Archive for January, 2009

Timmy Smith (left) was so under the radar before Superbowl XXII that his blip did not register - 204 rushing yards later he became immortal

Timmy Smith (left) was so under the radar before Superbowl XXII that his blip did not register - 204 rushing yards later he became immortal

We all know that this is a game featuring two previos Superbowl winning quarterbacks (not sure how many times this has happened before  – maybe Superbowl XIII Roger Staubach v Terry Bradshaw) but we all like to root for players that have the potential to make the Superbowl the best game in their entire career that NOBODY would have predicted.

Examples of Superbowl ‘Under the Radar’ players who had amazing Superbowls include…..

  • Timmy Smith the Redskins running back who ran for 204 yards in Superbowl XXII (1988) against the Broncos. What isn’t so well known is that Smith went to prison in 2006 for trying to sell cocaine to an undercover policeman – unreal I know – see here Number 6.
  • Larry Brown the Cowboys cornerback who had two interceptions and an eventual MVP award in Superbowl XXX. What istn’t so well know is that Brown only had 14 career interceptions and has appeared in an episode of Married with Children – as himself.
  • Wide receivers Andre Coleman (San Diego Chargers) and Desmond Howard (Green Bay Packers) remarkably both have recorded 244 combined yards (rushing, receiving, returning) in the Superbowl (in separate games). Coleman’s achievement is even more special as he was a rookie when he took on the 49ers in Superbowl XXIX. Howard who was drafted by the Redskins and was a bust was immortalised forever when he returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against the New England Patriots.

So no pressure there then for some players that will not be household names but could have their names etched in Superbowl granite for the next 43 years.

Here goes then – five players that could have mindblowing games but no-one is talking about them right now…..

  •  Mewelde Moore– Pittsburgh Steelers – running back – If Willie Parker has the bad fortune of getting injured again early in the game (bearing in mind he has missed 5 games this season already) Moore could get his opportunity on a global stage. Moore racked up over 1,100 total yards in 2008 and his versatility in rushing, catching and returning and as an everyman he could have a monster game if fate deals his hand.
  • JJ Arrington– Arizona Cardinals – running back – Arrington actually tops Moore with over 1,350 total yards in 2008. As a kick returner Arrington has taken two kick returns ‘to da house’ in his career, and as miracles do happen what is the odds of him taking one back against the Steelers of all people. He could also find himself unmarked in the red zone and catch a touchdown that may turn the game, just like Tim Hightowed did two weeks ago against the Eagles.
  • Neil Rackers– Arizona Cardinals – kicker – With the Pittsburgh Steelers bringing their #1 ranked defense to Florida the Cardinals could be struggling in the red-zone so we could get to some bizarre situation when it comes down to Rackers having the game of his life with potentially six converted field goals. No kicker will ever get a Superbowl MVP award, but racking up something crazy like 18 points would be unforgettable.
  • Jerheme Urban– Arizona Cardinals – wide receiver – With Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin being salivated over by the American media and Steve Breaston being a new member of the 1,000 yard club Urban, the Cards 4th wideout, could be the straw that breaks the Steelers pass defense. Urban has great hands and is a Wes Welker ‘Lite’. If he is left alone, or seen as an afterthought he could get 8 catches for 100 yards and maybe even a score. It’s unlikely, but we know that any given sunday is a cliche with real bite.
  • Nate Washington– Pittsburgh Steelers – wide receiver – Washington is a pure and simple game breaker. He can get a 70 yard touchdown or be swept away by a lockdown CB. As a 3rd WR he will be overlooked in some situations and get his chance to shine. I know Big Ben likes to throw him a few bones every game – normally monster bombs – this could simply be the stage when he makes two catches for 120 yards and two tds.

Anyone elsoe got any ‘under the radar’ picks for the Superbowl? Please post in the comments section of my blog – I will be facinated to read them……….

Advertisements

supab-owl

I love statistics and I love watching Super Bowls. 

It will in fact be my 23rd consecutive Superbowl that I will be viewing on tv in England.

To celebrate the game and to make the week leading up to the Superbowl a bit more personal to you all I would like you to post answers to twenty questions below in the comments section of this post.

Whilst I cannot promise a cash prize to the most accurate I will do an email interview with the winner and do a post devoted to your favourite NFL team.

