Super Bowl Spread and Odds – Packers Steelers Spread Prediction

The stage is finally set for Super Bowl Sunday. The teams have been decided, media day has come and gone, and we can finally focus on the game itself. While it goes without saying that there is a tremendous amount of hype surrounding a game like this, it feels like this year the game may actually live up to it. We have the top two defensive teams in the league, but there is still enough offensive firepower for a healthy amount of points to be scored. There are plenty of storylines and matchups to watch out for, but the overarching theme will be which offense can penetrate through the formidable defensive units that each team possesses. It was not an easy road for either team, as both almost gave in to frenzied comebacks by the opposition in the conference championship games. The fact that these two teams are not invincible, Green Bay lost to Detroit this year for goodness sakes, actually makes the game more intriguing. Both teams have plenty of strengths, but also a couple of weaknesses, and it will be up to each coaching staff to figure out a way to exploit these soft spots.

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Super Bowl Spread Comparison

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PITTSBURGH
GREEN BAY
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+3 (-115)
-2.5 (-115)

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On paper, there is very little to separate these two squads. Toss aside playoff seedings and even regular season records. A look at the numbers indicates just how close these clubs are. On offense, Green Bay scores 0.9 more points per game than Pittsburgh, sitting at 24.3. The difference is even smaller on defense, as the Steelers are allowing a league best 14.5, while the Packers give up just 15 points per game. It is these numbers that explain why the line is so small. No team has an obvious edge, as both defenses are stellar and both offenses have explosive capabilities. There is some debate as to where the line will end up by the time kickoff occurs, but at the moment it is sitting at -2.5 for the Packers. If you explore different sites, you are also likely to find everything from -2 to -3, but Vegas seems to be holding at -2.5. The biggest reason for Green Bay being a slight favorite despite the lower seeding is one man: Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has been dynamite this season, and has stepped up his game even further during the postseason. While he didn’t have his best game in Chicago two weeks ago, you can blame some of that on the cold weather. Now Rodgers will be playing in a stadium with a controlled temperature, which obviously suits him quite well considering his numbers in Atlanta under similar circumstances. For all of the accolades that the Steelers defense earns, and deservedly so, they are a little weak in the secondary. Conversely, they are all but impossible to run on, leading the league in fewest rushing yards per game. This set up suits Green Bay just fine, as they are almost entirely devoted to being a passing offense. Yes, James Starks has done a respectable job for the Packers during the postseason, but realistically one can’t imagine that Mike McCarthy will be giving him too heavy a workload against the Steel Wall. The Packers will stick to what works best for them, and conveniently that is exactly where Pittsburgh’s weakness lies. Look for them to go after cornerback Bryant McFadden, who is the weak link in that secondary. If they can get Greg Jennings lined up against McFadden for most of the snaps, that is a matchup that Rodgers will look to capitalize on as much as possible. Conversely, Pittsburgh needs to get their running game going early and maintain it throughout the game. The Packers rank near the bottom of the table in yards per carry at 4.7, so Rashard Mendenhall will be counted on to shoulder a heavy load in this game. If the Steelers can get Mendenhall to systematically move the ball down the field, not only will they be in position for Ben Roethlisberger to make some throws from play action, but it will also keep Rodgers and the Packers offense off the field for longer. This is integral for the Steelers, as their best chance of winning will be through careful game and clock management.

The Line opened up at -2.5 in favor of the Packers, and that is where it still sits at most betting outlets. However, there is some heavy talk about shifting it to -3, and some have already made the shift in that direction. Now all that’s left to ask is: where does the smart money go? While this should be a close contest, as the line suggests, this game will be decided, as it often is, by the better quarterback. In this case, it is Aaron Rodgers. His ability to make precision passes to whoever is open is going to give the Steelers defense headaches all day. It also helps that Rodgers has a very talented and underrated receiving corps, even without tight end Jermichael Finley. Greg Jennings is one of the best receivers in the league, but even beyond that, the Packers can rely on veteran Donald Driver and up-and-comers Jordy Nelson and James Jones to make some big catches as well. The Steelers are simply too weak in the secondary to properly cover all of these targets, and Rodgers will be happy to throw to whoever has the best matchup or the weakest coverage. The fact that they won’t be able to run isn’t as big a deal as it was for the Jets or Ravens. The simple reason for that is that Green Bay hasn’t run the ball well all season. They are one of those rare teams that can have essentially a one-dimensional offense and still have great success with it. Green Bay is 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games, and 6-2 ATS as a favorite. They also respond well to playing on turf, where they are 8-3-1 ATS. Meanwhile, the Steelers are 2-5 ATS when they have totaled more than 150 rushing yards in the previous game, and are also 2-5 ATS when they have managed less than 150 passing yards. The very fact that Roethlisberger threw for so few yards in his last game should tell you that he may not entirely be at his best right now, and the Packers defense is just as good as New York’s. If you compare the two defenses, it is fair to say that its more or less a wash, so the advantage needs to come from the better offense. In this case, it is not as close, as Green Bay simply have more weapons and more firepower than Pittsburgh. Yes, the Steelers are difficult to score on, but thus far in the postseason they have faced Joe Flacco and Mark Sanchez, two quarterbacks nowhere near the same level as Aaron Rodgers. This will be a much stiffer test for Pittsburgh, and one in which they will ultimately fail. One final reason to put your money on Green Bay is Troy Polamalu. He is quite clearly not at 100%, as he was basically invisible in both playoffs games so far. He does have a couple weeks of rest under his belt, but regardless it is hard to trust that he will be at his best until proven otherwise. Without a fully healthy Polamalu, the Steelers will simply not be able to contain the Green Bay offense for four quarters.

Pick: Green Bay Packers -2.5 (-110)

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