Philly Fantasy Sports Top 10 Super Bowl XLVII Commercials

After the phenomenal Super Bowl XLVII with the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, John Harbaugh and his quarterback Joe Flacco overcame the surge — and the 34-minute blackout at the Superdome — to win the game 34-31.  With the San Francisco 49ers mismanaging the clock and Colin Kaepernick‘s inability to run a two-minute drill effectively, the Ravens scraped one out in the final minutes of the game.  After all that commotion, the commercials were much the same.  Close to the second half, the real commercials decided to show up, and with that, these are Philly Fantasy Sports Top 10 selections for best Super Bowl XLVII commercials:

Oreo “Whisper Fight”

I enjoyed this one. Subtly funny.

M & M “Love Ballad”

What are friends for when you have friends like Ms. Chocolate

Taco Bell “Viva Young”

Not funny in a funny kind of way but charming in a Taco Bell kinda way.

Toyota RAV 4 “Wish Granted”

The Rock Milk “Morning Run”

Volkwagen “Get In. Get Happy.”

Minnesota people. Represent.  Not just about Harley Davidson motorcycles and bratwursts.

Bud Light “Journey”

I liked this one. Perhaps the voodoo dolls caused the power outage. Or not.

Deion Sanders NFL “Leon Sandcastle” 

Funny. Very funny. Kind of a jilt on Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and others.

Kia Motors “Hot Bots”

Kia Motors got double honors this Super Bowl.  I think the advertising people left Volkswagen and came here.

Kia Motors “Space Babies”

This one had lots of charm to it — and the babies faces were priceless as they rocketed to Earth.

This is Philly Fantasy Sports Top 10 commercials for Super Bowl XLVII.  What do you think?  Do you agree?

 

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NFL 2012-13 Season in Review: The ABCs of the NFL

Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco After the Super Bowl Win Over the San Francisco 49ers

With the Baltimore Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII over the San Francisco 49ers 34-31, the NFL season has offiically come to an end, and Ravens Joe Flacco and Ray Lewis finally got their rings.  With it, the 2012-13 season of the NFL brought in some interesting twists and turns as the free-agency system has finally matured and transformed the NFL into a season of instability and chaos.  The inclusion of the 2011 rookies also helped as they have created a NFL, a mixture of the old guard and the new.

  • A is for Andy Dalton. Cincinnati Bengals Andy Dalton may have the Donovan McNabb curse.  For the second time in the playoffs, he once again fell flat with the Houston Texans.
  • Y is for Young Guns.  Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck, Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III, Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson and San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick all changed their teams for the better.  At least for this season. They all have potential to become elite quarterbacks in their own right in the future.
  • A is for Adrian Peterson. Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has always been a a workhorse for the team like the St. Louis Rams Steven Jackson.  But this season he proved himself more than ever.
  • P is for Peyton Manning.  Even though he’s not with the Indianapolis Colts anymore, he is still an elite quarterback who makes something out of nothing.  While he’s with the Denver Broncos, he’s going to keep the team competitive, if not better.  He’s already taken advantage of Demaryius Thomas, Denver’s equivalent to Reggie Wayne.
  • R is for Rex Ryan. For the most part this season, he stayed out of the news this year. Surprisingly.  No more supposed Super Bowl parades, and the quarterback controversy between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow was kept to a minimum.  However, there was some questionable choices during the mid-season involving his roster of injured quarterbacks.  
  • R is for Read-Option. With the Wildcat formation going the way of the Tim Tebow comes the resurrection of the read-option in the NFL.  This is not a long-term gimmick for the NFL as the Super Bowl showed, but it has served well this season.
  • E is for Elite. The New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers earned their spots in the playoffs. Again.  With both Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay and Tom Brady of New England, both quarterbacks are performing at a high standard.
  • S is for Second Tier. The Atlanta Falcons, the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks all earned their spots in the playoffs this season as well.  These teams don’t have elite quarterbacks, but they are excellent as a team. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco did rise above when it counted against New England Patriots Tom Brady….
  • D is for Defense. Like in previous seasons, stout defenses win games when the games remain tight. The Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers have proven that.
  • F is for Fundamental. Those teams who planned ahead finally got their due — the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks.
  • A is for Andrew Luck.  Well, the Indianapolis Colts got their Andrew Luck, a quarterback that is decisively better in the long-term than Washington Redskins Robert Griffin III in my opinion.  However, he buckled under the Baltimore Ravens defense and rookie jitters.
  • R is for Robert Griffin III. Robert Griffin III has proven himself to be Washington Redskins’ franchise quarterback.  But with him participating in the Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks with an injured knee was a bad idea transformed into a worse idea.  
  • C is for Coaches. This was a dismal season to be an NFL coach. The firings of coaches from some teams, like the Cleveland Browns and the Kansas City Chiefs, was expected.   These teams don’t have a record of keeping coaches — and keeping their teams in competitive shape.
  • H is for Harbaugh. The Harbaugh brothers are remarkably intelligent, and neither of them particularly cater the media.
  • J is for Joe Flacco. Despite winning the Super Bowl, in my opinion, he is still a second-tier quarterback.  He is lucky to have a stiff defense helping him when he needs it most.

