Posts Tagged ‘Ben Roethlisberger’

It’s the best day of the year, better than Christmas, better than any stinking birthday, yes it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and for me its a huge anniversary – my 25th Super Bowl in a row that i’ll be watching here in England.

My first Super Bowl I saw live was in 1987 as the Phil Simms led New York Giants beat the John Elway led Denver Broncos 39-20.

25 years later and I have seen some amazing Super Bowls, some amazing teams, and a few rare dynasties.

Talking of 80’s soap operas my 25th Super Bowl is taking place near to the South Fork ranch, in Dallas, Texas.

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Here goes with my breakdown of Super Bowl XLV….

The five things the Green Bay Packers need to do to win Super Bowl XLV

1) Establish the run – It seems everyone is predicting the Packers to throw on almost every down, but you don’t reach a Super Bowl without some semblance of a running game. Rookie running back James Starks only managed 101 rushing yards in the regular season, but from that cocoon he has blossomed into a post-season butterfly, carrying the ball 70 times in three wins, for a solid if unspectacular 3.8 yards a carry. The Steelers will play an aggressive defense and this could leave Starks to find some yardage on draw or delay type plays. No one really knows if Starks can catch passes if needed, as the Packers gameplan has not used Starks as a screen or short hitch type back. Maybe it happens today?

2) Shut down Mike Wallace from making big plays – Steelers WR Mike Wallace is just about the most exciting wideout in the NFL, with maybe the exception of the Eagles Desean Jackson. Wallace can go 80 yards for paydirt on any given play. The Packers cornerbacks will be well aware of Wallace’s blazing speed, and they will try to shut him down. The battle between Tramon Williams or Charles Woodson against Wallace will be huge, and one of these three could legitimately become MVP. Wallace could end the game with gaudy stats or Woodson could end up with a couple of ints and a pick six.

3) Containing Big Ben – No quarterback in the NFL is better at escaping pressure than Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, not even Michael Vick. The Packers have to be disciplined in their pressuring of Big Ben, and this means wrapping up when they get a chance to fell the double Super Bowl winner. Containing Big Ben in the pocket will be the job of the Packers defensive line and super stud Clay Matthews. I have a sneaky feeling that Packers OLB Erik Walden, if he plays, will have a big game, as he will be a little under the radar. Walden has 4 sacks in his last 4 games.

4) Packers Tight Ends showing up – The Packers lost their stud 6 ft 5 inch tight end Jermichael Finley in week 4, and have been pretty average at the position since then. Green Bay have only managed a total of 5 combined tight end catches in 180 playoff minutes this season, but here in the Super Bowl the likes of Andrew Quarless and Tom Crabtree will need to produce better numbers than that. Expected to do more blocking than route running, the Packers tight ends could be difference makers, and will need to be switched on in the red zone. Look for Aaron Rodgers to seek out Quarless for a td in the first half.

5) Aaron Rodgers to keep cool – This game will come down to the leadership of Aaron Rodgers, and his ability to keep cool under the constant pressure of the incredible Steelers linebacking crew. If James Harrison and Lamar Woodley start calling the shots in the first half we could be in for a long day and a 7th Lombardi Trophy winging its way to Steel Town. Rodgers will have spent the last two weeks rehearsing his ‘wrestling belt’ touchdown celebration, but he will need to avoid being grappled down by the aggressive Steelers defense, and he will need to avoid having Troy Polamalu in his head, if he is going to succeed. If Aaron starts the game with a calm drive of over five minutes then we are in for a great game.


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The five things the Pittsburgh Steelers need to do to win Super Bowl XLV

1) Keep Troy calm – The NFL Defensive Player of the Year was Steelers Safety Troy ‘hairy Tasmanian devil’ Polamalu. Troy is without doubt a difference maker who can turn a game with just one ultra-athletic play. His downfall, if you can call it one, is that he is so pumped up in a big game that he will play such an aggressive game that he could end up hurting himself. In the past 5 seasons Polamalu has only lasted the full 16 games just once. I love it when Polamalu leaps over offensive linemen on a short yardage play to try and crush the quarteback or the running back, but this can put his body in odd positions, and he becomes an injury risk. Providing Polamalu doesn’t wear himself out by the fourth quarter he can be the difference maker, but he needs to play within himself.

