Super Bowl XLV Betting – Disruptive Front Seven Gives Pittsburgh The Edge On Defense
Sports betting players should get ready to see two of the best defenses in the league take over the Super Bowl in Dallas, and not only are the players at the top of their game, but the coordinators are as well. Here is a look at the defensive units heading into the Super Bowl, and the boys from the Steel City have a slight edge.
Defensive Line: Steelers Packers Betting
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a defensive line that does a fantastic job of tying up offensive linemen, which in turn allows their linebackers to swarm and make plays. That’s why the Steelers are, far and away, the best team in the league against the run, Ziggy Hood, Brett Keisel and Casey Hampton are a load for any offensive line, and the fact that didn’t even miss a Pro Bowl-caliber player like Aaron Smith, who has been out since Week 8 with a triceps injury. Smith may be able to return to the lineup for the Super Bowl, although he’s very questionable and we wouldn’t count on Smith being ready in time. Chris Hoke is an excellent backup for Hampton at nose tackle.
B.J. Raji has been a force for the Green Bay Packers in the middle of the offensive line, and his interception return against the Chicago Bears may have been the defensive play of the postseason so far. Raji demands a double team wherever he lines up, and he also frees up space for Ryan Pickett and Cullen Jenkins, who has returned from injury in the playoffs. C.J. Wilson is a decent backup on the end, but while they’re deeper than the Steelers up front, they’re not as talented outside of Raji.
Betting Edge: Steelers
Linebackers: Steelers Packers Betting
As we’ve said before, we think the Steelers have the best linebacking corps in the league. James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley are bringing the heat from the outside, but they’re also extremely good against the run. Harrison was third on the team during the regular season in tackles behind Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior, who is still a tackling machine at 36 years old. But the great thing about the Steelers is that, if you had to, you could switch all four linebackers around and likely get the same results or close to it. This group is highly skilled, with lots of experience, and they’re still getting better as Timmons and Woodley are 24 and 26, respectively. The one knock is that they’re not that deep at linebacker, with Larry Foote as the first backup, but that’s not concern.
Green Bay could have the NFL betting favorite for Defensive Player of the Year in Clay Matthews, who can not only rush you into oblivion, but he’s also a great defender against the run, and you always have to account for Matthews, who gets moved around in the Packers’ 3-4 scheme. A.J. Hawk is on the early injury report with a knee injury, but he’ll likely be held out of some practices leading up to the Super Bowl so he will be able to suit up in Dallas. The Packers will need him in the lineup, as the other inside linebacker, Desmond Bishop is battling an ailing ankle, while on the outside, it doesn’t appear that Frank Zombo will return to the lineup after missing the last six games. His replacement, Eric Walden, had to leave the NFC championship game with an ankle injury, and Rob Francois had to move from the inside to fill in. This group isn’t as good as the Steelers when they’re fully healthy, but the injuries aren’t helping at all.
Betting Edge: Steelers
Secondary: Steelers Packers Betting
Pittsburgh has been bitten by the injury bug at the back, as Bryant McFadden has been bumped from his starting cornerback position because of a pulled abdominal. He’ll play the nickel back as he did in the AFC title game, and William Gay will get another start opposite Ike Taylor. Safety Troy Polamalu probably won’t do a lot in practice leading up to the Super Bowl because of his Achilles, but Polamalu has been on this schedule for the last six weeks, and Polamalu at 85% is still better than most of the league. Ryan Clark lines up at the other safety position, and he allows Polamalu the freedom to move up to the line as he watches the deep ball. Will Allen is a capable backup for Polamalu, but NFL betting players are sure that the Steelers would love to have Polamalu and McFadden at 100%.
The Packers have got a massive contribution from Sam Shields at corner, as he had a couple of picks and a forced fumble against the Bears, and along with Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams, Green Bay is loaded at cornerback. Woodson is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and he’s an All-Pro once again, along with safety Nick Collins, and Williams was named to the Pro Bowl. Charlie Peprah doesn’t get the publicity of his teammates, but he’s a capable safety who can defend the run and the pass. This is definite the one spot where the Packers have an advantage over the Steelers heading into the big game.
Betting Edge: Packers
Outlook: Steelers Packers Betting
The Steelers may have the most disruptive front seven in the league because of their interchangeability, and coordinator Dick LeBeau does a masterful job of disguising blitzes and coverages, probably better than anyone in the league. Green Bay counterpart Dom Capers is probably a close second and after a year of getting acclimated to his system, the Packers are flourishing. However, we have to give the edge to the Steelers because of their experience, the strength of the linebackers, and even though the Packers have a better secondary, it’s not enough to eclipse the Pittsburgh front seven, which helps the Steelers’ online betting odds.
Stan’s Pick: Steelers