Eli Manning is now a two time Super Bowl MVP (AP)
Super Bowl XLVI is in the books. We’ve seen this movie before from the Giants. The New England Patriots wee once again on the receiving end of a crushing defeat.
The New York Giants reign victorious over the New England Patriots once again. Four years ago in Glendale, Arizona the Giants shocked the world by defeating the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII and ruined the Patriots attempt at perfection. Fast forward to November 6, 2011 – week 9 of the season – the Giants defeated the Patriots one again. This time, it was in the Patriots back yard, Foxborough, Mass. Eli Manning engineered yet another fourth quarter comeback and led the Giants to a 24-20 victory. The loss to the Giants in week 9 was the last time the Patriots tasted defeat in the 2011-12 season prior to Super Bowl XLVI.
Last night in Indianapolis, Indiana in Lucas Oil Stadium – the “House that Peyton built”, Eli Manning and the Giants got the better of the Patriots for the third straight time and the second time in four years on the worlds biggest stage. The New York Giants finished the job and defeated the New England Patriots 21-17 in Super Bowl XLVI and earned the right to be called champions.
From the moment the Giants traded up for Manning in the 2004 draft, rather than take Philip Rivers or Ben Roethlisberger, there has been a constant argument among fans and pundits over whether that move was a smart one.
Manning has constantly had to deal with comparisons to his talented older brother Peyton, while many said he was not in the same class as Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers, and even after winning his first Super Bowl four years ago, a typical NFL talking point has been whether Eli can be considered an ‘elite’ quarterback.
Tom Coughlin, Eli’s head coach of his entire career thus far, says it’s time for the talk to stop.
New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin holds the the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Giants' 21-17 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI. (Chris O'Meara / AP)
“I thought again about this business of elite quarterbacks. I think that question has come and gone. I don’t think we will hear much about that again.” - Tom Coughlin
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, normally keen to steer clear of such talk, chose the presentation of the MVP award to comment on Manning’s place in the rankings of top quarterbacks in the league.
“He’s only the fifth player to be named on a multiple basis as MVP of the Super Bowl, and he joins a pretty elite group of quarterbacks that achieved that.” - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell
Manning though, preferred to talk about the contributions of his team-mates and their prospects for the future.
“I’m excited about a number of young guys who stepped up this season. There were some questions going into the beginning of the season on a few spots, but that quickly got answered. Victor Cruz has been a great story, Jake Ballard. Some of these guys have played great football, made great plays for us this year. We felt we had talent across the board on the team, that there were a few spots where we needed young guys to step up, as any team always does every year. You’re going to need young players to come in and play a role, and give you a chance to win a championship.” - Eli Manning
While the talk over Manning’s elite status may subside, the comparisons with his brother are unlikely to.
Peyton’s future, as he tries to return from a neck injury, is uncertain but it could well involve a move away from the Indianapolis Colts.
The two brothers spent some time in conversation after Sunday’s game but Eli said there was no issue of him now having ‘bragging rights’ over his brother who has a single Super Bowl ring.
“This isn’t about bragging rights. This is a lot bigger. This is about a team, an organization being named world champions, and that was the ultimate goal.That’s the only thing that’s important, is the team finding a way to get a victory. That’s the only thing I care about and Peyton and I both know that’s what the goal is every year. It’s not about anything else.” - Eli Manning
Eli is right, but he’s certainly got the right to brag and a heck of a lot to brag about. Eli Manning is no longer in anyone else’s shadow. He’s earned the right to stand alone. Today, he’s standing alone with the rest of his teammates on top of the NFL’s mountaintop as Super Bowl champions. The New England Patriots are standing with the other 31 teams in the NFL wondering what could have, should have, or might have been.
You can’t spell elite without the ELI.
Super Bowl XLVI logo
We’re finally less than 48 hours from the kick off Super Bowl XLVI.
It’s the Super Bowl matchup that must make Rex Ryan’s skin crawl. On one side, there’s the rival that shares a home stadium with the Jets. On the other side, there’s the rival from within their division and the gold-standard franchise of the AFC.
It’s the Giants. It’s the Patriots. It’s Super Bowl XLVI.
Even though his team has failed to win a championship, Ryan was correct with his belief that the Road to the Super Bowl goes through his team. The Pats haven’t lost a game since beating the Jets in November, while the G-Men have remained undefeated since they defeated their co-tenants at the Meadowlands on Christmas Eve.
The Giants and Patriots are the fifth pair of teams to meet in multiple Super Bowls. Not only is Sunday’s game a rematch of Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants stunned the football world by upsetting the previously undefeated Patriots, this game marks a rematch of a Week 9 regular season contest from earlier this season. The Giants beat the Patriots 24-20.
