Posts Tagged ‘New England Patriots’

Post Season Awards! Brady Earned NFL MVP, But We Still Don’t Have to Like Him

The Super Bowl is over and it’s time to reflect upon the past season.  What were the highs and lows?  What player or team was the biggest surprise and who left fans feeling disappointed?  Which coaching and owner decisions were successful and which were foolish?  There’s plenty to discuss about the 2010 NFL season and playoffs, but before we delve into these issues, let’s take a look at a few of the major post-season honors recently awarded to some of the gridiron’s greatest players.

New England Patriots QB Tom Brady was named the NFL’s 2010 MVP.  The award is bestowed by the Associated Press and voters consist of 50 members of the media from throughout the U.S.  For the first time, the vote for MVP was unanimous, with Brady receiving all 50 votes.  In 2007, with a 16-0 record, Brady received the MVP award with 49 votes. 

This season Brady passed for over 3900 yards.  With 36 TDs and a mere 4 INTs, his TD:INT ratio of 9.0 set a record for the highest ratio in NFL history.  The previous record was set by Brady in 2007.  Brady also set another incredible record this season with 334 consecutive throws without an interception.  His pretty boy looks, coupled with his exceptional athletic ability, make him one of the most popular NFL players among women – just not us!  But we will concede that he truly did deserve this award.

The 33 year old Patriots QB was also named AP Offensive Player of the Year.  He led his team to a 14-2 regular season record, the best in the NFL.  Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick shared the spotlight as well.  He was named NFL Coach of the Year, receiving 30 of the 50 votes by members of the AP.  Since joining the Patriots in 2000, Belichick has led the Patriots to 3 Super Bowl Championships, 4 Conference Championships and 8 Division titles.  This is the 3rd time he has received Coach of the Year honors.

The NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year was a much closer vote, with Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu edging out Green Bay Packer linebacker Clay Matthews by just 2 votes.  Polamalu received 17 votes, Matthews earned 15 and fellow Steelers linebacker James Harrison received 8.  Polamalu had 63 tackles this season, along with 7 INTs in 14 games.  His game-changing play ability, coupled with his natural instincts, helped Pittsburgh earn its #2 defensive ranking and get them to the Super Bowl.  In the end, however, Clay Matthews earned the NFL’s most sought after award – a Super Bowl title.  His forced fumble in the 4th quarter was a MAJOR momentum changing play in the game and helped seal the Packers’ victory.

Speaking of the Super Bowl, another award was given out Sunday night.  Aaron Rodgers became Super Bowl XLV MVP after he and the Green Bay Packers defeated Pittsburgh 31-25.  Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards.  He had 3 TDs and no interceptions.  The victory was the first Super Bowl title for the Packers since 1997.

Finally, we come to an award that is perhaps our very favorite this post-season – the Comeback Player of the Year.  Michael Vick was recently honored with this AP award, receiving 29.5 votes.  After limited play in 2009 as a back up to Donovan McNabb, the 30 year old Vick began the 2010 season as a back up to Eagles QB Kevin Kolb.  When Kolb became injured in the first game of the season, Vick stepped in and his exceptional performances earned him the starting position for the rest of the season.  This season, Vick threw for over 3000 yards, 21 TDs, 6 INTs and had an impressive QB rating of 100.2.  His spectacular scrambling and running ability earned him 9 rushing TDs and almost 700 yards on 100 attempts.  After his 18 month incarceration for dog fighting, his success both on and off the field this season deservedly earned him the Comeback Player of the Year honor.

Stay tuned for more post-season discussion!  Next up:  the highs and lows of the 2010 NFL season!  With more drama than a cat fight on an episode of “The Bachelor”, this past season had many thrilling ups and downs that are both entertaining and interesting to look back on.  The season may be over, but a true fan never tires of gabbing about the gridiron!

There’s No Place Like Holmes!

As we gear up for this weekend’s NFL Conference Championships, we plan to take a look at some of the intriguing players and plots among the Steelers/Jets and Packers/Bears.  Today we highlight New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes. 

Holmes was drafted by the Steelers in 2006 in the first round.  He was both a receiver and a punt returner.  Holmes went on to become the Super Bowl MVP in 2009, when he caught the game winning TD with 35 seconds left in the 4th quarter to give the Steelers their 6th Super Bowl title.  It was one of the most amazing receptions in Super Bowl history, as he had to balance himself and make a tip-toed, far-reaching catch!  

