Quite often, it isn’t the offense or the defense, but the special teams and coaching that end up deciding games like this Super Bowl betting affair. These two teams are matched so very closely, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are hoping that their special teams can give them a huge leg up on the Green Bay Packers. Check out our Super Bowl betting analysis of these two very crucial facets of the game.
Special Teams Shake Up: Believe it or not, it is very rare to think that a team switches both its punter and its kicker in the same season and lives to tell about it. We know that P Daniel Sepulveda had to be replaced after getting injured, but the release of K Jeff Reed, who had already helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls, was a bit surprising halfway through the campaign. Now, the tasks are up to K Shaun Suisham and P Jason Kapinos, neither of which have been absolutely sterling at any point over the course of this year. Without that much confidence in either of his kickers, Head Coach Mike Tomlin has to think that a push in this category with the Packers would be a real triumph, and anything better than that is just icing on the cake.
Last Stand for LeBeau?: Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau is probably going to eventually be a Hall of Famer for nothing more than what he has done with the Steelers’ defense over all these years. He has been nothing but phenomenal, creating a bit of a zone blitz look on a regular basis out of his 3-4 scheme. We also have to remember that Pittsburgh has really just drafted all of these players, and LeBeau has molded them, as the only real tremendous free agent signings on this side of the ball were LB James Farrior and DB Ryan Clark. Think about it, though. Names like James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley, Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu… this is all home grown talent. LeBeau was the man that got all of these guys on the same page, and there would be no better way to send him out, if this really is his last game, than to give him another Lombardi Trophy to depart with.
Tomlin Leads Super Bowl Experience: No one is confusing Mike Tomlin for one of the best coaches in the league, but there is no doubt that he has surrounded himself with a tremendous staff and some great players. Tomlin was the youngest coach to ever win a Super Bowl, and he is now the youngest man to bring a team to a Super Bowl twice. He doesn’t get the credit that he deserves, as the coordinators get all of the accolades for the Steelers, but we know that he has the experience to win this game.
Lackluster Return Men: Save when WR Antwaan Randle El goes back to return a punt, there really isn’t that buzz throughout the stadium in the kick or punt return game for the Steelers. There wasn’t a special teams TD all season long for the black and gold. This is the one thing that really is destroying this team on a regular basis and definitely will be something that is addressed in the offseason and in the NFL Draft this year.
Final Verdict: We know that the Packers don’t have all that great of a special teams unit, and the Steelers are really in the same type of a boat as well. Pittsburgh knows that it has the disadvantage though, especially with these weak kickers, and it is going to have to break even at worst in this facet of the game to beat the Super Bowl XLV betting lines.