It is the eve of the Super Bowl and the clock is winding down before kickoff. The player’s nerves are running wild and emotions are running on high.
On one side you have the ridiculously good Steeler’s defense against Arizona’s high powered air attack. Match ups could be the key to the game. Who will win? Who will be the MVP? Here are the keys to the game.
Play calling and match ups will be the key to winning the game on both sides of the ball. I’ll break them down for you.
The first key match up on defense for the Steelers is Ike Taylor vs. Larry Fitzgerald. Taylor must contain Fitzgerald for the Steelers to win. If Taylor can keep Fitzgerald in front of him then he can be contained. Fitzgerald hurts defenses by going over the top. There is no doubt in my mind that Taylor will have help over the top by Ryan Clark, but Clark is also crucial in run support. If Taylor holds Fitzgerald under 100 yards or out of the end zone the Steelers have a good chance of winning.
The second key match up is Kurt Warner vs. James Farrior. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley get the press but Farrior is still the best linebacker on that team. If Farrior comes out of the game the captain of the defense is gone. All the plays go in through Farrior. Farrior spends a lot of time spying the QB so Warner needs to watch him. Farrior needs to spy and cut off Warner’s short throwing lanes.
Now the match ups for Arizona’s defense. Antrel Rolle vs. Hines Ward. Rolle must prevent the short passes and yards after the catch from Ward. Ward may not be at full health but must be respected. Pittsburgh has proven they have other options outside of Ward but he is still the primary target on third down. Third downs will be very key in this game.
Next is Ben Roethlisberger vs. Adrian Wilson. Wilson is Arizona’s version of Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu. Wilson can be a free runner at times and sack the QB. Roethlisberger needs to recognize where Wilson is in the defensive set to make the correct audible. The same can be said about Warner recognizing Polamalu. Wilson can also make plays in the defense and become a big hitter over the top. Arizona doesn’t have the big names Pittsburgh does on defense but still has very good play makers.
Overall keys to the game for the Cardinals is forcing Roethlisberger to make turnovers. Arizona needs to bring pressure and force Roethlisberger to make quick decisions. He is very good out of the pocket but isn’t the fastest guy, he can be caught. Arizona needs to sack the QB and force turnovers. Pittsburgh’s D cannot let Fitzgerald beat them. They will surely double cover him most plays forcing Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston to step up. Pittsburgh also needs to force turnovers. Warner has been prone to turnovers in his career and Pittsburgh needs to make it happen. Pressuring Warner will make him act quickly and throw bad passes. The team with the fewest turnovers will probably win.
Ken Whisenhunt needs to plan again Dick LeBeau’s zone blitzes. Pittsburgh loves to confuse the offense. Kurt Warner needs to switch up long snap counts will quick ones to make Pittsburgh show their sets and running lanes. Arizona’s offensive line also needs to use zone blocking instead of man to man blocking. Trying to block the Steelers in man blocking is like trying to get Scott Boras to give a home town discount, it ain’t a happening.
In the end I think Pittsburgh’s defense will be able to hold Arizona under 24 points. Unfortunately Pittsburgh has played a death row of teams and could put the game away quickly on offense. Pittsburgh scored 35 points on a solid Charger’s defense, they can score on Arizona’s. This game could also come down to whoever has the ball last. In a close game both Roethlisberger and Warner are extremely clutch. The game will either be very tight or put away early.
Steelers 27 Arizona 17
Roethlisberger named MVP
I am ecstatic that the Braves signed Derek Lowe. He was their last option to try and salvage a disastrous off season. Atlanta signed him to a 4-year deal worth $60MM. A little more than I would like but the Braves ran their way into a corner. Frank Wren couldn’t trade for Jake Peavy, couldn’t sign A.J. Burnett, and couldn’t sign Rafael Furcal.
When the off season looked like a complete failure Wren pulled some moves out of his bag and made the Braves contenders. He signed Kenshin Kawakami and Derek Lowe to bolster the staff. He signed Greg Norton and Omar Infante to come off the bench. And don’t forget about the trade for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan.
