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Super Bowl X-Factor

Streeter Lecka, Getty Images

There are many different storylines to this weekend’s Super Bowl.  Aaron Rodgers’ first time in the big game, Doug Legursky’s first start at center and Ben Roethlisburger’s hangover.

But there’s only one x-factor.

His name is James Starks.  That’s right, the Green Bay rookie running back could make the biggest difference in this game.

If Green Bay can get more than 70 yards rushing against the Steelers defense, that would be gravy.  Starks has been one of the biggest playoff surprises in the post-season.  He’s got 263 yards rushing in 3 playoff games.  Pittsburgh is the league’s No. 1 rushing defense all season.  And they have allowed just 105 total rushing yards on 40 carries (2.6 average) in their first two post-season games.

If Starks has a big game it will open things up for Aaron Rodgers.  If the Steelers aren’t keying on Rodgers to throw the ball every down, that will be a good thing for the Packers.   But if the Packers can’t run, the Steelers secondary will step up and make it a rough day for Aaron Rodgers.

The success of the Packers running game will keep the Steelers offense off the field.  Green Bay is a big-play offense – which means quick strikes – which means their defense is on the field longer.  Look what happened when Starks ran wild against the Eagles – Philly ran out of time in their comeback bid.

Finally a big game by Starks will keep Green Bay out of potential 3rd and long situations.  If it’s 3rd and long against the Steelers defense, that means they’ll just tee off on Rodgers.  You’ve got to keep Pittsburgh’s defense off-balance.

Oh by the way,  I think the Steelers will win the game, 20-13.

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