In April, after a number of off the field issues including a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the Steelers traded Holmes to the Jets for a 5th round draft pick.  Given his Super Bowl performance and some impressive games over his years as a Steeler, the news stunned the sports world.  The NFL handed down a 4 game suspension to Holmes because of his substance abuse violation at the beginning of the season.   Holmes became eligible to play for the NY Jets on October 11th against the Vikings. 

Through twelve games, Holmes had 52 receptions for 746 yards.  While those may not be eye-popping stats, it is his ability to make clutch plays that makes Holmes so valuable.  Just like the Super Bowl catch that earned him MVP status, Holmes made another unforgettable big play in last week’s divisional game vs. the top seeded Patriots.  The game was still close, as the Patriots had just scored to make it 14-11.  On third down early in the 4th quarter, Holmes made an incredible TD reception, managing to get his knee down in the end zone while extending his body in an extraordinary display of control and athleticism!

The Jets defeated the Steelers 22-17 in Week 15 at Heinz field.  Once again, Gang Green will head back to the land of the twirling “Terrible Towels”.  Will Santonio Holmes, the ultimate clutch player, have one of his unforgettable performances that change the outcome of the game?  Will his play be one of vengeance, where he stuns the Steelers into wishing they had not traded him?  Or will the Steelers shut Holmes down and feel validated by their decision to rid themselves of the controversial WR?  Tune in Sunday and watch as Holmes’ intriguing story unfolds in this AFC Conference Championship game!

Click Here to See Holmes’ Amazing TD Reception vs. the Patriots

Third Time’s A Charm…

Here we go again.  For the third time this season, the New York Jets and New England Patriots meet in a game that has as much drama attached to it as a Kardashian reality TV series.  Rex Ryan, the brash head coach of the trash talking Jets has led the hype.   Jets CB Antonio Cromartie began the pre-game taunting this week when he told the NY Daily News that he “hates Tom Brady” and then called him an “a**hole”.  Let’s hope he can be as tough on the field.  

For the most part the Patriots have been pretty silent, except for WR Wes Welker who stood before the media this week and shrewdly made references to feet, alluding to Rex Ryan’s recent foot fetish scandal.  So the off field antics have been in full force leading up to tomorrow’s 4:30 game.  But, let’s take a look at what matters the most – the 60 minutes on the field.

For the Jets to win, they will need to have an effective rushing game that allows them to control the clock and keep Tom Brady off the field.  The Jets used RBs LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene last week to pound away at the Indianapolis Colts defense and keep Peyton Manning off the field.  That same strategy will likely be used against Brady and the Pats. 

Defensively, the Jets will need to find a way to contain Brady.  In their last game, where they were defeated by 42 points, the Jets blitzed Brady too often.  For the Jets to slow down Brady, they will have to balance their defense a bit more than they did last time.  Last week, they kept their safeties deep and presented a base defense to Manning that did not shift until the ball snapped.  This ability to disguise their defensive schemes until after the snap of the ball may be the only way to prevent the cunning, intelligent Brady from scoring mega points.

For the Patriots to win, they will count on Brady to lead the way.  Brady’s performance this season has been epic – 36 TDs and a mere 4 interceptions.  In fact, Brady has not thrown an INT in his last 335 pass attempts. 

The last time the teams met, New England handed the Jets a humiliating 45-3 defeat in what was predicted to be a close game.  Earlier in the season the Jets beat the Pats 28-14.  So with each team having won a game, who will emerge victorious when it really counts?  The trash talk by Rex Ryan and the NY Jets leading to tomorrow’s game has been entertaining this week.  But come kick off time, all the words in the world cannot change the outcome of the game.  While the two teams match up evenly in many areas, Brady and the Patriot offense are simply too strong to contain.  We pick the Pats by 14, despite our personal dislike of the beautiful Brady!

Who Is This Year’s NFL MVP?

My love for Michael Vick is not a secret.  Despite being a Giants fan, Vick is one of my very favorite players, second only to Peyton Manning.  It is also not a secret that I am not a big fan of Tom Brady.  Is there a particular reason for my aversion towards Brady?  Not really.  It is just one of those irrational sports opinions that is inexplicable.  But to be fair, he is having one amazing season.

Yesterday’s unbelievable comeback by Vick and the Eagles against the Giants was one of the most exciting moments in the NFL this season.  After being pressured and sacked all game, Vick simply took charge and refused to be denied.  With just over 8 minutes to play in the game, he orchestrated a 28 point scoring frenzy that gave the Eagles a 38-31 victory. 

