Posts Tagged ‘Jets’

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.

To buy an Aaron Rodgers Reebok shirt direct from England click here

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).

To buy a Mark Sanchez Reebok shirt direct from England click here

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?

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This is how I want to remember Favre, not being lifted of the Meadowlands surface on a stretcher with team mates praying around him

This is how I want to remember Favre, not being lifted of the Meadowlands surface on a stretcher with team mates praying around him

I cannot be alone in standing up and giving a big round of applause to Brett Favre for completing one of (if not the) most legendary feats of modern professional sports – 271 consecutive starts as an NFL quarterback.

Records are there to be broken, but almost 17 consecutive seasons of sun, wind, hail, snow, away fan abuse, and defenders trying to put him on his back puts Brett Favre on a stage that I very much doubt anyone will be able to share.

I do hope and pray that Brett’s retirement announcement is official – for two reasons – one selfish and one admirable.

The selfish reason is obvious, I don’t think I could cope with ANOTHER off-season filled with ‘will he or won’t he retire’ gossip from the smug ‘I deserve a big slap in the face’ Adam Schefter or the likes of PTIs Michael Wilbon or Tony Kornheiser to the varied sports writers that guest on Around the Horn (gotta love Woody Page !!!).

The admirable reason is Favre compiled some statistics that make your eyes bleed, from the 17 consecutive seasons with 3,000 plus passing yards to the mind blowing 65,127 total passing yards, to the insane 464 passing touchdowns.  Those statistics are to be poured over in 2012 or 2013 (I can’t work it out) when people make their pilgrimage to the NFL Hall of Fame.

Finishing aged 39 with 16 starts in his final 16 games is the perfect way to bow out, and although he threw an equal amount of touchdowns and interceptions in 2008 (22 a piece) he kept up his 17 year streak of over 3,000 yards a season and 18 or more touchdowns.

Any longer and Favre risked not only a serious injury but he risked damaging his legacy as the toughest SOB that ever put on an NFL uniform.

One Super Bowl win (and two Super Bowl appearances) may seem a little low for a guy who was a prime performer for 17 full NFL seasons, but we have to remember he did not always have a world beating support cast, nor did he have the best head coaches (Ray Rhodes, Mike Sherman).

Just for fun and just for the record for you trivia nuts here is Brett’s stats from his first NFL start and his (hopefully) last one.

First – September 27, 1992 – 17-3 home win Packers v Steelers – 14 of 19 210 yards 2 td 0 int – Brett Favre’s First NFL touchdown 76 yards to WR Sterling Sharpe

***269 consecutive regular season games inbetween***

Last – December 28, 2008 – 17-24 home loss Jets v Dolphins – 20 of 40 233 yards 1 td 0 int – Brett Favre’s Last NFL touchdown 13 yards to WR Laverneus Coles

There will never be another Brett Favre, he is a one off, a grizzled block of granite that is tougher than King Kong after Godzilla has just abducted Fay Wray.

I want to thank you Brett for the memories and I wish you a happy, peaceful and content retirement, safe in the knowledge that you left every single ounce of pride, guts, determination, charisma and class on the turf or grass of every NFL Stadium.

Brett Favre I salute you………..as long as you stay retired.

Favre gets used to his new colours - Pic by Steve Coleman Associated Press

Favre gets used to his new colours - Pic by Steve Coleman Associated Press

The whole Brett Favre Green Bay Packers saga during this off-season has had more yawns than an intercontinental sleeping championships, so it with some degree of relief that number #4 has left Wisconsin for the sleepy town of New ‘goddam’ York.

Gulp!

This means the Favre saga – a bit like Mr Balboa in Rocky VI – will go a few rounds too many in the ring.

The New York media will no doubt waste a small rain forest in paper analysing Brett’s move to the Big Apple, calling him names ranging from the ‘ressurection’ to ‘a grey haired over the hill dreamer’, but face it the New York Jets are NOT a Superbowl ready team like the Green Bay Packers.

The Jets have simply not got the defensive talent or the offensive line to make it into the post-season.