So how do you play this quiz – Well it has 10 questions which can be answered YES or NO and then 10 questions which require either names or numbers. All questions are based on Superbowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Round 1 – The YES or NO round (1 point per correct answer)

1) Will Kurt Warner pass for over 250 yards?

2) Will Willie Parker gain over 100 yards rushing?

3) Will Larry Fitzgerald lead all players (both teams) in recieving yards?

4) Will Troy Polamanu get an interception?

5) Will Steelers TE Heath Miller get a touchdown?

6) Will either Kurt Warner or Ben Roethlisberger get a rushing touchdown?

7) Will there be over 50 points scored in total (by both teams combined) in the game?

8) Will Cardinals RB Tim Hightower score a touchdown?

 9) Will there be 5 or more sacks (by both teams combined) in the game?

10) Will there be a touchdown (of any type) of 50 yards or longer?

Round 2 – The Name round

11) Who will be the game MVP?

12) Who will be the leading rusher in the game?

13) Who will be the leading receiver in the game by yards?

14) Who will be the leading receiver in the game by catches?

15) Who if anyone will get two (or more) sacks? (you can answer nobody)

Round 3 – The number round

16) How many interceptions will be thrown in the game (total by both teams)?

17) How many total touchdowns will be scored (total by both teams)?

18) Which quarter will feature the most points scored (combined)?

19) How many players will record a sack?

20) What will be the length of the longest field goal kicked?

Good luck – I look forward to the entries below in the comments part of this blog post.

buccccccccccccc

We haven’t even reached the 2008-09 Superbowl yet here I am sitting here in my living room safe in the knowledge that I already have two tickets paid for to see the New England Patriots v Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium in October (25) 2009.

It was a bit of a traumatic experience mind you as I tried first to get level 1 tickets but got booted out the internet.

 I then had to wait until lunchtime to visit my local library, wait 25 minutes whilst people were watching Barak Obama video news clips on MSNBC or trying to fix up a date on some sort of dodgy ‘love match’ website before I got on a free pc.

Once there the best tickets available were up on level 5 (way high) but after 1 minute of contemplating that I would not get the possible opportunity to see Tom Brady in the flesh I reluctantly inputted my credit card details into the Ticketmaster website and hey presto – my wife and I are going to our third consecutive NFL regular season game in England.

I just hope the Tailgate party is INDOORS in 2009 like it was in 2007, not like in 2008 when it was soggy, full of queues and generally a damp merchandise flogging failure.

It’s going to be a low scoring affair compared to the Saints v Chargers fireworks in 2008, but seeing Randy Moss, Jerod Mayo, and maybe even the old legs of Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber. Roll on October !

Who else has secured tickets for this game ?

Kurt Warner walks on water - he was divine against the Eagles
Kurt Warner walks on water – he was divine against the Eagles

I must be unconscious, I must be drunk, and above all I must be dreaming because the Arizona Cardinals are in the Superbowl.

Keep saying it – THE ARIZONA CARDINALS ARE IN THE SUPERBOWL – it sounds like it is unreal, but when the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Tim Hightower wake up on Monday morning they can stop dreaming and start preparing for a date in Tampa Bay in the Big Dance.
Don’t get me wrong 95 points in three playoff games is remarkable, I just didn’t think I would ever spend two weeks pondering if the Arizona Cardinals could lift the Vince Lombardi trophy!
Kurt Warner must have had a big gulp of holy water before the game as he truly walked on water against the Eagles in the NFC Championship game – 4 touchdowns, and an ice cold 4th quarter drive that included a silky smooth 2 point conversion pass.
Yes I predicted the Eagles to win, and yes I got it wrong, but secretly I was supporting the Cardinals throughout the game. Way back in Summer 2008 I picked both Calais Campbell (DE) and Tim Hightower at pick #114 (RB) in one of my 55 man fantasy drafts (where we get to pick 5 rookies) so to see them playing in a Superbowl it will make it that little bit personal.
Hightower in fact got the winning touchdown to get the Cards to the Superbowl – If you would have asked me in Summer 08 if that would have happened I would have asked you to stop drinking or cut down on your medication.
As it is Kurt Warner is back in the big game, and with a head coach like Ken Whisenhunt and a mentor like Jesus – I think it will be awfully hard for the Steelers (currently 3-0 up and jusy intercepted Flacco) or the Ravens to win the final in Florida.
Lets see if there is any Cardinals merchandise available here in England !!!!!
This weekend belings to Ray Lewis and the Ravens - my upset special against an 'on paper' better team.