This season was indeed intriguing as the elite fell to some of the second-tier teams.  Now onto next season…

Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots: AFC Championship Playoff Post-Game Analysis

After the snow that cruised through the Northeast yesterday, New England Patriots Gillette Stadium finally got cleared as they host the Baltimore Ravens.  The Baltimore Ravens defense has their work cut for them as they are facing the first-ranked post-season quarterback in rating with 137.6, New England Patriots Tom Brady. Can the third-ranked Ravens defense during the regular season stem the second-ranked offensive juggernaut?  Can we have a post-drug-filled rock star in Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler not sing the national anthem in a post-season game?

Now to the post-game analysis:

  • With receptions to his wideout Julian Edelman, establishing the run with running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and an unfortunate penalty for the Baltimore Ravens, Tom Brady’s drive stalled on the Ravens 11-yard line, and kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 29-yard field goal to bring the score 3-0 at 5:52 in the first quarter.
  • After an interception of Tom Brady by Ravens cornerback Ladarius Webb and a hearty 40-yard pass to his wideout Torrey Smith, Joe Flacco‘s drive stalled on the Patriots 3-yard line.  Their kicker Billy Cundiff booted an easy 2o-yard field goal to tie the game 3-3 with 14:23 in the second quarter.
  • After a 20-yard pass to his tight end Rob Gronkowski and a facemask penalty on the Baltimore Ravens, BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran in for a 7-yard touchdown to bring the score 10-3 with 10:40 in the second quarter.
  • After a 20-yard pass to Lee Evans and a 37-yard pass to Anquan Boldin, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco established rhythm against the Patriots defense and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to his tight end Dennis Pitta to tie the score 10-10 with 6:11 until halftime.
  • With yet another drive stalled for the New England Patriots, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 35-yard field goal to bring the score 13-10 with 3:04 left in the second quarter.
  • Continuing the same theme from the second quarter and much of the game, Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 24-yard field goal to bring the score 16-10 with 9:09 in the third quarter.
  • With a quick 29-yard touchdown reception from wideout Torrey Smith, the Baltimore Ravens took a one-point lead 17-16 with 3:48 in the third.
  • With a fumble by running back Danny Woodhead on a run-back from the Ravens kickoff that is recovered on the Patriots 28-yard line, kicker Billy Cundiff kicked a 39-yard field goal to bring the score 20-16 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.
  • After a slow and steady drive to the Baltimore 1/2-yard line, Tom Brady finally got into the endzone with a rushing touchdown to bring the score 23-20 with 11:33 in the last quarter.
  • With the interception by linebacker Brandon Spikes and a 19-yard return and tip-interception to Ravens rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith in the endzone, these two interceptions were a show of defenses with eight minutes left in the game.
  • With a 4th and 6 at the Patriots 33-yard line, Patriots nosetackle Vince Wilfork snagged Joe Flacco and forced him to throw the ball away with 2:53 left in the game.  What a gamechanger!
  • With the clock ticking away and Joe Flacco at the helm, the drive led by the 29-yard reception by Anquan Boldin stalled at the New England’s 14-yard line, and surprisingly, Billy Cundiff missed the 32-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in the game.

