Posts Tagged ‘Mark Sanchez’

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.

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Who’s Your Man?

Tomorrow’s AFC Championship game has two high profile quarterbacks – New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez and Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.  When it comes to a title game, who would you rather have on your team?

 Big Ben and Mark Sanchez are light years apart in public image.  Roethlisberger’s off the field problems – careless motorcycle driving, two different accusations of sexual assault and a possible drinking problem – have given him a bad boy image.  His QB performance this season has certainly helped repair that image somewhat, but if he doesn’t take the Steelers to the Super Bowl, we have to wonder if fans will once again be reminded of his misdeeds.

Sanchez, on the other hand, has somewhat of a golden boy image.  His wholesome looks, combined with his Southern California roots, make him the perfect candidate for a Hollister ad campaign.  Not only can he pull off a sun-kissed, fun loving surfer image, but he also embraces his refined, cultural side as well.  This past summer, he appeared at the Tony Awards and introduced a song from a Broadway musical, while admitting that he is a big fan of theatre and the arts since moving to New York.  Talk about a multi-faceted personality!

Both Roethlisberger and Sanchez were first round draft picks.  Sanchez was the 5th overall pick in 2009.  When drafted, he had only 16 starts under his belt as a USC Trojan.  He started only one season, but led the Trojans to a 12-1 record and Rose Bowl Championship.  In his first year with the Jets, he took his team to the playoffs, but ultimately lost to the Colts in the AFC Championship game.  He became the 4th rookie QB in NFL history to win his first playoff game and the 2nd to win two playoff games in his rookie year.

Despite only 2 years in the NFL, Sanchez exudes the confidence of a much more experienced player.  Perhaps his poise and leadership skills can be traced to his childhood.  Sanchez’s father – a former Army Sergeant and fire department captain – believed in teaching his son how to think quickly and to be a leader.  As a child, Sanchez mastered these skills by doing drills such as dribbling a basketball without looking – while reciting multiplication tables.  Sanchez’s father would have Mark stay after practices and do these drills in order to learn how to concentrate and think fast in a pressure situation – two skills that are serving him well as the NY Jets QB.

Roethlisberger was the 11th pick in the 2004 draft.   When drafted, he had 3 years of experience playing at Miami University of Ohio.  He broke every major record at the university and dominated the Mid-American Conference as well.  Since he started playing for the Steelers in 2004, Big Ben has compiled an impressive resume, too numerous to list.  Some of his major accomplishments include 2004 Offensive Rookie of the Year, a Pro Bowl Selection in 2007, and oh, by the way, TWO Super Bowl Championships!  Big Ben was the youngest starting QB to ever win a Super Bowl.

Sanchez may have had an upbringing that helped him develop leadership and quick thinking skills.  But Roethlisberger clearly has the advantage when it comes to playoff experience, where those types of skills are truly tested.  He has a 9-2 playoff record, compared to Sanchez’s 4-1 playoff record.  Another advantage Big Ben has is his 6’5” 240 pound frame that makes him a real challenge for defenders to bring down. 

So, which QB would you want on your team tomorrow?  If we were only choosing based on likeability, Mark Sanchez – the California surfer with a love for Broadway – wins hands down.  But if we want to have the best chance of winning the game, Big Ben is our man.   His size, combined with his playoff experience, arm strength and mobility, make him our choice for this fabulous AFC Championship game.

Wild Card Weekend!!!

Today marks the beginning of a weekend of Wild Card matchups.  At 4:30 pm ET, the New Orleans Saints visit the Seattle Seahawks.  Later, the New York Jets meet the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Wild Card night game (8 pm ET).  Tomorrow, the Baltimore Ravens take on the Kansas City Chiefs at 1.  But in our opinion, the most exciting matchup of the weekend takes place tomorrow at 4:30 when the Green Bay Packers travel to Philly to face the Eagles.  We will look at Sunday’s matchups later, but for now here’s our take on today’s games. 