Also, whichever starting quarterback wins – Brady or Eli Manning, he will take sole possession of the mark for most road or neutral-site postseason game victories with seven. I say this because it’s obvious that the most important player for each team is its quarterback. Whether you rank Manning or Brady first and second or vice-versa, they are the two most important players in the game. The third-most important player is Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who continues to receive treatment for a high left ankle sprain – an injury that leaves his status uncertain for Sunday’s showdown. He is the player whom Brady utilizes most effectively in the Patriots’ passing game and he is the one who creates mismatches in the Giants secondary.
If he plays – and can do so effectively – the Patriots have a greater shot at winning.
New York Giants wide receiver David Tyree (85) make the catch over New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison (37) in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLII at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ on Feb 3, 2008. (John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE)
But, as I have stated in recent weeks through out this most recent playoff run, there is something special about this Giants team and season. This game stands to be a career-defining moment for Eli Manning, who can move ahead of his more famous brother on the Super Bowl victories list with a win and improve to 2-0 in Super Bowls when going head-to-head against Brady.
A New York win will not mean that Eli is better than his brother Peyton or Brady, for that matter, but it will mean that Eli belongs in the elite class of active quarterbacks in the NFL. And that recognition is all he has wanted this season. This Sunday, he gets what he wants.
Prediction: Giants win 31-26
Super Bowl XLVI takes place on Sunday February 5 from Indianapolis, Indiana. Kickoff is set for 6:29p.m. eastern on NBC. Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth will have the call.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady :: Credit: SI
Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning.
For a decade it has been the NFL’s must-see quarterback rivalry — or at least it was until Manning’s neck surgery turned the 2011 Colts into a football team best left unseen.
Peyton’s little brother Eli is the “other Manning” no more. Brady vs. Manning will not die.
The Manning who four years ago engineered the last-minute scoring drive that derailed New England’s pursuit of perfection in Super Bowl XLII gained admittance this season into the NFL quarterbacking elite. NFL know-it-alls now speak of the 31-year-old Eli as respectfully as they do Peyton and Tom and Aaron and Drew. Next Sunday in the House That Peyton Built — Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium — Eli will oversee the family business of rivaling Brady when the Giants and Patriots meet in Super Bowl XLVI.
Tom Brady, who is 1-2 all-time against Eli, 8-4 against Peyton says this about Eli:
“He does everything you’re looking for as a quarterback. I’ve seen first-hand what he can do in the fourth quarter of these games. He’s a great leader. You always hear that coming out of New York. The guys really have a lot of respect for him, and so do I.”
Patriots defensive end Mark Anderson went to the Super Bowl five years ago as a Chicago Bears rookie and lost to Peyton and the Colts, 29-17. Anderson, not wanting to compare the brothers, said about Eli this past week:
“He’s looking like one of the greats right now. He’s playing at a high level. It’s our job as a defensive line to slow him down, and try to mess up his whole momentum right now.”
In soggy San Francisco last Sunday, against the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense, Manning set Giants franchise playoff records for completions (32) and pass attempts (58), producing 316 passing yards and two touchdowns (no interceptions) during a 20-17 overtime victory. The 49ers defense sacked Manning six times, and hit him 12 other times. Manning has seemed unfazed by his leaky offensive line. In three games this postseason he has thrown eight touchdown passes, one interception.
Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork:
“You’ve seen him grow, you’ve seen a guy not making the boneheaded mistakes. He’s protecting the football, and that’s first and foremost.”
One would think Patriots coach Bill Belichick is experiencing flashbacks to Eli’s famous escape and heave to David Tyree four years ago in Glendale, Arizona. This past week he also mentioned Manning’s ability to escape from the pocket.
“Not that he’s looking to run for 100 yards or anything, nut converting on third down. Scrambling out of the pocket. Keeping plays alive. We’ve seen that before.”
Eli Manning (credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images), Tom Brady (credit: Elsa/Getty Images)
During the 2011 regular season, Manning threw for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns (16 interceptions), including an NFL-record 15 fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Two of those fourth-quarter TD passes came in the final 3:03 at Gillette Stadium on Nov. 6. Manning threw a 1-yarder to tight end Jake Ballard with 15 seconds left for a 24-20 victory.
The Giants won that evening without wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (76 catches, 1,192 yards, 7 TDs during regular season), who was sidelined with a hamstring injury. Nicks this postseason has 12 catches for 220 yards and two TDs.