Now Atlanta needs to try and add a power bat to put in between Chipper Jones and Brian McCann. I think that guy could be Xavier Nady. The Braves had interest at the break last year but the Pirates opted to trade him to the Yankees. The only problem is that Nady happens to be a Scott Boras client so come next off season when he is a free agent he is going to want him money.
I’m actually not even worried about trading some prospects and potentially losing Nady in the off season. The Braves have Jason Heyward who is making great strides in the minors and could be major league ready for the 2010 season. The kid can flat out mash the ball and he has good speed to boot. He is also turning out to be an above average defender so I am definitely looking forward to seeing him in 2010.
I know the Braves want to land Nady, but maybe the solution to the power drought is already on the team. Remember that Jeff Francoeur guy? He had one down year and is still only 24 years old. Last time I checked he still had a good 2 or 3 years before he is even supposed to hit his prime. Give the kid some time.
Every Atlanta fan and most other fans know he has the potential to provide a ton of power, hit for average, play Gold Glove defense, and maybe steal 10-15 bases. If he can just stop the free swinging and be more disciplined I think things will turn around for him. You can’t swing at 9 out of 10 pitches and expect to see anything worth hitting.
If the Braves can add a bat or Francoeur can turn things around I would not write them off of winning the division. The Phillies may have won the World Series but that just means everyone is going to be gunning for them. And everyone already guns for the Mets just because, well, they play in New York.
Philadelphia 24 Arizona 27
Baltimore 10 Pittsburgh 21
This week has not been a very good week for me. If you pay attention to the NFL you probably saw Ben Roethlisberger get straight jacked up. The Steelers were playing a meaningless game and Big Ben got destroyed and suffered a “mild” concussion. I don’t really believe there is such a thing as a “mild” concussion as any concussion can ruin your playing career.
Do I blame Mike Tomlin for keeping Ben in? No, he was trying to win and that is what counts in the end. Roethlisberger should be fine for Pittsburgh’s first playoff game. That is all that matters right now. What I am really worried about is if the Steelers’ offensive line will be able to keep the defense off of Berger’s back long enough for him to throw a freaking pass.
Another depressing point of my holiday weekend came last night. USC man handled Penn State. The Nittany Lion defense didn’t show up in the first half, getting beat deep early and often. What is really making me mad though is how everyone on ESPN is saying that USC “destroyed, crushed, annihilated, rolled over, and burned Penn State.” Last time I checked they won by 14 points. Those adjectives selected by the “experts” would describe a win by at least 28 points. USC did however win every aspect of the game but in the end it wasn’t a horrible loss.
Penn State scored 17 points in the second half on a defense that had only allowed 3 second half touchdowns all year. How is that being rolled over? They say that Daryll Clark made horrible passes. One of his interceptions Andrew Quarless fell down, that is why the ball was picked. His throw was accurate, the receiver just fell down. That isn’t Clark’s fault. We should also remember that this was basically a home game for USC. Penn State had to travel about 2,500 miles while the Trojans traveled a whole 11 miles. You are kidding yourself if you think USC didn’t have home field advantage.
I have been finding this whole Manny Ramirez thing very interesting. Where will he go? The Yankees and Angels aren’t interested and Boston definitely isn’t. The Dodgers pulled their offer and the Giants are now in the mix. He isn’t going to get the money he expected to so this will be interesting to watch. I can see that the Giants are trying to get better but I think they are just going to end up shooting themselves in the foot. They are in no way shape or form a young team. They have a few very nice, young pieces that they need to build around.
I don’t like the Edgar Renteria signing and I think bringing in Manny will just be another Barry Bonds. He will cause drama and tear the team apart in the clubhouse. He won’t get his money and we all know that he will not be a happy Manny when he does sign. And we all know that a happy Manny doesn’t play and will give up on his team. Manny isn’t exactly young either and that is exactly what that Giants team does not need. If I was a Giants fan I would appreciate them trying to get better but I don’t believe they are picking the right players.
Till next time,
My Pittsburgh Steelers are in the playoffs. They have clinched but now the question is, how far can they go?