This weekend belongs to Ray Lewis and the Ravens - my upset special against an 'on paper' better team.

After two rounds of hitting and high fives I have managed to get six out of eight playoff winners correct, and this means I did predict the Ravens, Eagles and the Steelers to reach the final four.

Where I messed up and where I suspect the rest of the world messed up was not giving enough respect to the Arizona Cardinals. Yes the Arizona Cardinals – a team historically so inept they can talk long into the night with the Detroit Lions and still feel bad.

Say it in your head, or say it out loud – the Arizona Cardinals are JUST ONE game away from the Superbowl. It sounds like some sort of joke, or maybe something that you can only witness when playing John Madden on your console, but no this is real, and in about 30 hours the Cards HOST the NFC Championship game against the wily Philadelphia Eagles, so that is where my prediction will start.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ ARIZONA CARDINALS

On the surface this is a battle between Donovan McNabb (one Superbowl played one loss) and Kurt Warner(two Superbowls played one won one loss) to show which veteran quarterback has the intestinal fortitude to lead their team to the promised land, but this game will come down to the brute strength and blocking power of the offensive and defensive lines – as they will be the guys pressurising or protecting Mc Nabb and Warner, and the ones making the gaps or shutting down the run.

Both McNabb and Warner were sacked an average of less than twice a game, so both offensive lines are solid but are able to be exploited.

The real key is that McNabb is more likely to take a sack and keep possession of the ball. Cardinals have looked awful at points this season when Warner has spilled the ball, and I think the Eagles will dial up the pressure throughout the game.

NFL FAN IN ENGLAND gives his KEYS to the game

1) The Cardinals need to get 120 yards rushing to stand any hope of winning this game, and this does not necessarily mean 100 from Edge – it could be 65 for Edge and 55 for Tim Hightower who looks to be swimming in shark infested water at the moment.

2) The Eagles WRs need to make a statement early that they can be difference makers. Kevin Curtis and DeSean Jackson can both have huge games but someone like Reggie Brown or Jason Avant could be the player to break the game open as they will get single coverage.

3) Neil Rackers needs to be there and come through in the clutch. He has gone from fantasy gold to an after thought, and this game could come down to a kick. David Akers has the NFL post season consecutive completed fg record. Rackers has never been to a championship game – will it overawe him or will he become a hero.

 4) Brian Westbrook . He has had a rather quiet post season, so is this the game he busts out of his funk? YES in my opinion it is. Westbrook has more talent than Edgarrin James but has so far not been the multi dimensional weapon that he has been in the regular season. Providing he has 15 touches each half this could decide the game.

5) This game comes down to the Eagles secondary beating up on the Cardinals wideouts, and despite the hype surrounding Fitzgeral and Boldin this is where I think the game will be won for the Eagles, who will pick off Warner three times.

Prediction – Philadelphia 27-17 Arizona – MVP Donovan McNabb 2 passing tds

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP – BALTIMORE RAVENS @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS

The Ravens have shown that the formula of Defense Defense Defense is enough to mask any offensive deficiences. Only one problem its exactly what the Steelers have in their very own test tubes also.

On paper he Steelers have the all round talent and also are the most recent of the final four to win a Superbowl, and the last time they did it they had Ben Roethlisberger who will again be under center for this bruising affair.

The 2008 season will be remembered as the Wild Card winners Superbowl as I think the Ravens will get revenge against a Steelers team that is going to be thinking it is the better team right now. I expect this game to be as ugly as the Titans v Ravens game last week – but for the defensive purist this will be a thing of beauty.

 NFL FAN IN ENGLAND gives his KEYS to the game

 1) Flacco has to be a handoff robot. If Joe Flacco wants to be the first rookie qb to start in a Superbowl then he needs to be disciplined and listen to his coaches instructions. This is what has got him this far, and despite a pass rush that will be scarier than being stuck in a lift with Plaxico Burress and an AK-47, if Flacco stays disciplined this could be his ticket to immortality.