Nicks and Victor Cruz (82 catches, 1,536 yards, 9 TDs during the regular season) are a challenge unlike any New England’s secondary encountered during the AFC playoffs. Cruz, a UMass product, had six catches for 96 yards against New England in the regular-season game. He had 10 catches for 142 yards last Sunday against the 49ers.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty said the presence of Nicks and the evolution of Manning makes the Giants’ offense more dangerous than it was on Nov. 6. Giants running back Ahmad Bradshaw also did not play in the teams’ regular-season meeting due to a foot injury.
“I just think to prepare for all those guys is the toughest thing.”
With Peyton Manning having missed the entire 2011 season, Eli has emerged totally from big brother’s shadow. As the first overall pick in the 2004 draft — by San Diego, which swapped Eli to the Giants for Philip Rivers after Eli and dad Archie made it known Eli did not want to play for the Chargers — Manning was expected to be this good. If the Giants win next Sunday, Eli will have two Super Bowl rings to Peyton’s one. He will have beaten Brady’s Patriots twice in the Super Bowl.
Most of all, Eli Manning wins. No matter which Manning is on the opposing sideline, Tom Brady can’t seem to escape the Manning family. With a victory on Sunday in Indianapolis, Eli may very well be considered Tom Brady’s kryptonite.
Let the countdown begin.
We are finally only hours away from finding out who will represent the AFC and who will represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLVI. The “experts” have had their say as to who will win, but now yours truly is putting on the prognostication hat to pick the winners of the AFC and NFC Championship games. Both games promise to be great TV viewing, as the New England Patriots host the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC and the San Francisco 49ers host the New York Giants in the NFC.
Let’s get to the picks!
The Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots will meet in the postseason for the second time in three years, though this time a Super Bowl berth is at stake. (Winslow Townson, AP)
At first glance last week I thought the Baltimore Ravens didn’t stand a chance in this game after being thoroughly outplayed by a depleted Houston Texans squad. I really believe had the Texans had adequate quarterback play, they would be playing the Patriots this week for the AFC Championship. In fact, I believe the Texans are a healthy quarterback away from winning their own Super Bowl. In my mind, Houston was on a direct path to being the number one seed in the AFC if it weren’t for the injuries to the quarterback position. However, the Baltimore Ravens have lived to fight another day and will be ready to play the Patriots. As I wrote earlier this week, the Ravens have got to play better in all phases of the game in order to win. Especially offensively where we all know it begins and ends at the quarterback position. The quarterback position has always been a topic of conversation for the Ravens and to some extent, it still is. The biggest question, for me, is whether or not Joe Flacco can do enough to propel the Ravens to victory. Listen, do I think the Ravens can win? Yes, absolutely. However, it’s not about Ray Rice or Ray Lewis or Ed Reed. It’s about Joe Flacco. I believe it’s going to be up to him to make a play that lifts the Ravens over the hump.
Brady and Lewis will match wits in the AFC Championship Game. (Getty Images)
On the other side, the Patriots defense has been atrocious all year and a lot of the defensive short-comings have been covered up by the Patriots explosive offense. That said, the Ravens defense presents the toughest challenge the Patriots offense has faced this year. The Ravens defense will have to capitalize on the opportunities given to them. Last week, despite intercepting T.J. Yates 3 times, the Ravens dropped quite a few balls that could – and should have been – intercepted. If those types of opportunities present themselves today, the Ravens have got to take advantage in a big way. They will have to get a score from their defensive unit in this game to assist in offsetting their offensive short-comings. While we know how explosive the Ravens can be, not sacking Yates one time last week is a frightening thought; due to the fact that the only way to slow the Pats down is by pressuring Brady. Baltimore hasn’t given up 100 or more receiving yards to opposing TEs in a while, but when was the last time there was a combo like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez? Also, there’s been a lot of focus on Ed Reed leading up to this one. Reed is one of the best safeties in the game, but the Patriots offense will minimize his impact on the game. New England throws more short passes and screens than they do long passes. Therefore, Reed will most likely be helping with coverage on one of the TEs, leaving the middle of the field open.
I know Terrell Suggs told us not to doubt “his boy” because there aren’t many quarterbacks you could compare to “his boy.” Well, Suggs, you are right. We can’t compare Joe Flacco to Tom Brady because that would be flat out idiotic. Your boy may have a 5-3 career playoff record , but New England’s golden boy trounces those numbers, and he has the rings to prove it.
If there’s one advantage the Ravens do have it is on offense. If the Pats allow Rice to be a factor in both the passing and running game, this will end up like their 2009-10 playoff matchup. And as has been the case all season, the Patriots secondary is their weak-spot. New England has to hit and pressure Flacco, or else he will have a field day throwing down field to Boldin and Torrey Smith.
