Four overrated factors for Super Bowl XLV

Green Bay Packers running back James Starks (44) turns upfield during the first quarter of their NFC Championship playoff game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on January 23, 2011. The Packers defeated the Bears 21-14 to advance to the Super Bowl. UPI /Mark Cowan

Is anyone else sick of hearing about these so-called factors as it pertains to Super Bowl XLV? It’s enough to make someone stab their own neck with a soldering iron.

1. The Steelers have more experience.
Talk to someone who believes the Steelers will beat the Packers and one of the first things out of their mouths is “the experience factor.” Pittsburgh has it – Green Bay doesn’t. So mark it down: Steelers 52, Packers 3. Experience, baby. But ask the Colts how “the experience factor” worked out for them last year. Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl four seasons prior and Drew Brees had never played in the big one so naturally, Indy would win. Only they didn’t. When the Patriots beat St. Louis in 2001, the Rams had the experience and they also walked out of the Superdome losers that night. The Bills had more Super Bowl experience than the Cowboys in 1992 and Dallas beat Buffalo 52-17 that year. Experience counts when it comes to making travel arraignments, acquiring enough tickets for family and friends, and dealing with the media. But when the ball is finally kicked off on Sunday, the only thing that matters is which team executes. Everything else – including previous experience – flies out the window.

2. Starks gives the Packers balance.
Over the past month, I’ve written several times on this blog about how running back James Starks has given the Packers’ offense balance, which he has. But when it comes right down to it, I’m not sure how much of an impact Starks will have for Green Bay on Sunday. You don’t attack the Steelers on the ground – you attack them through the air. The Packers’ strength offensively is their passing game and Mike McCarthy should want the ball in Aaron Rodgers’ hands and not Starks’. That’s not to say that Starks won’t be used because he will. But let’s not make him out to be the X-factor when everyone knows that the Steelers can be had through the air. I expect to see plenty of four-and-five receiver sets for the Packers and for them to get Pittsburgh in its nickel and dime sets early and often. There’s no reason to keep the Steelers’ base defense on the field when that’s how they can beat you. If/when the Packers build a lead in the second half, then I expect to see Starks.

3. Whether or not Pouncey plays.
I know someone is dying to take my point about Maurkice Pouncey’s injury out of context, but understand my point before you rip my face off in the comments section. Pouncey told the NFL Network’s Deion Sanders on Tuesday that he “most definitely” would attempt to play on Sunday. He also noted that there was roughly a 75% chance he would suit up against the Packers, giving hope to Steeler fans that their best offensive lineman will be in action on Super Bowl Sunday. But first of all, I think this is a ploy by the Steelers in efforts to throw the Packers off. Pittsburgh is trying to maintain a competitive advantage and that means staying optimistic about Pouncey’s playing chances. Who knows – maybe Pouncey will play and play well. But it would be a medical marvel if he did. High ankle sprains are usually a 4-6 week injury depending on the severity of the sprain. (Don’t worry, I Googled that information so you know it’s solid.) If that’s the case, then it’s highly unlikely that Pouncey will be effective, if he even plays at all. Dwight Freeney dealt with a similar injury before last year’s Super Bowl and while he played well in the first half, the long layoff at halftime killed him and he spent most of the third and fourth quarters on the sidelines. But Pittsburgh fans shouldn’t fret because Doug Legursky played well in the AFC title game and could probably start for a lot of teams. That’s not to say that Pouncey’s injury isn’t a factor because it is – especially considering Packers’ NT B.J. Raji has been a dominant force this postseason. But if he plays, he probably will be limited. If he doesn’t, then Legursky is at least capable of having a good game. Either way, the situation isn’t worth agonizing over every…single…minute…of…every…single…day leading up to the game.

4. Who’s favored and who’s the underdog.
I’ll admit I was surprised to see that Pittsburgh was the underdog in this matchup. I even thought to myself, “The Steelers get to play the underdog role? Bet next month’s rent on Pittsburgh. Let it riiiiiiiiiiiide!” But there’s no sense getting caught up in which team is favored and which is the underdog. Oddsmakers know that the Packers have been the public’s spunky sixth-seeded darlings since the postseason began, so of course they’re going to favor Green Bay. Not only are the Packers a great team and could easily win outright, they also have the majority of the public’s backing. Plus, oddsmakers know that morons like me will look at the line and think, “Give me the points with the Steelers annnnnnddddd let it riiiiiiiiiiiiide!” therefore creating the balanced action that they want on the biggest game of the year. So while the Steelers probably love playing the underdog role, the spread truly doesn’t mean anything in the end when it comes to finding an advantage for either team.

Comment Fodder: What are some other overrated factors that you’re tired of hearing about? I’ll totally except anything about Troy Polamalu and Clay Matthews’ hair.

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