What are the Pittsburgh Steelers Chances to Win the Super Bowl? Well, despite the fact that they are the underdogs and that the Super Bowl odds moved quickly against them as soon as they were posted, I think their chances are actually pretty good. I plan to bet on them. Here are five reasons why I like their chances:
Experience - In the playoffs I think experience really matters. Teams can win without a lot of experience against a team that has lots -- the Saints proved that last year -- but over the long term the experienced team seems like a better choice.
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The Steelers have the same core that has been in place for their two Super Bowl wins in the last five years. That means that there are several people on the team that know exactly what to expect from this week, and that in turn means that the chances are strong that the team will be fully prepared to play.
Green Bay is young and not nearly as experienced. I’m not saying that that will be a factor, but it certainly could be -- and when two teams are reasonably well matched something like that represents a fairly significant edge.
Coaching - I respect Mike McCarthy as a coach, but I’d still take Mike Tomlin for my team any day. I was very skeptical when the Steelers made the bold move to hire such a young coach, but I clearly shouldn’t have been.
The numbers speak for themselves -- a 5-1 playoff record, two AFC Championships and a Super Bowl, 48-22 (.686) overall. The guy can coach. He’s done his most impressive work this year, though. Between Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension and all the injuries it would have been very easy for this team to quit on themselves. He never let them, though, and that’s why they are where they are.
One thing New Orleans had going for them last year was that they had the better coach. Better coaching often wins, and I’ll take the better coach here.
Quarterback - Aaron Rodgers has been fantastic, and his play is perhaps the biggest part of the reason why the Packers are here. The more I think about his last game, though, the more I get concerned about it. He was brilliant at times. He also made some really bad decisions. The Bears were only somewhat capable of exploiting those errors. The Steelers are much more talented than that when their opponent has the ball.
If Rodgers stumbles like that when this game is on the line, it won’t turn out well for him. Big Ben is a complex guy who is hard to like at times, but when games get tough and down to the clutch there isn’t a guy who is better to have. He just finds a way. He’s not going to be intimidated by Green Bay’s good pass rush, and if the game is tight late I’d much rather be with him than against him.
Run defense - The Packers are not going to be able to run on Pittsburgh. That’s a widely held opinion. A lot of people don’t think that it will be a big issue -- the Packers win or lose on their throwing, not their running. I’m not buying that, though -- at least not entirely.
Because Green Bay isn’t great on the ground and Pittsburgh is so good against the run, the Packers will have to rely heavily on the pass. Pittsburgh knows that is likely, and they have two weeks to gameplan for it. It will be much easier for them to find ways to slow down Green Bay’s passing game then it will be for Green Bay to find ways to move the ball on the ground.
Trend - Steelers are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 playoff games. I don’t typically pay a lot of attention to trends that extend over a long period like this -- too much can change over time to make them useful. This one is powerful, though.
For a team to be that successful and to regularly exceed expectations like that means that they not only play a lot of playoff games, but they also know how to play them. They are focused, well coached, talented, and they know how to get ready for games when the pressure is at the highest. That tells me that I can be fairly confident that the Steelers are going to be ready for this game.
Green Bay may be as well, but we don’t have as much of a track record to know for sure. I’ll take the very likely over the very possible any day -- especially when the very likely is the underdog.
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