The Daily Gambling Fix 1/31/11 – Lara Leverence
9 Reasons the Pack Will Beat Pittsburgh
The spread for the Superbowl is only 2.5 points (Green Bay being the favorite), which is a razor thin margin. Can both teams win? Not as far as I know. The Super Bowl historically only has one winner. This list doesn’t constitute a “pick” per se, but it is a pretty convincing list of reasons why McCarthy and company should be able to at least go the distance, Terrible Towels be damned.
9. Clay Matthews is a Beast at LB
Sure, it’s more of an observation than a reason, but Matthews has the uncanny ability to think like a veteran while playing with the energy of a rookie. Either one of these attributes without the other is not much of an asset, but together, this skill set exceeds the sum of its parts. He can terrorize an offense in pass coverage and he can do it behind the line of scrimmage. Neutralizing him will, at the very least, take extra effort that should free up the Pack’s D-linemen in 1-on-1 situations.
8. B.J. Raji has the Line on Lockdown
Do I want to place a prop bet that he’s the first one to score a touchdown next Sunday? Not really. But there isn’t much about this guy that ISN’T intimidating. Normally, the big dudes appear daunting, but can’t really get much done. As Raji showed last week, finding his way to the end zone, he’s not one of those guys.
7. The Steelers’ Center Is Out
Reports have come in saying Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has a broken bone in his ankle that will sideline him for the big game. Pouncey hasn’t missed a game this season, which would normally be a blessing, but in an instance when a backup has to come in cold, especially a center, a coach would like to have seen that backup get some PT. While the team has had two weeks to prep for this, there’s no substitute for the real thing, so look for some confusion and rhythm issues.
6. There’s Nothing Aaron Rodgers Can’t Scramble His Way Out Of
To say that he is reminiscent of Steve Young might actually be selling Rodgers a little short when it comes to his ability to get stuff done on the fly. You never want to plan for your quarterback to be out of pocket. That’s like planning for failure. But knowing that a little pressure won’t cause your helmer to fold like a cheap card table is some serious piece of mind. That importance registers tenfold when the defense you’re going up against is the Steelers’.
5. Hey! The Pack Has a Running Game: James Starks
Who would have thought that an X-factor for one of the most anticipated Super Bowls in years would be a running back that was added to Green Bay’s roster in Week 11 and hadn’t played a game before that since 01/09? If you’re raising your hand right now, you’re lying. Starks may not be an elite running back, but with the passing game the Packers have, they don’t need elite. They need solid and consistent to balance out their offense, and consequently, their defense.
4. Ladies and Gentlemen, Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers
Implementing the 3-4 defense isn’t as easy as scooting around some X’s and O’s. Just ask the Washington Redskins and Albert Haynesworth. However, since getting picked up by the pack two years ago, Capers has given Green Bay an elite defense that is effective in its ability to confuse offenses and quarterbacks with delayed blitzes and misdirection on the other side of the ball. However, his sneakiness is mitigated by the fact that the Steelers have two weeks to figure out what this guy is all about, instead of just one. Will it neutralize him? Probably not, but it’s up to Capers to step up his game one last time in order to catch Pitt off-guard on Sunday.
3. Polamalu Not at 100%
While he is back at practice, this ebony-maned beauty seems to still be somewhat hampered by an Achilles injury. Injury reports given this time of year are hardly trustworthy, as coaches would rather have the status of their players be an unknown so that the opposition can’t adequately prepare for any personnel changes. However, if Polamalu isn’t at 100%, it will take a toll on Pittsburgh not only in terms of physical consequences, but also psychological, as few players in the league are more intimidating than Troy.
2. The Steelers Have Flozell Adams
No NFL player has made a name for himself for all the wrong reasons more than Flozell. Ok, maybe Vick and Ben, but Flozell did it with his on the field performances. Flozell would drive John Madden crazy by jumping offsides at least 4,530 times per game (estimate). If this game comes down to the fourth quarter, Adams is not an asset, he’s a liability. He’s lost a step in his age, though he’s still a formidable lineman. Get the Steelers over a barrel, and Flozell will screw up in crunch time. It’s a certainty. He just gets to do it on a national stage this time.
1. Charles Woodson
A Pro Bowl corner with 13 years of experience leading your team? Yeah, you’ll want him on your team. And the Packers have him. He hasn’t put up the most gaudy numbers at this stage in his career, but the great defensive backs never do. Because offenses stop throwing at them. Woodson has been integral in the Pack’s playoff run, and his coverage efforts should have Ben hanging back in the pocket for a lot longer than he would like to.