With just over a week to go until Super Bowl XLV, there are major question marks concerning the health of several players for both teams, as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers get set for the big football betting game. Both camps have kept their injury situations under wraps, there is obvious concern that a couple of key players won’t be able to contribute.
The Steelers will almost surely be without Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who missed practice on Wednesday with a left ankle injury. Pouncey’s status for the Super Bowl is still unknown, however defensive end Chris Kemoeatu may have revealed more than he desired to when he spoke with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Kemoeatu told the paper that the Steelers would have to find a way to win Super Bowl betting without their All-Star lineman, saying that he is, “definitely sad that he won’t be able to be with us in the Super Bowl.” Pouncey was seen walking around the Pittsburgh trainer area in a protective boot, and has not been able to put weight on the ankle over the past couple of days. The injury took place in the first quarter of the AFC Championship game win over the New York Jets, when linebacker Bryan Thomas got pushed back and on to his ankle. Thomas rolled over the back of Pouncey’s leg, sending the center to the ground in pain. Head coach Mike Tomlin has not officially ruled Pouncey out for the game, saying that his playing status will remain uncertain until right up to game day as the Steelers try to find a way to get arguably their best lineman ready. Pittsburgh was also without safety Troy Polamalu and cornerbacks Bryant McFadeen and Will Allen in practice on Wednesday, but all three are expected to be ready for Super Bowl XLV.
While Pittsburgh battles through their injury concerns, the Packers are not in the clear with sports betting reports that quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have suffered another concussion in the NFC Championship game win over the Chicago Bears. Rodgers was rocked with a helmet-to-helmet shot from Bears’ defensive end Julius Peppers, for which the latter received a significant fine from the league. Rodgers had already received two concussions over the course of 2010, and there is concern that although he denies that he suffered another on the hit, he may be suffering the side effects of more than a few big blows to the head. Rodgers was slow to get up from that hit as well as a couple of others, and after throwing a combined six touchdowns through the first two playoff games of the season, he managed just two interceptions without a single passing score against the Bears.
Both teams will have another week to prepare for the game and make adjustments, but the biggest benefit of the time off is the potential for injuries to heal. The Packers and Steelers are both concerned about injuries, the question remains how big of an impact they will have when pay per head play gets underway.
The online sports betting community knows that offense sells tickets but defense wins championships. But if you are betting on NFL action this week, then you know that these two defenses in Super Bowl XLV look similar in many ways. Understanding the differences between each team can help your Super Bowl betting chances and bring you better luck with your betting services representatives.
Up front, the Pittsburgh defense is all about nose tackle Casey Hampton and defensive end Brett Keisel. Neither is known for their ability to sack the quarterback but, then again, that is not what they are there for. All three of the Steelers defensive linemen are adept at pushing the opponent’s offensive line backwards and creating pressure in the offensive backfield. Consider Keisel and Hampton to be the guys that open the door for the rest of the Steelers defense.
The reason that the Pittsburgh Steelers play a 3-4 defense is because it has four of the best linebackers in football. LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, Lawrence Timmons and James Harrison do most of the tackling and quarterback sacking for the Steelers defense. They are all so fast that they can manage to get into the opposing backfield and stuff the run. This is an incredibly athletic group of linebackers that can give any offensive line problems. Not only are they fast, but they hit hard too. The intimidation factor for the Steelers linebackers is high, and that helps in shutting down the opposing running game.
Once you get beyond the linebackers you have safety Troy Polamalu. In the AFC Championship game the front seven for Pittsburgh was so effective that Polamalu was almost non-existent for that game. It wasn’t because Polamalu was playing poorly, it was just that the front seven had things under control. Against the Packers, the Steelers will need Polamalu to put that extra element of doubt into the head of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers also run a 3-4 defense, but their defensive line is pretty good. Second-year nose tackle B.J. Raji already has an interception this post-season, and has been instrumental in shutting down the opponent’s running game. Defensive ends Cullen Jenkins and Ryan Pickett combined for eight regular season sacks. This defensive line is very active for the Packers, and that will be a problem for a patchwork Steelers offensive line.
The linebacking corps for the Packers includes A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews. Hawk is an expert at covering the middle of the field and taking away the pass and the run. Matthews puts pressure on the quarterback and drops into coverage on opposing tight ends. The two compliment each other very well, and they make the Packers front seven a very dangerous bunch.
The secondary for the Packers includes playoff standouts Tramon Williams, Nick Collins and Charles Woodson. This is an all-pro secondary that can adapt very well to Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s ad-lib style of offense. There will be no surprises that this defense for the Packers cannot handle.
This week’s Super Bowl betting odds for the NFC title game will frame a historic game as the two oldest rivals in the NFL will go head-to-head for the 183rd time, but for the first time in the postseason since 1941. Green Bay has three Super Bowl wins to one for Chicago, and the NFC North rivals will clash for the third time this season.
Packers Bears Odds – Sunday, 3:00 PM ET
Aaron Rodgers put on a clinic in a 48-21 massacre of Atlanta in the Georgia Dome, going 31-of-36 for 366 yards and three touchdowns with no picks, and he was as adept throwing on the run as he was sitting in the pocket. James Starks added 66 yards on the ground for the Packers, who were down 14-7 with 11:50 to go in the first half, but then found themselves up 42-14 heading into the fourth quarter, largely behind the exploits of Rodgers. But those watching NFL betting lines also watched the Green Bay defense step up their game, forcing four turnovers, including a 70-yard interception return at the end of the first half that essentially crushed Atlanta’s hopes.
The Bears also avenged a regular-season loss as they dropped Seattle 35-24, and that score is flattering to the Seahawks, who scored two late touchdowns. Jay Cutler went 15-of-28 for 274 yards and two touchdowns, and he also scrambled for two scores as the Bears were up 28-3 by halftime, and they may have taken their foot off the gas in the fourth quarter, something they won’t be able to do against the Packers. The Bears, led by Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, never allowed the Seattle running game get on track, and they hit a couple of big plays on them early to take the wind out of the Seahawks’ sails.
Hopefully, this game will be worth the price per head for ticket buyers, as tickets are reportedly up to $1000 to see this game in the flesh. The Packers are 3.5-point favorites on the road in Chicago, where they are 2-3 SU and 3-2 ATS in their last five trips. We’re going with the Packers based on the quarterback matchup, as Rodgers has a 92.6 rating in six games against the Bears, while Cutler has a 65.0 rating in five games against the Packers. Cutler also played in his first playoff game since high school last week, and we know he has a propensity for making bad throws. Look for Green Bay’s defense to force him into some mistakes, and Rodgers is simply playing lights-out right now. He also has more weapons at his disposal, so lay a sports bet on Green Bay this Sunday.