The key for New England in this one will be to stretch out drives and wear down Baltimore’s defense. Let Tom Brady not only control the game, but let him take over. We know he doesn’t like to lose, and this is the perfect game for some revenge. In some cases defense does win championships, but as aforementioned, New England has never lost an AFC Championship game at home. Numbers never lie.
Prediction: Patriots in a dog fight that will end closer than you may think.
I’ve been basically picking against both of these teams for the majority of the season and look where they are now. What makes it even worse is that this might be the best matchup in the NFC this year besides the Packers and Saints in Week 1. So now what?
Eli Manning of the New York Giants drops back to pass against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. (Nov. 13, 2011) || Photo Credit: Getty Images||
Both teams are coming off huge victories and are simply playing smash-mouth football. Their defenses are amongst the best in the league, which could make for a low scoring game. Yet, this game will feature two first-round draft picks, which could make for a high scoring game.
Unlike in the AFC matchup, defense will be the factor to winning this game. Alex Smith showed a lot of adversity and dedication last week, leading a game-winning drive with just nine seconds on the clock. Smith made accurate passes and great plays all game which contributed to their victory. On the other side, Eli Manning did the same exact thing, using his tandem of receivers en route to triumph against the defending champs.
Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora have emerged this post-season and possess the ability to control the tempo. San Fran has some play-makers too, but New York is playing like a team that just can’t be stopped. They won their week 13 rematch against Green Bay last week, and I think they’ve got a great chance to win their week ten rematch against the 49ers this week.
And just remember, you can’t spell “elite” without Eli!
Prediction: Once again, my rooting interest prevents me from giving an honest and un-bias opinion so I’ll just sit back, relax, enjoy the show while rooting hard for Big Blue.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco endures one of five sacks in Sunday's divisional playoff win vs. Houston. (By: Eileen Blass, USA TODAY)
Can the Baltimore Ravens offense keep up with New England’s explosive offense? More importantly, can Joe Flacco do enough to keep up with Tom Brady? I’m not the only one asking these questions, Flacco’s teammate Ed Reed took time to voice his opinion on his quarterback earlier this week.
“I think a couple of times he needed to get rid of the ball. It just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense… He can’t play like [he did against the Texans].”
Joe Flacco has given the Ravens organization and their fans something they haven’t had – security and consistency to the quarterback position. Think about it. You have to realize, the likes of Trent Dilfer, despite winning the Ravens a Super Bowl, only started a grand total of eight regular season games for them? Look at how dire this list is. Before Flacco, the Ravens cycled through fifteen different starting QBs in a span of 12 years. I looked at that list and literally could not remember Randall Cunningham ever playing for this team. The turnover in Baltimore was so fast, you barely had time to notice. Remember Anthony Wright?
Ravens fans – most of them anyway – are incredibly loyal to Flacco because because he was able to bring some semblance of order to a chaotic situation. The problem is that may be ALL he brings. He’s like a pitcher who gives you lots of innings without ever having an ERA below 4.00. Flacco has taken the Ravens to the playoffs his first four seasons. No other QB has done that, but let’s be honest: It’s not as if Flacco has been solely responsible for those playoff runs, not when the Ravens consistently feature a good defense and a healthy running game.
For all the criticism that Mark Sanchez has had to deal with from Jets fans and through the media, statistically speaking – Sanchez has more road playoff victories than any other quarterback ever. You don’t see that little stat keeping Jets fans from wanting him booted out the door. And with good reason, because Sanchez is a thoroughly average, maybe even a below average quarterback.
Flacco may be better than Sanchez, but you’d be shocked at how close of a contest it is. Flacco’s numbers over his career have remained almost exactly the same. He always throws ten to twelve picks. He always throws 20-25 touchdowns. And he always passes for 3,600 yards (three years in a row). There’s been no indication that he’s actually improving. Keep in mind, this is with the Ravens handing him more and more weapons each year to work with (Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, etc.). In fact, Flacco’s completion percentage this season (58%) was the worst of his career. At this point, he may be as good as he’ll ever be. There’s no reason to think he’ll suddenly make a leap and start playing like Aaron Rodgers.
That’s a real problem, because the Ravens need Flacco to play at a higher level if they want to start winning Super Bowls with him at the helm. Sunday is the biggest game of Flacco’s life. If he can somehow pull out a 250-300 yard game with 5 touchdowns, then maybe all of us, even Ed Reed, got Joe Flacco wrong.
