packers don't need to run. Their quick-passing offense is going to be tough for Pittsburgh to defend. If I was making Green Bay's game plan (and there are so many good reasons I'm not), I'd go with some two-tight end, two-back sets and see if I could get Greg Jennings matched up one-on-one against Ike Taylor. I'll take Jennings' speed and ability to separate himself from DBs every time if he's one-on-one.
2. As I said before the NFC title game, Green Bay is a team that seems built to win indoors on a fast track, with a quick-hitting passing game and some speed guys on defense. The roof at Jerry Jones' Palace is closed. That's to Green Bay's advantage.
Cons: 1. The Packers' defense can be run on by teams that have patience in the run game. Green Bay can negate this one by getting out to a quick start.
2. Does Green Bay's D have the ability to keep Roethlisberger from scrambling? Big Ben threw for 504 yards when the Steelers beat the Packers in a regular season game last year. The Steelers offense is set up well to suit Roethlisberger's improvisational abilities.
So, what does this all lead to? I've flip-flopped every hour this week on which team I'd pick, so I'm going back to my initial gut feeling, as much as it pains me to say it: Packers 27, Steelers 17. Super Bowl MVP? I'm going away from the obvious here (Rodgers, Jennings) and I'll go with Clay Matthews, though I think BJ Raji could have a monster game, too.