Blood in the water

I remember being perplexed and amazed by Georges Seurat paintings as a child. Back in those days, pointillism was a radical form of artistic expression - the Packers Blog of the late 1800s, really. You youngsters may be more familiar with Chuck Close's work. It's equally impressive. Makes you wonder about perspective and reality, or at least makes you appreciate it.  

The further away we get from the 2009 NFL draft, the better Creepy Ted's work looks, and the closer the Packers get to their record 13th Championship. If the Packers are successful in completing that goal on Sunday, BJ Raji and Clay Matthews III must have great, disruptive games, and I think they will - they are, to use an example from the wild, predators with the advantage.  This concept explains why walleyes are more likely to feed at night, when their excellent vision lets them hunt more effectively. The match-up with the Steelers presents a similar advantage to our run and pass defense, which will allow them to attack at will.

I pulled out the VHS tape of the Packers-Steelers game from last year, and although the finish was heart-breaking to watch, the game was also quite informative, even though so much has changed in the past year: On defense, Jarrett Bush is no longer playing nickel and Troy Polamalu is back (although maybe not 100%), and these are both positives for their respective teams. And while Raji and Matthews had fine rookie seasons, I would argue we should expect much more from them both this time around (although Clay registered several sacks in the first meeting). Tramon has also taken giant strides since that game, with a full year of NFL starts now under his belt. And Woodsen is still Woodsen. We are, for the most part, healthy and playing fast. Sure, the Steelers are the #1 rated defense and they are a great unit - they will give us problems - but I have to give the edge to the Packers here.

Part of this is the reasons I gave above - numerous players becoming every-down play-makers - but what really tilts the field in favor of the Green and Gold is the troubles Pittsburgh is having with their offensive line. Every-one wants to compare Dom and Dick abstractly, defense against defense, but I'm not looking at the defenses them-selves, so much as who they are lining up against, dear readers. Since the '09 game the Steelers O-line has taken at least one step back-wards, and even if they get Pouncey back, he'll be less-than-explosive. I'm not taking a thing away from the Steelers defense, but guys like Raji and Matthews should smell blood in the water when they take the field on Sunday. The offensive lines are respective weak-nesses for each team, in reality, but this is the key advantage for the Packers.

I'd go into this more, but the good folks at Football Outsiders make the thorough and impressive case very nicely, concluding that "This game's biggest mismatch is ... Matthews versus those mediocre Pittsburgh tackles in pass protection." And of course, Raji will have an equally-disruptive impact against whoever is playing the interior offensive line.

With the perspective of time it seems Ted Thompson may see fully-formed portraits where others find random dots. Much has been said this week about his visionary decision to stake his reputation to Ronnie Rodgers, and the Packers would never had made the Super-Bowl without #12, but looking at the match-up this Sunday, it may very well be Thompson's twin first-rounders from the '09 draft that make the key difference in bringing the Lombardi Trophy back home, crystal clear and brilliantly beautiful.

Until next time,