With the first half in tow, the Baltimore Ravens were seemingly ready for New England Patriots Tom Brady had an interception.  Baltimore Ravens Joe Flacco demonstrated that he can throw against the porous Patriots defense and keep up with Tom Brady.  It was a great first half as both teams traded blows without letting up. Surprisingly though, Joe Flacco outperformed Tom Brady as Flacco had a 122.4 quarterback versus Brady’s 58.7 into the half.  The Patriots had the lead 13-10 at halftime, but the Patriots could not dominate the Ravens like they did with the Denver Broncos previously.

The stiff Baltimore Ravens defense imposing itself on New England Patriots potent quarterback Tom Brady and their offense in the second half.  Despite the tide turning in the Ravens favor several times, the New England Patriots kept it close, and the defense clinched down when it counted most with 2:53 left in the game on Ravens 4th and 6 on their 33-yard line.  Tom Brady and his New England Patriots squeaked this one out past the Baltimore Ravens 23-20.  However, Brady’s difficulties with the Ravens defense won’t go any easier with the San Francisco 49ers or the New York Giants.

The next game is already up as the New York Giants face the San Francisco 49ers for the NFC Championship game.  Tom Brady will have will the Super Bowl win past either defense in Indianapolis.  With 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and his clutch tight end Vernon Davis on one end and the Giants quarterback Eli Manning and his talented wide reciever corps on the other, this upcoming Super Bowl will be one to watch.

AFC Divisional Playoffs: Top 10 Things We Learned

With the New England Patriots squashing the Tim Tebow miracle out of the Denver Broncos with their 45-10 rout, Tom Brady and his Patriots accomplished in destroying the Broncos morale in the postseason. Denver Broncos coach John Fox was simply out-coached. The Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens fought each other tooth-and-nail, but the Baltimore Ravens defense stepped up when it counted to win 20-13. Now the Patriots will host the Ravens in the AFC Championship game, and this Ravens defense will be put to their ultimate test against the offensive firepower of Tom Brady at Gillette Stadium nonetheless. It doesn’t look pretty for the Baltimore Ravens, but there’s a glimmer a hope.  If the 49ers can topple the offensive powerhouse of the New Orleans Saints, anything can happen.

Now to the top 10 list of the things we learned in the AFC Divisional playoffs:

  1. New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady is a Beast.  With six touchdowns against the Denver Broncos, he broke a previous postseason record, and he came out a 136.1 quarterback rating on that game.
  2. Denver Broncos Tim Tebow Was Out of His Element.  With the Denver Broncos going to the Patriots home, Gillette Stadium, you knew from the outset that it was going to be bad. How bad…how about 136 yards, no touchdowns and a pitiful 55.7 quarterback rating bad.
  3. Denver Broncos Head Coach John Fox Was Outfoxed. Continuing from the previous, facing Patriots head coach Bill Belichick alongside  the offensive coordinator-in-training Josh McDaniels, Denver Broncos head coach John Fox had too many chess pieces to contend with, no matter how prepared he was or how much he thought of Tim Tebow.
  4. Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens Are Fumble-Prone. Given that the Houston Texans and the Baltimore Ravens both had three fumbles each, I would say ball security should be a focus in the postseason.
  5. Houston Texans Quarterback T.J. Yates Needs Some Work…A Lot of Work.  Replacing Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart was difficult enough, but dealing with the Ravens defense was beyond this rookie quarterback.  Ending the day with 184 yards, 3 interceptions and a pitiful 28.8 quarterback rating won’t earn him a bonus this next season.
  6. Houston Texans Running Back Arian Foster is a Beast. Considering he dealt with the third-ranked defense overall during the regular season, he produced well with 132 yards rushing and a touchdown.
  7. Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco Will Never Be Elite. Although he’s been at the helm of the playoff-driven Baltimore Ravens over the past four seasons, he has never developed into an elite quarterback.  Considering he had 176 passing yards and 2 touchdowns, he’ll never reach the elite status of either Tom Brady or Drew Brees.
  8. New England Patriots Tight End Aaron Hernandez is Versatile.  Considering he produced 61 yards on the ground and 55 yards and a touchdown through the air, Aaron Hernandez is definitely the iron-man of the New England Patriots.  His 61 yards surpassed both BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead with their 28 and 25 rushing yards in their game against the Denver Broncos.
  9.  New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski is a Beast.  With his 145 receiving yards, he has shown he is one of the better tight ends in the league, if not one of the best.
  10. Defense Wins Games.  Again, like with the NFC Divisional playoffs, it’s the defense that ultimately wins games.  The Ravens capitalized on turnovers when it counted.

Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton: 2011 Year in Review and 2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

2011 Year in Review

2011 was one heck of a season for this rookie quarterback Andy Dalton for the Cincinnati Bengals.  With former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer gone, the Bengals got more than an adequate replacement, and Dalton provided the necessary intelligence and composure in his rookie season.  Although he faltered during the 31-10 AFC Wildcard playoff loss to the Houston Texans, he has given the once soft Cincinnati Bengals team hope for the future.

In his 2011 regular season as a rookie, Dalton had 3,398 passing yards, 2o touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 3 fumbles and a solid 80.4 quarterback rating.  He started off fairly strong in his first full start against the Denver Broncos with a quarterback rating of 107.0 with 332 passing yards and 2 touchdowns.  Against the tough defense of the San Francisco 49ers in the following game, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton had his worst game of the regular season.  He had 157 yards passing, 2 interceptions and a dismal 40.8 quarterback rating. He got steadily better until week 6 against the Indianapolis Colts.  Facing the porous defense of the Colts, he performed well with a 111.5 quarterback rating on 264 yards passing and a touchdown.  Again, with the tougher defenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens in week 10 and 11, he didn’t perform quite as well with a 61.8 and 60.7 quarterback rating in those respective regular season games. In week 12 against the Cleveland Browns, he performed above-average with a quarterback rating of 105.6 on 270 passing yards and a touchdown. After that game, he faced tough defenses of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Houston Texans, and the Baltimore Ravens.  With these defenses, his quarterback rating declined gradually, culminating in a 65.7 quarterback rating on 232 yards passing and no touchdowns. In the AFC Wildcard playoff against the Houston Texans, Dalton fell to a dismal 51.4 quarterback rating on 257 passing yards and 3 interceptions.

2012 Fantasy Football Outlook

Given this is his rookie season, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton still has a lot of growing pains ahead.  Given his statistics during the regular season, he has performed QB3 to low-end QB2 numbers.  With the Bengals getting into the playoffs, the schedule should be about the same next year with Andy Dalton facing some difficult defenses ahead.  Although he has 12th-ranked running back Cedric Benson, he can’t continuously lean on him as Cleveland Browns Colt McCoy learned with their running back Peyton Hillis.  Dalton should be able to produce low to mid-QB2 numbers next season and worth a seat on your bench.  He’s worth a gamble as he does have an upside.  However, he needs a couple of seasons more to mature, and in the 2012 regular season, he should be only played with favorable matchups or a bye-week replacement.

The Shortened 8: Top 10 Drafts for Fantasy Football Defenses in 2011-12

With the alterations in staff this post-season, all this is based on pure speculation and estimating how the changes in staff would change the defense.  However, with preparation for a shortened season, drafting defenses will be difficult, much less to speculate.  With these defenses training much less than previous seasons, the offenses should benefit greatly.  However, don’t count defenses out quite yet.  Some may surprise, others will simply overcome.

Must-Haves

  • Chicago Bears.  They still have one of the most stifling defenses with Brian Urlacher at the helm.  And I don’t think Brian Urlacher will miss a beat this prolonged off-season.
  • New York Giants. Kind of goes without saying…
  • Green Bay Packers. Clay Matthews and a ground-and-pound defense.
  • Baltimore Ravens.  Still has lots of talent.
  • New York  Jets.  Rex Ryan’s defense is one of the best.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers.  It won’t astound you with amazing numbers, but it should be consistent from the beginning through the playoffs.
  • Oakland Raiders. But this is nothing more than a second-tier defense, but it will have first-tier moments.  This defense is better chosen as a roster reserve or a waiver wire pick for the playoffs generally. They have enough substance to pull you through the playoffs generally.
  • San Diego Chargers.
  • Minnesota Vikings.  Leslie Frazier inherited a solid defense.
  • Atlanta Falcons.  Like the Raiders but generally not fantasy football playoff quality.