Vick has been such a dynamic force for the Eagles and is quickly becoming a fan favorite.  Last week, NFL.com announced Vick was in first place in Pro Bowl voting by fans.  Fan voting ends tonight, after Monday Night Football, and it will be interesting to see if Vick can maintain his top position, or if Tom Brady, who was in 2nd place, will overtake him.  Fan votes count for 1/3 of the total vote that will determine which players go to the Pro Bowl, while coaches and players each account for the additional 2/3. 

For the NFL’s MVP, the voting is done by 50 members of the Associated Press.  So who is likely to win this prestigious honor?  At this moment, it seems clear that Vick and Brady are the top contenders.  While I would love to see Vick win the award, I believe Brady will once again become the NFL’s MVP, just as he did in 2007.

Brady is the quintessential QB who plays with order and precision in a conventional way.  His quarterback rating is the highest in the league – an impressive 109.9.  This season, he’s thrown for over 3500 yards, 31 TDs and just 4 interceptions.  He helped the Patriots clinch a playoff spot and with home-field advantage, the Patriots have a good chance of making it to the Super Bowl.  If he wins the MVP award, no one can claim he did not earn it.

Vick, by contrast, makes the impossible happen with his unconventional, pure, raw talent.  Like Brady, his stats are impressive.  He holds a 103.6 QB rating and has thrown for over 2700 yards, 20 TDs and 5 INTs.   But what makes Vick a compelling candidate for MVP is the dual threat he poses for opponents.  There is simply no other QB with the ability to throw AND run as effectively.

Brady has the statistical edge this season, but for me, Vick is certainly much more fun to watch!  While I truly couldn’t argue with Brady winning the MVP this season, I do think Michael Vick and his comeback story make for a much more interesting choice.  Will voters look at Vick’s storybook-like season and give him the perfect ending by voting for him?  Or will some voters consider Vick’s off-field history and vote based more on morality than performance?  The more likely scenario will be that voters simply choose Tom Brady since his numbers do surpass Vick’s.  It would be the easy, predictable choice.

There have been 2 times when the NFL MVP award was shared.  In 1997, Brett Favre and Barry Sanders were co-MVPs and in 2003 Peyton Manning and Steve McNair shared the honor.  This year, with two high performing, yet totally different players vying for the MVP award, it seems to be a perfect solution to the dilemma that may be facing voters.  The preppy, All-American Tom Brady and the rough and tumble Michael Vick, who against all odds turned his life around.   Who would have ever thought they could have anything in common?  But this year, if voters do the right thing, perhaps they will share something in common – the NFL MVP award!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! A Gridiron-Infused Holiday Song…

Yesterday brought cold, blustery weather to much of the country.  Instead of fighting the bitter wind and the (at times) bitter-like crowds at the mall, I decided to stay in and do a little online shopping.  I wrote out my Christmas cards and wrapped presents, perfectly positioned in front of the TV so I could watch a slew of great NFL games!  Spending the day like that truly put me in a festive mood and reminded me why this is one of my favorite times of the year.

 In the spirit of the holidays and with yesterday’s games in mind, I give you my gridiron-infused version of the classic holiday song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”!  Feel free to sing along to my version or, better yet, click the video to enjoy the traditional song by Johnny Mathis!  Hmm…maybe I have had a bit too much eggnog??!!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

With Favre’s shoulder still swelling

And Giants fans yelling

A win may be near

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

 

It’s the hap-happiest season of all

With 2 Jets defeatings

In rival team meetings

The Pats will stand tall

It’s the hap-happiest season of all

 

There’ll be playoffs for hosting

Mike Vick will be toasting

The Vikings will clear out the snow

There’ll be more Dallas stories

And tales of the glories of

Romo from long, long ago

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

There is Matt Ryan knowing

His record is glowing

And playoffs are near

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

 

There’ll be victories for boasting

Locker room toasting

Celebrating after the show

There’ll be ESPN stories

And tales of the glories

Of playoffs long, long ago

 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Some teams will be going

The beer will be flowing

The fans can cheer!

It’s the most wonderful time

It’s the most wonderful time

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Fantastic Four – Which Four Teams Can Clinch a Playoff Spot Today??

As the season continues, teams throughout the NFL are desperately trying to win in order to receive a coveted playoff spot.  This week brings a number of games with playoff implications.  Four teams can actually clinch a playoff spot today.  Here is a look at the scenarios involved with each team that can propel them into the playoffs!

