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NFL Pro Football 2010-11 Super Bowl XLV Picks - final analysis

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Fearless Rick's NFL Super Bowl XLV Picks

Rick Gagliano | February 6, 2011

All times Eastern


Special Teams, Coaching, Intangibles

Final Analysis, Picks and Props

Super Bowl XLV



Final Analysis, Picks and Props

Super Bowl XLV: Green Bay Packers (-3, 45) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

This is probably the most difficult Super Bowl to predict in the last 20 years. Both teams possess all the elements needed to win the ultimate game: solid offense, stingy defense, competent special teams and exceptional coaching staffs.

That said, the game may be won due to an unforeseen event, such as an injury to a key player, a key turnover (such as the late interception by New Orleans last year) or a big play on special teams and those events are difficult, if not impossible to predict.

One of the surest elements of this game is the play of both defenses. They are, by most comparisons and statistical analysis, the two best defenses in the league, so the best analysis of this game is that it will be a low-scoring affair. Pitting the offenses against the defenses of Dom Capers (Packers) and Dick LeBeau (Steelers) will almost surely result in a low-scoring affair, possibly one of the lowest scores in Super Bowl history.

Recent low scores in Super Bowls have been in Super Bowl XLII (Giants 17 Patriots 14) and XL (Steelers 21 Seahawks 10), though the XL game was marred not only by numerous bad calls denying Seattle of scores, but an evident mismatch.

That being noted, the lowest score ever was 1975, when the Steelers beat the Vikings in Super Bowl IX, 16-6, for a total of 22. There's a precedent here, that the Steelers have been involved in a good number of low-scoring games. That's how they're built, by beating up the other team's offense, so the first pick of any that a good handicapper should make in this game is to take the UNDER 45 bet.

Neither team is going to have as many scoring opportunities than in a regular season game, as both teams have an understanding that controlling the clock will definitely work in their favor (or so they hope). Barring any huge defensive plays deep in opposing field position, there will be three or four long drives, spanning six to eight minutes or longer. There will also be a number of three-and-outs and a spate of punts.

This sets up what could be called a "boring" game by some standards, though the score will likely be close - neither team leading by more than 10 points - for the duration. That also means there will be excitement at the end, or, if the team with the lead happens to be the Steelers, they may be able to grind out the final three or four minutes of the game. It's unlikely that the Packers could do that, though it is still within the realm of possibility.

There's also the potential for a one-sided game, in which one teams builds a lead that the other squad simply cannot come back against. In that scenario, the most likely case would be that the Packers score a couple of early touchdowns and stymie the Steelers on any number of drives. It's easy to see how much of this game could be played within the confines of the 30-yard lines, that 40-yard area of the field in which offenses can generate some first downs, but short of the red zone and out of (easy) field goal range.

It's this scenario that becomes appealing because the Packers have more the quick-strike offense that could produce a couple of scores and both teams excel on rushing the quarterback and causing sacks - they were the two leading defenses in sacks. The Packers also may also come up with a scheme in a key third down situation that's designed to free up Charles Woodson to make an interception, and that could finish off a pittsburgh drive or the half.

When you look at the two key defensive backs in the game, they are Woodson and Polamalu, the former more a coverage and ball-hawk, the latter a player who runs to the ball, often after the play has been made or making a hit to dislodge the football, though Polamalu does get his share of picks but it is not his specialty.

If I had a crystal ball (I don't), I would see the first quarter belonging to the Packers and maybe a 7-0 or 10-0 score. If Pittsburgh settles down and can keep Rodgers from throwing them into the next century, Pittsburgh should come out of the first half down by seven to ten points, something on the order of 10-3 or 17-10. The third quarter may not produce any score at all and the Packers will put the game away in the fourth with a final TD. Pittsburgh may get a late TD, but it won't be enough to close the gap or cut into the Packers -3 spread.

So, UNDER 45 is the key here, and though most handicappers would take the under on a Pittsburgh win and the over with the Packers, they're forgetting that the Packers allowed just 15 points per game on average, and that's about what they Steelers are going to get.

--- Story continues below ---

Another key is in the kicking game, where the Packers have a better punter and place-kicker. Mason Crosby may bang one home from outside 50 yards, where Shaun Suisham hasn't even attempted one from beyond 48 in his short life with the Steelers. It's a cause for concern for Pittsburgh as to what they'll do in the case of a 4th and 5 or less from the 32 to 38-yard line. They can choose to try a long field goal or go for it. Neither decision is good. Suisham will most likely miss and the Packer defense will be stacked to stop any 4th down attempts.

First Prop Bet: Take Mason Crosby to score more points than Shaun Suisham and to kick a longer field goal, though not necessarily more field goals (though he might). Look at it this way: Suisham may make one of three or two of three and get one extra point, so the most he can score is 7 points. Crosby may hit two or three field goals and two or three extra points, so his scoring potential is higher: from 8 to 12 points. He also has the longer leg and a 50+ yard field goal is within his range.

Second Prop Bet: Take the over on Aaron Rodgers passing yards. 275 1/2 (-135).

Third Prop Bet: Take the Packers to score first and take the Packers to score a TD. Some books give you +400 (4-1) odds on either a passing or rushing TD. Take both. You'll double your money if they score a TD either way.

Fourth Prop Bet: Will there be a score in the final 2:00 minutes of the first half. Take NO (+200) because if it's Pittsburgh, they're likely to be trying a long field goal and miss and if the Packers are ahead by 10, they might just run out the clock or punt the ball away. Besides, both teams have excellent defenses, so this may be the best bet of the day.


Fifth Prop Bet: Will both teams have the lead in the first half? NO (+105).

Sixth Prop Bet: Which will be the highest scoring quarter? First quarter (+400). Good, no, great odds.

Seventh Prop Bet: Will the team that scores last win the game? NO (+145).

Eighth Prop Bet: Half time Lead: Packers by 4 to 6 points (+550); 7 to 10 points (+500). Take both.

Ninth Prop Bet: Will both teams make a field goal of 33 yards or longer? YES (+145). This is unbelievable!

Tenth Prop Bet: How long will it take Christina Aguilera to sing the national anthem? Under 1 minute 52 seconds. (+110).

That pretty much covers it. Good luck. For more prop bets than you'll ever need, go HERE.

Now for the final score:

Green Bay Packers 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 17

All times Eastern

Offense/Defense/Stats | Special Teams, Coaching, Intangibles | Final Analysis, Picks and Props

Copyright 2010, 2011, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.


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