Experience is abundant for the Pittsburgh Steelers, especially here in the Super Bowl. Head Coach Mike Tomlin has a unit that can really do some tremendous damage against even the best of defenses in the game. Check out how the Steelers stack up against the defense of the Green Bay Packers in today’s Super Bowl odds analysis piece.
Banking On Big Ben: After the first four games of the season, the Steelers had to know that they were in good shape this year. QB Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for the first month of the campaign for some off the field issues that were reprimanded by Commission Roger Goodell, but since that point that he has come back to the field, Big Ben has been unstoppable. He has 19 TD passes against just seven picks in 14 games, including the playoffs, and he would have been on pace to throw for about 4,250 yards if this were a legit 16 game season. There are two very important things that we have to remember about Roethlisberger. The first is that he has two rings already to his credit. The second is that he knows how to get the job done even when things are collapsing in front of him. He was the one that completed the pass on 3rd and 6 that ended the season of the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game, and he was the one that shocked the Baltimore Ravens by completing that pass on 3rd and 19 down the field to WR Antonio Brown that set up the game winning score. It’s no joke that Big Ben is the real deal, and believe it or not, a win in this one would really force him amongst the greats in the history of the league, and it might even punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame.
Oh No O-Line!: If there is a big time problem that the Steelers have on this offense, it is up front. The exterior of the offensive line has been banged up all season long. It was over six months ago that Willie Colon was lost for the season, and many thought that that would be enough to force this team into some big time trouble. Things were only made worse a month and a half into the year when Max Starks, the team’s other offensive tackle, was knocked out for the rest of the year. Things might be even more dire now. For a team that probably carried one fewer offensive lineman than it should have in the first two rounds of the postseason, now Maurkice Pouncey, arguably the best rookie offensive lineman this year, is probably out for the biggest game of the season. This offense, with Pouncey in the fold, allowed the Baltimore Ravens to sack Roethlisberger six times on the day. Fifty two sacks were allowed on the season. Numbers like this aren’t going to cut it, and Big Ben knows that he is going to have some issues here if this keeps up.
Ward, Randle El, and Wallace: Masters of Deception: WR Antwaan Randle El might have had the biggest play in the history of the Steelers (okay, the Immaculate Reception, aside) when he threw that TD pass in the Super Bowl to WR Hines Ward against the Seattle Seahawks. Both players were quarterbacks in college, and both have rounded into great receivers at this level. WR Mike Wallace really had a bust out season, recording the second highest yards per catch average in the league at over 20 yards per grab. He is a speedster that can really fly, and he has evolved into a solid route runner with great hands as well. All three of these men are going to be tricky little candidates for some big time plays in the Super Bowl, and all three should be watched out for quite a bit.
Running With Rashard: However, no analysis of the Steelers would be complete without mentioning the ground game. Mendenhall becomes the third different Pittsburgh running back to lead the team to the Super Bowl in this era. RB Jerome Bettis pulled off the stunt and then retired following Super Bowl XL, while RB Willie Parker was basically never heard from again after leading the Steelers to the Promised Land two years ago. Mendenhall, at this point in his career, very well could be better than either one, and Bettis is a future Hall of Famer. Mendenhall doesn’t put up overly flashy numbers, but he has a nose for the end zone, having scored more than any other man in black and gold this year, and he has no problems carrying the ball 30 times in a game. Mendenhall is the key to moving the chains, and without him, Pittsburgh would be in a ton of trouble in Super Bowl betting action.
Final Analysis: Though this unit really does have some sparkling moments, it has some shoddy ones as well. Scoring 31 against the Baltimore Ravens was significantly overrated and aided by the defense and special teams, while the team hasn’t scored in over a half of football after getting blanked in the second stanza by the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game. Still, Pittsburgh has a very talented unit that might not be all that flashy, but it should have plenty of success in the Super Bowl, even against a stout Green Bay front.