Super Bowl XVLI Prediction

Vince Lombardi Trophy

Well you have heard our selections for both conference champions of the NFL. The New York Jets representing the AFC v the defending champion Green Bay Packers to represent the NFC. Each will descend on Indianapolis with a fervor. The all time winningest team in NFL history in terms of championships at 13 would be looking for their 14th.  Most Packer fans bristle when they hear about Sixburgh or Dallas and San Francisco boasting of 5 Super Bowl championships when in reality they only have a third of Green Bay’s titles. A modern dynasty would cement that notion among modern day fans, and rightfully put the Packers at the fore when championship teams are discussed.

However standing across from them at that coin toss would be a franchise that hadn’t played for it all in 42 years in the New York Jets. There in Indianapolis, the Jets want to liberate themselves from the cloud that seemed to descend upon this franchise since that famous Super Bowl III upset of the Baltimore Colts. Ironically, they would look to win their second Super Bowl in the Colt’s regular season home. Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and the will win the AFC’s 10th Super Bowl in 15 years.

The main reason the Jets would win a Super Bowl XLVI matchup with Green Bay is the fact that they have excellent corners. Darelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie would be able to shut down either Greg Jennings or Jordy Nelson.  They have a third corner in Kyle Wilson (from Boise St) that gives them as formidable a threesome at cornerback than any team in the league. Lets face facts, the Packers are a passing team and this stellar coverage would allow Ryan to find a few ways to get to Aaron Rodgers. What was the Achille’s Heal of the Steeler defense in Super Bowl XLV, is the strength of the Jets defense in Super Bowl XVLI. Now Ryan can juggle his other eight defenders with exotic blitzes and combo coverages.

As for the ground game, each team could run the ball yet the Jets would be committed to it more. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene would run the ball 30 times where Packers Coach Mike McCarthy has a penchant for putting it all in Rodgers hands. Mark Sanchez has grown as a quarterback yet Rex wouldn’t put too much pressure on him. They would be fairly conservative and playing keep away to keep their defense rested. One weapon that would be in the Jets favor is the moxie and motivation of Plaxico Burress, who would duplicate Ray Lewis’ situation going from incarceration to Super Bowl champ the following season. Matter of fact the last time the Packer defense saw Burress, he lit up CB Al Harris for 11 rec. 154 yards in the 2007 NFC Championship Game in Green Bay. Pretty sure he’d be okay on a neutral field. He did catch the winning touchdown in the upset of the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, so he wouldn’t shrink at the magnitude of the event. We know Al Harris is gone but Plaxico is still 6’5 to Sam Shields and Tramon Williams, who each stand 5’11. Across from this is WR Santonio Holmes, Super Bowl XLIII’s Most Valuable Player, so you can see how the Packers might have to juggle Charles Woodson, Shields, and Williams.

As quarterbacks go, Mark Sanchez doesn’t have to outplay Aaron Rodgers, he just needs to be proficient. Rely on his running game and take calculated risks when the time is right. He does have the most road playoff wins in history at 4, so he should be at home in these trappings. Rodgers is the leader of the new quartrbacks that will dominate the NFL for the next 10 years. Aaron means everything to the Packers yet their offensive line has a penchant for his getting hit and sacked. Last year in the Super Bowl they dominated the Steelers pass rush with the quick rhythm passing game that Rodgers is the best at. The Packers would counter with waggles, and half rollouts in a way to keep the Jets defense off balance and blitzing to a static passing spot on the Lucas Oil turf.

Mark Sanchez' Joe Namath pose

To repeat as champion, Clay Matthews, BJ Raji, and Eric Walden have to collapse Sanchez’ pass pocket.  They should be able to do this to keep the game close. Green Bay can stop the run and rush the passer with the best teams in football. The Jets would try to keep them to a short field with their possessions and try to force turnovers which Aaron Rodgers doesn’t do. This would be a struggle that would come down to the wire. The Jets would play the tortoise to Green Bay’s hare and win a close tough game…24-16. At long last the New York Jets would be liberated from the ghost of Joe Namath and hoist their second Super Bowl trophy. Mark Sanchez would then get his due as a Super Bowl winning quarterback. Green Bay would have to wait until the following year to see if they can establish a dynasty.