Saints at 49ers
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter. (Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP Photo)
Given the choice of all eight starting quarterbacks this weekend, not many would have picked Alex Smith as the guy they’d want to lead them down the field for a touchdown at the end of a game. Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or Aaron Rodgers? Yes please. Tim Tebow? Last gasp heroics are his stock in trade. Eli Manning? Hey, he’s done it in bigger games before. Of the two remaining, Joe Flacco, too, might have been a more popular selection than Smith – the former first overall draft pick whose previous six years in the league had been a study in mediocrity and whose confirmation as the starter in preseason drew grumbles from the San Francisco faithful. Since then Smith had a solid year, but the sense around the league was still that he was nothing more than a game manager, someone who could just about be trusted not to ruin the good work done elsewhere. And yet at Candlestick Park on Saturday, Smith engineered not one, but two touchdowns in the final three and a half minutes of the game – closing the show with an 85-yard drive capped by a laser beam to Vernon Davis (whose 180 receiving yards represented a new playoff record for tight ends) that had Bay Area sportswriters evoking both The Catch by Dwight Clark and Terrell Owens’s 1999 sequel. This was a play and a game that will go down in 49ers folklore, one that may well appear in future rundowns of the league’s greatest playoff encounters. Even before the final flurry that brought four touchdowns, and four lead changes, in four minutes, it had been compelling fare – San Francisco’s defense assaulting Drew Brees and the Saints’ ballcarriers with a ferocity that for three and two-thirds quarters was enough to blow the league’s most explosive offense off-course. A defense such as this might well be what wins championships. But the 49ers are no longer solely reliant on Frank Gore to win the games along the way.
Broncos at Patriots
All of the "Tebowing" in the world couldn't of saved Tebow and the Broncos from Tom Brady and company
“Say your prayers, Timmy,” boomed the front page of the weekend’s Boston Metro, merrily casting the hometown Patriots with a picture of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady set against a backdrop of angry flame. And a suitably hellish visit it turned out to be for the Broncos, their defense ripped to shreds by Brady while their New England counterparts pummelled Tebow – sacking him five times while allowing just nine completions for 136 yards. Is this the end of TebowMania? Of course not. Everyone is well aware of his pulling power and with CBS already hoping to have him on as a studio analyst next weekit seems certain that we will be seeing plenty more of him in the coming weeks and months. What will also be fascinating is to discover whether the Broncos look to give themselves another option at QB between now and the 2012 season. The lack of public pronouncements supporting Tebow from John Elway has widely been interpreted as a lack of faith that he is the man to take this franchise forward. But for now we can turn our attentions back to the Patriots – with Brady reminding us all why he used to be the guy dominating the news agenda. He added yet another NFL record to his collection by becoming the first quarterback ever to throw for five first-half touchdowns in a playoff game – three of them to tight end Rob Gronkowski. But Brady has enough of those already. What he and Belichick would both really like, is another ring.
Texans at Ravens
Courtesy of Getty Images
New England can hardly have been quaking in their boots at the prospect of a visit from Baltimore either, after the Ravens required a lot of breaks to get past the Houston Texans. The tone was set just minutes into the first quarter when Jacoby Jones inexplicably attempted to field a punt which had already bounced with two opponents close at hand, duly fumbling at the three-yard line then watching as the Ravens punched it in for the touchdown. From there it would be a story of turnovers and missed opportunities for the Texans, who coughed up possession on three further occasions while failing to recover any of three fumbles by Baltimore. Yet despite a -4 turnover margin and the fact that their third-string, rookie quarterback TJ Yates was struggling badly in a hostile environment, they still only lost by seven points. That will be hard to take for Houston, who must surely wonder how things might have panned out had Jones simply got out of the way. But for Baltimore such numbers ought to be cause for real concern. New England will not be so forgiving in Foxboro.
Giants at Packers
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning reacts in front of Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, right, after throwing a 37-yard touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks at the end of the first half. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
There was no bigger divisional weekend surprise than the ease with which the Giants saw off the Packers. Well, perhaps Alex Smith’s TD run, but that aside, there was no bigger surprise. But should it have been such a shock? A month ago it would certainly have been a huge upset, with the Packers chasing a perfect season and the Giants losing at home to the Redskins. That week the Packers lost too, for the first time this season, but it was against a briefly reinvigorated Kansas City and we all figured that it was probably best for Green Bay to get a defeat out of the way before chasing the prize. But between then and now much happened that maybe wasn’t properly appreciated: that Redskins defeat left the Giants in a state of permanent knock-out football – and they rose to the challenge. NY blue beat NY green convincingly on Christmas Eve before the Giants again beat the Cowboys, again convincingly, on New Year’s Day. And into the playoffs they strode to, again by several scores, snuff out the Falcons. Each game a must-win, each won with comfort (at least in the end).
