The Green Bay Packers will beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-17, in Sunday's Super Bowl. At least that's the prediction of two video-game experts who, at City Paper's request, recreated the game on Madden NFL 2011.
Carl Clendenin and Dan "Truth" Brown, co-owners of the site Askmadden.com, faced off -- Clendenin as the Steelers and Brown as the Packers. (Askmadden.com offers forums, articles, tips and seminars to game devotees.)
Brown is a professional Madden player who has been featured on ESPN. Clendenin is also a tournament player, with a background in computer science.
Clendenin admits that Brown is the better of the two players. However, Clendenin says some factors in the simulated match-up lead him to think the Packers may have advantages of their own.
By halftime, the Steelers were trailing by a mere 14-10. But the Pittsburgh defense racked up some injuries that blew the game wide open.
The Packers broke it open in the third quarter, when a scrambling Aaron Rodgers hit rookie tight end Andrew Quarless -- the offensive hero for the Packers -- in double coverage.
"For the Steelers, it was easy to key in on [wide receivers Greg] Jennings and [Donald] Driver," says Clendenin. "With little running game, the Packers took what the Steelers gave them. And that meant Quarless."
The Steelers faced long drives throughout the game, says Clendenin, with Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk hounding Ben Roethlisberger. (The game awarded Hawk MVP honors for his performance; "He was a beast," says Clendenin.) With their QB harried, he says, "The Steelers made costly mistakes in their own territory" -- turning the ball over -- "that gave the Packers the short field."
So will this result hold on Sunday? The Steelers could pull it out if they can lock down the Packers offense, Clendenin says. But "if we see a couple injuries in the Steelers secondary," he warns, "we have to give the nod to the Packers."