New York Jets celebration

So there you have it…predictions for every NFL team. Their records, division placement, playoff participation, and now conference and Super Bowl champions. It’s all on record and we’ll see how right we are. See you in 6 months.

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2011 Predictions Continued …and the winner of the AFC is…??

On the heels of a great Packers win over New Orleans 42-34, we are about to talk about the other conference?? Yes we are!! We did the NFC side of the ledger already and it’s time to pack what we’ve studied and written about throughout this tense summer. Last year, our crystal ball was a bit hazy but we became undone by a couple of upsets. We had the Baltimore Ravens facing the New England Patriots last summer but they each were knocked off in the divisional round before the championship game. Alright…we have some new D Cell batteries (do they still make those?) for my crystal ball and we’re going in. Who will win the prestigious Lamar S Hunt trophy and represent the AFC in Super Bowl XVLI??

Our choices to make the AFC Championship race are as follows:

1. New York – AFC East Champs w/ homefield advantage throughout playoffs.

2. Kansas City Chiefs – AFC West Champs w/second seed in the playoffs. If the Jets stumble in the divisional round, Chiefs would host the AFC Championship Game.

3. Baltimore Ravens – AFC North Champs. Will participate in the wildcard round and can only host the AFC Championship if #3 seed and lower meet. Will host the 6th seed wildcard weekend.

4. Houston Texans – AFC South Champs. Will participate in the wildcard round and can only host the AFC Championship if # 4 seed and lower meet. Will host the 5th seed wildcard weekend.

5. New England Patriots – The top record of  non divisional winners and will face the 4th seeded team on the road during Wildcard weekend. Could only host the AFC Championship if #5 and #6 teams were to meet. (Has never happened)

6. San Diego Chargers – The second best record of non divisional winners and will face the #3 seeded team on the road during Wildcard weekend. Cannot host playoff game no matter what.

The regular season is over and the vanquished turn their attention toward the draft and other improvement methods, the big boys of the conference decide it’s championship. Wildcard weekend would have the brakes halt the Charger season in Baltimore. The Ravens battle hardened group would stifle Phillip Rivers and Ryan Matthews in the cold of the Northeast. This would bring about the end of the Chargers season and quite possible the tenure of San Diego coach Norv Turner. The Patriots would be down in Houston to take on the upstart Texans.  Tom Brady would be too much for the young Texans and would win a shootout. It would be the second time Brady had it out in that stadium having won Super Bowl XXXVIII over Carolina there.

Having gone the wildcard route two times before, they proved themselves formidable by making the AFC Championship twice. For the first time ever the Jets would be enjoying home field advantage. With two weeks off before the divisional tilt, the team would finally come into the playoffs healthy. A raucous Meadowlands crowd and a fierce defense greet Tom Brady and the Patriots offense and dominate from the start. In a game that would mimic their 2010 playoff outing, stellar play by the Jets corners on the slow Patriot receivers. That crowd and that defense at home would be enough to slow Brady down, however Mark Sanchez would have his best playoff  game to date and the Jets pull away in a strong win 30-17.  Plaxico Burress would be the receiver the Patriots would have a hard time stopping.

In the other divisional round the Chiefs would host the Baltimore Ravens for the second straight year. With four former head coaches amongst their staff, Kansas City would be well schooled with what to do.   This time the Chiefs come into the game with Jonathon Baldwin and Steve Breaston to go with Dewayne Bowe to give KC three big receivers. This game would be hard hitting like the 2010 playoff game but the Chiefs were taught by these same Ravens, the difference between regular season and playoff intensity. So they would pay them back in kind, hit for hit. The running attack of Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones would be solid enough. The Ravens secondary would not holdup as Matt Cassel would pass the Chiefs to a solid win 31-14 win. The underrated Chiefs defense would get to Joe Flacco with Tamba Hali and pass rush specialist Allen Bailey, the physical specimen drafted out of Miami.

The race for the Lamar S Hunt trophy, emblematic of achievment in the American Football Conference, would come down to these two old AFL antagonists.  The New York Jets would represent the AFC in Super Bowl XVLI after a 24-14 win in the chilly confines of the Meadowlands which would send them off in a ticker tape style similar to when the Giants beat the Redskins in 1986. Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez come through.