2) The emotional impact of Hines Ward. Whilst the linebackers of the Steelers have been the highlight reel champions the Steelers go as far as Hines Ward’s catches. He is destined to go to the Hall of Fame (and I am no terrible towel waver) and he can ignite Heinz Field with a crucial 3rd down conversion or a touchdown. Take him out early – no – take him out late. When the game is on the line that’s when the Ravens need to cover every blade of grass that Ward does.

3) The Steelers offensive line protecting Big Ben. Its all very well saying Willie Parker is gonna have another huge game – but you cannot get the running game going unless the pass is successful early. Look for Big Ben to try and pass the Steelers out of the blocks with some screens and te hitches. I think the Ravens D will be ready for this and an early pickoff will get Big Ben nervous.

4) Can Mark Clayton please show up. Derek Mason is a stud and deserves respect (I said last week he would be huge and he was) but he cannot win the game by himself as a WR. Fans will have Clayton as an afterthought but he does have the talent to change a game, and this in my humble opinion is where he will do it.

5) Todd Heap. It seems the real Todd Heap hasnt shown up for about 2 seasons, but when it counts Heap can be dangerous. He may not be the Todd Heap of old – but he can get 5 catches this game. If he does the Ravens win.

Prediction –  Baltimore 21-20 Pittsburgh – MVP – Ray Lewis 12 tackles and 1 INT.

That leaves me with a Baltimore v Philadelphia Superbowl – Any thoughts ?????

My upset special McNabb to lead the Eagles to an NFC Championship

My upset special McNabb to lead the Eagles to an NFC Championship

I went 3 out of 4 in the Wild Card weekend and even got an exact score (Falcons 24) so I have a bit of pressure on for the divisional playoff round.

There are usually less upsets this round than in the Wild Card week but I have a feeling that the home teams will take a bit of a battering this Sat and Sun, so here goes, time to put my money where my mouth is……..

Sat., Jan. 10, 4:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Baltimore (11-5, 1-0) at Tennessee (13-3)
Kevin Mawae is out and that is huge.  The veteran Titans C is the rock that has led the way for Lendale ‘who ate all the pies’ White and Chris Johnson to dominate 13 teams this season. No one needs to read here how good the Ravens defense is – but people do need to finally pay respect to Baltimore WR Derek Mason who has shown that he is one of the most reliable wideouts in the entire NFL. Can Ed ‘ball magnet’ Reed get another INT – most likely !
Key 1) Baltimore getting a big run early as opposed to a big run late
Key 2) Albert Haynesworth pressuring rookie Joe Flacco
Key 3) Joe Flacco staying the hell away from Cortland Finnegan
Key 4) Kerry Collins not being forced to pass if Titans go down
Prediction – Baltimore 23-17 Tennessee – Game MVP – LeRon McClain (2tds)
Sun., Jan. 11, 4:45 p.m. ET, CBS
San Diego (8-8, 1-0) at Pittsburgh (12-4)
The Chargers are living the dream, and after using the pocket rocket Darren Sproles to kill the Colts. This time around the Sprolesmeister will have been on the Steelers radar. The Steelers D line is a lightyear above the Colts D line so Rivers will be forced to pass the Chargers up and down the field. Big Ben Roethlisberger has shown that he can guide a team through the playoffs, and I have a feeling that Pitt WR Nate Washington will come up with a huge catch that turns the game. I don’t expect a quality 1st half, but the Steelers have enough class to hang in there.
Key 1) Hines Ward getting 4 catches in the first half
Key 2) Can LT be any sort of factor in the game?
Key 3) Big Ben not fumbling the ball
Key 4) Santonio Holmes drawing double teams to free up Nate Washington
Prediction – San Diego 10-20 Pittsburgh – MVP Ben Roethlisberger (1 td and 250 yards passing)
Sat., Jan. 10, 8:15 p.m. ET, FOX
Arizona (9-7, 1-0) at Carolina (12-4)
Wouldn’t it be fun to see the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship against a former NFC East division foe? Well I really want to write this will be a Cardinals win, but I just can’t. The hype given to Edgarrin James last week was nonsense. He got 73 rushing yards in a Wild Card game – so freaking what. If he got 173 then I would be saing wow. The Panthers have the all round quality to win this without going into 5th gear, but I am sure they will make a bit of a meal of it and Jake Delhomme will get intercepted at least once. Look to DeAngelo Williams to show his class on a national stage but Jonathan Stewart to get the fanatsy tds.
Key 1) Cardinals DBs not getting called for pass inteference in the first half
Key 2) Jake Delhomme sticking to the plan and not trying to be a hero early on
Key 3) Steve Breaston showing up and getting some 1st quarter catches
Key 4) Panthers safeties not being exposed by the long ball
Prediction – Arizona 21-28 Carolina – MVP DeAngelo Williams (120 all purpose yards)
Sun., Jan. 11, 1 p.m. ET, FOX
Philadelphia (9-6-1, 1-0) at N.Y. Giants (12-4)
There has to be one upset special each week and I’ll call it here. I do not think the New York Giants are a dynasty and despite their good record they will finally sucumb to a Donovan McNabb led team that will win a nailbiter. Brian Westbrook will get more involved early in this game, and Eli Manning will make a huge mistake in the 2nd quarter that will turn the momentum. Giants pressure will again be relentless, but the Eagles will gameplan against it, using short passing to neautralise the agression on Kiwanuka and Tuck. Expect it to be close, but expect the Eagles to leave Giants stadium with their playoff dreams intact.
Key 1) The Eagles run d adapting to the difering styles of Brandon Jacbs and Derrick Ward
Key 2) McNabb finding TEs and RBs for short passes to set up a big ol bomb
Key 3) DeSean Jackson getting one big return
Key 4) Kevin Boss living up to his name
Prediction – Philadelphia 31-30 NY Giants – MVP Donovan Mc Nabb (3 tds 240 yards passing)
What do you all think?
Boldin and Fitzgerald will show their class during the crazy Wild Card weekend

