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Monday, May 21, 2018

Super Bowl 45 Expert Picks – Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers

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We’re only two days away from gametime, and predicting the outcome of the contest is no less easier. Those of you waiting for a controversy to emerge in order to help the decision ended up disappointed; this desperate attempt for a story was all we got.

The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly seem to be goofing around much more than the Green Bay Packers. Are they comfortable because they’ve been there before — three times since 2006? Or are they overconfident because they won their last two Super Bowls? I’m not sure, but I’m not getting a good vibe from Pittsburgh.

Doc Brown’s Pick: The Doc was initially leaning towards the Steelers, figuring that between Ben Roethlisberger’s gritty style of play and their defense’s ability to make game-changing plays, they’d win. Plus, they just always seem to get the necessary calls, or make the necessary plays to win the game. And most importantly, I cannot stand the Steelers, and they seem to win just to spite me.

But you know what? After wrestling with this pick and giving myself the whole week, Doc is going with the Packers. That’s right, the 10-6 Packers who seem to be playing their best ball at the right time of year. Their offense is clicking, their defense is healthy, and they have handled the hype of the Super Bowl perfectly.

Last week Doc explained he felt the stars of each defense — Clay Matthews and Troy Polamalu — could be neutralized. Ben Roethlisberger is rugged and tough, so even the constant pressure from Matthews won’t phase him. Polamalu, who’s so fantastic at making big hits, tackles for losses, and interceptions, will be back in coverage with the Packers throwing all day.

Looking at Pittsburgh’s losses this season, New England and New Orleans both threw consistently against them and won, while the Pats creamed them. Doc has not been convinced the Steelers were the best team in the AFC; the Patriots were, but they stumbled against their nemesis the Jets. Had the Pats been alive, they would have beaten Pittsburgh. Green Bay has a similar offense and they’ll spread the field the same way New England did. Aaron Rodgers will have his choice of targets and he’ll need to be at his best Sunday. We saw what he did against the Falcons and Eagles, and Doc saw his incredible game against USC when he was with Cal. He can bring his best, but the difference is now he’ll be surrounded by teammates who can match his talent. Green Bay’s defense is every bit as good as Pittsburgh’s, while their offense is better. The Packers are the better team, and they’ll be at their best Sunday to bring home their 4th Super Bowl in franchise history. Packers 21 Steelers 20

Del’s Pick: If you’re a loyal LBS reader, you know who Del is picking to win in Dallas on Sunday — the same team he picked to win it all when the season was barely underway.  On paper, I feel that this is one of the most evenly-matched Super Bowls we’ve had in a long time.  Anything can happen on Super Bowl Sunday, but it’s been a while since we’ve had a Super Bowl with less of a clear-cut favorite.

Both the Packers and Steelers have tremendous defenses.  Pittsburgh is the best in the game at stuffing the run, but Green Bay loves to throw it.  The Packers secondary has been phenomenal all year and seems to make huge plays that can put a game away.  Remember the pick-six as the first half expired in Atlanta?  That paved the way for a blowout victory in one of the toughest road environments in the NFL.

I hate to be cliche and make the game be about the quarterbacks, but that couldn’t be more true in this game.  Both Roethlisberger and Rodgers are big, physical quarterbacks who like to get outside the pocket and make plays.  Rodgers is a superior passer, but Big Ben obviously has the experience having been to the big game twice already in his young career.  If Maurkice Pouncey is unable to go, that could come into play in effecting Roethlisberger psychologically more than anything.

The bottom line: both defenses are stingy but the Steelers have struggled against the pass at times this year.  You won’t find a better passing attack than that led by Aaron Rodgers.  Pittsburgh does most of its damage by stuffing the run and getting pressure on the quarterback.  The Packers will look to throw early and often, and Rodgers will be tough to pressure since he’s insanely accurate throwing on the run.  Naturally, Del is picking it and sticking it. Packers 24 Steelers 17

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