I went 1-1 in the conference title games, getting the Steelers right and the Bears wrong. It's hard to make too much of them, though as defensive touchdowns were the margin of victory in both, and of course, the Bears played without their starting quarterback much of the way. Regardless of how the teams got there, however, the Super Bowl must be handicapped (and wagered on).
Super Bowl XLV
Steelers +2.5 vs. Packers
I have to say I'm not all that excited about this game as neither team impressed much in its conference title game, and regardless of who wins, neither will be remembered as an historically great team. In fact, in the AFC, you could see any of the final four teams (Steelers, Ravens, Jets or Pats) emerging as the league's representative if the matchups were shuffled slightly. On the other hand, the Packers showed themselves to be the class of the NFC beyond any doubt, not only blowing out the Falcons in Atlanta, but winning in Chicago and Philly and even putting away the Giants and Bears at home the two previous weeks to lock up their playoff spot. But a Mike McCarthy-coached team with an erratic running game and an average run defense is vulnerable to late-game comebacks, and Ben Roethlisberger is more than capable of making one should the game fall short of a blowout.
While the Packers have the better passing offense and defense (the two most important components), their margin on both sides is slight, as Pittsburgh is capable in both areas, and the Steelers are better on the ground and far better at stopping the run. Pittsbugh has Super Bowl experience, one of the top coaches in the league and a fan base that travels better than any - and one that might confer upon them a virtual home-field advantage according to some compelling research on how crowds influence referees. The Steelers are also getting 2.5 points.
The simple way to look at the game is that Aaron Rodgers is unstoppable, and the Packers defense is good enough to slow the Steelers down, especially with starting center Maurkice Pouncey's status for the game in doubt. But I don't see the Steelers defense getting blown out of the building, and the coaching mismatch is nearly of Sean Payton-Jim Caldwell-esque proportions. This strikes me more like a Bears-Packers game, only with a more resourceful quarterback, a better coach and an unconscious edge with the refs. I wanted to take the Packers, but I think I'm going to validate Dave Regan's prediction (scroll down to the comments) and back Pittsburgh.
Steelers 24 - 21
Incidentally, I like Rashard Mendenhall at 15:2 to win SB MVP.
We were 1-1 in the Championship round to go 5-5 for the postseaosn. We were 126-125-5 on the season. We were 131-122 in 2009 against the spread. From 1999-2009 we've gone 1439-1262 (53.3%, not including ties).