A few myths that have been busted in 2010:
1. You need a cohesive offensive line to be a Super Bowl team
For the majority of their AFC championship victory over the Jets, the Steelers were working without three of their starting five offensive linemen from training camp. In fact, they’ve played the second half of the year without either of their regular starting tackles. Willie Colon and Max Starks are long gone, and things aren’t looking overly promising for centre Maurkice Pouncey, who suffered a high ankle sprain against New York.
The Packers’ line hasn’t been hit as hard by the injury bug, but the unit has been considered one of the weakest in the league for several years now. In fact Aaron Rodgers was the only quarterback sacked more times than Ben Roethlisberger in 2009. Left tackle Chad Clifton is solid, but the line as a whole is still pretty bad. They still surrendered 38 sacks this year, and on the ground they averaged just 3.8 yards per carry.
2. You need a running game to be a Super Bowl team
I’ll admit that this theory has been blown up a few times recently. In fact, a team hasn’t won a Super Bowl with an elite running back since the Ravens beat the Giants with rookie sensation Jamal Lewis in 2000. But this year, the two Super Bowl competitors are especially inept at running the ball. Rashard Mendenhall is a good player, but the Steelers are clearly a pass-first team. James Starks is talented, but what does it say about the Packers that their top back for the biggest game of the year has zero career regular-season starts?
3. You need to be very lucky with injuries to win the Super Bowl
The Packers might have been the unluckiest team in the league this year when it came to injuries. Fifteen players found their way onto injured reserve, including important starters Jermichael Finley, Nick Barnett, Ryan Grant, Mark Tauscher, Morgan Burnett and Johnny Jolly (suspended). I already went over Pittsburgh’s offensive line injuries, but don’t forget that Aaron Smith, Troy Polamalu and Heath Miller have been hurt, too.
That said, a few popular theories still hold up:
1. Defence wins championships
This one is simple. We have a matchup between the top two scoring defences in the league. The Packers have one of the best pass defences in football, while the Steelers undoubtedly have the best run D. The Steelers led the AFC with 48 sacks; the Packers led the NFC with 47.
2. Pass rushers are crucial to success
Not only are these the top two pass-rushing teams in the league, but Pittsburgh and Green Bay also feature some of the top sack guys in football. Clay Matthews has 23.5 sacks in 28 career starts and has a legit shot at winning the defensive player of the year award, while James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have teamed up to make up the best 3-4 outside linebacker duo in the NFL.
3. You have to win the turnover battle
The Steelers finished second in the league with a plus-17 turnover ratio, while the Packers finished fourth at plus-10. In games in which they won the turnover battle, the two teams were a combined 16-1.