The Green Bay Packers (13-6 SU, 12-7 ATS) are only the second No. 6 seed in NFL playoff history to advance to the Super Bowl, and they’ve opened as favorites against the Pittsburgh Steelers (14-4 SU, 12-6 ATS) for SB XLV at Cowboys Stadium (6:30 PM ET, FOX).


The NFL prides itself on parity, and the early betting odds for Super Bowl XLV reflect that. The Green Bay Packers didn’t play a single home game in getting to the big game for the first time since 1998, but that didn’t stop sportsbooks from offering them up as 2.5-point chalk against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Before all you Pittsburgh backers call disrespect, enjoy the points. Besides, at least in terms of the winning spread wager, the underdog has been tremendously successful over the last decade. The team taking points into the game is 7-2 ATS in the last nine Super Bowl matchups, including last year when New Orleans (+4.5) upset Indianapolis 31-17 at Sun Life Stadium.

The total for SB XLV opened at 45.5 following the completion of the conference championship games on Sunday night.

Aaron RodgersRetired and buried

Aaron Rodgers is doing an excellent job making Green Bay bettors forget about the legendary Brett Favre, and he’s front and center for the grand finale in Arlington.

Rodgers carries the highest postseason passer rating in NFL history (minimum 100 attempts) into the Super Bowl, even if he put in an average performance at best in the Packers’ 21-14 win over Chicago in the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on Sunday afternoon.

Rodgers finished 17 of 30 for 244 yards with two interceptions against the Bears, although he did rush for 39 yards on seven carries with a score on the ground in the Green Bay payday as 3.5-point faves.

The Packers ride into their date with the Steelers winners of five straight games SU (4-1 ATS) since their 31-27 loss at New England on December 19 in a game in which Rodgers (concussion) didn’t play. Overall, Green Bay is 10-3 SU and against the number in its last 13 games including the playoffs.

Know your enemy

The mainstream media will try to bill the game as the Packers’ offense against the Steelers’ defense, but Green Bay’s defense is one of the best in the business. The Packers finished the regular season ranked fifth in passing (257.8 YPG), but they were also fifth in total defense (309.1 YPG) and against the pass (194.2 YPG) and second in scoring defense (15.0 PPG).

In fact, football purists have to love this Super Bowl matchup with all the discussion about the changing face of the NFL as a pass-first, ask-questions-later league. The regular season leader in scoring defense (14.5 PPG), Pittsburgh was second in total defense (276.8 YPG) and first against the run (62.8 YPG).

Defense wins championships? Seems like it this year: The last two teams standing were ranked first and second in points allowed.

Ben RoethlisbergerThe regulars

The Steelers (-4) held off the Jets 24-19 in the AFC Championship Game at Heinz Field on Sunday night, and with the victory, they advanced to their third Super Bowl in the last six years.

Pittsburgh led 24-3 at the half against New York, which got back in the game thanks to some sloppy play by the Steelers’ offense. Ben Roethlisberger went 10 of 19 for 133 yards with two picks in the victory, as Rashard Mendenhall (121 yards rushing, 27 attempts, TD) led a Pittsburgh ground game that posted 166 yards against the Jets.

The Steelers roll into Cowboys Stadium 8-1 SU and a solid 7-2 ATS since their 39-26 loss to the Patriots (+4.5) on November 14, but their road record is the biggest thing to take away from their season. Pittsburgh’s only loss away from Heinz Field came in a 20-10 defeat at New Orleans (-1.5) on Halloween.

Injury watch

Steelers’ Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey left in the first quarter of the AFC Championship Game with a left ankle injury and did not return. Pouncey was replaced by Doug Legursky, who contributed to a botched snap that resulted in a Pittsburgh safety in the fourth quarter on Sunday, keep an eye on the injury page to see how things go.