Today, at Cowboys Stadium just outside of Dallas, the Pittsburgh Steelers face the Green Bay Packers for the right to hold up the 45th edition of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Both teams have earned their right to be here, and each will provide a stern test to the other. The Steelers bring experience in the big game to the table while the Packers show their eagerness to sit at the head of that table.
While the Steelers have won two titles in the past five years, many are skeptical of the opponents they faced in Tampa and Detroit.
The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks, while being respected at the time, were really flash in the pans and were not expected to challenge for the George Halas Trophy for seasons to come. Things could not be more different with the Packers and their cheese-head followers.
Green Bay appears to have what it takes to be a heavyweight contender for some time. Let's look deeper into today's matchups:
3-4 vs. 3-4
Both of these teams play the 3-4 scheme on defense. The key up front is the nose tackle's ability to eat up two, sometimes three, blockers at a time.
The Steelers have had this for some time in perennial Pro Bowler Casey Hampton. The former Longhorn star commands a constant double team, and his ability to penetrate engulfs the running game.
This is evident by the Steelers giving up only 62.8 rushing yards a game during the regular season, fifth best all-time. B.J. Raji, the second-year Green Bay NT from Boston College, provides a big problem for the middle of the Steelers' offensive line. If Maurkice Pouncey is indeed out for today, look for Raji's matchup with backup Doug Legursky as being critical.
Linebacker Clay Mathews has become a star and will be coming from all angles at Ben Roethlisberger.
The Packers also boast former Defense Player of the Year in CB Charles Woodson. The Steelers counter with the 2008 version in James Harrison and the current title holder, Troy Polamalu.
Big Ben vs. Mr. Rodgers
This quarterback matchup is awesome - Roethlisberger, a two-time ring holder, against run-and-gun Aaron Rodgers.
Big Ben has valuable big-game experience and has taken his team to the promised land when called upon. This is evident by the eight-play, 78-yard drive culminating in the toe-tapping, game-clinching TD pass from Ben to Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLIII.
Ben also is a load to bring down. He has shown time and again the ability to extend the play. Love him or hate him, Roethlisberger has a chance to win his third championship today. That would put him in Canton company with Aikman, Brady, Bradshaw and Montana.
Rodgers was been extraordinary in the playoffs and has taken it to another level. The use of the West Coast offense has giving him the ability to spread the ball around and use his talented receiving corp. His running ability provides another dimension for the Blitzburgh D to prepare for.
The X factor(s)
RB Rashard Mendenhall can be the difference maker today. While the Green Bay defense is giving up a stingy 69 yards a game in the playoffs, the number ballooned to 119 in the regular season.
There are leaks in that front seven against the run. Mendenhall needs to find and exploit them. Special teams also play huge factors and in the big game, it's magnified even more.
Can kicker Sean Suisham hold up under the brightest of lights? Will Mike Tomlin become the first coach to win two Super Bowl's before the age of 40? The answer to both is yes. Look for a Polamalu pick at a critical time, and Ben to come through again when it matters most.
My prediction is Steelers 27, Packers 17.
Andros is a frequent contributor to the Voice of the Fan, usually commenting on the Steelers.