Archive for the ‘New York Giants’ Category

Sunday February 3, 2013

***Baltimore Ravens vs San Francisco 49ers: 6:30 PM ET (CBS)***

Brothers John and Jim Harbaugh, head coaches of the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, respectively, will lead their teams into Super Bowl 47 in New Orleans Feb. 3rd.

Both the Ravens and 49ers had to win on the road against the No. 1 seed, Baltimore at Denver and San Francisco at Atlanta. Both edged the top dog by less than five. Maybe more impressive is the gauntlet of quarterbacks each team has faced.

The Ravens defense has faced and stopped Andrew Luck (consensus future great), Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady. Likewise, the 49ers defense took down Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.

Both quarterbacks, Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick, are playing in their first Super Bowl and have much to prove.

For Flacco, winning the Super Bowl would finally silence his critics. Even with the most road playoff wins of any NFL quarterback besides Eli Manning (tied for most), Joe has taken most all of the “Flacc” for the Ravens lack of Super Bowl visits in his 5 years at the helm. No doubt, Flacco is looking to follow Eli Manning’s pathway to respect.

For Kaepernick, winning the “Big Game” would mean “Kaep”-ping off one of the biggest success stories of the season. From day one, all eyes have been “Kaep” and Coach Harbaugh for the risky decision to replace 7-2 starter Alex Smith after he suffered a concussion. Making it to the Super Bowl alone has certainly cemented Colin as San Francisco’s man for a long time.

To answer the question of “Who will win this Super Bowl?” one must first answer another simple question: Which offense will be more successful against the other’s elite defense?

I believe the answer will be that the 49ers offense will be much more successful than the Ravens will be against the other’s “D.”

Baltimore’s offense is geared towards setting up the run, stable tight end play and airing out deep bombs when available. The 49ers defense is built to stop this exact method. With one of the best, arguably the best, “front seven” in the NFL, no team has comfortably run on the 49ers. The back end of that seven, lead by Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman are some of the best coverage line backers in the league and can hold the Ravens’ TE Dennis Pitta in check. Tony Gonzales’ numbers from last week are not indicative of what to expect as Baltimore does not have a Roddy White/Julio Jones tandem to cover as well.

The Baltimore defense, specifically its own “front seven” is also no joke. Anchored by Haloti Ngata, the Baltimore line is more than capable of stopping the run and rushing the QB with stand-out Paul Kruger, Hall-Of-Famer Ray Lewis, and beast Terrell Suggs. Fortunately, the 49ers offense has no holes, least of all in the O-Line.

Prediction: Last season, the Harbaugh brothers faced off in Baltimore, where the Niners’ offense struggled to put anything but 3 points on the board in a 16-3 disappointment. You can bet the Niners’ bolstering their offense in the postseason had a lot to do with games like this. Younger brother gets the last laugh. San Francisco wins 35-20.

Sat. January 5th, 2013

***(6) Cincinnati Bengals at (3) Houston Texans: 4:30 pm ET (NBC)***

The Bengals (10-6) will travel south to Houston where they will face the Texans (12-4). This should make for an extremely interesting game. The Texans offensive strength is undoubtedly their running game, led by Pro-Bowler Arian Foster. Cincinnati’s defense is formidable and boasts the seventh best pass defense and 12th best rush defense, allowing just 107 yards rushing per game. On the flip-side, the Bengals air attack is one of the best in the league, headed by star receiver, A.J. Green. Houston’s pass defense is suspect at times, ranked 16th in the NFL.

Prediction: Look for Cincinnati to play much like their season closer against the Baltimore Ravens. Cincinnati wins 24-21.

***(6) Minnesota Vikings at (3) Green Bay Packers: 8:00 PM ET (NBC)***

The Vikings (10-6) and Packers (11-5) face off Saturday night in what may be the most exciting of the Wild Card Round match-ups for a couple reasons. One, they are heated division rivals. Two, they just played each other last week in a closely fought battle that came down to field goal as time expired. Not only did it seal the playoff spot for Minnesota, but allowed San Francisco to swipe the No. 2 seed and bye from the Packers.

Prediction: The Packers will be playing angry, revenge on their minds. Green Bay wins 31-17.

Sun. January 5th, 2013

***(5) Indianapolis Colts at (4) Baltimore Ravens: 1:00 PM ET (CBS)***

The Colts (11-5) head east to face the Ravens (10-6) in Baltimore. Behind the arm of rookie Andrew Luck, Indianapolis has been this year’s feel-good story in the league. With head coach Chuck Pegano battling and overcoming leukemia this season, the Colts have pulled out some truly inspirational victories under long odds. This week will be no different as Baltimore is favored.

