Friday, January 21, 2011

Who Will Find Themself on Revis Island This Weekend?




Among the closely-followed storylines heading into the AFC Championship game is which Pittsburgh receiver the Jets will try to eliminate with all-pro cornerback, Darrelle Revis.  While Rex Ryan has been quiet on the subject, Michael Smith from profootballtalk.com is reporting that the Jets are preparing to match Revis up with Hines Ward, leaving Antonio Cromartie with the task of covering the dangerously speedy Mike Wallace.

In the article, Smith says, "In other words, the Jets view Ward as the Steelers’ best receiver and want their best cornerback on him."   Well Michael Smith, that's not necessarily true.  In fact, it is completely possible (in fact probable) that the Jets view Wallace as the better and more dangerous receiver. 

One thing we have learned from the Jets this year is that they often put Cromartie in man coverage on taller, speedier wide receivers (see Randy Moss, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings, Terrell Owens, etc...), because Cromartie himself is tall and fast with a longer reach than Revis.   Granted, Revis spent most of the season recovering from a hamstring injury that likely prevented him from running downfield at full speed.  But even with a healthy Revis, the Jets would probably need to bring a safety over the top to prevent the big play to Wallace, who may be the fastest player in the NFL.  Therefore, it makes sense to put Cromartie on Wallace with safety help deep, and leave Revis to eliminate Ward from the Steelers' gameplan altogether. 

On his impending meeting with Revis, Hines Ward said, "“Can he be beaten? Yeah, he can be beaten,” Ward said of Revis. “But at the same time he’s one of those guys you don’t want to mess with. If you make a mistake he’s a game-changer. A lot of quarterbacks just stay a away from him. So as a wide receiver you can get frustrated, because you’re not even getting looked at when he’s covering you.”

Jets "Can't Wait"

 

Funny video from ESPN on the Bart Scott "can't wait" interview following the Jets' win over the Patriots last week.  Say what you want about the Jets, but they are 2/3 of the way through the toughest road to the Super Bowl in NFL history.  Can't wait for Sunday night. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cory Stillman Scores Off His Face

 

 Cory Stillman of the Florida Panthers scores a goal with his face during last night's 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jets-Steelers Preview

 
Both the Jets and Steelers got by their biggest rival to earn a trip to the AFC Championship game.  For the Steelers, beating the Ravens meant advancing to their 15th conference title game, the most of any team in the NFL.  The Jets will play in their second straight championship game with hopes of advancing to the Super Bowl for the first time in over 40 years.  So which team has the edge in this matchup for all the marbles?

Why the Steelers can win:  When all is said and done, the Steelers might be the most balanced team left in the tournament.  Their defense is all-world, with the best linebackers in the league and a strong secondary featuring future Hall of Fame safety, Troy Polamalu.  Their offense is dangerous, with capable receivers, an elusive quarterback with plenty of playoff experience, and a sufficient running attack.  Pittsburgh will need to shut down the Jets' run game and make Mark Sanchez beat them through the air.  Given the fact that Pittsburgh gave up just 62 yards per game on the ground this season, it is reasonable to say that there may not be much running room for Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson in this one.  If the Steelers can force Mark Sanchez to make some bad decisions and can force a few turnovers, they have a reasonably good chance to come out on top on Sunday night.

Why the Jets can win:  Sure, the Jets have the NFL's 3rd ranked defense and 11th ranked offense.  Sure Mark Sanchez is one win away from having the most road playoff victories of any quarterback in history, in just his second year. But if the Jets are going to advance to their first Super Bowl since the days of Broadway Joe Namath, they're going to do it because they believe they can do it.  They have swagger, and Rex Ryan may be the best motivator in the league.  This team is at its best when their backs are up against the wall, and that's exactly where they find themselves for the third straight week; on the road against an elite NFL powerhouse.  Rex had perfect gameplans for Manning and Brady, and will need more of the same this week against Roethlisberger.  If the Jets can find any success running the ball, it will open up the field for Sanchez and his receivers, and it could be tough sledding for the Steelers.

Prediction: New York will run the ball just well enough to beat the Steelers on Sunday night, and Big Ben will go the way of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as victims of Rex and the Jets.

24-16 Jets

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bears-Packers Preview

The Packers and Bears haven't met in the playoffs in 70 years
In a postseason overflowing with divisional matchups, it is only fitting that the NFC Championship will be decided between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.  It is one of the oldest and most heated rivalries in the NFL,  and the game on Sunday promises to be one for the history books.  But who has the edge?  Let's break down this NFC North battle with a trip to Dallas on the line.

Why the Bears can win:  This is simple.  If the Bears are going to win, it is going to be for one reason and one reason only: Defense.  Chicago's D was ranked 9th in the regular season, and many feel that it is even better than that.  With Tommie Harris, Anthony Adams, Brian Urlacher, and Lance Briggs leading this stout run defense (ranked 2nd in the NFL), Green Bay is going to have to be able to move the ball through the air.  It will be up to Chicago's secondary to lock down those talented Packers wideouts and give Julius Peppers enough time to get in Aaron Rodgers' face.  If Chicago can halt the Packers' passing attack and Jay Cutler can protect the football, it will be a huge step toward representing the NFC in the Superbowl.

Oh, and there's this:
 

Why the Packers can win: For one, the Packers are the better team.  But as we know, that doesn't guarantee wins in the NFL, especially in the playoffs.  As I alluded to above, this game will likely be decided when the Packers have the football.  Green Bay's 5th ranked D shouldn't have too much of a problem with Jay Cutler and crew, who were ranked 30th in the regular season.  If the offensive line of the Packers gives Rodgers enough time to find open receivers down the field, it will be a long day for Chicago, who has had problems stopping the pass at times this year.

Prediction: We've already seen Green Bay win in two tough road environments in these playoffs, but Soldier field on Sunday will be on another level.  Expect Julius Peppers to have a big game, which will disrupt the timing between Rodgers and his receivers.  It should be a low scoring game, and I think the home field advantage tips this one toward Chicago.

14-9 Bears

Monday, October 11, 2010

Derek Stepan Continues to Impress


Following Saturday night’s 6-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres, Rangers fans may be changing their opinions of Glen Sather’s offseason roster additions. The front office took several gambles this summer by importing Swedish Elite league scoring champ Mats Zuccarello, and signing college standouts Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh to entry-level contracts.

The addition of Alexander Frolov appeared to be Sather’s “quick-fix” to the Rangers’ goal scoring woes. Frolov and Zucarello were the two newcomers to watch heading into the preseason opener against New Jersey, but it did not take long before the attention shifted to the 6’0” Wisconsin Badger Derek Stepan. The 20-year-old center iceman solidified his spot on the Rangers roster with an outstanding preseason playing on a line with Marian Gaborik.

It’s been amazing to see how much hype has surrounded this kid in just a few weeks, but even more impressive to watch him live up to it by scoring 3 goals in his NHL debut. Who knows what’s in store for the rest of Stepan’s rookie year, but it certainly has given Ranger fans something to look forward to.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Hawks Raise the Banner

 

The Chicago Blackhawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night in their season's home opener, and raised the 2009/2010 Stanley Cup Banner before losing the game 3-2.