Posts Tagged ‘Super Bowl’

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.

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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

 

(Mark Humphrey/Associated Press)

The game went the Green Bay Packers way from the kickoff. They held the Pittsburgh Steelers to a punt on the opening drive. Although the Packers also had to punt the ensuing drive, they proved to the Steelers they were there to play.

No one played harder than Aaron Rodgers and the Packers Defense. Rodgers threw for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns with 0 interceptions. The defense forced 2 first half interceptions and a second half fumble. More impressive than that, they continued to play at that high level after losing star CB Charles Woodson to a fractured collarbone he suffered on a tackle made late in the second quarter.

All 3 turnovers can be attributed to the play of the linebackers and linemen because of the pressure they put on Roethlisberger all night long. Both interceptions were due to obstructed throws from defensive pressure.

The Packers, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, capitalized on all 3 turnovers by converting one immediately on the pick 6, the second interception and fumble were also converted into 7 points on touchdown drives. At one point, the Packers led 21-3.

The Steelers dominated the end of the first half and the entire 3rd quarter and were able to pull the game to within 3 points at 28-25.

The Packers weathered the storm and with just over 2 minutes left in the game, kicked a chip shot field goal to increase their lead to 6 at 31-26, eliminating the chance of tying with a field goal for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers are famous for last-minute drives to win games. They did it to the Arizona Cardinals in the ’09 Super Bowl with the amazing catch made by Santonio Holmes to win the game. Not to be this time around.

Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense couldn’t get their feet under them. They gained a first down on the first play of the drive but then crashed. Ben threw 4 straight incomplete passes.

Green Bay took the victory formation and that was that.

Of course the poll starts this early. Why not?

ESPN radio host Mike Greenberg in Jets helmet on air

 

 

I love sports radio. Unfortunately, sports radio loves the New York Jets.

Most every talk show host on ESPN700 Radio is a Jets fan, it seems. Starting with Mike Greenberg of “Mike and Mike in the Morning” 4am-8am, to Spencer Checketts of the “Bill and Spence Show” 2pm-6pm, to Jason Smith of “All Night with Jason Smith” 11pm-2am.

With the Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan predicting a Super Bowl victory this season, the New York Jets have been the subject of almost every NFL conversation all season long.

Now that the Jets are actually winning playoff games as the underdog, these hosts are having the time of their life. Jets this, Jets that. Mark Sanchez this, Darrelle Revis that. I am beyond over the Jets.

Sports radio hosts had a heyday with all the trash talk before the Patriots game last week. They could focus on nothing else. True, the things that were said would have been front page news no matter what team had said it, but the fact that it was the Jets made the news that much more popular.

 

Rex Ryan speaks out at a press conference

When the Jets beat the Patriots…”2nd best day of my life after the birth of my daughter.” – Jason Smith. And that was one of the milder comments.

Now, with the upcoming AFC title game against the Steelers, forget about listening to a half hour of radio without mention of the Jets.

Don’t get me wrong. The Jets are an outstanding team. Hands down, Rex Ryan is one of the best coaches in the league right now. The Jets defense is air-tight, and really is the reason for their success thus far. Because I’m more than ready for the biased views and giddy reactions to Jets’ victories to end, I find myself cheering against the Jets in spite of the radio hosts. I shudder to think what the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl will be like should the Jets represent the AFC in the big game.

I quietly keep asking myself, “Are the Jets out yet?” And sports radio repeatedly confirms “No…no they are not.”