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lays on the field during the second half. Giants won 37-20. (Jeffrey Phelps / AP)
Aaron Rodgers meanwhile had only played once during that period. He sat out the last game of the regular season and saw his understudy step up – although the Packers’ defense caused a brief flurry of concern that day. He sat out the bye week. And then he – and the Packers – looked out-of-sorts at Lambeau Field when the big test came. But, to be fair to the Giants, this result wasn’t just about the Packers underperforming. It was about the Giants offense getting smoother by the week. It was about the Giants secondary clicking. It was about a Giants defensive line featuring some big beasts. But, most of all, it was about the Giants once again getting results when it matters. It’s a good thing the 2004 mega deal wasn’t a reality for the Giants. Key figures involved in the proposed trade were the reason why the Giants were able to upset the Packers at Lambeau Field, again. Hey, the Giants might wanna paint that stadium in blue because they own that place!
Tim Tebow is in over is head and as a result, the Broncos good fortune will come to an end tonight. The deck is stacked against him both literally and figuratively but thats where Tim usually thrives.
Not this time.
Tim Tebow has captured the nation’s attention so much that Tom Brady’s very rarely seen these days in the media. Brady and his super model wife are usually plastered all over the media but Tim Tebow has overshadowed Tom terrific. The question is, can Tebow and his Broncos outshine Brady’s bunch on the field tonight?
Not a chance.
Brady is coming off one of the best seasons out of the 12 he’s spent in the NFL. While he doesn’t offer a pose like Tebow, his skills are every bit as sharp as the genuflection seen in the Broncos. The odd’s makers, who apparently don’t bank on Jesus saving this game, put the Broncos as a 13 1/2-point underdog.
Frigid temperatures at game time might hamper Tebow a bit, as he hasn’t been in many games below 20 degrees. The weather predictions call for the coldest day of the 2011-2012 winter yet. Brady’s used to the frigid New England weather, while the Broncos star played four seasons at Florida.
Will tonight’s game offer a repeat of the last time the Patriots and Broncos went head to head at Foxboro? On December 18th, New England won big over Denver at 41-23.
Tonight will be the night when the Tebow train will derail badly if Tim Tebow does not put in a better performance. Let the most talked about game of play off football in recent memory begin.
Does anybody else get the feeling the NFL lockout will ultimately prove to be nothing more than a staged drama designed to keep the country’s most popular sport in the spotlight for the summer? Is there anybody who believes this thing won’t get resolved in plenty of time to start the season?
Superstar players such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees issued a joint statement (aren’t those just grand?) Wednesday, basically imploring ownership to accept the NFLPA’s proposal and move forward. The only sticking points, if reports are to be believed, are a rookie salary system and free agency. Certainly those things can be hammered out before training camps and preseason games are put in jeopardy.
In this summer of labor strife, the NFL appears to be in a much more considerate mode. It will get worked out. Owners and players aren’t crazy enough to kill the humongous cash cow that is the NFL. Now, the NBA is an entirely different story. Its 2011-12 season looks to be in serious trouble. The question is, would anybody care?
The NFL is just too big for those involved to not see the importance of business as usual. As summer drama goes, the NFL labor situation is just plain boring. We all know what the outcome will be.
Yesterday, I examined the winners and losers of round 1 of the NFL Draft. In case you missed it, you can check it out here.
This morning I am going to take a look at the winners and losers from day two of the draft. Some teams just seemed to fumble their picks away in a stunning manner, while other teams (New England), took full advantage of day two. Yesterday wasn’t anywhere near as surprising as day one, however, there were a lot of eye opening picks and trades.
New England Patriots - Some teams just don’t change, and New England continues to be one of these teams. Year after year they find a way to compile multiple early round picks. The Patriots were able to acquire a 1st and 2nd round selection in 2012, while still getting playmakers where they needed them. Ras-I Dawlking probably wouldn’t have been my first pick on the 2nd round, that honor would have gone to Aaron Williams; however, who am I to question their logic? Devin McCourty is a perfect example of this from last year’s draft.
Following the pick of the Virginia corner, New England drafted a player that I think is going to be an all-pro performer in the NFL, Shane Vereen. He really does have what it takes to become a superstar in the league. Steven Ridley was a nice change of pace back, and should contribute immediately for the Patriots. Following that selection they took probably the most talented QB in the NFL draft in the enigma that is Ryan Mallett. I am not sure that he is going to pan out, but he couldn’t ask for more than to sit behind Tom Brady for the next couple of seasons.