Avoid

  • Miami Dolphins.
  • Tennessee Titans.  Although they performed well the beginning of last season, then after the first few games of the regular season, they buckled under locker room politics got in the way.  And with this prolonged off-season, there would be virtually no time for off-season chemistry for any sort of improvement.
  • Detroit Lions.  You’re better off betting on their offense than their defense.
  • Seattle Seahawks.  Although Pete Carroll has demonstrated he has a great offensive mind, less Marshawn Lynch, this defense hasn’t been noteworthy for quite a while.
  • Washington Redskins.  Their offense and defense are still in shambles.  And if Rex Grossman becomes Rex Grossman we all know from the Chicago Bears, the defense will be out on the field a lot — and become very tired.

Potential X-Factors

  • Carolina Panthers.  I think Eagles head coach Andy Reid might regret letting of Sean McDermott.  Even though this will be rebuilding season for the Panthers defense, they could potentially become dangerous over the next few seasons.  They might lack the physicality of a Bears defense, but they should turn out to be fast like the Ravens defense.  They could still be worth a flier this season though.
  • Philadelphia Eagles. Although they are always potentially good, they have become normalized themselves into a second-tier defense.  With coordinator Juan Castillo, I am a bit hesitant to endorse them beyond that — for now.
  • St. Louis Rams. They played well at home last season.  Now they just need to play well on the road…

NFL and the NFLPA Lockout Countdown: Lockout Day+76, or The Lockout in Limbo Again and Again

We are nearing the three-month mark as the lockout of the NFL has gone on without much resolution, other than the appearances of concern from both sides to the public at large. Aside from the private workouts scheduled by the leaders of the respective teams, not much has actually progressed.  Philadelphia Eagles starting quarterback held a private workouts with tight end Brent Celek, backup quarterback (for now) Kevin Kolb among others, but it was less than notable in the overall scheme of the work stoppage. With multiple legal cases held in a stalemate, the clock still ticks — although within three weeks or less, the National Labor Relations Board should make their decision soon on the legality of the dissolution of the NFLPA.  With this decision, it will directly impact all the other legal decisions down the road until the lockout is lifted permanently (somewhat until the the next collective bargaining agreement has ended).

In light of this, the NFL Coaches Association has sided with the players by filing a brief this past Wednesday to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.  This might certainly help the players’ chances of lifting the lockout, but with the sluggishness of the legal system, it will still take at least three weeks or so before significant progress will begin.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged the frustration of the fans and the uncertainty of an upcoming season.  But this is more pandering to the NFL fanbase since in reality, it is out of his hands for the time being as the judges read over briefs and decide on other cases on their dockets.  Baltimore Ravens Ray Lewis, on the other hand, said that crime would increase “if we don’t have a season.”  He said that “[t]here’s too many people that live through us.”  Both statements are a bit of a hyperbole, and the second statement is most definitely hubris on part of Ray Lewis.  His intention may have been to bring a sense of urgency, but like Roger Goodell and the team owners, for now, the cogs in the legal system are turning on their own, and they can’t rush it nor impact it directly per se.

With the baseball season in full swing now and the Stanley Cup finals coming into view, there are more sports for fans to watch now, more than ever.  With the popularity of internet streaming, TiVo, and other services, most fans today are no longer restricted to sitting by the radio or analog television sets like the good old days.  So Ray Lewis is somewhat wrong in that regard as the even the most loyal of the NFL fanbase can turn elsewhere.  In a couple more weeks or so, the National Labor Relations Board will make their decision, and the legal system should gradually go into full swing as these cases are resolved.