2) Miller Time – Big Ben will find it hard to constantly target his wide-outs in this game, so he will be looking to get tight end Heath Miller involved in a number of different ways, from planned plays, to being a checkdown target when he has to move in and out of the pocket. Miller has already got two rings and so he know what it takes to be a primetime performer. Big Ben will look for Miller in the redzone, especially because the Packers linebackers will be after him. Miller against the Packers safeties Nick Collins and Charlie Peprah will be a matchup to watch closely.

3) Keeping the ball – The longer the Steelers can keep the ball in drives the longer time that Aaron Rodgers and all his weapons will stay on the sidelines. The Steelers need Rashard Mendnhall, in my opinion the most under appreciated running back in the NFL, to grind down the clock and keep moving the chains. With Doug Legursky starting his first NFL game in the Super Bowl, for the injured Pro Bowl rookie Maurkice Pouncey, the Packers defensive line will be smelling blood, but the Steelers have one big games before with ‘on paper’ inferior offensive linemen. Mendnhall will need to be on top form both rushing and receiving, and could end up with 32 touches of the ball.

4) Disrupting the rhythm of the Packers passing game – The Steelers defense will be facing an offensive onslaught from Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson, and even Brett Swain, five wide receivers that can run any secondary ragged. Pittsburgh will need to disrupt Aaron Rodgers momentum early, with a mixture of pressure and man marking. Steelers cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden will need to play the games of their lives.

5) Taking a few risks – In Super Bowl XL former college qb turned slot wide receiver and punt returner Antwan Randle El tossed a touchdown to Hines Ward. Randle El left the Steelers after that game for big bucks at the Redskins, but now he is back in the Black and Gold. What are the odds of Randle El pulling of another mesmerizing trick play? Dont put it past Coach Tomlin giving it a go. After all we could see Packers nose tackle BJ Raji playing some fullback. The Steelers will throw at least one trick play in the mix, and Randle El has already got a winners ring thanks in part to his arm.

NFL Fan In England’s Super Bowl XLV prediction

This is two outstanding defensive outfits playing against each other, and two offenses that are capable of quick strikes. Ironically it could be the third units (special teams) that decide this game, with Jeff Reed and Mason Crosby’s accuracy potentially determining the outcome of this game. We could end up with a new Vinatieri or (gulp) a new Norwood.

I am nervous about the Packers ability to get rookie James Starks 23 to 26 carries of the football, but if they do and he does, he could shock the world and help Green Bay to bring the Vince Lombardi Trophy to Wisconsin.

Big Ben doesn’t need to have a spectacular game, he has proved that in the past.

The stadium turf will suit the Packers over the Steelers as they can use their speed as a huge weapon. Look for the likes of James Jones and Jordy Nelson to make a few humongous plays.

It comes down to turnovers and who can force their opponents into making them. I think the Packers defense will be that bit better than the Steelers offensive line can contain for 60 minutes, and for that reason I am going to call it

Green Bay Packers 31 -28 Pittsburgh Steelers – with Aaron Rodgers as MVP, despite some outstanding performances from Charles Woodson and BJ Raji.

Love to hear your thoughts people….

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The sun never shines for opponents on Revis Island

Some say the conference championship games are better than the Super Bowl itself, and I tend to agree.

This season we have a couple of classics to look forward to, minus Tom Brady, Brett Favre or Peyton Manning.

With the exception of Ben Roethlisberger we are looking at the possibility of two quarterbacks facing each other in their inaugural Vince Lombardi trophy contest.

I have even booked the Monday off work so I can stay up until the early hours to watch every play of both games.

I have always loved NFC and AFC championship day, and I have many many fond memories of some outstanding contests at the semi-final stage. Games like the 49ers v Giants when Joe Montana was knocked into another world, the Bills murdering the Oakland Raiders 51-3 (if I recall) and the Redskins reaching Super Bowl XXII on the back of a Darrell Green end zone deflection.

NFC Championship – Packers @ Bears

Back in September 2010 I predicted that the Green Bay Packers would make the NFC Championship – as the home team. Aaron Rodgers looked good in 2009 and it was inevitable that he was on the career path travelling in an ascending pattern.

