Now that the weekend is here, I am permitting myself to begin thinking about tomorrow's game. I have tried to forget about it as much as possible this week. After all, there is nothing I can do to affect the outcome, other than maybe pray. And despite some of the miraculous wins the Steelers have accumulated this season -- the championship game against the Jets and the second regular season game against the Ravens come to mind -- I think God has bigger fish to fry than which team wins the Super Bowl.
It has been difficult to put this game on the back burner. My Toledo-based Steeler buddy, who mines the Pittsburgh press for Steeler-related stories, has kept a steady flow of articles streaming into my e-mail box. Most of these, however, have been player profiles rather than hardcore game coverage. While they have reinforced my belief that the Steeler squad is composed of serious and passionate athletes, they didn't overcome my determination not to dwell on the game.
However, now it's Saturday and I'm shifting into rabid-fan mode.
I was disappointed to read in Friday's practice notes that neither Maurkice Pouncey nor Aaron Smith will start tomorrow. Either could make a big difference; having both in the starting lineup could be enough to decide the game. As Pouncey's replacement, Doug Legursky, however, has had two weeks of taking most of the snaps in practice. He is somewhat smaller than Pouncey, but can probably hold his own. No doubt Green Bay's defense will test him early in the game.
Although the last meeting of these two teams led to a huge quarterback shootout, I believe this game will be a battle of the defenses. I look for a low-scoring game. Moreover, I think whichever defense manages to put some points on the board will decide the game. The key for the Steelers D is to get to Rodgers early and shake him up mentally. They are going to have to put him on his ass a couple of times and make him hear foot steps coming even when there aren't any.
I fully expect the Packers D to sack Big Ben maybe as many as five or six times, but it won't have the same effect on Ben. He gets sacked almost more than any other NFL quarterback. He's use to it and being sacked just doesn't seem to bother him. As long as he doesn't get hurt and holds on to the ball, it won't matter.
Oh, and I think Polamalu is finally healthy again. He wasn't on the injured list this week as he has been for the past month or so. Although he played, I think it was evident he wasn't playing with his signature zeal. He wasn't running to the ball, and I can only remember him making one tackle against the Jets. If he is indeed healthy, he will be a factor.