Boldin and Fitzgerald will show their class during the crazy Wild Card weekend (Pic Lacy Atkins/The Chronicle)

This is where it all matters, where all the effort means death or glory, over four or maybe even five quarters.

I for one did not expect to see the Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins or the Minnesota Vikings in the post season.
As for the Eagles, Colts, Chargers and Ravens – I thought they were capable of making it to part 2. I also had a degree of expectation that the Arizona Cardinals could scrape a wild card, but with such a weak division they surprised many and won a home playoff game.
Here are my predictions for the crazy crazy Wild Card Weekend………..
AFC
Sat., Jan. 3, 8 p.m. ET, NBC
Indianapolis (12-4) @ San Diego (8-8)
Colts to win 31-27 – This will be some revenge for Peyton Manning and his Colts, who were killed off by the Chargers in the playoffs last season. I have a feeling the Colts will jump out to an early 14-0 lead but the Chargers will then dominate right up until the final drive, where Dominic Rhodes punches the winner in from 3 yards away.
Sun., Jan. 4, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Baltimore (11-5) @ Miami (11-5)
Baltimore to win 23-10 – This will unfortunately be a proverbial wicked witch coming down from her broomstick to spoil the fairytale Dolphins season. Not a pretty game to watch the Ravens will rely on their running game with Rice and McClain showing that they have plenty left in the tank. Pennington will again be accurate but he will not have the time to get big 10 play 80 yard drives.
NFC
Sat., Jan. 3, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Atlanta (11-5) @ Arizona (9-7)
Arizona to win 27-24 (OT) – This is my upset special even if the Cardinals are the division winning home team. Atlanta will look to establish the run with Michael Turner and the underrated Jerious Norwood (who I think could start somewhere like Denver). Kurt Warner will be expecting the pass rush from John Abraham, but with 3 1000 yard wideouts in his arsenal this will be the time for Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to show that they are the top tandem in the NFL.
Sun., Jan 4, 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX
Philadelphia (9-6-1) @ Minnesota (10-6)
Philadelphia to win 29-16 – Brian Westbrook will show the entire NFL world that he is the best all purpose back in the NFL, as he goes for 175 all purpose yards and two touchdowns. Adrian Petersen will show some potential, but the playoff pressure will get to him and he will ultimately be the second best back on the field. One of the no name Eagles wideouts will get a huge td – someone like Hank Baskett or Jason Avant – and that will kill off the Vikings.
Cue the counter arguments……….