Prediction: Look for Baltimore to establish the run game with Ray Rice and play tight playoff defense. Baltimore wins 31-24.

***(5) Seattle Seahawks at (4) Washington Redskins: 4:30 PM ET (FOX)***

Seattle (11-5) makes its way east to Maryland as well, only they’ll take on the Redskins (10-6), winners of the NFC East Division. If there is one team that no one wants to face, home or away, it’s the Seahawks. Seattle has been as hot as you can get over the last month. With a statement win over their in-division rival, San Francisco, Seattle has all the workings of a team that can make a Super Bowl run. Led by rookie quarterbacks, Seattle and Washington look to have bright futures in Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III, respectively.

Prediction: Seattle is trending up while Washington is in for an emotional hangover after Sunday Night’s win against Dallas. Seattle wins 28-14.

AFC NFC

The end of the 2012-13 NFL season approaches with Week 17.

With just this one week comes a litany of playoff implications, even in the AFC, with all playoff spots clinched. In the NFC, there are three teams still on the outside looking in; the Chicago Bears, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants.

For Dallas Cowboys Fans

Dallas’ situation is the most simplistic – Win and you’re in. Lose, you go home. The Cowboys will travel to D.C., where they will face the rookie QB Robert Griffin III and his Washington Redskins.

For Washington Redskins Fans

Washington’s playoff situation has a bit more leeway than that of Dallas’.  A win for Washington also secures the NFC East Division Title and the 4th seed (cannot reach higher mathematically). However, should the Redskins lose to the Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, they are not necessarily eliminated from the playoff race. They can still clinch a playoff spot if Chicago and Minnesota both lose, as they hold the tie-breaker between potentially four 9-7 record teams; themselves, the Bears, the Vikings and the New York Giants.

For Chicago Bears Fans

Chicago’s playoff chances are not assured but also not highly unlikely. For the Bears to make the playoffs they must first beat the Detroit Lions on the road. The Vikings also need to lose to Green Bay at home, which, according to ESPN’s “Accuscore,” is not an impossibility with the Packers a 67% favorite to win.

For Minnesota Vikings Fans

Minnesota’s playoff destiny is in its own hands, to speak proverbially. If they beat the Packers, they secure the 6th seed in the playoffs. If they lose that game, they need the Bears, Cowboys, and Giants to lose as well (In essence, leaving the standings identical). A Vikings win closes the door on any playoff hopes of both Chicago and New York.

For New York Giants Fans

New York is most certainly in the most dire of the NFC playoff race situations. The Giants not only most win their season finale against the Philadelphia Eagles, but must also have the Vikings, Cowboys and Bears all lose their finale games.

Among the teams in the NFC that have already clinched their spots in the playoffs, some outcomes may affect the seeding.

For Atlanta Falcons Fans 

The #1 spot is locked and assured for the Falcons. Notwithstanding their dominance this year, Atlanta has received criticism for its lack of success in the playoffs, losing in the first round of all three of its last berths since 2008.

For Green Bay Packers Fans

Green Bay currently holds the #2 seed and will retain it with a win. A loss to the Vikings may result in trading the #2 seed for San Francisco’s #3 seed, should the 49ers beat the Cardinals at home. The Packers will concede the #2 to the Seattle Seahawks if both Green Bay and San Francisco lose and Seattle wins, claiming the NFC West Title and tie-breaker with a head-to-head victory in the “Fail-Mary” game against Green Bay. The Packers cannot fall lower than the #3 seed, secured with a first round home field advantage at-worst.

For San Francisco 49ers Fans

San Francisco has the same luxury of an assured first round home field advantage at-worst if they beat the Arizona Cardinals at Candlestick Park Sunday. Should the Packers lose, a Niners victory secures a #2 seed and first round bye along with the NFC West Division Title. If the 49ers lose to the Cardinals and the Seahawks beat the Rams, San Francisco will lose the NFC West to Seattle and snag the #5 seed. They’d then have to play either Green Bay, Seattle, Washington or Dallas, on the road in the “wildcard round.”

For Seattle Seahawks Fans

Seattle is assured at least the #5 seed but stands to move up to as high as #2 with help. If Seattle wins and San Francisco loses, the NFC West division title will belong to the Seahawks, as well as home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If Green Bay also loses in the previous scenario, Seattle holds the tie-breaker over Green Bay for the #2 seed and first round bye.

All the AFC playoff spots are secured, however, there still exist situations where movements in seeding can occur.