New England Patriots

Perhaps the best contest of Week 14 is between the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears.  After Monday night’s destruction of the Jets, the Patriots find themselves with the best record (10-2) in the AFC East.  Chicago comes into today’s game at 9-3 and holding only a one game lead over Green Bay in the NFC North.   Though they are in different conferences, both teams desperately want to win this one.

Green Bay plays the Detroit Lions today and should walk away with a win.  If Chicago wants to maintain its first place standing, they need a win vs. the Patriots so they are not tied with the Packers in their division. 

 New England can clinch a spot in the playoffs if they win or tie today.  They also earn a playoff spot if Miami loses or ties AND Jacksonville loses or ties.  Another way the Pats can secure a playoff spot today is with a Miami loss or tie AND an Indianapolis loss or tie.

Tom Brady (it pains me to say) is in “the zone” and is leading the NFL with TD passes (27).  He is in complete command of his team and should win this one, thereby securing a playoff spot.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The 9-3 Steelers host the struggling Bengals today, who limp in with a 2-10 record.   The Steelers, in first place in the AFC North after defeating the Ravens last week, should dominate this matchup.   The Steelers can secure a playoff spot today if they win and any of the below scenarios takes place:

A Colts loss/tie AND a Patriots win/tie AND a Miami loss/tie

A Colts loss/tie AND a Patriots win/tie AND a Raiders loss/tie AND a Chargers loss/tie

A Colts loss/tie AND a Miami loss/tie AND a Raiders loss/tie

A Miami loss/tie AND a Raiders loss/tie AND a Chargers loss/tie AND a Colts loss

A Jacksonville loss/tie AND a Patriots win/tie AND a Miami loss/tie

New York Jets

After the build up to last week’s Monday Night Football game vs. the Patriots, the Jets were humiliated in the national spotlight.  No one anticipated the 45-3 beating the Jets endured at the hands of Brady and company.   The 9-3 Jets face the struggling Miami Dolphins who are 6-6 and the perfect remedy for the Jets after their MNF embarrassment.  Mark Sanchez will look to redeem himself and Gang Green and unlike last week, should emerge with their heads held high.  The Jets can clinch a playoff spot if they win and any of the following scenarios occurs:

A Chargers loss/tie AND a Jacksonville loss/tie

A Chargers loss/tie AND a Colts loss/tie 

A Raiders loss/tie AND a Chargers loss AND a Colts loss

If the Jets tie today’s game, they can still secure a playoff spot. But, the Raiders would have to lose or tie AND  the Chargers would need to lose AND, finally, the Colts would have to lose.  Yes, the various scenarios involved in teams securing playoff spots can be quite complicated, but it is one of the exciting aspects of this time of year!

Atlanta Falcons

The 10-2 Atlanta Falcons sit atop the NFC South and face the Carolina Panthers who have the worst record in the NFL.  Atlanta should easily win this one and can clinch a playoff spot if they win and any of the following scenarios takes place:

A Giants loss AND an Eagles loss

A Giants loss AND a Packers loss

An Eagles loss AND a Packers loss

If the unthinkable occurs and Atlanta ties the Panthers, they could still secure a playoff spot if the Giants lose AND the Eagles lose AND Green Bay loses AND Tampa Bay loses or ties!

There are lots of other games today and tomorrow that offer excitement in their own right.  Here are a few non-playoff scenarios of interest…

Will Brett Favre keep his NFL streak for consecutive starts, despite the sprain to his throwing shoulder and his inability to throw a pass in practice?  More importantly, how will the blizzard that shut down the Twin Cities and pushed the game from Sunday afternoon to Monday night impact the game?  Will another day of rest allow Favre to start?  Will the layover the Giants were forced to endure in Kansas City affect their play?  We think the Giants win this one, but it may be a bit harder due to the chaos the team has lived through for the past few days.  Being stranded in an airport and forced to eat airport food cannot be the best preparation for an NFL game!  

Will the Dallas Cowboys be a spoiler and defeat the high-flying Eagles and QB phenom Michael Vick?  It’s a Sunday night prime time game, but we think the Eagles will prevail and remain tied for first place with the Giants.  Next Sunday, the tie will be broken when the Eagles and Giants face each other for a critical game.  That is a matchup that cannot be missed!

It’s Week 14 in the NFL!   Make some hot chocolate, wrap up in your favorite comfy blanket and watch the drama unfold!

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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