Four questions surrounding Super Bowl XLV

This series is brought to you by T.G.I. Fridays®, encouraging you to Rush in and Tackle their new Game Time Menu!

In our final sponsored post for T.G.I. Friday’s, here are five questions surrounding the Packers and Steelers as they prepare for Super Bowl XLV.

1. Can the Steelers’ O-line hold up?
While the team hasn’t officially ruled him out, it appears as though center Maurkice Pouncey won’t play on Sunday. That means Doug Legursky will once again take his place, just as he did in the AFC title game when Pouncey first suffered the high ankle sprain. Legursky could probably start for many teams around the league, but he’s not the same player Pouncey is. He’s not as strong at the point of attack and he isn’t the mauler Pouncey is in the running game. There’s no doubt Legursky will have his hands full against Packers’ NT B.J. Raji, who has had quite the postseason so far. Of course, Legursky might not be the Steelers’ biggest problem along their offensive line. People forget that they’re starting two backup offensive tackles in Flozell Adams and Jonathan Scott, and the latter could have a ton of problems with Clay Matthews. Granted, the Steelers have averaged nearly four touchdowns thus far in the postseason, so clearly they’ve been able to mask their weaknesses. That said, whether or not their O-line can hold up against the Packers’ stout pass-rush is arguably the biggest question surrounding their chances of winning.

2. Will the Packers be able to slow Mendenhall?
When Rashard Mendenhall rushed for over 80 yards this season (including in the playoffs), the Steelers were 6-1. The Packers had trouble this year with power rushing attacks. When teams were patient with the running game and kept pounding the edges of Green Bay’s defense, they had a fair amount of success. The Packers yielded 4.5 yards per carry this season, which was among the worst in the NFL in that category. If the Steelers can get Mendenhall going early, they’ll accomplish a couple of things in the process. For starters, they’ll leave Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay’s high-powered passing game on the sidelines. The Steelers will also be able to control the tempo of the game and if Green Bay’s safeties have to come up and play run support, then Pittsburgh could open up the play action pass. The Packers must stop Mendenhall.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings (L) and wide receiver Donald Driver play with a video camera prior to Media Day for Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas on February 1, 2011. The Pittsburgh Steelers will take on the Green Bay Packers on February 6, 2011. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg

3. Can the Steelers’ corners match up?
Ike Taylor isn’t a playmaker in the sense that he’ll record a ton of interceptions every year, but he’s as steady as they come in coverage. He certainly has his work cut out for him this Sunday when he lines up opposite Greg Jennings, but the Steelers don’t have to worry much about Taylor. The same can’t be said on the other side, where Bryant McFadden has been dealing with an abdominal injury. He says he’s 100%, but we’ll find out whether that’s true or not on Sunday. Either way, expect Green Bay to attack both McFadden and nickel back William Gay early and often. The Packers want to be able to spread the field against the Steelers and keep Gay in the game as much as possible. Pittsburgh does its most damage when it can keep its base defense on the field and use linebackers LaMarr Woodley and/or James Harrison as pass-rushers. Whether or not Taylor, McFadden and Gay can be physical with Jennings, Donald Driver and James Jones is the question. Teams like the Eagles and Falcons couldn’t, which is why they’ll be at home this Sunday.

4. Can McCarthy avoid being conservative?
Mike McCarthy has a habit of sitting on leads after his team builds them. He did it against the Eagles in the Wildcard Round and it almost cost his team a victory. The following week, he stayed aggressive with his playcalling and decision-making against the Falcons and Green Bay won by nearly four touchdowns. He tried to stay aggressive against the Bears in the second half, but to Chicago’s credit, its defense played great. How will McCarthy handle coaching in his first Super Bowl? Mike Tomlin has more experience and already has a ring, so the pressure is on McCarthy in his first go-around. If the Packers are able to build a lead, will he play conservative or will he keep his foot on the gas? Pittsburgh has a habit of winning close games in the final minutes, so it would be best if Green Bay avoided having the outcome be decided on the final drive.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Related Posts