XLV: Following up on Warner's advice

February, 3, 2011
2/03/11
10:30
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- On Monday, we passed along some credible advice from former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner: The best way to attack the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense is to spread it out with multiple receivers, forcing it to match one of its outside linebackers on a receiver or take them out of the game altogether.

"You've got four great wide receivers, guys that made plays all year long," Warner said on ESPN's "First Take." "Use those receivers. Spread out the defense. Force them to do something different than what they want to."

As a follow-up, it's worth noting how the Steelers' defense has performed when teams have taken that approach by utilizing three- and four-receiver sets.

As the chart shows, the Steelers held opposing quarterbacks to the second-lowest passer rating in the league this season when facing at least three receivers. They allowed nine touchdown passes and had 15 interceptions in those situations.

And even when we filter that number to four or more wide receivers, we find the Steelers have held up well. Thanks to some help from David Bearman and Allison Loucks of ESPN Stats & Information, we can present the following numbers on the 42 plays this season when Steelers opponents have had at least four receivers on the field.

Completions: 21
Attempts: 39
Pct. 53.8
Yards: 235
TD: 1
INT: 2
Sacks: 3
Rating: 61.4

In recent days, some of you have objected to relying on these types of statistics to predict what might happen in Super Bowl XLV. That is not my intent. These numbers provide only a guide.

As we know, the Packers have exceptional depth and skill are their receiver position. Their four-deep is better than most teams.

But with that said, it's worth investigating what type of matchup this will be. The numbers, based on an extended look at the Steelers over a 16-game season, suggest it will be strength on strength. Aren't those the best kind?

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