New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: AFC Championship Pre-Game Analysis

The New York Jets did the unexpected in the playoffs, and they won against the New England Patriots at Foxboro nonetheless.  However, they will face their own shadow in the shape of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Both of these defenses have been incredibly stiff in the post-season.  The Jets defense have conquered two elite quarterbacks, Indianapolis Colts Peyton Manning and New England Patriots Tom Brady, in the playoffs.  The Steelers Ben Roethlisberger is below that caliber, but he is physically harder to bring down than either Peyton Manning or Tom Brady.  Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense held its own against Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and their rival the Baltimore Ravens.

Now to the pre-game analysis:

Quarterbacks

In the post-season, so far, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had 226 yards passing, 2 touchdowns and a 101.8 quarterback rating.  He is currently ranked 5th overall in terms of quarterback rating in the post-season. During the regular season, Roethlisberger had 3,200 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, 5 interceptions.  On the other side of the ball, in the post-season so far, the New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez currently has 383 yards passing, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception and a 91.6 quarterback rating.  During the regular season, Sanchez had 3,291 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 75.3 quarterback rating. Roethlisberger and the Steelers get the edge, but both quarterbacks should be harassed constantly in this game. 

Running Backs

The Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall was brutally effective during the regular season. During the regular season, he had 1,273 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns and averaged 3.9 yards per carry.  He was ranked 7th in terms of rushing yardage and 2nd in terms of touchdowns overall in league.  However, he has fallen in the playoffs, as Mendenhall is only ranked 11th in terms of overall rushing yardage at 46, but he currently tied with New York Jets running back LaDanian Tomlinson in terms of touchdowns at 2. The New York Jets tandem of LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene were not as powerful during the regular season.  During the regular season, LaDanian Tomlinson had 914 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns and averaged 4.2 yards per carry; and his partner Shonn Greene had 766 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. In the off-season, however, both Jets running backs have been surprisingly effective.  LaDanian Tomlinson currently has 125 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns and averaging 4.8 yards per carry. Shonn Greene meanwhile has 146 yards, 1 touchdown and averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Tomlinson is currently ranked 4th in rushing yardage in the post-season while Greene is ranked 2nd.  The New York Jets get the slight edge in this one, but all three running backs will have difficulties establishing themselves.

Wide Receivers

The New York Jets wide receiver tandem of Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery have exploded in the post-season.  Edwards is currently ranked 4th overall in the post-season in receiving yardage at 114, averaging 19.0 yards per reception and 2 touchdowns to his name.  Cotchery is currently ranked 5th overall at 113 receiving yards and 16.1 yards per reception.  During the regular season, Edwards had 904 yards receiving, 7 touchdowns and averaged 17.1 yards per reception; and, Cotchery had 433 yards receiving, 2 touchdowns and averaged 10.6 yards per reception.  On the other side of the ball, the Steelers duo of Mike Wallace and Hines Ward haven’t been making many waves this post-season yet.  During the regular season, however, Mike Wallace had 1,257 yards receiving, 1o touchdowns and averaged 21.0 yards per reception; and he was ranked 5th in terms of receiving yardage overall when the season ended.  His partner Hines Ward had 755 yards, 5 touchdowns and averaged 12.8 yards per reception.  The receiver corps of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a bit more effective ounce per ounce, and they get a slight edge. But the Jets have the more versatile group.

Tight Ends

The New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller has been slightly more effective in the post-season so far. In the post-season, Keller has 57 yards receiving and averaging 9.5 yards per reception. During the regular season, he had 687 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns and averaged 12.5 yards per reception.  On the opposite side of the ball, Steelers tight end Heath Miller currently has 39 receiving yards and averaging 7.8 yards per reception.  During the regular season, Miller had 512 yards, 2 touchdowns and averaged 12.2 yards per reception. Given these numbers, Dustin Keller and the New York Jets get the slight edge.

Defenses

This is the litmus test for both teams — and how they will test their opposing quarterbacks.  Both have had playmakers on their defenses throughout this season so far.  Now they will be put to the test…During the regular season, the stalwart New York Jets defense was 6th against the pass and 3rd against the run, and they were ranked 4th overall in the league. The Jets defense has found playmakers in the off-season.  The Jets David Harris and Eric Smith are both ranked 1st and 2nd at tackles in 21 and 20 respectively.  Jets linebacker Calvin Pace is currently ranked 4th in sacks at 2 in the post-season.  During the regular season, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense was ranked 12th against the pass and 1st against the rush and was 2nd overall in the league.  In the post-season, linebacker James Harrison is 2nd in the league in interceptions at 3, and safety Ryan Clark has had one interception and is currently tied for second. The New York Jets gets the slight edge, as it has conquered two tough opponents in the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts successively.