 

 

 

 

 

2011 Regular Season Picks: Week 1

Here we are folks, the gunlap to Super Bowl XLVI. It all starts with week one and we’re going to get into it right now. Winners in bold

Saints @ Packers: Packers should win this one relatively easy. 31-16

Steelers @ Ravens: We have the Ravens in a tight game 20-17

Falcons @ Bears: Falcons Have to think the Bears will slow down the Falcon offense. Yet will outscore the Bears in this one 24-16

Bengals @ Browns: Browns will win first game for new coach Pat Schurmur. Can’t think of a score

Colts @ Texans: The long reign of the Colts is over with the upstart Texans beating an undermanned Colt team. Texans 30-10

Titans @ Jacksonville: Titans Two rebuilding teams yet the Jaguars aren’t over the release of David Garrard.

Bills @ Chiefs: Too many playmakers for the Kansas City team to lose.  Chiefs 24-13

Eagles @ Rams: Eagles have been rusty but should squeak out a win in first week. Can’t think of score

Lions @ Buccaneers: These are two up and coming teams…have to take the Bucs at home.

Panthers @ Cardinals: Panthers should run the ball successful enough.

Vikings @ Chargers: The Chargers win this one.

Seahawks @ 49ers: Seattle wins this one. More stable at quarterback and defense

Giants @ Redskins: Giants ground game and defensive pass rush will dominate this one.

Cowboys @ Jets: Jets get off on a winning track to get themselves headed for first Super Bowl since Namath.

Patriots @ Dolphins: The Patriots normally win this early season trip and will this time also. Patriots

Raiders @ Broncos:  The Raider ground game wins this one for the silver and black

TOTAL RECORD= 0-0 We’re undefeated baby!!

See you next week, folks.

2011 AFC East Preview & Predictions

Fiery leader Bart Scott

The AFC East had been the sole province of the New England Patriots and Bill Belechick. They were 14-2 last year and Tom Brady had the best statistical season of his Hall of Fame career. They had pummeled the Jets 45-3 when the two battled for first place late in the year. Then a strange thing happened, the Jets grew up. The team who’s coach had brazenly scoffed “I wasn’t brought in to kiss Belichick’s rings” had returned to Foxboro and beat the Patriots in the playoffs. In doing so, not only had they stopped what many thought to be another Super Bowl run for the Patriots, they may have knocked the AFC East off it’s axis. After two seasons of being the little dog nipping at the heels of other AFC heavyweights, they have now become the big dog.

The New England Patriots have countered by taking some significant roster risks in signing WR Chad Ochocinco, DT Albert Haynesworth, and elevated S Patrick Chung to starter and releasing S Brandon Merriweather. They return Tom Brady who threw for 36 TDs and only 4 interceptions and one of the best offensive lines in all of pro football.  Also returning is All Pro linebacker Jerrod Mayo who led the league with 175 tackles and improving LB Brandon Spikes. He did sign former Jet DE Shaun Ellis to provide depth for his defensive line. Can their young defensive secondary grow up fast enough for King Belichick to stave off the barbarian Jets at the AFC East gates??

Meadowlands Chant: J-E-T-S JETS!!! JETS!!! JETS!!!

2011 AFC EAST PREDICTIONS

New York Jets 13-3 *

New England Patriots 12-4#

Miami Dolphins 7-9

Buffalo Bills 6-10

Not this time. Belichick had so many draft picks it was frightening, yet came away with a moderate draft at best. He likes his players but can Ben Jarvus Green Ellis and Danny Woodhead at running back make a Super Bowl run?? With Wes Welker and Deion Branch as the starters at WR over Ochocinco they won’t get open against Jet corners just like last year’s playoff game.

Resurrected Shawne Merriman looks to wreak havoc in 2011.

The Buffalo Bills have made some defensive improvements with 1st round draft pick Marcel Darreus and the resurrection of former Charger Shawne Merriman. The 3-4 provided a 9 sack performance in the third pre-season game against Chicago Bears and bodes well for the new season. Although the team lost LB Paul Pusloszny to Jacksonville through free agency. WR Stevie Johnson has to improve and make fans forget about the departed Lee Evans. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a solid quarterback yet doesn’t seem like there is more upside to him. He’s serviceable at best and the team needs to find a way to get C.J. Spiller to mimick his explosive collegiate play in Buffalo. They still need an everydown back and again Fred Jackson is serviceable without much more upside. The Bills will be in more games yet don’t have the playmakers to win the majority of them.

