Pittsburgh has a very balanced attack - they can run effectively with Rashard Mendenhall, throw it over the middle with tight end Heath Miller and wide receiver Hines Ward, and throw the long ball with wide receiver Mike Wallace.
The one weakness is the offensive line, which had many injuries throughout the year, and the heart of the line, centre Maurkice Pouncey, is probably out of the game.
The Packers will test backup centre Doug Legursky. Look for linebacker Clay Matthews to line up over him early to see if they can get some early pressure.
Even if the Packers get pressure on Big Ben, he’s tough to bring down. Wallace led the league in yards per catch (21 yards), so look for the Steelers to go deep early to at least loosen up the Pack’s defence, which will help the run game.
The Freak thinks it will come down to whether the Steelers can run the ball effectively. If they can, play action down the field will be key.
Steelers on defence
The Steelers’ D is the best in the league, and monsters against the run. The problem is the Packers like to throw more than run, which may lead to some mismatches in the Steelers’ secondary.
The zone blitz pressure will be the determining factor. If the Steelers cannot disrupt ARod’s timing, it spells big trouble as corners Ike Taylor and Brian McFadden are solid but not great.
Taylor is more of a physical guy than a speed guy, so he needs to jam Greg Jennings at the line as the Packers love throwing the quick slant and the skinny post, but also watch his double moves.
Defensive co-ordinator Dick LeBeau will find ways to get pressure with outside linebackers James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and will move safety Troy Polamalu.
The bottom line for Pittsburgh is its top players on D have to make game-changing plays to protect an average pass defence.
Steelers don’t have a dynamic return game and have struggled on coverages, which may cost them.
Canadian kicker Shaun Suisham is far from Mr. Automatic and Pittsburgh fans will be nervous, especially if they need a late field goal.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay’s offence has really come to life in the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers has made fans say “Brett Who” in Packerland.
The Packers’ offence is all about timing and getting the ball out on time. If there is a breakdown, Rodgers might not be Mike Vick, but the next best thing.
Running the ball for most of the season had been an issue until rookie James Starks arrived on the scene. Starks and Brandon Jackson (more of receiving back) have formed a solid running duo, but they will have trouble running against the Steelers.
The Packers might not have success running it, but cannot abandon the run. The three- and four-wide packages is really what gives defences headaches as teams have difficulty in matching up with James Jones and Jordy Nelson. The Steelers must get pressure on Rodgers, or it will be a long day.
Packers on defence
Defensive co-ordinator Dom Capers will need to draw up a game plan that keeps quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the pocket. If the Packers let him buy time with his scrambling abilities, bad things will happen to them.
Green Bay has the corners to single up on Pittsburgh’s receivers, which will give them the opportunity to blitz more often.
The front seven, especially nose tackle BJ Raji, will need to stop the run as Pittsburgh can run block. That was evident by their nine-minute opening drive against the Jets in the AFC Championship game.
Green Bay’s run defence is just average, so they may need to bring safety Nick Collins down into the box to support the run.
Pittsburgh may try to exploit the middle of the field with Heath Miller and Hines Ward, so the linebackers will need to have a solid game in pass coverage.
Zone blitzes from Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and others will be the key in pressuring Ben Roethlisberger into mistakes.
The Packers will feel comfortable with solid kicker Mason Crosby late in the game. In the return game, Tramon Williams has given life to the punt-return unit, and Sam Shields has done well as kick returner.
A big play on special teams will usually change the mo for the game.