Well the Super Bowl has come and gone. As expected by most of the experts and myself the Giants won but it was definitely not in the dominant manner most predicted. The New York Giants won 21-17 over the New England Patriots. Tom Brady and the company put up quite a fight that went down to the last play. We will never know if the outcome would have been different if the Patriots had Rob Gronkowski at full strength and not the very limited role he played.
What we do know however is that Tom Brady needed some major help on the receiving end, and the answer was not Chad Ochocinco. Deion Branch, Wes Welker, and Aaron Hernandez all dropped balls at crucial times that would of helped the Patriots maybe win the game. I am not sure if it was nerves or not but catches these players would normally make were all of a sudden being dropped all over the field.
It could have been the aftermath of the Tebow effect, as Tim Tebow was on the news more than the actual Super Bowl was during the weeks before the game. Especially the last week before the game I saw more airtime devoted to Tim Tebow than to what was going on with the Super Bowl. On the other hand, maybe it was the Peyton Manning Curse because they desecrated the stadium he built (figuratively speaking) by replacing his picture with that of the hated Tom Brady.
I am being facetious but I have heard all the stories and excuses as to why the Patriots loss. Tom Brady’s significant other put it plainly, “My husband cannot throw and catch the ball at the same time.” And so the finger pointing has begun from the fans, public and even some sports analysts, even though Tom Brady, Coach Belicheck, and owner Robert Kraft are all optimistic about next year and the direction the Patriots are moving.
And what is not to be excited about? The New England Patriots have two first round picks and two second round picks in this years upcoming NFL Draft. They have a largely young team with some up and coming stars. The Patriots also have one of the best quarterbacks in the league that took a team with the worst defense all the way to the Super Bowl in Tom Brady. The future is looking bright in Patriots Land.
On the other side of the field, we have the Super Bowl Champions, the New York Giants. No one at the beginning of the year picked the Giants to do anything significant at all. Matter of fact, most experts had claimed the Atlanta Falcons or the Philadelphia Eagles to be the team that had a chance to win the whole thing. Little did anyone know that Eli Manning would turn the corner from good quarterback to elite NFL quarterback during this NFL season. The running joke has become more true than ever that we cannot truly have Elite without Eli being included.
Eli Manning has had a dream season that was something like out of a movie. If we were in the theater watching this story with some popcorn, every person would have come out saying, “Wow that movie was great!” Even if a person is not a New York Giants fan, they have to recognize that the New York Giants did something very inspiring over this last NFL season.
I did not see one inspiring story from the New England Patriots side of the field other than that the players were playing for the owner’s wife who passed. That is a great cause for the players but it is hard for the public to really connect to. In addition, that story was a very small part of what was heard from the Patriots camp. Most of what I heard all week was jokes about Rob Gronkowski’s ankle.
That is wonderful to have a sense of humor but on the New York Giants side of the ball, I heard a story about Justin Tuck who wears a special wrist band from a child he befriended that dealt with cancer and eventually died from the disease. I, like every other fan, that saw the story looked to see if Justin Tuck had it on during the Super Bowl and true to his word it was on his wrist. That is the kind of story that touches the soul of people. Or I also saw a story about Jason Pierre-Paul’s dad who was blind and has never seen his son play, but listens and cheers for his son every game. The first game that Jason Pierre-Paul’s dad came to was the Super Bowl. They showed him at the game, enjoying the game and listening to the game.
If a person was not a Patriots fan, how could they not love what the New York Giants represented coming up to the game. The New York Giants had player stories that would connect with the hearts of many people who saw them and heard them. Even if someone did not really care if the Giants won or lost, people would connect with a certain player and want them to do well because of their story. I am sure some people as the game continued wanted the Giants to win not because they were fans but because of the connection that person had developed with a certain player, due to these different heart-touching stories.
I can safely say that this has been one of the most enjoyable NFL seasons in a long time. The ups and downs were frequent and it was a great to see some new teams rise up and challenge the veteran teams. The Detroit Lions, The San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, and the Cincinnati Bengals all look to have bright futures ahead of them. Off season is officially here, let the excitement for next season begin today as we dream of another great season next year. Do not look at this as the end but only the beginning of another great year.
This weekend to most sports fan is the biggest weekend of the year. It is Super Bowl Weekend and all of the NFL fans have been waiting all year to see which teams would be the ones to overcome all the odds to land in the big game. This year we have the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. It must be the Northern air that has given both of these teams the will to persevere.
