Posts Tagged ‘James Harrison’

Can the Packers’ Contain Polamalu and the Steelers?

Tomorrow is the big day – Super Bowl XLV is shaping up to be a classic.  Two tough, physical defenses look to make this a low scoring, hard hitting game.  Since we have Super Bowl party platters to prepare, let’s take a quick look at the Steelers’ defense.  Will the Steel Curtain be able to close the window on Aaron Rodgers and the Packers?  Here is our take on this crucial aspect of tomorrow’s game.

Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu was recently named the Associated Press’ Defensive Player of the Year.  He deserved it.  He is the leader of the Steelers’ #2 ranked defense and will be perhaps the number one threat to Aaron Rodgers in Super Bowl XLV.   Polamalu had 7 interceptions and 63 tackles in 14 games during the regular season.  Polamalu is a hard hitter, but what is most impressive about him is his natural and uncanny ability to be at the right place at the right time on the field.

Other key players on the defense are outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley.   Harrison enters Super Bowl XLV with 13.5 sacks, while Woodley has 12.  Woodley will pass rush on the right side of the Packers’ offensive line, forcing Rodgers to his left to throw.  This pressure could possibly impact Rodgers’ accuracy, so expect the Steelers to blitz Woodley all game.  Harrison has become notorious for his ferocious hits, as well as his ability to apply pressure to QBS.  Given Rodgers’ two concussions this season, the Packers will need to account for Harrison and keep him away from the pocket.

The Steelers have the #1 ranked rush defense and will likely limit the Packers’ running game.  Although Green Bay’s James Starks has established a running game late in the season, the Steelers should be able to contain him, forcing Rodgers to win the game through the air.

The Steel Curtain vs. Aaron Rodgers – who will win this intense battle of two powerful, unrelenting forces?  While it is hard to bet against the Steelers’ defense, we give the slight edge to Green Bay.  In order for the Packers to win, they will need to keep the ball away from Polamalu as much as possible.  Rodgers’ accuracy and quick release should allow him to make big plays downfield.  With the weakest part of the Steelers’ defense at cornerback, look for Rodgers to work the perimeter.

As we close out this week’s 4 part Super Bowl XLV analysis before the big day tomorrow, we have given the edge to Green Bay’s defense over the Steelers’ offense.  We also believe that Aaron Rodgers will find a way to score and prevail over the Steelers’ dominant defense.  Look for a low scoring, close game with Green Bay walking away with the Lombardi Trophy.

The Packers got to the Super Bowl with sheer guts and determination this year.  Finishing the season with an award named after their legendary coach – who believed in hard work and determination above all else – would be the perfect ending for Rodgers and the Packers.  Prediction:  Green Bay 24-Pittsburgh 21.

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Who Will Make it to the Super Bowl? Here are Our Predictions!

Today will determine who will be going to the Super Bowl on February 5th.  Will the Chicago Bears win today in the longest rivalry in the history of the NFL?  Or will the Green Bay Packers represent the NFC and make a run for the ultimate title?  In the AFC, will the Steel Curtain be lowered on the Jets or will New York find a way to soar above Pittsburgh’s tough, stingy defense?  Whatever the outcome, this is shaping up to be an electrifying day for gridiron fans!  Here’s our take on who emerges victorious today.

Chicago has home field advantage, but we think the Packers’ overcome the crowd, weather conditions and the Bears’ defense and win in a close game.  Aaron Rodgers is playing phenomenal football and we think he will do whatever it takes to win the game. The keys to a Green Bay victory are…

  1.  Keeping the game from being one dimensional.  Most of the season, the Packers relied almost exclusively on Aaron Rodgers and the passing game.  When they found a running game, they became a much more balanced offense that is simply harder to defend.  The Bears have the #2 rushing defense in the NFL, which will make it a real challenge for Packers RB James Starks.
  2. The Packer’s defense needs to pressure Bears QB Jay Cutler.  Last week against the Seahawks, Cutler had 274 yards passing and 2 TDs, but that was against a Seahawks defense that did little to pressure him.  The Bears have the #5 pass defense in the league, which means Cutler will be facing a much different situation than he did last week.
  3. The Packers need to stop Matt Forte.  Forte poses a threat as a running back and a wide receiver and is peaking at just the right time.  If the Packers don’t have an answer for Forte, he may just win the game for the Bears – especially given the frigid, wintry conditions expected at Soldier Field today.  Since the Packers are better at pass defense than run defense, Forte could be a real game changer.