Coaches/Intangibles

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan had played mind games through talking trash.  When he first performed this tactic against the New England Patriots, his team was destroyed in week 13.  However, in the past divisional game against the New England Patriots, he defeated the New England Patriots with his defense.  Rex Ryan has demonstrated flexibility in using his resources. This past week against the New England Patriots, he used his defense to win the game, and the previous game against the Indianapolis Colts, he used his two running backs LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene to win the game for him.  On the opposite side of the ball, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin tends to rely on Ben Roethlisberger’s arm more often than not.  He tends to give up on the run easier than Rex Ryan does.  The edge goes to Rex Ryan and the New York Jets because he has faced two elite opponents of past seasons in the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots.  More importantly, he defeated his rival Bill Belichick, and the Patriots defeat has given his team a boost in morale. 

The Edge

The edge goes to the New York Jets 27-24.  The New York Jets balanced approach has paid off in the playoffs, and it should give them the time for the last field goal to win the game.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: AFC Divisional Post-Game Analysis

After the Winter Classic held at Heinz Field not so long ago, the AFC Divisional Playoffs began with two tough teams — the Pittsburgh Steelers against the incoming Baltimore Ravens. This should be one of the better games into the playoffs, and it certainly did not disappoint.  This was a physical, smash-mouth, in-the-trenches game and an intense rivalry game.

Now to the post-game analysis of the game:

  • Both running backs scored in the first quarter. The Steelers Rashard Mendenhall sc0red the first touchdown for his team and the game mid-first quarter, and the Ravens Ray Rice answered in the close of the first quarter with his 14-yard touchdown.  However, neither rushing game of the Steelers or the Ravens was particularly effective as both running backs were held under 50 yards rushing and shut down.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin‘s loss of challenges into the half was about as bad as Philadelphia Eagles coach Andy Reid’s mishandling of timeouts. Luckily, the Steelers made adjustments into the half.
  • The fumble that was caused by Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and picked up by tackle Cory Redding shifted momentum in Ravens favor tremendously. The Steelers offense imploded as the costly errors, turnovers and a missed field goal by Shaun Suisham changed the face of the game.
  • Rashard Mendenhall’s fumble mid-second quarter was costly for the Steelers.  Joe Flacco connected with Todd Heap for a 4-yard touchdown and the Ravens third touchdown of the game.
  • The Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and the offense switched their focus from tight end Todd Heap in the first quarter to running back Ray Rice in the second quarter. It was an interesting chess game on the Ravens part, and the Steelers couldn’t find an answer for either in the second quarter.
  • Ray Rice’s fumble early third quarter was costly for the Ravens, as it led to a Steelers touchdown from Roethlisberger’s tight end Heath Miller from 9 yards out.
  • Joe Flacco’s interception by Ryan Clark late third quarter was as costly as another Steelers touchdown to Hines Ward for a tie game of 21-21.
  • Terrell Suggs of the Ravens caused great interference in the backfield and tacked a couple of sacks on Ben Roethlisberger. Cory Redding created as much trouble.
  • On the other side, James Harrison of the Steelers caused trouble in the Ravens backfield persistently.

One of the greatest rivalry games and one of the best playoff games of the 2010 playoff season ended with the Pittsburgh Steelers winning 31-24 at their home field. The Steelers fans did their part, and the stalwart defense did theirs. This was a game of penalties, turnovers, sacks, mental errors and team tackling. The Steelers are off into the AFC Championship game, and let the rally towels fly for now.  Their next opponent, the New England Patriots, given current odds, won’t go down any easier.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: AFC Divisional Pre-Game Analysis

The Baltimore Ravens capitalized on the mistakes of the Kansas City Chiefs and won the wild card game 30-7. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco improved into the post-season, and the Ravens defense lit up the Kansas City Chiefs offense by sacking Matt Cassel three times and forcing five turnovers.

