Athlon's editorial staff offers its predictions and insight for Super Bowl XLV:
Steven Lassan, Editor (@AthlonSteven)
This looks to be one of the more even Super Bowl matchups in recent memory. The Steelers and Packers are virtual mirror images of each other, with Pittsburgh owning a slight edge at running back. The status of Steelers' center Maurkice Pouncey is one of the biggest question marks surrounding this game. Offensive line issues have been a concern for Pittsburgh all season and losing one of the best centers in the league is a major issue. If the Steelers get quality play from Doug Legursky and can establish Rashard Mendenhall on the ground, Pittsburgh should have the edge. The Packers won't be afraid to push the tempo on offense and get the Steelers out of their rhythm. Pittsburgh's secondary has been vulnerable at times this year, which faces a difficult task trying to slow down Aaron Rodgers and one of the NFL's top receiving corps. It wouldn't be a surprise to see this game play out like Super Bowl 43. The Steelers will take an early lead, only to watch the Packers get on track on offense and pull ahead in the fourth quarter. However, the experience of the Steelers in the Super Bowl, and Ben Roethlisberger's ability to make plays in the clutch gives Pittsburgh title No. 7. Steelers 27, Packers 24.
Braden Gall, Editor (@AthlonBraden)
It is downright scary how similar these two teams. Improv talent at quarterback that would impress even the crowds at The Apollo. A Defensive Player of the Year in the secondary - and (almost) at linebacker. Two of the most dynamic 3-4 front-seven schemes to ever grace a football field. The difference will be the power running game of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two front-seven match-ups to watch are Packers' nose guard B.J. Raji against injured center Maurkice Pouncey and whoever is blitzing against Green Bay's rookie right tackle Bryan Bulaga. In the passing game, both nickel packages will have their hands full with third and fourth receivers - Aaron Rodgers abused Bears' nickelback Tim Jennings. Expect both quarterbacks to make plays against the blitz, but whoever can convert on third and short, and around the goalline, will win. I will take the Steel Curtain defense to stop the Pack when it counts. Pittsburgh 20, Green Bay 14.
Rob Doster, Senior Editor (@AthlonDoster)
I like the Packers, but to me, there are a couple of keys. For one, the Packer pass rush will need to put Ben Roethlisberger on the ground. Hitting Big Ben is not enough; he’s the king of sloughing off sacks and turning losses into big plays. Plus, Aaron Rodgers will have to continue his magical run. It seems unlikely that the Pack will have much success on the ground, so the onus falls on Rodgers to make plays through the air. This is Rodgers’ opportunity to stamp himself as a truly elite quarterback. I think he’s up to the task. Packers by 3.
Charlie Miller, Editorial Director (@AthlonCharlie)
With two defenses that thrive on keeping offenses off balance, expect big plays and big mistakes by both offenses. Both teams will be stingy on defense, and both teams can run the ball. Both quarterbacks can handle blitzing schemes and answer with clutch plays. The difference will be that the Steelers’ quarterback will make one or two key mistakes giving the Packers’ defense the advantage. Aaron Rodgers will protect the ball better while still making key throws for Green Bay. Green Bay 27, Pittsburgh 20.