Thomas Jones is an average starter at best, a non glamorous starter that neither scares opposing teams nor exites home fans. Laverneus Coles is coming off an injury at wide-out, and Jerricho Cotchery is consistent but he is not the man to get you to the final dance.

Green Bay was the team Brett should have stayed at if he wanted a shot at the next Superbowl, now he will end his career in some kind of ugly kelly green and white mess on the AstroTurf of Giants Stadium.

I will say in here and now on NFLFANINENGLAND that Brett Favre will NOT make the playoffs with the New York Jets. He will potentially throw 3,000 yards in 2008, he may even extend his outstanding consecutive starts record, but Brett will not be tasting the rarefied air of the playoffs let alone the Superbowl.

The fact the Jets and Packers agreed a deal that means the Packers get a 1st round pick if Brett makes the Superbowl is not optimistic, it’s downright bonkers.

The hype for the Jets v Patriots game in week 2 of the 2008 season will be out of control. The Pats are a team on a mission, and also incredibly the same team that Favre beat in his only ever Superbowl win.

I think one man that has been given an incredibly raw deal is unemployed quarterback Chad Pennington, who must have a sore back after being shoved out with one hefty push towards the exit part of the New York Jets practice facility.

Yes Pennington did not have an incredible 2007, but he was the NFL comeback player of the year in 2006, and has the NFL record – YES THE NFL RECORD for completion % for all NFL quarterbacks who have attempted a minimum of 1,500 passes – better than Tom Brady, even better than Joe Montana or Steve Young.

Anyone out there think that the Jets can go better than my 2008 prediction of 6-10 ??? Please post a response

Now at least we get to see if former Cal quarterback Aaron Rogers is the real deal – thank goodness !

Fred Dean en-route to one of his Superbowl rings as a 49er

Fred Dean en-route to one of his Superbowl rings as a 49er

He may have won his two Superbowl rings in the red and gold kit of the San Francisco 49ers but for many thousands of NFL fans Fred Dean was the San Diego Charger’s original sackmaster, ploughing his furrows through the likes of the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs offensive lines in the late 1970s.

It has been announced today that Dean joins thirty-three other former Bolts as the 34th member of theSan DIego Chargers Hall of Fame.

2008 is turning out to be a glorious year for Dean, as back in February he was voted into the NFL Hall of Fame.

I do wonder why it took so long for Dean to get elected into the ChargersHall of Fame, but with the likes of Lance Alworth, Charlie Joiner, Sid Luckman, Kellen Winslow (the original not his bad boy son), Dan Fouts and the man nicknamed the intellectual assassin offensive tackle Ron Mix already in the Californian Hall then it really isn’t that surprising.

In 2004 I had the absolute pleasure and honour to watch the San Diego Chargers play against the New York Jets at  Stadium. What made the day one of the most memorable sporting events I have ever been to however was that my wife and I watched the game from the 50 yard line with none other than Charger Hall of Fame inductee Ron Mix.

My wife worked with a professor (Speedy Rice) who studied law in California with Mr Mix – hence his nickname – the intellectualal assassin. Mr Mix also is in the NFL Hall of Fame and took great pleasure in flashing his Hall of Fame ring to our party as many times as he could. Aside from his rather dark sense of humour Mr Mix was a real gent, and it was a day I’ll never forget.

Whilst Ron Mix and Fred Dean’s paths never crossed in uniform, I am confident they have got together at Chargers reunions, and even Charger Hall of Fame events.

The Chargers press office said  “The NFL did not make sacks an official statistic until 1982, but numbers kept by teams indicate that he recorded nearly 100 sacks during his 11-year career. In 1978, Dean unofficially posted 15.5 sacks, which would be the third-highest single-season mark in Chargers history were it official. He unofficially logged nine sacks in 1979 and 10.5 in 1980.”

Some remarkable statistics when you look at it – above alcongratulations Fred, and maybe to celebrate you will come over to England in October and watch the NFL International game between the Chargers andthe New Orleans Saints on 26 October at Wembley.

If you come Fred I’ll buy you a cold one !

If anyone has any memories of Fred Dean playing please feel free to post…………