No one could have guessed that these would be the two teams left out of all the 32 NFL teams at the beginning of the year. That being said, no NFL football fan can be disappointed by the matchup. This is a game that some might even call the Heroes versus the Villains. I only say this because New England has developed a reputation of having such a swagger that it truly rubs many fans the wrong way. I have heard so many people say to me lately, “I want anyone to win other than the New England Patriots.” This makes New England the villain that people want to see taken down. What better team to accomplish the goal of stopping New England than the last team that beat them in the Super Bowl?
Is this really how most people see the upcoming Super Bowl Game??
In 2007, New England had gone 18-0 and needed one more game for a perfect season. Everybody saw the writing on the wall, and it was a foregone conclusion New England would not lose the Super Bowl. However, New England happened to play the New York Giants who had got one similar hot streak to this year’s playoff run. The Giants ended up doing the impossible and taking down their own giant in the unbeatable Patriots. The not so distant past.
Fast forward five years and we have a rematch, except this time no one is saying the Patriots is unbeatable. The majority of people are favoring the New York Giants in the game as no one has any faith in the New England Patriots very suspect defense. Fans and some experts are claiming that the Patriots will notch another loss this time around, and it will solidify Eli Manning’s legacy as an elite quarterback.
The game itself has everything a football fan could want; two potent offenses, an NFL elite defense, some rising stars and two of the best quarterbacks in the game– Tom Brady and Eli Manning. With two quarterbacks that surpassed the 5000 yard passing mark, we should see some amazing passes and catches. In addition, we can count on some great defensive plays, and of course as always some Belichick trickery. Bill Belichick definitely gets the Les Miles title of the Mad Hatter in the NFL.
The New England Patriots definitely have a high scoring offense that can put up points on any NFL team. However, the job of scoring will not be such an easy task against a New York Giants defense that is ranked #2 in the post season in total defense. Tom Brady will be under pressure all day from the New York Giants dominant front four which include Osi Umeniyora, Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Chris Canty or Dave Tollefson. Tom Brady will not have time to sit in the pocket all day and pick apart the defense has he has been able to in previous games. Brady will have to get the ball out of his hands quick or suffer the consequences.
Another significant point to take notice of is that Rob Gronkowski, aka “The Gronk” aka Tom Brady’s favorite target is dealing with a high ankle sprain. No matter how much rehab Rob Gronkowski does, he will not be 100 percent when he enters the game on Sunday. I am not saying that Tom Brady cannot adjust to Rob Gronkowski being injured. However, when you are used to having a very reliable option every week and then that option is suddenly very limited or not there at all, Tom Brady’s day will be much harder. It will be interesting to see how the New England Patriots deal with the New York Giants front four rush.
Can “The Gronk” recover in time for the big game on Sunday??
On the other side of the field, we have Eli Manning and the New York Giants. The Patriots do not have the same luxury as the New York Giants with having a dominant front four. The Patriots will have to employ a more conventional blitzing scheme which employs linebackers. Eli Manning was able to pick apart the San Francisco 49ers defense which has superior linebackers and a superior defensive line. I have no doubt that Eli Manning can do quite a bit of damage through the air to the Patriots defense. The only issue that the Giants face is trying to keep up with the Patriots scoring attack. If the game starts to get into a high scoring affair, the New York Giants may be in trouble. I am not sure if the Giants can keep up with the Patriots where defense is an afterthought.
As my readers know I would not leave without giving some sort of prediction. I am going to predict that the New York Giants defense will indeed be able to pressure Tom Brady enough to get him off his normal rhythm. The Giants will win to the score of 31-24 over the Patriots.
Well that is it boys and girls. The final game of the football season is on the horizon and soon we will have a Super Bowl Champion. We have had a great NFL season and even when it is all over we will be immediately thinking about the NFL Draft and next season. Enjoy the Big Game, have a great Super Bowl party or attend one, and I will see everyone on the other side.
By Michelle Zehr
Zehr is a contributing writer for Gold Star Games, a tailgating games company.
The year 2007 was a story of David and Goliath when it came to the Superbowl. The New England Patriots dominated the NFL with an 18-0 record. The Patriots appeared to be unstoppable and were looking to make history. On the other hand, the New York Giants were given very little credit. Vegas and the general public had written the Giants off. The Giants took the long, hard road to the Superbowl, which included a stop at Lambeau Field to take on Brett Favre and the Packers.
Then there was the Superbowl, the Giants put an end to the Patriots’ perfect season. With an amazing defense, an explosive offense and a receiving miracle that occurred when David Tyree caught the ball with the help of his helmet to set up a Plaxico touchdown pass.
