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Green Bay Packers: What to Keep an Eye on in Super Bowl XLV

Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood.   Perhaps nobody other than Steve Young has had success quicker replacing their legendary predecessor at quarterback.  It’s no easy task.  Just ask Miami, Denver, and Buffalo how difficult the process is of finding another franchise quarterback.  But in just three seasons in the post-Favre era in Green Bay, Rodgers has the Packers on verge of bringing a title back to Titletown.  His rapid ascent up the quarterback ladder in the NFL could be complete this evening.  Rodgers’ three playoff wins this postseason matches the total number of playoff Favre had since Green Bay won Super Bowl XXI in 1997.  His fourth win in these playoffs would ensure legendary status among the cheesehead faithful.

Greasy, Fast Speed.   Cowboys Stadium is an indoor stadium, and that’s just the type of environment Green Bay thrives in.  In 12 indoor games, including the playoffs, since 2008, the Packers have average almost 32 points per game.  Over that 12-game span, Rodgers has thrown 25 touchdowns to just six interceptions, better than a four to one ratio of TD’s to INT’s.  In their only indoor game in the playoffs, Rodgers was a picture of perfection with just five incompletions, nearly 400 passing yards and three touchdowns.   Green Bay’s point total in two indoor playoff games the past two seasons against Arizona and Atlanta:  45 and 48 points respectively.  FYI:  Pittsburgh lost their lone game played indoors this season, a 20-10 loss at New Orleans in which Drew Brees threw for 305 yards.

Starks on the run.   Green Bay’s rookie rusher out of the University of Buffalo, we got know James Starks after he grounded out 123 yards rushing in the Packers’ wild card round victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.   He’s earned the trust of the coaching staff, which has earned Starks more touches.  In each of Green Bay’s playoff games, Starks has managed at least 20 carries.  Against the league’s top rated rushing defense, this will be Starks’ biggest test.  It’s not often a rookie runner, let alone a veteran rusher, gets the better of Pittsburgh’s defense so temper your expectations of Starks’ rushing output.  But he’ll play a vital role in whether or not the Green Bay offense becomes one dimensional if Starks doesn’t reach the high teens or low twenties in carries.

No experience is good experience.  The Packers have only two players on the roster who have played in a Super Bowl: Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett.  So Green Bay spent this week learning on the fly, dealing with the whirlwind media coverage while trying to maintain a sense of normalcy and not straying far from their normal routines.  Green Bay is the second youngest team in the NFL, but that youth might not be such a bad thing, especially is you’re Aaron Rodgers.  Quarterback playing in their first Super Bowl haven’t done too shabby:  Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, Peyton and Eli Manning all won in their first trip to the Super Bowl.

Bringing the Lombardi Trophy back home.  Green Bay won the first two Super Bowls and subsequently, the trophy was re-named the Lombardi Trophy upon Lombardi’s passing in 1970 due to cancer.  The Packers are attempting to claim their fourth title in five Super Bowl appearances and their 13th title since 1929.  The green and yellow dominated the 60’s, winning five times but didn’t went 29 years between Super Bowl appearances.  Now back in the big game 13 years after their last Super Bowl berth in 1998, the Packers could join Dallas and Pittsburgh as the only teams in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with three different coaches.

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