In no way did I see the Chicago Bears as the team that would be the highest seed remaining in the NFC. The knock on the Bears was the rather hotchpotch wide receiver corps, the immaturity of Jay Cutler and the fact Brian Urlacher was coming of a major injury.

As it turned out the bitter divisional rivals have both had extremely productive seasons, with the Packers playing the better playoff football, and here we are with two 12 win teams playing for the right to represent the NFC in Dallas.

Gotta love the fact that the Bears only previous Super Bowl winning MVP is gonna be at Soldier Field tonight as an honorary captain. This sure is one game where the Bears could use the punch packed by their 85 compatriots.

Keys to the game

  • Can the Bears establish the run? For the Bears to keep this one close they are going to have to keep the pigskin away from the red-hot Aaron Rodgers, and this means a large dose of Matt Forte and a decent cameo from former Viking Chester Taylor.
  • Can the Bears use the speed of Johnny Knox and Devin Hester? Speed kills, and the Bears combo of Knox and Hester are hard to outrun in an open field. The pair lack consistency and that is their big downfall. You would not want to start either in your fantasy team, but one slip or one missed tackle and they could be blazing up the field for an 80 yard score.
  • Can the Packers get pressure on Jay Cutler? We all know about the Giants nailing Cutler more times than a carpenter on double-time, but the Bears learnt from that game and the offensive line is now much improved, if not by personnel but definitely by technique. The Packers love blitzing safeties or even Charles Woodson, but this will no longer be a surprise. It comes down to the likes of B.J. Raji getting pressure or not.
  • Can the Packers play balanced offensive football? The Packers went out and whipped the Falcons last week. The game turned on the late second quarter pick six, or we would likely be talking about Matty Ice right now. The Pack love to pass pass pass, but they need to run the ball 25 times to win this game.

Prediction – A lot lower scoring than many will anticipate, both defenses will outplay their offensive counterparts, and this will result in a tense contest that will come down to a Robbie Gould field goal for the late win – Packers 19-20 Bears – Game MVP Matt Forte – 125 combined yards and a TD.

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AFC Championship Jets @ Steelers

The only team to return to the conference championship game this season is the New York Jets, a team that has made more enemies this year than Darth Vader on a Sunday morning with a hangover. The Jets have the spirit of Namath with them, having turned old-fashioned confidence into 21st century swagger.

The Steelers have been there, done that, got the t-shirt and can sit there admiring each of their six Vince Lombardi trophies, two of which they earned under the leadership of big Ben Roethlisberger and the Peter Pan of the NFL Hines ‘the smiler’ Ward. The Steelers have stepped into the AFC Championship game thanks to some fantastic adjustments executed to perfection in the second half of their game against the team I thought would win it all, the Baltimore Ravens.

Heinz Meanz Beanz Field will be full of raucous Steelers fans waving their yellow terrible towels, and for all NFL fans in England we will have to suffer the biased presenting of Steelers fan and presenter Nick Halling, who will no doubt be wearing the same stinky old black suit, black shirt and yellow tie.

Keys to the game

  • Can the Jets offensive line limit the damage caused by the Steelers pass rush? Its not a case of the Big Apple offensive line completely preventing the likes of Woodley and Harrison from getting to Mark Sanchez, it’s a case of damage limitation. Jets will not stop the attack, but they can slow the pressure down. That and the fact Tony Richardson will take on and block anyone – even Andre the Giant with Troy Polamalu on his shoulders.
  • Can the Jets shut down the explosive Mike Wallace? Simple answer is yes. Revis Island is a destination that no one wants to visit but wide outs end up arriving at the same destination week after week. Revis will blanket his side of the field and this will leave a huge battle between Antonio Cromartie and his own demons.
  • Can the Steelers get the ball to Heath Miller? The tight end will be one of the keys to this game, as he always seems to show up for Big Ben when it matters the most. Hines Ward is slowing down and Randle El as a slot back scares nobody. Miller is one of the top red-zone threats and whilst he may disappear in games, he knows the fundamentals of blocking and catching and most importantly how to win football games.
  • Can the rookie Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey show his team mates how to block? Pouncey has played like an All Pro all season long, but that cannot be said of Pittsburgh’s entire offensive line who have either been inconsistent or injured. Pouncey is looking to become the new Jeff Saturday, an indestructible force that makes his somewhat average ranked team mates play better. The weaknesses at guard and tackle for the Steelers could be fatal today.

