Sunday, February 6, 2011
PITTSBURGH @ GREEN BAY (-3)
What wins championships in football? Defense, a leader behind center, GREAT coaching, experience, and heart.
Compare the two teams:
Both have solid defenses.
Both have their leader behind center.
The Steelers have Tomlin who has proved to be a great coach, however, Mike McCarthy is not considered a "great" coach throughout the NFL. Do not get me wrong with that statement. McCarthy is a very good coach, a super bowl win today would make him a great coach, but he is a very good coach that prepares very well for games.
Both teams have heart, but I lean towards Pittsburgh here as the have the older, more experienced veterans on the defensive side of the ball and, oh yeah, that one guy split out to Big Ben's right (Hines Ward).
This should be a great game. Vegas has the wrong team favored in my opinion, but needless to say even if Pitt was giving the points I would still have no hesitation taking them.
MY PRESEASON SUPERBOWL MATCHUP was GREEN BAY vs PITTSBURGH! I have had this right since day 1, and since day 1 I have had the Steelers winning the big game. And it will not change today. Timmons or Woodley will come up with a sack fumble that changes the momentum of this game dramatically, and the Steelers win a classic grind out football game. Big Ben plays well, Timmons is my MVP pick, and Big Ben gets another ring.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS 20 - GREEN BAY PACKERS 16
STEELERS & Under
PITTSBURGH @ GREEN BAY (-3)
The Packers, the Steelers and the Cowboys are all what we call “public” teams. They have large fan bases throughout the country and the uninformed gambler will place bets on these teams without objectively considering them. This popularity along with ESPN’s penchant for creating inane stories to debate spurred a discussion over who is really America’s Team. It’s a title NFL Films assigned to the Dallas Cowboys many years ago and has spurred resentment ever since. ESPN.com as well as a few shows had this debate, and of course most argued the Steelers or the Packers were in fact America’s Team. Right. You know why you don’t hear Dallas fans defending this title? Because they don’t have to- they’re America’s Team, don’t forget it.
Aaron Rodgers is a bona-fide star. He’s the second best scramblers next to Vick and he’s arguably the best (at least the hottest) passer in the league. Of course, Rodgers has a tremendously talented group of receivers around him. The Packers are a running game away from having an absolutely dominant offense. These receivers against the Steelers’ secondary is the key match up to watch. Pittsburgh allowed Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes to break lose a couple of time. If it weren’t for some dicey play calling and the feast or famine style of Mark Sanchez, they could easily have lost the AFC title game. I think this game rests on the Steelers ability to get enough of a pass rush on Rodgers to relive the pressure form this secondary. The Packers will not be able to run on Pittsburgh. The tandem of Starks and Jackson doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of Steeler nation. Rodgers poses the biggest rushing threat to the Steelers. However, Packers coach Mike McCarthy seems stubbornly committed to running the ball. In the past, he has claimed that a team must run the ball 30 times to win a game. I think the early 20’s would be a more realistic approach in this game. The lack of a running game will be mitigated with quick slant passes. Again, this puts the pressure on the Steelers’ secondary, who must make tackles or else risk putting the speedy Packers’ receivers in the open field.
Conversely, I feel the Steelers can and will run the ball. I love what Rashard Mendenhall has done with the ball in his hands. Over the past few games, Mendenhall emerged as the workhorse back Pittsburg thought they were getting in the ’08 draft. He didn’t have a lot of yards against the stingy Baltimore D, but he did rack up two touchdowns. Against the Jets, Mendenhall went off for just under 150 yards and a score. He stands as the key for the Steelers.
Last week, Roethlisberger got it done in the 4th. However, he didn’t have a pass longer than 25 yards. Mendenhall kept the offense moving and alleviated the need for Big Ben to find guys like Mike Wallace for large gains. Mendenhall could keep Rodgers off the field and allow the Steelers to control the clock.
However, I do not feel comfortable entrusting my money to mostly underachieving running back. I love Rodgers, Jennings, Driver et al. They’re going to bring home the trophy named for a man who built their franchise and get the cover in the process.
PICK: GREEN BAY 37 - Pittsburgh 24
TAKE GB & OVER
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Danny & ERIC Select:
Tom Brady QB New England Patriots:
Yes, the Patriots disappointed in the playoffs but this was never supposed to be their year and if it were for a stellar year from Brady, no one would have given them the hype. A 111.00 rating 3,900 yards, 36 TD’s, and just 4 INTs without a real #1 receiver, a couple of rookie tight ends and a committee of no name running backs. He fell flat in the playoffs but played a terrific regular season.
Michael Vick: His performances this season were absolutely incredible. His comeback against the New York Giants may go down as one of the best comebacks in NFL history. Vick had a terrific season.
Jamaal Charles RB Kansas City Chiefs
Charles finished 149 yards behind league leader Arian Foster in rushing yards and two-hundredths of a yard behind all-time leader Jim Brown in yards per carry. Jamaal Charles’ stats could have taken a big hit after the Chiefs acquired Thomas Jones yet he went on to amass close to 1500 yards on just 230 carries.