The Dolphins are going to try and ride the playmaking ability of Reggie Bush to produce bigger plays on 3rd down. So far so good in the preseason. With Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess alongside, they have playmakers and need Chad Henne to grow into his position as the starter. He should be motivated with the flubbing of the Kyle Orton trade and knows this is his last chance. Where the Dolphins sneak in several wins is with an opportunistic defense. OLB Cameron Wake is a stud who had 14 sacks last year and along with ILB Karlos Dansby, CB Vontae Davis, and Yeremiah Bell are playmakers on defense and will win a few more of the tight games that Buffalo would lose. They are not yet ready to take on the Patriots or the Jets for division supremacy, yet could make some strides this year.

As we stated to you in February: I can’t say it enough but Mark Sanchez is on the cusp of super stardom.  He’s young, mobile and grew a thick skin during the ’10 playoff run. This is the only quarterback in the NFL to defeat both Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in a single season playoff run.  Understand what you are seeing here and yes the Jets are a run first / pass second team.  Its a more traditional take on how to run offense yet no other quarterback in history was asked to defeat 3 consecutive Super Bowl winning quarterbacks in one post season run.  Yet he didn’t crack under the pressure and proved to be a leader on the rise until the bitter end.  After throwing for 5 TDs and only 1 interception in last year’s playoffs, Sanchez was seen rallying the troops on the sideline (most notably) with Jerricho Crotchery that the cameras picked up in the waning moments of the AFC Championship.

Mark Sanchez has been excellent in the preseason, he’s been ready from day one of camp. Another look and you see that Plaxico Burress is playing with a chip on his shoulder in place of departed Braylon Edwards. That additional veteran spark and moxie should bode well for an emotional, motivated team. What awaits this team is a chance to play with homefield advantage and have the road to the Super Bowl go through the Meadowlands.

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NEXT UP: Who will win the AFC and Super Bowl XLVI

2011 AFC North Previews & Predictions

The winds of change will blow across the AFC North this year starting at the midway point. The Pittsburgh Steelers are due to succumb to age and fatigue. Much like the Los Angeles Lakers in basketball, they’re forays into the NFL playoffs have equalled nearly a complete additional season of wear. Since 2004 the Steelers have participated in 13 post season games. Coming back with 7 projected defensive starters over 30, this should become an issue as it has shown with Troy Palamlu’s late season injuries. With a physical team, it doesn’t bode well for back to back seasons. Even when this team won the Super Bowl after the ’05 and ’08 seasons, they missed the playoffs the following year.

Standing at the gates of this slight dip in production stands the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens have to prove to themselves they can beat the Steelers at full strength. They have the first game of the season circled and must come through to build confidence. Many Raven fans have expressed disappointment for losing TE Todd Heap to free agency Yet this team needs more of a vertical presence.  Enter WR Lee Evans. If he can come in and free up the underneath routes for Boldin, Flacco can fully develop. He relied on the short throw to the tight end too much. If this happens…

2011 AFC NORTH PREDICTIONS

Baltimore Ravens 11-5 *

Pittsburgh Steelers 10-6

Cleveland Browns 7-9

Cincinnati Bengals 4-12

The Cincinnati Bengals have been on a strange odyssey over the last half decade. They have made the playoffs twice in the last 6 years, yet we had witnessed promise that should move them to the next level, and we’ve been disappointed. At time of this article, Carson Palmer is still in a self imposed exile, and Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco never  became the receiving threat as promised. All three are gone from the 2011 squad that is searching for an identity and leadership under coach Marvin Lewis. They signed scrappy quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, who looked really good against the Colts in the 3rd preseason game. Will he be able to channel that moxie into firing up his teammates?? Will they have the players to take advantage of it this year?? There is work to do in the Queen City.

Applause for the Cleveland Browns. They are returning to the 4-3 defense after a forgettable stretch in a 3-4.  They just don’t have the athletes to run that type of defense and this is a step in the right direction. Peyton Hillis should get the ball as a featured back this year and could wind up with a 350 carry season.  With the team slowly bringing Colt McCoy along at quarterback, they’re going to have to win some close to the vest affairs. Especially when they face the Steelers and Ravens. All four of these game happen between weeks 13 -17. So they have time to build some confidence and get ready for these cold weather games. Right now, new coach Pat Shurmur is out to find out who is ready to take the next step and lead the Browns back to prominence.  Shouldn’t be a factor until next year at the earliest.