For Houston Texans/Denver Broncos/New England Patriots/Baltimore Ravens Fans

Because Houston and Denver have identical 12-3 records they hold the #1 and #2 seeds, respectively (Houston beating Denver gives them the tie-breaker). Should Houston beat Indianapolis on the road Sunday, they will lock up #1. Should they lose and Denver wins, the Broncos will take the #1 spot. If New England wins along with Denver, a Texans loss drops them to the #3 spot and gives the #1 and #2 seeds to Denver and New England respectively. If the Patriots win and the Broncos lose, the Patriots will take the #2 seed from the Broncos, as they own the head-to-head tie-breaker. If both the Texans and the Broncos lose, a Patriots win gives them the #1 seed, leaving Houston and Denver at #2 and #3 respectively. If New England loses and Baltimore Ravens win, the Ravens will move up to the #3 seed and the Pats fall to #4.

For Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals Fans

Indianapolis and Cincinnati have the #5 and #6 seeds locked up respectively.

 

SAN FRANCISCO – With the “What have you done for me lately?” attitude found everywhere throughout the sports world, there are numerous occasions when single game performances, good and bad, are blown way out of proportion. At the root of such occasions a common theme can be found – expectations. Perhaps no quarterback in the NFL has to fight lower expectations than Alex Smith.

This has never been more evident than after the 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks 13-6 in the week seven, “Thursday Night Football” game in Candlestick Park on October 18, 2012.

Smith did not play his best game of this season by far. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Very mediocre numbers by NFL quarterback standards. The reaction to Smith’s performance, however, was not standard for this type of performance.

Rewind to just after week five – Alex Smith and the 49ers were coming off of the most lopsided victory of the 2012 season, beating the Buffalo Bills 45-3. In fact, of all 92 NFL games played this season, the 49ers own two of the three largest margins of victory (34-0 over the New York Jets ranks third).

Going into the highly anticipated week six match-up against the 2012 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, Smith was receiving praise, not for “managing” football games, as was the case during the 2011-’12 season, but as a true leader and veteran capable of leading the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory in 2013. A poor outing by Smith put an end to that.

Smith threw three interceptions in a 26-3 defeat at the hands of the Giants and once again, murmurings of Smith’s inabilities resurfaced.

Pregame analysis for the Seahawks match-up was littered with doubts of Smith’s capability to get the Niners to the “promised land.” Anything less than a perfect game against Seattle was predestined to attract scorn from the naysayers, chomping at the bit to compare Smith in a bad light to the Aaron Rodgers and Tom Bradys of the league. But is that fair?

Let’s do that comparison using concrete facts. Luckily for us, both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have faced the Seattle Seahawks this season (the Patriots just the week before the 49ers), so it shouldn’t be difficult.

Here are the passing stats:

Alex Smith – (14/23) 140 yards 1 TD 1 INT

Aaron Rodgers – (26/39) 223 yards 0 TD 0 INT

Tom Brady – (36/58) 395 yards 2 TD 2 INT

Looking at the stat lines, all three QBs completed over sixty percent of their passes (Rodgers – 66.7%, Brady – 62.1%, Smith – 60.9%) and each threw an equal number of touchdowns to interceptions. Smith ranks right between the two, throwing for more TDs than Rodgers yet less INTs than Brady.

Smith out-shined both Rodgers and Brady in his touchdown passes per completion percentage (Smith – 7%, Brady – 2.7%, Rodgers – 0%). He also finished between the former MVPs in yards per attempt (Brady – 6.8 yards/att., Smith – 6.1 yards/att., Rodgers – 5.7 yards/att.).

The glaring hypocrisy of the whole mess is that the Patriots and the Packers both lost to the Seahawks, whereas, the 49ers won. The story line after the Packers’ loss was the terrible call that gave Seattle the victory over Green Bay. After the Patriots’ loss it was how great a comeback the Seahawks mounted over the Pats, once again winning on a last second pass play.

Neither Tom Brady nor Aaron Rodgers received even a tenth of the criticism that Smith received, even though Smith compares not only similarly, but in some areas more favorably than both Brady and Rodgers. Why?

Expectations – and it’s about time they changed.

Smith ranks tenth in the NFL in Total QBR (quarterback rating) this season. He ranks ahead of Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco, Drew Brees, Matthew Stafford, Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Phillip Rivers and 14 other starters.

Smith has the highest Total QBR in a single game this season (99.2 on a 100 scale). This game is also the fifth highest rating of any quarterback in any game since 2008.

It’s time again for another edition of Estrogen Corner.