NFC Wild Card Game- Saints vs. Seahawks

The 5th seeded, 11-5 Saints enter the game as defending Super Bowl champions.  The Seahawks have a losing record (7-9), but having won the weak and pitiful NFC West, are the fourth seed and earned home field advantage.  It is the first time that an NFL team with a losing record enters the post-season. The two teams played each other in Week 11, with the Saints winning 34-19. 

Much attention has been focused on how the Saints’ two leading rushers will be missing due to injury. It will be up to Reggie Bush and Julius Jones to step up (literally) and get a running game established.  While the running game may be diminished, there are plenty of other offensive weapons for Drew Brees to work with.  This season, the Super Bowl MVP has thrown for even more yards than last year.  Although Brees has more than twice the interceptions he had a year ago, we think wide receiver Marques Colston will make some big plays and help the Saints earn a victory. 

The Saints have a 0-3 record in playoff games when the game is played on their opponent’s home field, while the Seahawks hold a 4-0 record in the post-season for games played at home.  While these are interesting facts, it is unlikely to impact the game.  The Saints should easily dominate this game.

AFC Wild Card Game – Jets vs. Colts

Last year the two teams played each other in the AFC Championship game, with the Colts winning 30-17.  Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan made it clear this week that today’s game against the Colts is personal, especially with Peyton Manning.  The outspoken coach seemed bothered that so much was written this week about how Manning has dominated him over the years.  Ryan said,

I’m not the only coordinator or person that Peyton has ever destroyed.  I think it’s written that I’m his punching bag. Mine at least has some arms on it. Some of these other guys he plays, don’t have any arms on them. I plan on swinging back. We’ll see how that works out this week.

Today’s meeting features two very different teams than last year’s AFC Championship game.  The Colts roster is missing some of its most talented names who were key to last year’s victory.  TE Dallas Clark and WR Miles Austin, two of Manning’s “go to” guys, are on injured reserve.   

Meanwhile, the Jets have added new players and appear to have more offensive talent than last year’s team. WR Santonio Holmes was not on the Jets last year and will be a critical factor in a Jets victory.   Holmes caught the game winning TD in Super Bowl XLIII and was named Super Bowl MVP.  Clearly, he is capable of making a clutch play when it is most needed.  If Mark Sanchez does not have any issues with his sore throwing shoulder, look for some big plays between the QB and Holmes.

The Jets defense appears to be less strong than last year’s team.  Jets starting safety Jim Leonhard is injured, leaving corner backs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to handle the Colts’ remaining receiving corps – Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon and Jacob Tamme.  Revis and Cromartie will pose a threat to Manning’s outside passing game, but throwing down the middle of the field could prove to be a real problem for the Jets defense with Leonhard missing.  Jacob Tamme may be Manning’s main target today and may be one of the keys to a Colts’ win.

The bad news this season has been the Colts weak run defense, ranked 25th in the NFL.  The last four weeks, however, the Colts have shown an ability to contain some big name running backs.  It will be interesting to see if they can continue that momentum.  Jets RB Shonn Greene will likely get most of the carries today.  As Greene pounds away for yardage, the Jets will be able to control the time of possession, thereby keeping Manning off the field. 

Controlling the clock may be the only true way to stop Manning.  This week, however, when asked how Manning can be stopped, Jets Coach Rex Ryan said, “Maybe hit him in the head real hard. That could be one way. We haven’t tried that yet.”  One thing is for certain – Rex Ryan sure likes to talk.  He has talked about winning the Super Bowl this year, long before the season even started.  This week, he talked at length about Manning and the Colts.  Today will determine if he and his Jets are able to back up their off the field “tough talk” with their on field play.

 With a multitude of Indy injuries in the receiving corps and a struggling running game, Manning undoubtedly has carried the fate of the Colts on his shoulders all season.  Today, he again holds the key to their destiny.  If Jets Coach Rex Ryan believes his brash personal comments targeting Manning will intimidate him, he is foolish. 

The Jets may actually have more talent than the Colts in this year’s contest.  But Peyton Manning is simply a master of the game.  Even with his depleted roster, Manning once again found a way to make it into the playoffs.  He passed for 4700 yards this season – a career high.  In the end, Manning’s unparalleled determination and ability to tear apart opposing defenses will prove to be too much for Ryan and the Jets, no matter how much tough talk they engage in.

