Posts Tagged ‘Troy Polamalu’

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!

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.

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.

Ravens vs. Steelers – Are You Ready for Some Smash-Mouth Football?

After a crazy Wild Card weekend, the Divisional Playoffs are now upon us.  Over the next few days, we will look at this weekend’s games, which should prove to be just as exciting as last weekend’s contests.  We went 1-4 in our Wild Card predictions, so if you’re entering an office pool, you may want to reconsider putting any wagers on our picks!

The first game this weekend is an AFC North Divisional Playoff featuring Baltimore and Pittsburgh.  Game time is 4:30 pm ET on CBS.  These two hard hitting teams embody good ol’ fashioned, smash- mouth football and the testosterone level will be sky high!  What better way to start the divisional playoffs than with an intense rivalry between two physical teams?

It’s a home game for the Steelers and fans will be out in force, frantically waving their “Terrible Towels” and cheering for their beloved team.  The last time these teams met was in early December when the Steelers overcame a 10-3 deficit, scoring 10 points in the 4th quarter to pull off a 13-10 victory.  Earlier in the season, at Heinz Field, the Ravens defeated the Steelers, but it was a game in which Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger was missing due to his NFL suspension.

Last weekend the Ravens beat the Chiefs in a Wild Card game that held KC to only 7 points, despite the Chief’s prolific rushing offense.  Their 30-7 victory certainly provides momentum coming into this week’s heated rivalry with the Steelers.  But their win last week had a lot to do with the turnovers (3 interceptions and two fumbles) committed by the Chiefs.  In the third quarter Baltimore led only 10-7, but their powerful, fast defense rattled the Chiefs and the offense was able to capitalize on the KC’s miscues.  Ravens QB Joe Flacco completed 25 of 34 passes for 265 yards and 2 TDs.

Flacco is 4-2 in road playoff games and will need an error free day to win against a tough Steelers defense.  Running back Ray Rice will need to have a big game as well.  The Steelers led the NFL in rush defense this season and held Rice to just 32 rushing yards and 18 passing yards in their last match up.

Defensively, the Ravens have 4 Pro Bowlers on their roster – linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and safety Ed Reed.  Ranked third for fewest points allowed this season, the defense wins them games and will be crucial if they are to emerge victorious against the Steelers on Saturday.  Safety Ed Reed is a critical defensive factor, capable of making some big plays.  Ray Lewis is the leader on the field and also provides the inspiration and motivation 

The Steelers, on the other hand, had a bye last weekend.  They will be rested and ready to face their division nemesis.  Since 1970, the Steelers have not lost to a divisional rival in post season play. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has won his last 6 games against the Ravens, even after suffering a broken nose in the first quarter of their last meeting.  He has thrown 158 straight passes without an interception.  Big Ben has playoff experience (and two Super Bowl Championships) and will undoubtedly be poised and ready to play in front of his home crowd.

Like Baltimore, Pittsburgh is also known for its defense.  Safety Troy Polamalu has game changing abilities.  He played a pivotal role in the last game between the Steelers and Ravens when he stripped the ball from Ravens QB Flacco, which led to the game winning TD.

With the two defenses so evenly matched and the last 4 games being decided by a 3 point margin, who will prevail in this clash?  While the Ravens have momentum, we think Pittsburgh wins in a close battle that comes down to the 4th quarter and possibly even overtime.  The home crowd, combined with Big Ben’s playoff experience, should be enough to give Pittsburgh the edge in this tough, physical matchup.

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