With me again is the lovely, brilliant and, obviously, female Rebecca Roberts.

Rebecca has joined me in the past to talk about the Broncos during their time of struggle with Josh McDaniels and first starting Tim Tebow.

To gain a different prospective on Super Bowl LXVI, I caught up with Rebecca and had a one on one Q&A.

Dan Condie – Between the Patriots and Giants, what will be the determining factor in the game tomorrow?

Rebecca Roberts – Defense, all the way. We already know that (Eli) Manning and (Tom) Brady are both stand out quarterbacks who have some big targets. Gronk (Rob Gronkowski), (Wes) Welker, (Victor) Cruz, (Hakeem) Nicks etc.. So the question will be which defense can show up and stop the big gains?

DC – What role will Gronkowski play if the ankle is around 70%, like most analysts anticipate?

RR – He is a beast and if his ankle is 70%, it might as well be 100%. He will, without a doubt, play and he will be a major factor for the Patriots. I would say he contributes two to three touchdowns.

DC – If Eli is able to pull off the victory, how much will it do for his reputation as an elite QB?

RR – I think, unfortunately, it will cement him as one of the greats. But I don’t think it will be deserved. Yes, he is a great QB, but look at the teams he has had surrounding him this year and when he won the 2008 Super Bowl. And, let’s not forget the freak Tyree catch. So, does he deserve to be recognized as a great QB? Yes, but will he deserve all the hype and deserve being called greater than Peyton (Manning)? Um, no.

DC – If Tom Brady can win Super Bowl LXVI in convincing fashion, where does he rank among the all-time great NFL quarterbacks?

RR – Ugh, I want to hate Tom Brady, I really do. But, if he wins this game, in my mind, he will be one of the top 10 greatest.

DC – Top 10?! Who do you feel are the top 5 QB’s in NFL history?

RR – (John) Elway, (Joe) Montana, (Dan) Marino, (Steve) Young and, gag me, I’ll never admit this again, (Brett) Favre.

DC – (laughing) Okay. On a closer note, how do you feel about the Tim Tebow situation going forward in Denver?

RR – I think everyone knows I was one of the biggest Tebow doubters of all time. However, I am a huge Broncos fan and was totally stoked with the way our season ended. I did get very annoyed that no one was talking about our incredible defense and was giving Tebow all the credit, though.

I am anxious to see Tebow after he actually has an off-season and (John) Elway has been able to work with him. Am I convinced he was the chosen one and is the answer to our problems? No. But I am excited about the progress he made and hope he continues to improve.

DC – How would you feel if Denver were to make a move to pick up a veteran QB in the off-season? Say, Peyton Manning?

RR – That is a tough one. Obviously, no one is going to complain if Peyton Manning is their team’s QB. However, I am looking for a team that can be great for the next ten years, not just have one great season with a QB who is on his way out. I would almost prefer them to make some moves and get a younger talent that can develop into the next big thing and be a franchise player.

DC – Do you think there is a QB in this year’s draft below Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III that would fill that need?

RR – I think Luck could be over time but he won’t come out and be an all-time great right away. He needs to not be so anxious to win right away and take a cue from (Aaron) Rodgers and sit back. Learn the game and give it time.

DC – Do you see the Broncos as the “cream” of the AFC West going forward? Did Denver luck out with Kansas City injuries?

RR – Denver lucked out with Kansas City and Oakland injuries and also with Phillip Rivers pulling a Max Hall and forgetting which team he was supposed to throw to. I don’t think Denver is the cream of the crop, but I think they are definitely a team to be feared moving forward.

DC – Okay, in closing, who do you like in Super Bowl LXVI? Score prediction?

RR – Like I said, it will be a defensive battle and I believe the Giants will be too much for the Patriots’ defense to handle. Giants 24-21 over New England.

DC – Thank you. As always, you know your stuff.

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins 08...

Image via Wikipedia

The New England Patriots will face the New York Giants February 5, 2012 in Super Bowl XLVI.

Tom Brady leads the Patriots into their 7th Super Bowl in franchise history (5th in the last decade). Brady was the Patriots starting quarterback in the previous four “big dances” with a dramatic loss to Eli Manning and the New York Giants in 2008 being his most recent.

Eli Manning leads the Giants to their 5th Super Bowl all time and 3rd since 2001. The Giants pulled off what many believe to be possibly the biggest upset in NFL history when they beat the 18-0 New England Patriots just four years earlier in Super Bowl XLII.