 

The Jets/Steelers game is a tough one to call.  Big Ben has the experience to take the Steelers into the Super Bowl and is hard to pick against.  But the Jets are coming off a huge upset win against the Patriots and sometimes sheer momentum is enough to beat even the toughest opponents. We pick the Jets in what should be another close one!  For our prediction to come true here is what has to happen.

  1.  Real pressure on Big Ben.  Last week the Jets defense pressured Tom Brady, causing him to lose his rhythm.  Big Ben has the physical size, strength and mobility to escape that pressure.  For the Jets to win, they MUST find a way to disrupt the two-time Super Bowl winning QB.
  2. Contain strong safety Troy Polamalu and head hunter linebacker James Harrison.  If the Jets cannot control these two defensive dynamos, Sanchez is in for a very long day – much of it on the ground looking up at the sky!
  3. Make Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson key components in the offensive game plan today.  For the Jets to win, they must run a balanced offense, using their two RBs and using a game plan that allows Sanchez to make quick, short throws downfield.  This will be an enormous challenge, given the relentless rush defense of the Steelers.

Given all these seemingly impossible tasks, why have we picked the Jets over the Steelers?  Jets coach Rex Ryan has lost two AFC Championships in a row and simply won’t tolerate a third.  Combined with the momentum the Jets are on after last week’s defeat of the Patriots, we think he and his team will back up their season long tough talk with a victory over the favored Steelers.

Got Triskaidekaphobia?

Those who fear the number 13 suffer from triskaidekaphobia.  But there is no need to dread week 13 in the NFL.  In fact, for football fans it is indeed our lucky day!  There are some great games, many of which have playoff implications.  The Patriots/Jets, Giants/Redskins, Cowboys/Colts and Falcons/Bucs are some on my “must see” list. 

Perhaps the biggest Sunday matchup is tonight’s Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens AFC rivalry game.  Both teams are tied for first place in the AFC North, with 8-3 records.  In all likelihood, the winner of this game will win the AFC North and possibly a first-round bye, as well as home field advantage in the playoffs. 

The two teams met in Week 4 this season, with the Ravens scoring late in the 4th quarter to pull off a 17-14 win.  However, Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger did not play in that game due to his suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

While Monday Night’s Jets/Patriots game has the glitz and glamour associated with New York and the oh-so-glossy and picture-perfect Tom Brady, tonight’s Steeler/Ravens game is good, hard PHYSICAL football.  The hatred between these two teams is palpable, so expect a smash-mouth, hard hitting game.

On paper, these two teams are statistically even.  But there are many factors that will come into play and will likely determine the outcome.  Here is a look at a few of them…

  • Remember the movie, “The Blind Side”?  Well, the real life Michael Oher is the Ravens starting left tackle and his job is to protect his QB Joe Flacco’s blind side.  Oher left last week’s game against the Bucs with an injury and so his condition for tonight’s game is questionable.
  • The BEN –e-factor…  Big Ben has been seen wearing a protective boot on his injured foot this week.  But the fact remains that with him in the game, the Steelers are 7-2 against the Ravens.  Hurt or not, Roethlisberger is a definite compelling force in this heated rivalry game.  As the nation’s 5th ranked passer, he will certainly lead a much different offense than the week 4 game.
  • The Steelers run defense is ranked number one in the country.   While Ravens RB Ray Rice has had success against the Steeler’s defense, the Ravens will need to go to the air to pull off a victory.
  • The Steelers pass defense is vulnerable.  If Flacco can read the coverage in the secondary, he has the chance to exploit this weakness.
  • The NFL has fined Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison four times this season, for a total of $125,000, for illegal hits.  Some of those calls have been questionable.  We hope that the NFL’s scrutiny of Harrison does not restrain his intensity and ultimately affect his game.
  • The Ravens host tonight’s game and the Steelers have struggled on the road.  Meanwhile, Baltimore holds the longest current home winning streak in the NFL.  A home field advantage could truly be a factor in this game.  

If you love good, old fashioned, knock em’ down football, this is the game for you!  Pittsburgh and Baltimore’s blue-collar fans bring an enthusiasm and fervor to the game unmatched in the NFL.  So tune in tonight for a clash that will have you jumping out of your seat!  This Week 13 game will cure your triskaidekaphobia and make you feel lucky to have such a great rivalry game to enjoy.

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