This is a rematch of the week 4 matchup during the regular season in which the Baltimore Ravens won 17-14 and a week 13 rematch in which the Pittsburgh Steelers won 13-10.  Now to the pre-game analysis of this rubber-band match:

Quarterbacks

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had 3,622 yards passing, 25 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a respectable 93.6 rating during the regular season.  On the other side of the ball, Steelers Ben Roethlisberger had 3,200 yards passing, 17 touchdowns, 5 interceptions and a 97.0 quarterback rating.  Both are going to have difficult times ahead in this game, but Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers get the very slight edge on pure numbers.

Wide Receivers

The Ravens wide receivers Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason had a compiled total of 1,639 yards receiving, 14 touchdowns and averaged 13.1 yards per reception during the regular season.  On the other hand, Mike Wallace of the Steelers had 1,257 yards receiving, 1o touchdowns and averaged 21.0 yards per reception.  He was ranked 5th overall in terms of receiving yards and 3rd overall in terms of touchdowns in the league by season’s end. Opposite of him, Hines  Ward had 755 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaged 12.8 yards per reception.  The Steelers get the edge overall, with the power of Mike Wallace. 

Running Backs

The Ravens will have to rely on both Ray Rice and Willis McGahee in this matchup. During the regular season, Ravens Ray Rice had 1,220 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns and averaged 4.0 yards per carry. He was ranked 10th in terms of total overall rushing yardage.  On the other hand, his partner Willis McGahee had 350 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns and averaged 3.8 yards per carry.  On the opposite side of the ball, Pittsburgh Steelers Rashard Mendenhall had 1,273 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns and averaged 3.9 yards per carry. He was ranked 7th overall in terms of rushing yardage but he was ranked 2nd in terms of rushing touchdowns. His reliever Isaac Redman had 247 yards and averaged 4.8 yards per carry.  Rashard Mendenhall and the Steelers get the significant edge.

Tight Ends

This is going to be one of the most interesting battles.  The Baltimore Ravens Todd Heap had 599 yards receiving, 5 touchdowns and averaged 15.0 yards per reception.  During the post-season so far, he has 108 yards receiving and averaged 10.8 yards per reception.  On the other hand, the Pittsburgh Steelers Heath Miller had 512 yards receiving, 2 touchdowns and averaged 12.2 yards per reception.  The Ravens get the edge in this one as Heap is leaned on far more.

Defenses

This is going to be one heck of a trench battle.  The Ravens defense was ranked 21st against the pass and 5th against the rush during the regular season.  Their star linebacker Ray Lewis had 139 tackles and was ranked 6th during the regular season.  Lewis did tack on one more tackle during the post-season.  Most notably, however, their cornerback Ed Reed led the league with 8 interceptions by season’s end.  Both are forces to be reckoned with. The Steelers defense was ranked 12th against the pass and 1st against the rush during the regular season.  Their star Troy Polamalu was 3rd in interceptions overall with 7 by the season’s close. The Ravens defense was ranked 10th overall during the regular season whereas the Steelers defense was ranked 2nd. The Steelers defense gets the edge by a moderate margin, although Ed Reed and Ray Lewis can be gamechangers.

Coaches/Intangibles

Coach Mike Tomlin of the Steelers has been inconsistent with his coaching at times during this season, relying on Ben Roethlisberger too much instead of their running back Rashard Mendenhall to win games.  But he’s been favoring Mendenhall a bit more during the regular season.  Coach John Harbaugh has been relying more on the pass with Joe Flacco recently, although a bit more balanced with Ray Rice and Willis McGahee being used to tire defenses out.  Unfortunately, John Harbaugh has never won against Ben Roethlisberger.  The Steelers get the edge in this one, although the win last week should boost the Ravens morale.

The Edge

By numbers alone, the Steelers should get the significant edge with a score of 27-17, but numbers haven’t proven themselves against this matchup.  Realistically, I imagine it to be close again with the Steelers get a slight edge over the Ravens 20-17.