It seemed this season the final four teams remaining in the playoffs weren’t there to mess around. Both conference championships were hotly contested to the last blow of the whistle. The “Pats” and “G-men” won their respective Conference Championship games by three points (Patriots 23-20 over the Baltimore Ravens and Giants 20-17 over the San Francisco 49ers).

Interestingly enough, the number three seems to be a very significant number for the Tom Brady.

All four Super Bowl’s Brady has played in have been decided by three points (20-17, 32-29, 24-21, 14-17).

Three is also the number of Super Bowl rings Brady dons. Surely Brady has plans of changing that number to four.

The key to this game is going to be the New England defense. The New York Giants’ defense has been playing lock down defense the last 6 games and the New England offense is as dangerous as any New York has faced, including the Green Bay Packers.

Eli Manning during a 2007 training camp

Image via Wikipedia

However, with the emergence of Victor Cruz the second half of this season, I would argue the Giants’ offense stands just as much chance of breaking a game open as the Patriots. Thus, the New England defense must have all hands on deck February 5th because they are far from the caliber defense the 49ers field.

The Giants are the best team in the NFL at getting pressure on a quarterback with just the front four. Alex Smith found that out in the NFC Championship game, being flushed from the pocket play after play.

Because of how well the Giants have played as a complete team the last 7 games, I like their chances of winning this 2008 rematch.

Prediction: Giants 27 Patriots 24

And then there were four.

The New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers have proven themselves the best four teams remaining in the NFL playoffs and each from very different paths.

AFC Championship – New England vs Baltimore:

New England has been exactly what was expected. High powered offense led by the great Tom Brady and Bill Belichick at the helm of it all. The Patriots finished the season #1 in the AFC with a 13-3 record.

After two straight years of playoff let-downs, losing at home in the first round, the Patriots made quick work of the miraculous Broncos and Tim Tebow. They now face the challenge of fending off the Baltimore Ravens.

Baltimore proved at times to be the opposite of the Patriots, winning with stout defense led by veterans Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata and an average offense led by Joe Flaco and Ray Rice.

The Ravens finished the season with a 12-4 record and #2 overall in the AFC. Many analysts favored the Ravens to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl before the season started, mainly due to the punishing defense and offensive capabilities.

Throughout the season, the Ravens seemed to be plagued by shortcomings against teams far less talented. Their 4 losses during the season were to the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks, and the San Diego Chargers. The only team of these four with a winning record was the Titans and it was an unimpressive 9-7 in a weak AFC South division.

However, they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals in both home and away meetings, and beat the San Francisco 49ers at Baltimore.

When the Pats and Ravens meet this Sunday, January 22 at 3 PM ET the key matchup will undisputedly be the New England offense against the Baltimore defense.

If the Ravens are able to get to Brady early and often, they may well be able to disrupt the Patriots rhythm and give Flaco a chance to take advantage of a horrid New England defense, which is ranked second to last in opponent yards allowed this season. However, with how uncharacteristically well the Patriots defense played against the Broncos, the Ravens may need more than their defense to win this game.

Prediction: New England 35 – Baltimore 24

NFC Championship – San Francisco 49ers vs New York Giants:

The San Francisco 49ers are coming off of an instant classic that could end up rivaling some of the all-time classic games of Montana and Young. Just how much bigger does this game become should the 49ers go on to win the Super Bowl? And don’t think for a second that isn’t exactly what the goal of every single player in that locker room is.

On top of that, this team has an aura of winning and success around them. They are as confident as any team in the NFL. Some may try to find excuses for his great play when the answer is obvious. Alex Smith plays with poise again for the first time seemingly since Utah.  Smith can play without error and in clutch situations because he knows the coach and the team have his back.

They believe in the guy. And for good reason. Smith did what only 3 other teams have done this season. Beat the Saints.

The New York Giants are coming off of a huge upset over the Green Bay Packers, #1 seed overall and highly favored to repeat as Super Bowl champs this season.

Eli Manning proved why he considers himself an elite quarterback in the NFL with a 21-33, 330 yards and 3 touchdown effort Sunday, January 15, 2012.

One could argue that the Packers gave away opportunity after opportunity that day with wide receivers dropping pass after pass.

There is no doubt that the Giants have one of the NFL’s best pass rushes. The front four for the “G-men” can put pressure on a quarterback that most other teams require 5+ rushers to accomplish.

Led by Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, the New York Giants defense may be the only hope of victory.

The Giants did play the 49ers earlier this season, remember. San Francisco 27 – New York 20

Prediction: San Francisco 49ers 30 – New York Giants 17

Super Bowl: San Francisco vs New England