Now, back to the present. The Patriots finished the season on top of the AFC. On the other hand, the New York Giants finished fourth in the NFC and had to win a tough road game versus San Francisco to make it to the Superbowl.
This has long been the opportunity Bill Bellcheck and the New England Patriots have been waiting for over the past five years. Bellcheck now has the chance to redeem himself from what was quite possibly the most devastating loss in Superbowl history and earn a fourth Superbowl ring for the New England Patriots’ franchise.
On the other hand, you have Eli Manning, who is looking to legitimize his career by receiving his second Superbowl ring, which would be one more than his big brother, Peyton, has. Manning has the chance to prove himself as an elite quarterback.
We have one team looking for redemption and other team looking to write their place in NFL history as one of the best teams in the past decade. This is bound to be a Superbowl for the ages, one that everyone (whether you like the Giants and/or Patriots or not) will be looking forward to.
Well the weekend is almost here again and that means some great NFL conference Championship action is on the way. This weekend will determine who plays in the NFL Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots will meet for the AFC Championship game. TheSan Francisco49ers and New York Giants will meet for the NFC Championship game. The clash of four best teams in the NFL will begin on Saturday.
The first game this Sunday is between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots. The Baltimore Ravens have one of the best defenses in the NFL and the New England Patriots have one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Baltimore Ravens ended the season ranked the number three defense in the NFL only allowing 288 yards per game to their opponents. In addition, the Ravens have limited opponents to score an average of 16.6 points in a game. The Ravens do not make it an easy task for opponents to put the ball in the end zone.
However, on the other side of the field, the New England Patriots are one of the highest scoring offenses in the NFL. The Patriots seem to have the ability to score at will and literally run up the score on whoever they play. The New England Patriots ended the regular season ranked the number two ranked offense in the NFL averaging 32.1 points a game. While I do not think that the Patriots can put up 32 points on the Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots will definitely score a few times.
Tom Brady is a master at dissecting defenses and once he finds a team weakness, the game is over. Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are nightmare matchups for anyone who tries to cover the prolific tight end duo. Gronkowski will find the end zone at least one time during the game and if “The Gronk” can find the end zone multiple times, we are sure to see the Patriots running out of the Super Bowl tunnel in February. The Baltimore Ravens cannot afford to let the New England tight ends dominate the game. Hopefully, the Baltimore Ravens can disguise their defensive coverage enough to prevent Tom Brady from taking advantage.
Ray Lewis and company have their work cut out for them. The one factor that the Baltimore Ravens have working in their favor, besides their defense, is they have a great running game. Ray Rice is arguably the best running back in the league running the ball and receiving out of the backfield. Rice is capable of taking over a game on his own and allowing the Ravens to run a ball control type of game. Ray Rice ran for 1,346 during the regular season, second most in the NFL. In addition, Ray Rice had an impressive 704 receiving yards. If the Baltimore Ravens can get Ray Rice going, they have a chance of limiting how much Tom Brady sees the field. The Ravens will have to control the clock and have a significantly greater time of possession than the Patriots to come out with the win. Unfortunately, I do not believe the Baltimore Ravens can accomplish this goal. The final score to the game between the Patriots-Ravens game will be 24-17 in favor of the Patriots.
The second game on Sunday is between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants. Joe Montana and Phil Simms will take the field… oh wait…we are 2012, not some throwback game. I had to reminisce for a second because it has been so long since we have seen these two teams play in a NFC Championship game. The San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants are almost mirror images of each other in the type of game that they would like to run each week. Both teams can run the ball and control the time of possession of the game. Both teams have great defenses that can strike fear into opponents and cause turnovers. Before last week, I would have said that the New York Giants have an advantage in the passing game.
However, after seeing Alex Smith play last week I am not sure who is the better quarterback. Eli Manning has proven it more times this season but Smith has played mistake-free football all season long. Alex Smith may not have put up the gaudy passing numbers but Smith gets the job done most weeks. Last week though Alex Smith threw for 299 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Alex Smith even showed that he had an additional dimension to his game by running for a touchdown as well. No one can knock Alex Smith anymore for just being a game manager, Smith can make the throws.
This game will come down to two very important factors. The team the runs the ball better and has less turnovers will win the game. On the running side of the ball, the New York Giants feature Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs. The San Francisco 49ers feature Frank Gore, who every year proves, that he is over his injury plagued seasons. Gore is a fierce downhill runner that has the speed to break for a long score at any time. Gore was the number six running back in the league this year with 1,211 rushing yards. I like the New York Giants running game in the post season but hard to bet against Frank Gore in any game that he plays. The San Francisco 49ers have the edge in the running game.