Monday Night Football Marquee Matchup!

Monday Night Football…Tom Brady…New England Patriots….Rex Ryan…the New York Jets.  Yes, these are the ingredients for a big, prime time game. Last week’s MNF game between the Cardinals and 49ers was mind-numbing.  So much so, in fact, that re-runs of Law and Order replaced my usual Monday night football ritual.  But this is a marquee game, full of hype, drama and major playoff implications. 

Both the Jets and Patriots are 9-2 and tied for first place in the AFC East.  They met earlier this season, in Week 2, with the Jets winning 28-14.  The Patriots were leading 14-0 before they collapsed and the Jets turned on their afterburners for a second half comeback. 

Much has changed since that first meeting.  For the Patriots, their trade of Randy Moss and loss of running back Kevin Faulk to injury has forced Tom Brady to spread the ball around to a whole slew of different receivers, tight ends and backs.  The Patriots enter this game leading the NFL in scoring.  Here is our take on some key factors in this rivalry matchup.

The Tom Brady Factor 

He is playing in front of a home crowd where he simply rarely loses.  The last time a Brady-led Patriots team lost at home during the regular season was November 2006.  Coincidentally, it was the Jets who served up that last home defeat.  But since that game, 25 teams have played against Brady in Foxboro and every one of them has walked away defeated.

The Jets Defense vs. The Patriots Offense

The Jets run defense is tough and the Patriots will likely have a hard time gaining a lot of yards on the ground.  In their Week 2 matchup, they had only 52 yards rushing.  Tom Brady’s offensive line is designed to protect him while he picks apart defenses and this is where the Patriots will score their points. 

This week, Jets safety Jim Leonhard suffered a season-ending broken leg.  Not only was Leonhard a critically important player, but he was the on-field leader who called all the defensive plays.  It is a big defensive loss for the Jets and Brady will look to exploit this weakness.

Jets cornerback Darrell Revis is one of the best defensive players in the NFL.  He has done a phenomenal job of shutting down superstar receivers all season long.  But Brady no longer has that one big-play receiver since Moss’ trade.  That makes it a challenge for Jets Coach Rex Ryan in trying to determine who to cover.  While Ryan loves to blitz against the Patriots, Brady’s signature quick release will make it difficult to stop the pretty Patriot QB.

The Patriots Defense vs. The Jets Offense

The Patriots defense is considered weak.  They are surrendering about 399 yards per game.  Their pass defense is ranked 32nd and will allow Jets QB Mark Sanchez to find some of his favorite targets –   wide receiver Santonio Holmes and tight end Dustin Keller.  The Jets have great depth in their receiving corps with Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith, Patrick Turner, and as of this weekend, Laveranues Coles.  Rex Ryan brought the veteran receiver back on board after releasing him this past summer.

Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson is having a productive season. At age 31, LT has (no pun intended) not missed a step this year.  He leads the team in receptions (45) and has carried the ball 166 times this season, resulting in 5 TDs.  Look for the Patriots to try to shut down the Jets running game and force Sanchez to throw.  With the depth in the receiving corps, Sanchez could have a big day if his offensive line can give him protection and time.

While Sanchez is not yet the caliber of QB that Brady is, he is becoming more poised as the season progresses.  He has pulled out some late comeback wins and won twice in overtime.  Many young QBs might feel intimidated by the prestige of Brady and the Patriots, but Sanchez will handle the pressure well.

The Final Word

Both the Patriots and Jets are entering tonight’s game very well prepared.  Both teams had 12 days of rest since their last game, which was on Thanksgiving.  Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick are two of the most meticulous and fiercely competitive coaches in the NFL.  Having so much time to prepare, there will likely be 2 well designed game plans.  Like an architect designing an intricate building, these coaches will have a detailed strategy dealing with every facet of the game. 

The outcome will be determined by the execution of those game plans.  Whichever team follows their coach’s strategy and committs less mistakes will emerge victorious.  While it is no secret that I am neither a Tom Brady nor a Patriot fan, I do believe they have the advantage in tonight’s game.    Look for a close game, with the Patriots winning by 3.

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