Additionally, the New England Patriots worked out another amazing trade, this time with the clueless Oakland Raiders. New England sent their 3rd round, 92nd overall (OT- Joseph Barksdale) to the Oakland Raiders for their 2nd round selection in 2011 and a 7th round pick this draft.
Cincinnati Bengals - The Bengals got value and need with both of their day two picks. Andy Dalton at the start of the 2nd round is great value. I really thought some team was going to have to trade up to the end of the first no nab him. Instead, the Bengals were able to sit back and acquire the ultra-intelligent Dalton.
As much as Cincinnati’s pick of A.J. Green in the 1st round may have been an attempt to appease Carson Palmer they needed to look to the future, and Dalton is the man that could take the helm sooner rather than later.
Dontay Moch has been an interesting prospect all off-season long and I have been a major proponent of his. Moch may be extremely raw, but his upside is just crazy. In the Bengals 4-3 defense he may be asked to be a purse speed rusher off of the end, but I could easily see him making a solid transition to the OLB spot in either the 4-3 or the 3-4.
The Bengals sat back, didn’t make any hasty trades and it paid off.
Detroit Lions - The pick of Nick Fairley aside this has been another great draft for the Detroit Lions. After addressing defense on day one, the Lions were able to get more “toys” for their offense.
I thought Titus Young ranked as the 3rd best WR in the draft behind Green and Jones, Detroit was able to get him in the 2nd round; and absolute steal. Young should come in and be a great complement to Calvin Johnson in the passing game and an immediate upgrade from Nate Burleson.
Detroit did trade away 3rd, 4th, 5th and 7th round selections in order to move back up into the 2nd round, but they were able to get a real nice player in Leshoure. Jahvid Best and Mikell Leshoure should make a great backfield tandem for the next five seasons or so. It also must be noted that the Lions received Seattle’s 5th and 7th round picks in that deal.
Indianapolis Colts - The Indianapolis Colts traded up four spots in the 2nd round with the Washington Redskins and surrendered a 5th rounder in order to get the Villanova lineman. Considering that I thought Ijalana was going late in the 1st round, this was a great decision for Indianapolis. The Colts needed to get some more protection for Peyton Manning and Anthony Castanzo (1st round) along with Ijalana really helps that.
Drake Nevis is going to be an extremely solid linemen in the NFL; I really like the way he plays football. He gives the Colts another stout body up front to rotate into the game on a regular basis. The Colts and Patriots are perfect examples of how to build through the draft.
Arizona Cardinals - The San Francisco 49ers may have upset the Cardinals’ plans by trading up for Kaepernick. I think it left them completely off-guard because Ryan Williams should not have been the pick near the top of the 2nd round. I thought Shane Vereen, DeMarco Murray, Kendall Hunter and Daniel Thomas all should have ranked ahead of the former Virginia Tech Hokie RB.
Rob Housler? Really? Besides the fact that CBS Sports Line had him ranked as the 106th best prospect in the draft, I find it more intriguing because of who they passed up with this pick. Justin Houston and Ryan Mallett would have fit both the best player available and need category than Housler in this spot.
I really don’t care if the Cardinals are going to sign Marc Bulger in the off-season (when it starts), because they have absolutely no hope both short and long term at that position. It was an area that needed to address in this draft and have failed in doing so thus far.
Oakland Raiders - I have absolutely nothing against their offensive line picks. I really do believe that both Wisniewski and Barksdale may end up being solid player in the NFL, but… what is the point of giving up a future 2nd round pick to trade into the end of the 3rd round? As well all know 2nd rounders hold a lot more in terms of trade value than 3rd rounders do. Additionally, how many of us expect the Raiders to be picking in the last half of the 2nd round in 2012? Not me!
Oh, and the Raiders reached for Van Dyke with the 81st pick in the draft. CBS Sports Line had him as the 17th best corner in the draft. Oakland has a way of reaching for picks that leave the rest of the NFL in complete shock. They could have easily traded down a round or two and picked up Van Dyke there.
Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys refused to address their largest need on day two, the secondary. Instead, they went with another OLB project in an attempt to team up with DeMarcus Ware. It really makes no sense to me as I am not a big fan of Carter’s, especially in the first part of the 2nd round.
Then the Cowboys decided to draft another RB when they already have three solid ones on their roster. Say what? I understand that they are looking to move Marion Barber, but considering the lockout issue won’t be able to. And, when they are, the value will only be picks for next year’s draft. I like Murray as a complementary RB, but there was no reason to select him in the 3rd round.