Prediction – The Jets simply want this game more, and like wolves needing to feed to survive, they will hunt down Big Ben and the Steelers until they have had their full feed. There to stop the Jets will be the one man Tasmanian devil Troy Polamalu, with all his hair and his hitting. The Jets simply have the bodies that can match up to the Steelers, and providing Mark Sanchez stays cool then we will witness the birth of swagger. Jets 23-19 Steelers – MVP Shonn Greene with over 100 yards rushing (including breaking one for over 30 yards).

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So I have a New York Jets v Chicago Bears Super Bowl – the two underdogs today.

What do you think of my prediction and who are you rooting for?

The road to Super Bowl XLV gets extremely interesting this weekend as we will be whittling down from eight to a fantastic four – with no Thing or man with rubber arms in sight.

Gone are the current AFC and NFC champions, both knocked out in the Wild Card round last week.

Ready to make their 2011 playoff debut are the Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Bears – the top four seeds in the NFL this season.

Joining them are the survivors from last week, the Packers, the miracle 8-9 Seahawks (still with a losing record despite a playoff win), the J-E-T-S and the Baltimore Ravens.

Without further ado it’s prediction time……

Jets @ Patriots – Following the absolute slaughter of the Jets by the Bellicheck machine known simply as the Pats this should be deemed as a New England walkover. Brady is fresh from a week off, spent combing his hair and applying expensive Hollywood folicle product. Sanchez on the other hand tried his best to lose the game last week according to many NFL hacks, and he was rescued from oblivion by a late Antonio Cromartie kickoff return and some kicking heroics. This game will, I have no doubt, see the Jets madder than hell because they wont take it anymore, and despite all the smoke being blow up the Patriots asses, I have this as a Jets win. Why you may ask? Well firstly the Jets have a quality running game blending the shifty Shonn Greene and the veteran, but so far Super Bowl ring-less Ladanian Tomlinson. IN one of the Pats losses this season Peyton Hillis ran for a devastating 184 yards as the Browns cruised to an upset win. Sanchez has a 3-1 record in the playoffs in only his second NFL season – a remarkable achievement considering he is perceived as inaccurate and lacking big play dynamism. Brady has a lot of weapons, more than the host of a terrorist gun amnesty convention, but he can be rattled. The Pats may have a quality team but I just feel that this is not their time, and for the Jets this is part of the stars aligning. I also cant help but see a vision of Brad Smith, the modern day slash (not the Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist), doing something special.

Prediction – Jets 23-20 Patriots – MVP the Jets offensive line helping the team rush for 180 yards.

Ravens @ Steelers – If this was a few thousand years ago it would be a prize gladiatorial fight between Spartapolamalu and Spartalewis in the amphitheatre of your nightmares. As it is the 2011 version wont be much different, with blood, sweat, tears and likely some body parts being left on the field at the end of this battle. The Steelers have the experience and the QB with two hand-crafted rings full of Pittsburgh shaped jewels. The Ravens have a mixture of youth (QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice) along with some grizzled veteran wideouts and TE in Anquan Boldin (who faced the Steelers in the Super Bowl two seasons ago) TJ Houshmananzadddehhhahahahaaaahahahahah and the second coming of Todd Heap. The Steelers have in my humble opinion the most underrated starting running back in the NFL Rashard Mendenhall, and possibly the best deep threat wide receiver to play in the league in the last 5 years in the form of Mike Wallace. It’s not rocket science but this game will come down to turnovers – if any team makes three they will not make it past this weekend. Yes I expect a close game, and this time I’ll go with the Ravens in the second AFC upset of the weekend. Providing Ray Rice can chew up the clock, Willis McGahee can vulture two red zone scores and Baltimore can end up with a ground shaking win and a matchup for Rex Ryan’s former team versus his current team in the AFC Championship.

Prediction – Ravens 24-19 Steelers – MVP Willis McGahee two short scores – one late to seal the win.