On the defensive side of the ball, the front four of the New York Giants is one of the best in the league with Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre Paul, Justin Tuck, and Chris Canty. With these four players rushing the offensive line in different formations, most teams will have a tough time having a productive day. The Giants can definitely bring the pressure on opposing quarterbacks and stop the run. The San Francisco 49ers on the other side of the field have Justin Smith along with linebackers Aldon Smith and Patrick Willis. I love what the 49ers are doing on their defensive front but San Francisco still has a good way to go before their defense is on the same level as the New York Giants. That being said, the New York Giants have the edge on defense. In the end, the San Francisco 49ers will win the game due to the play of Frank Gore running the ball well and Alex Smith continuing to prove he deserved his number one draft status in 2005. The San Francisco 49ers will claim victory with a score of 34-31.
This is the final weekend before we reach the big game. It has been quite a long season but a great one. I cannot believe that we almost missed it because of a financial dispute between players and owners. Have to thank the players and owners one more time for getting it all worked out. Playoff action is in full effect and soon we will have our Super Bowl teams. All teams not only need to bring their “A” game but their “A+” game. Let the division champion be crowned.
This past weekend I made the mistake in my judgment of some NFL teams playing. I know that to make it to the NFL Super Bowl game and win the game, a team has to have heart. The team has to be able to overcome adversity and push through to make the clutch plays needed to win games. A team has to be able to overcome the odds and come out on top.
Due to my error in trying to find the teams with heart, I went 0-4 in all of my predictions this past weekend. I know that I cannot be perfect in my predictions but to get all of them wrong was very unusual. Then I realized I was putting too much confidence in teams that I thought would dig down deep inside to claim the victory in this past weekend’s playoff games.
The first game I will talk about is the Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots. I thought that the Denver Broncos would be able to run the ball on the Patriots last ranked NFL defense. I believed that the Denver Broncos could limit the amount of time Tom Brady was on the field. I even considered that the Denver Broncos might be able to slow down the New England Patriots passing game. Everything was in place for some Tebow Time revenge. Then it all fell apart as Tom Brady dismantled the Denver Broncos defense like a bad Lego imitation. The Denver Broncos who played inspired football most of the season, led by Tim Tebow, delivered a truly lackluster performance this weekend. Tom Brady passed for 363 yards and 6 touchdown passes, tying an NFL playoff record. Rob Gronkowski looked unstoppable as he caught 10 passes for 145 yard and three touchdowns. The game resembled what would take place if a top ten ranked college team took on a high school team. The Denver Broncos tried to put up a fight but were clearly outmatched. At one point the game was so out of hand Tom Brady even took over punting duties. The game ended with the New England Patriots winning 45-10 over the Denver Broncos.
The other game between two AFC teams was a closer a game as expected. The Baltimore Ravens and the Houston Texans took the field to battle it out. I considered that the Texans might be able to out play the Ravens. I figured Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels and a great Texans Defense would be enough to take down Ray Lewis and company. However, I did not anticipate that the rookie T.J. Yates would not be able to muster even one touchdown against a Ravens defensive unit comprised of older veterans past their prime. I should have known that Ray Lewis would inspire the Ravens defensive unit to play some of their best ball of their careers.The Ravens gave up 132 yards on the ground to Arian Foster but the passing game of the Houston Texans was limited to 184 yards. Ed Reed and Ladarius Webb both grabbed interceptions in the 4th Quarter to dash all hope of a Texans comeback. On the other side of the field, Joe Flacco managed to throw two touchdowns and those two touchdowns plus two field goals sealed the fate of the Houston Texans with a score of 20-13 in favor of the Baltimore Ravens.
Switching to the NFC action, the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants met on Lambeau Field. The Green Bay Packers came into the game with a record of 15-1 during the regular season. Aaron Rodgers had one of the greatest seasons for a quarterback in NFL history. The Green Bay Packers had everything in place to make it to another Super Bowl. The only problem was that the New York Giants were in the way, looking to deny the Green Bay Packers a chance at a repeat. The Giants accomplished their goal through making all the plays on offense and playing great defense. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers looked completely out of sync. Aaron Rodgers who had been averaging over 350 yards a game was reduced to less than 300 yards. The Giants defense sacked Aaron Rodgers 4 times and intercepted him once. On the other hand, Eli Manning had one of the best games of his season throwing for 330 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. The New York Giants outplayed the Green Bay Packers in every facet of the game. The final score ended up being 37-20 in favor of the New York Giants.