As always, you can get a pick-by-pick review of your favorite team by clicking here.
The 2011 AFC Championship and NFC Championship games are here, and they are going to be good! The AFC Championship game features the loud mouth, trash talking New York Jets taking on those familiar “Terrible Towels” in the Steel City, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The New York Jets are flying high, but they better come down to earth quick. Even though they backed up all their predictions about the New England Patriots, they have an even bigger game this Sunday against a team with a much better defense. The 2011 AFC Championship game will likely prove to be quite an intense game indeed!
The 2011 NFC Championship features a black and blue rivalry that goes back over 50 years, the Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears.
This far into the season you can throw out the X’s and O’s, forget about passing yards, stats, etc. The AFC and NFC Championship games are going to come down to who wants it more, period!
These two games are going to be tough to predict. Both of the games could truly go either way!
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears – Sunday 3:00 P.M. FOX (Packers -3) This is going to be an all-out war. The black and blue division representing who goes to Super Bowl XLV. Oh, these games are getting to tough to call. Aaron Rodgers is rolling in these 2011 NFL playoff games. Can the Chicago Bears defense slow him down? What’s the best way to cool off a hot quarterback? Great defense. Both of these teams feature talented defensive units but I would have to give the edge to the Bears defense especially if he plays. The biggest question I have going into this game is can the Bears offense do enough to win? Can Jay Cutler do enough to win and not turn the ball over. If I’m Mike Martz, I’m going to make sure he doesn’t have to do too much because I will give the ball to Matt Forte. The Bears have got to make the Packers one demensional and not allow them to run the ball. Sounds crazy, but I want to Aaron Rodgers beat me. I think the Bears are going to be able to get enough pressure off the edge to bother Rodgers and I think it’s going to come down to special teams and that is where I give the Bears the clear advantage. A rocking Soldier Field, a Presidential endorsement, and a late Robbie Gould feild goal get it done and send the Bears and President Obama) to the Super Bowl in Dallas.
Pick - 23-20, Bears
New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers - Sunday 6:30 CBS (Steelers – 3.5) This game should be a thriller! Hard hits, trash talk, cold weather – old time football. This week the Jets won’t be going up against the 25th ranked defense. They will be up against a lot but nothing they haven’t faced and beaten before. Last week, I mentioned how it would be tough to bet against Ben Roethlisberger in a close game in the fourth quarter at home, however, the Steelers offensive line appears to be in shambles after last week and I’m not positive they’ll be able to keep Ben upright against Rex Ryan’s complex blitz packages. I know, the Steelers O-line has been patched together all year but they were beat up last week against Baltimore and were down to no reserves in the fourth quarter in that game. Additionally, who knows the Steelers better than Rex Ryan?
Ryan spent years preparing game plans against Big Ben and the Steelers while working as the defensive coordinator in Baltimore. The Jets have beaten the likes of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady already this postseason and now have the chance to defeat Big Ben and the Steelers on the road for the second time this year. The Jets have built quite a playoff resume that few thought was possible, except for the Jets themselves.
As for the Steelers, when they were defeated by the Jets earlier this season Troy Polamalu did not play. Ben Roethlisberger’s playoff experience shouldn’t go unnoticed. Since he entered the league he’s done nothing but win. Despite all of his transgressions and issues away from football he wins. After being suspended for the first portion of the season, he picks up right where he left off and now has his team on the brink of another Super Bowl appearance. All of that is true but you have to wonder if the Steelers will have any type of hangover after that extremely physical and emotional win against Baltimore just a week ago. For a Mike Tomlin led Steeler team you would have to think it’s unlikely but certainly it’s possible.
The same can be said for the Jets who are coming off a highly emotional win themselves over the New England Patriots. Will there be any hangover from the Jets? My guess is that you will see a little something at the start but both teams will quickly settle down into the flow of the game. I love both of these coaches and have tremendous respect for both teams and what they have gone through to get to this point. The Jets are hot right now and playing out of their minds right now. The Steelers are the Steelers and have play-makers on both sides of the ball. I have some questions about them seeing as how they were thoroughly outplayed by the Ravens in the first half and were the beneficiaries of a collapse from Baltimore in the second half. However, when it came time for big plays, the Steelers made them just as the Steelers are known to do. In most cases, I’m inclined to go with the hottest team at the time but I can’t bet against Big Ben, Mike Tomlin and the Steelers until they prove me wrong.
This game could go either way and I wouldn’t be surprised no matter who wins. I CAN’T WAIT!
Pick - 24-19, Steelers