Packers @ Falcons – There is a lot of love out there for the Green Bay Packers, and a distinct lack of respect for the 13-3 Falcons, who boast a 7-1 home record. Matty Ice has shown he can lead a team to a division crown and the best record in the NFC conference, but still they seem to be underestimated. The Pack have lost 5 games already away from the chilly tundra of Wisconsin, and whilst the Georgia Dome turf may suit them as a pass first team, they will be playing the house of the Clean Birds with no facility to Lambeau Leap. Packers RB James Starks came from nowhere to post gaudy figures against the Eagles, but a repeat performance will be much harder. This will be a big game for Falcons DE John Abraham, who will be sniffing out Aaron Rodgers like a fox after some chicken bones in a bin bag. This will also be time for former Chargers #2 rb to show the world why he is a #1 RB and a quality one at that. The Falcons have the ability to stretch the field with future Canton enshrinee TE Tony Gonzales, and the league’s top wideout Roddy White, but it will be Turner’s ability to keep the Packers honest that will be the biggest factor in this game. The Packers love to use defensive back blitz packages, but the towering Matt Ryan should be able to see them coming and use Gonzales as a perfect outlet en-route to a second consecutive home playoff game next week.

Prediction – Falcons 31-27 Packers – MVP Matt Ryan 255 yards and three touchdown passes.

Seahawks @ Bears – Two division winners facing each other for the second time this season in the Windy City, one with a quarterback who has played in a Super Bowl, and one who’s gun-slinger looks like he has a man’s body with a petulant child’s head on top. The Seahawks are capable of going back to Chicago and taking away a victory, but I am predicting a grizzly bear mauling by Peppers Idonoje and Urlacher come the weekend match-up. This could finally be the game Devin Hester shows up as a starting wide receiver, but we are more likely to see Charlie Whitehurst get a military buzz cut first. The key to the Bears moving up and down the field will be the big play capability of Johnny Knox and the ability for Mike Martz to swallow his pride and give the rock to Matt Forte. The Seahawks will be able to match the Bears offensively, but they will not be able to prevent the Bears D from menacing Hasslebeck all day long. I predicted a Hawks win last week, but this time they will come unstuck, the Bears will be ready with a honey trap. Kick to Hester at your own peril.

Prediction – Bears 27 – 10 Seahawks – MVP Matt Forte – 160 combined yards and 2 touchdowns.

Your thoughts…………………………………….

 

Half a yard from a big payday - and I'n not talking a King Size peanut based snack bar
Half a yard from a big payday – and I’m not talking a King Size peanut based snack bar

I’m over it now, but it took me almost 48 hours to calm my hulk like rage following the Ben Roethlisberger touchdown that never was in Sunday’s Superbowl.

I had £8 on Big Ben to score the first touchdown of the game on a run, and when he took off scrambling I saw the £’s flashing in front of my eyes as I got 33-1 odds on that event occurring.
I didn’t quite celebrate as I knew it was a close call, but the commentators in the London Sky Sports studio, which included former Cardinals QB Jay Schroeder, all agreed that Roethlisberger had crossed the line. See here for the play so you can make your own mind up.
Once I saw the red flag on the Raymond James Stadium field I had a bad feeling – but I also knew I could be time to celebrate.
When the ref reversed the call on the field I was gutted to say the least and I let out a few choice words in my living room.
On cold reflection two days later  his knee was down and it was a helluva tackle by Darnell Dockett, who could have been in the running for MVP had the Cardinals held on.
It was a superb game (aside from that play!) and I absolutely loved the momentum shifts, the Cardinals fightback and the way Santonio Holmes stepped up and said ‘I will take responsibility for us moving downfield’ (probably a bit more dramatically broadcast in the huddle).
Dominique Rogers-Cromartie had a fantastic rookie season, but he was picked on at the Superbowl, as was Cardinals safety Aaron Francisco. The Cardinals showed the world that they deserved to be in the big game, but the Steelers showed why the won their sixth title, by finding the very small flaws in the Cardinals defense.
This was a game for the ages, and in the end the better team just about won. Congratulations to the Steelers for title six, and a big round of applause to the Cardinals for making this game one that will not be forgotten in a hurry.
Big Ben I forgive you for falling short on that td run, but next time you take off in the first quarter of a Superbowl (and yes I do think he will be back again before his career is over) give it that extra little bit of effort please. For the sake of my wife’s sensitive ears. 
Anyone else lose money on the Super Bowl? Let the world know
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……….

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.

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 ?????