We all know about the Steelers’ top notch defense. James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley wreak havoc off the edges while Troy Polamalu roams the secondary. This is great and all but I am legitimately worried about the offense. I know they have had a murderers row of a schedule, but they need to put up points to win ball games.
They have just slipped by on several occasions and they can’t keep winning like that. It won’t be like that in the playoffs. Everyone elevates their game in the playoffs so I expect the Steelers to also. Ben Roethlisberger can only lead his team on so many game winning drives before he fails. He is a great quarterback under pressure but it can only last so long.
This week is the true test. Pittsburgh will travel into Tennessee to take on the 12-2 Titans. This game can determine home field advantage throughout the playoffs. I think it is a must win for the Steelers. Locking up Heinz field throughout the playoffs would be huge. They play great at home, which is exactly where they need to be.
Tennessee’s defensive line and Pittsburgh’s offensive line would have been the key battle of the game. Tennessee’s D-line is great and Pittsburgh’s O-line, well, sucks. They can’t protect Ben and it shows. The fact that Haynesworth and Vanden Bosch aren’t playing is why I give the Steelers the advantage in this game.
The Steeler defense will suffocate Kerry Collins and hopefully Big Ben can pull some tricks out of his bag and score 20 or so points. This is by far the biggest game of the season for Pittsburgh. It may not keep them out of the playoffs, but it could very well be an AFC Championship game preview. If all goes well I believe Pittsburgh can ride this win all the way to the big time, Super Bowl XLIII. If not, there is always next year. But who wants to wait another year?
It sure is a busy time in the sporting world. It is crunch time for several of my favorite teams this week. This is a time to give shout outs to the other sports besides baseball. I think it is appropriate anyway since none of the teams are doing anything in the MLB anyway.
This week my Pittsburgh Steelers will be taking on the New England Patriots. Usually this would be an amazing game, Tom Brady vs. Ben Roethlisberger. New England’s offense going up against Pittsburgh’s defense. That would be a great game. But as we all know Mr. Brady hurt his little knee and is out of the season so Matt Cassel has to step up against the #1 defense in the league. Pittsburgh is #1 in the NFL in passing defense, rushing defense, and total defense. Yes, the Triple Crown in defense. It is going to be hard for Cassel to throw to Randy Moss from his back.
As for my Penn State Nittany Lions, they are already in the Rose Bowl. They smashed Michigan St. to end the season and get the Rose Bowl bid. Now all that has to be decided is who they play. The winner of the Pac-10 plays the winner of the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. So, it is either Oregon St. or USC. If you happen to be a Penn State fan you are already aware that Penn State embarrassed Oregon St. already this year. I don’t want to watch that again. So I have actually found myself rooting for USC. Although it isn’t like they need my help against Notre Dame. What I do need to root for is for Oregon to beat Oregon St. That would make USC the Pac-10 champion and give them a bid to the Rose Bowl.
Never thought I would say this but, GO DUCKS!
Basically it comes down to the fact that I would rather see Penn State play USC and possibly get beat then beat down or even lose to Oregon St. I think it would just be a flat out better game. I have been wanting to see Penn State play USC for a while now anyway. There is no doubt in my mind that USC will easily embarrass Notre Dame, having Oregon upset Oregon St. is what the challenge will be. But, you never know, anything can happen. Any team can beat any other team on any given day. That is just the way it is.
Any college basketball fans out there? If so I take it you watched the Maui Invitational. All I have to say is damn, UNC is good. Hansbrough isn’t even healthy yet and he is still yammin on people. That kid is ridiculous.
He is going to win Player of the Year again. I am still a little shocked that scouts said he would be a late first round pick in the NBA draft last year. Are you kidding me? He is the freakin NCAA Player of the Year and he is a late first round pick? Doesn’t make much sense to me.
The rest of his team does need props though. Danny Green can knock down a 3 from anywhere over anyone. He is just obnoxiously athletic. Ty Lawson is ridiculously fast. He was running past Notre Dame defenders that were already down court.
As for the Atlanta Braves, they have still done absolutely nothing. They have so much money and are clearly waiting around for San Diego to come back. It is disappointing that there was so much hype for the off season and a whole bunch of nothing has happened. Oh well.
Till next time,