Super Bowl 48  

 

Six crucial matchups serve as guide to Super Bowl XLV

This week we will feature six matchups from the Super Bowl.

 
Roethlisberger
 
Williams

Steelers vs. Packers: Ben Roethlisberger vs. Tramon Williams

Roethlisberger is one of the tougher quarterbacks to defend due to his ability to move around and throw from unsettled positions. Williams has very good quickness and does a great job breaking on the ball, but he must remain patient against the improvisational Roethlisberger. In his last game against the Packers in 2009, Big Ben had 503 passing yards and three touchdowns. He has a very easy throwing motion, good arm strength and is just as adept going deep as he is checking it down. His favorite long-distance threat is Mike Wallace, but the Packers might have Sam Shields cover him, because he has better speed than Williams. Antonio Brown has become Roethlisberger's go-to target in the playoffs, and Williams must beware of the rookie.

Williams is a great story. He didn't play football his freshman year at Louisiana Tech before deciding to walk-on during his sophomore season. He was an undrafted free agent who was waived by Houston and landed on Green Bay's practice squad in 2006. Now, he is one of the better corners in the league. He has three playoff interceptions to go along with his six regular-season picks. Williams allowed only 40 completions on 92 targets during the regular season. Those are all incredible numbers. He will have to keep up that production in the Super Bowl for the Packers to be successful.


 
Polamalu
 
Rodgers

Troy Polamalu vs. Aaron Rodgers

Rodgers is a talented scrambler and is not afraid to take off and run. He must keep an eye on Polamalu when he does leave the pocket, however, because the safety has very good transition quickness in space and exceptional range against the run and pass. If Rodgers can prevent Polamalu from making a game-changing play, the Packers could have the edge.

Rodgers has an uncanny ability to avoid pressure and Polamalu has a knack for getting home on the blitz, so this should be a premier showdown. Rodgers makes good decisions and has an outstanding arm. He also does a great job of keeping all the receivers involved. That could be important against Polamalu, who aligns all over the field and looks to get into a position to make contact on the receiver and force a turnover.



 
Legursky
 
Pickett

Doug Legursky vs. Ryan Pickett

Pickett does not get knocked back and has very good lower-body strength and quickness. He can beat single blocks and holds the line on double teams. Pickett is an outstanding two-down defender, and if he is able to dominate Legursky, it could keep Pittsburgh from controlling the clock, like the Steelers would prefer to do. For his part, Legursky has good athleticism and instincts. While this is a tough matchup, he is the type of player Pittsburgh often has success plugging into the lineup.

To stop Pittsburgh, you need to stop the run. Pickett is the key to doing that for Green Bay. Primarily a run-stuffer, he goes out in obvious passing situations. He is a point-of-attack player and shows natural strength and power when he pushes back offensive linemen. Legursky could start for ailing center Maurkice Pouncey and will be tested. Legursky does not have very long arms, but is blessed with great strength, which will come in handy against Pickett.



 
Taylor
 
Jennings

Ike Taylor vs. Greg Jennings

Jennings was targeted 126 times and had 74 receptions with only four drops this season. The Steelers will probably try to take him out of the game with coverage schemes and by having Taylor jam him at the line. If Jennings is able to break off a few big plays, it would give Green Bay a major boost.

Jennings has been one of the league's best big-play receivers over the past three years and is among the NFL leaders in yards per catch, receptions over 40 yards and touchdowns during that span. He is not only outstanding at getting open deep, but also picks up a ton of yards after the catch. The powerful runner builds speed as he goes and does not go down with an arm tackle. Jennings does a great job of catching the ball and keeping his feet moving at the same time. Taylor should be able to stay with him relatively well in the open field, however, as he is very athletic and a solid tackler. Taylor excels playing the trail technique, and is equally proficient turning and running with the receiver.



 
Woodley
 
Bulaga

LaMarr Woodley vs. Bryan Bulaga

Bulaga was drafted to play left tackle, but injuries forced him to the right side, where he started 14 games. He is a nasty player with pop and power. He also has good feet, but will be seriously challenged by Woodley. While James Harrison receives more attention, Woodley is an incredibly productive player. He is the quickest player in NFL history to reach 10 playoff sacks (six games) and is also the only player to ever have a sack in six consecutive postseason games. He is very physical and loves to come inside on stunts.

Bulaga has struggled at times as a rookie. He was called for nine penalties during the regular season (three holding, six false starts) and allowed 11 sacks. If he doesn't have one of his better games, Woodley is more than capable of dominating him. Woodley has a very powerful build and closes hard to the ball. Bulaga has to hold his own or the Packers could be in trouble.



 
Mendenhall
 
Hawk

Rashard Mendenhall vs. A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop

Hawk and Bishop are both very strong and excel as tacklers. They'll need to against the powerful Mendenhall, who has a strong upper body and good leg drive after contact. Hawk, in particular, is at his best when he can flow to the ball, and he is well-equipped to contend with Mendenhall in space. Bishop, on the other hand, needs to step up and stop Mendenhall in the hole before he can get started. Mendenhall tends to be very streaky, and it is up to Hawk and Bishop to prevent him from finding a rhythm.

Who are they:

A pair of players out of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) who played quarterback in high school could have a huge impact in this game.

Green Bay's James Starks out of the University at Buffalo has really emerged in the playoffs and is a pick-and-slide runner with ability to find the hole.

Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown out of Central Michigan has good speed and great hands. He is also dangerous as a return man.



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