Back to Pittsburgh. The Steelers have developed some young talent at receiver and running back and could have one of the their best offenses in many years. Antonio Brown looks like a legitimate deep threat and kick returner. He gives the Steelers an explosive element not seen since the heyday of Antwan Randle El. Roethlisberger is still in his prime and will have to bail out the Steelers late in many games this year. The one player who should be at his best should be James Harrison, he shows no signs of slowing down and is the enforcer on that defense. He is the one player Pittsburgh can’t afford to lose on defense. Do you realize he is coming up on the all time record for most fumbles forced for a career even though he’s been a starter for only 6 seasons. He’s a wrecking machine and a former defensive player of the year.  For the Steelers to retain their AFC North mantle, it’s he and Woodley who have to make all the plays. The problem is they can only mask a deficient secondary so long. See Super Bowl XLV game footage…yet we digress. The Steelers, just like the Ravens will ultimately be undone by their secondaries. However when it comes to the AFC North, the Ravens win it….barely.

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Next Up The AFC East

2011 AFC South Previews and Predictions

With the NFL season a few days away, the Colts are starting to realize what life will be like without Peyton Manning. His inability to recover fully from neck surgery has given the front office a gaze into the near future when he will not be under center. The Colts spent a majority of this year’s draft improving the offensive line, it’s a given he will take some shots as this line develops. The images of an aging Brett Favre taking hit after hit have to be dancing in Coach Caldwell’s mind, and Manning has been placed as doubtful on the injury report for week one against the Texans.

Just in the nick of time too as Texan linebackers Mario Williams and Brian Cushing were going to come screaming at him off the corners. It seems as though the Colts are after one last hurrah where a division rival from Texas has grown in leaps and bounds. Last year they fielded the NFL’s leading rusher in Arian Foster. His 1,616 yards and 16 TDs to go along with the production of perennial Pro Bowl wideout Andre Johnson, should make this the best offense in the division.  Coach Kubiak is on the “hotseat” and hopes new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips can improve his defense. These developments are happening at just the right time in our eyes. Circle week 4 when this team hosts the Pittsburgh Steelers to find out if they are for real or not.

2011 AFC SOUTH PREDICTIONS

Houston Texans 10-6 *

Indianapolis Colts 9-7

Tennessee Titans  5-11

Jacksonville Jaguars 3-13                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For the first time since they moved from Houston in 1996, the Tennessee Titans will be moving in a new direction without Jeff Fisher. The team he left behind has some pieces but made a mistake in not retaining Kerry Collins. He could have provided some continuity as the team develops #1 draft pick Jake Locker. Now he will help shape the Colts (when Manning returns) gameplan when they face his former team. Furthermore the contract renegotiation for the services of RB Chris Johnson are over, yet the subsequent holdout normally mean hamstring problems. Something to watch as this team brought in Matt Hasselbeck to be the transition quarterback.

Now we have the swan song for Jack Del Rio coming up. It looked like his team had been regressing since that playoff loss to New England a few years back. If you remember, Coach Rio in a stunning move, cut starting QB Byron Leftwich and handed the keys over to David Garard to generate more offense. that was 2007, so what does that have to do with 2011?? Lets just say same time same channel. As we went to press yesterday, Del Rio released starting quarterback David Garard. This time there is only rookie QB Blaine Gabbert to handle the offense.  He’s simply lost it with this move. In his defense, the last time he made this bold move, Garrard had provided a second half spark in many games during the previous season. Maurice Jones Drew will see mammoth 8 man fronts and will see a long season. The Titans were picked to finish last when this move came across the wire.  Looks like a recipe for disaster.

As for the Colts, this looks like the end of a remarkable run. This team won 115 games during the 2000’s which included a Super Bowl triumph in the 41st edition. As time has gone on they have drafted low for many years and now the team is devoid of any star power outside of Manning. Even if he is healthy, he masks many deficiencies. Yet with the loss of defensive sparkplug Bob Sanders there is a lot to overcome. With the emergence of the Jets and re-emergence of the Ravens with superior secondaries, the Colts deficiencies at receiver have shown up in their last few playoff losses. Each of which have come in the first round…only this year the Colts won’t make it that far.

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Next up: AFC North