The last game and the most exciting game of the weekend was the New Orleans Saints versus the San Francisco 49ers. I figured that the San Francisco 49ers defense would come to play and be able to hold the Saints to a lower scoring affair than normal. I believed that the 49ers would be able to hold the Saints for a few quarters but New Orleans would eventually pull away from the San Francisco scoring wise. I had no idea that the San Francisco 49ers would unleash their secret weapon, Alex Smith. All season long we never saw the 49ers allow Alex Smith the open up the passing game like this past weekend. Smith proved that he can make all the throws this weekend throwing for 299 passing yards and three touchdowns. Alex Smith also ran for one touchdown on the day. We knew that Drew Brees would come out throwing the ball and he did not disappoint either throwing for 462 yards and 4 touchdowns for the New Orleans Saints. The difference in the game was the amount of turnovers. The Saints had a total of 5 turnovers, including 2 interceptions by Drew Brees. The San Francisco 49ers played virtually mistake free football with only one turnover and Alex Smith threw no interceptions. The New Orleans Saints were still almost able to win the game but a last second touchdown from Alex Smith to Vernon Davis sealed the victory with a final score of 36-32 in favor of the 49ers.
We now have two NFL Division Championship games this weekend and the predictions and analysis will come later in the week. However, I am truly excited to see both games. The Baltimore Ravens versus the New England Patriots and the San Francisco 49ers versus the New York Giants should both provide us great football action. I only have one thing to say to all my readers, “Are you ready for some Division Championship football?”
The first game that we will see this weekend will be between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Houston Texans. I am impressed by Andy Dalton, AJ Green, and the Bengals defense. However, I am more impressed by the Houston Texans number one ranked defense, Arian Foster, Ben Tate, and Andre Johnson. I do not believe the Bengals have enough firepower to overcome the Texans defense and keep up scoring wise with the Texans. I will predict that the Houston Texans win this game 31-14.
The second game that will be played on Saturday will be between Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints. If the Detroit Lions were playing some other NFC team, excluding the Green Bay Packers, I would say they have a chance to win the game. Unfortunately, the Lions have drawn the short straw and have to play the New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees and company will comfortably and easily outscore the Detroit Lions. The Lions are a good team with a nice high-flying act featuring none other than Calvin Johnson. The problem is the Lions high-flying act pales in comparison to the Drew Brees air show. The Saints silence the Lions roar with a final score of 42-28
On to Sunday’s games and the first game that we will see on Sunday will be the Atlanta Falcons versus the New York Giants. This will be the closest game of the whole weekend. We have two teams that play like an elite NFL team on some days and look dismal on others. This means that which ever team between the Falcons and the Giants brings their “A” game on Sunday, will win the game. The New York Giants have been playing better as of late and so the edge in the game goes to them. That does not mean that we immediately count Atlanta out of the running. The Falcons have an “X” factor in a running back named Michael Turner. If Michael Turner gets going and the Atlanta Falcons can control the tempo of the game, we could see the Falcons advancing to the next week instead of the Giants. In the end, I believe that intangibles of Eli Manning and his ability to play at times like his big brother Peyton Manning, will be the difference. The Giants will win the battle in the 4th quarter with a final score of 28-24
The last game will be one of the most interesting. Interesting because we have no idea what will really happen. The Denver Broncos take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the last game of the weekend. I am not sure which Broncos we will see though. I want to see the 4th quarter come-back, winning Broncos come out and play their hearts out, giving them chance to win the game. I fear we may see the not so productive Broncos and the team will get blown out. No matter which Denver Broncos team shows up, the result should be the same. The Pittsburgh Steelers will come out with the win. The Steelers defense is too good to allow Tim Tebow and company to work any “Tebow Time” magic in the 4th quarter. Even with Big Ben not playing at full strength and Rashard MendenHall out for the playoffs, The Pittsburgh Steelers will score enough points to win. The final score of this game will be 21-7 in the favor of Pittsburgh.
There you have it, a complete preview of the first weekend of NFL playoff football. The regular season may be over but now the real battle starts as NFL teams try to win each week. No mistakes are allowed, any team that loses is done. To the victor goes the spoils and a chance to play another day. Time for each NFL playoff team to prove they belong in the playoffs and the pretenders to be eliminated. Now is the time for teams to go after it all or be sent home to watch television. The stakes are high and the winner will be greatly rewarded.