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Super Bowl XLV: Steelers, Packers Demand Respect

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Green Bay Packers fans hold up a Super Bowl sign after the Packers 21-14 victory against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Mike RCorrespondent IJanuary 25, 2011

As we close in on Super Bowl Sunday (still, inexplicably, nearly two weeks away), the analysts have already speculated heavily, weighing in on everything from the three phases of the game—offense, defense and special teams, to the off-the-field storylines—redemption for Big Ben.

One point that continues to be mentioned (deservedly so) is the fact that Pittsburgh is back for the third time in six years. Given the current state of the NFL (free agency), dynasties of the '70s (Steelers), '80s (49ers) and even '90 (Cowboys) seem to be a thing of the past.

Don't tell that to Mike Tomlin's crew in Pittsburgh—they're on track for the franchise's seventh Lombardi Trophy (second under Tomlin).

They beat the Baltimore Ravens (perennial defensive stalwarts) and the favorite by a lot of prognosticators in the preseason, the New York Jets.

These are impressive feats and definitely demand respect, but Vegas odds feel the Packers are favorites by two-and-a-half points, why?

Mike McCarthy's crew has done a pretty solid job on their road to Arlington as well. How many times can the following be stated about a Super Bowl team?

  • Begin the season 3-3
  • Lose 10 starters to season-ending injuries
  • Win five elimination games in a row (two at home, three on the road)
  • Beat a team that's 20-2 at home—in the playoffs—by 27
  • Manufacture a running game with a fourth-string, sixth-round draft pick

I think the answer to that question is never. Never have all of those things been done in one season. I think it's fair to say the Super Bowl (on paper) should be a close game.

It's also fair to say the Pittsburgh Steelers have the edge when it comes to experience and having been in "The Big Game" before (with almost every player still on the roster), but there is something to be said about the credentials listed above.

The Packers and Steelers have a lot in common. The 2010 NFL season was not one of astounding records or the pursuit of perfection by any means, but both the Packers and Steelers have won games when they needed to this year.

Both teams got hot at the right time, and now they square off on February 6th for all of the marbles. To quote a former playoff participant's sentiment, "Can't wait!"

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