Arian Foster RB Houston Texans
Foster led the league in touchdowns (16), 3rd in rushing attempts, 1st in total rushing yards (1,616), and was the only running back to average over 100 rushing yards per game. With a defense the Texans are a complete team. Foster proved his worth this season and elevated himself into top running back status.
Phillip Rivers: At one point appeared he would threaten Marino’s all time passing yards record. Finished with a bad record and great stats.
Michael Vick: He didn't play a full season, if he did this award is his.
Clay Matthews LB Green Bay Packers
Matthews emerged as a superstar in 2010. The Packers’ defense was largely responsible for their 2009 playoff exit against the Cardinals. Matthews played a large part in transforming the defense into a group the Pack could hang its hat on. Matthews played his way into league wide stardom accruing 13.5 sacks and forcing opposing teams to account for him with 2 or more men at all times.
Troy Polamalu S Pittsburgh Steelers
Polamalu is the leader of arguably the best defense in the NFL. 7 interceptions this year in 15 regular season games, one returned to the house, and 11 pass deflections. This guy is the epitome of the word "ballhawk". His defense only allowed over 22 points 1 time this season (loss at New England 26-39). Troy plays at a level that no one else in the NFL can get too. Don't get me wrong Ed Reed can do great things in the secondary, but Troy covers everything from a defensive aspect. Troy plays centerfield just as good as Reed, Troy causes turnovers (sack fumble vs Baltimore ring a bell), and Troy is around the ball on every rushing attempt. The guy is a beast, a leader, and my DEF MVP.
Julius Peppers: Turned back into the pro bowlers he once was and helped the Bear’s defense reinvent itself.
Ed Reed: The man missed a chunk of the year and still led the league in picks. Remove him from Baltimore’s secondary and they’re an average team.
Flub of the Year:
DANNY & ERIC:
The McNabb trade (from a Redskins perspective). New coach Mike Shanahan let Jason Campbell walk and elected not to bring in a young QB in of trading away a much needed draft pick for McNabb. McNabb struggled and Shanahan threw him to the wolves claiming he wasn’t in good enough shape for a two minute drill then benched him for good in favor of the immortal Rex Grossman.
Minnesota Vikings - Don't even try to blame this on Farve. Brett played well enough in the early going to keep the Vikings competitive. I place the blame on the offensive game plans for the first half of the year. Adrian Peterson only averaging 18+ rushing attempts per game?? Then you trade for Randy Moss and you blow that opportunity. This was a complete mess, and now they are without a quarterback for next season.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
DANNY & ERIC:
Sam Bradford QB St. Louis
Bradford took a terrible team and transformed them into a borderline playoff squad. Bradford gave the Rams a great deal to look forward to and years of, at the very least, respectability. His ability to come back from being down and developing 4th quarter drives/big plays shows how strong Bradford is mentally.
Dez Bryant: Bryant started slow but took off amassing 6 receiving scores and 2 return touchdowns before succumbing to a season-ending ankle injury against Indy.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
DANNY & ERIC:
Ndamukong Suh DT Detroit Lions
You cannot disagree here. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle was a stud all 16 games. But as you may know, Suh plays for Detroit so many of us missed out on a chance to see a lot of him. He was every bit the player the Lions hoped for headed into last year’s draft. Along with Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and most importantly, the departure of Matt Millen, the Lions have a great base upon which to build.
Devin McCourty CB New England Patriots - 7 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and solidifying one side of the Patriots secondary McCourty was an absolute stud.
Coach of the Year:
Mike McCarthy Green Bay
The Packers looked dead early in the year and McCarthy rallied the troops to make a Super Bowl run. If they win the SB, McCarthy etches his name alongside Holmgren and Lombardy.
Bill Belichick Head Coach New England Patriots
The Patriots dominated the NFL during the regular season once they got rid of one of the best wide receivers of all time. Remember everyone has been saying Moss made Welker look better than he really is, well, Moss left and Welker still performed just as well. Belichick got his defense to overachieve all season. He got the most out of this team, I think this was one of his best regular season coaching jobs of his career.
Pete Carroll: He took a dreadful Seattle team to the playoffs and then knocked off the defending champs- that deserves something.
Player with the most to prove:
DANNY & ERIC Select:
Carson Palmer QB Cincinnati Bengals
Palmer hasn’t played up to his reputation in a couple of years. Last season he blamed injury, this year he put up decent numbers that amounted to just a couple of wins. He might get dealt in the offseason, he might not, but either way he needs to bounce back or he could become the next Duante Culpeper just looking for a sucker to give him a few bucks.
Tony Romo: Romo’s been through two coaches and has all sorts of high priced talent. Is he Roger Staubach or Danny White? Its beginning too look like the latter.
Jay Cutler: A late addition. After his casual demeanor on the bench in the playoff loss in Chicago, Cutler needs to bounce back in a big way and win back the Bears’ faithful.