Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
"Last Team Standing"
Saturday, October 27, 2007
History Demonstrates That Patriots' Fans Should Root For a Loss
While the Patriots are certainly the best team in football right now, it’s worth reminding folks that the best team doesn’t always reach the Super Bowl, much less win it.
One need look no further than recent history: Last year the Colts won the Super Bowl but the Chargers were clearly the class of the league. In 2005 the Colts were tops, yet the Steelers knocked them out in the divisional round en route to a Super Bowl title. In 2004, Pittsburgh posted a 15-1 regular season mark, but the Patriots walked away with the Super Bowl title.
This is a “tradition,” if you will, that goes back a long way. Many Steelers’ fans regard their 1976 team as the best in franchise history. That year Pittsburgh rolled into the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak in which the defense posted six shutouts and allowed an average of three--that’s right, three!--points per game. Yet, a third consecutive Super Bowl appearance proved to be elusive.
Of course, some will argue that this Patriots’ offense is so good that it makes New England unstoppable. Not so fast. Recall that the 1998 Minnesota Vikings (led by then-rookie Randy Moss) hold the record for most points (556) scored in a season, yet that team bowed out of the playoffs in its first playoff game. And it goes without saying that a major injury to Brady or several of New England’s key receivers could dramatically compromise the team’s effectiveness on offense.
While it might seem counterintuitive, New England’s chances of winning a Super Bowl would be greatly enhanced if it lost a game … and better sooner rather than later. (Preferably the loss shouldn't come against Indy, however, as that could have implications for home field advantage). Teams that are undefeated as late as December have to contend with additional scrutiny and media attention, neither of which is conducive to winning a championship. Plus, a loss would remind New England that it is not invincible.
Let’s assume for a second that the Patriots are 16-0 heading into the playoffs. What happens if New England falls behind early in its first playoff game? Will the team play “tight” knowing that an undefeated season could all be for naught? Will playoff opponents play like they have nothing to lose, since everyone will be expecting the Pats to romp?
That’s why the best thing that could happen to the Patriots is a loss. Recall that the 1984 San Francisco 49ers finished 18-1 en route to a Super Bowl title. One might argue that the key game was a Week 7 home loss to the Steelers, which took the undefeated season option off the table and enabled a much smoother ride to the Super Bowl.
The Patriots’ players can’t play to lose, but that shouldn’t stop New England fans from rooting for a single defeat.
Friday, October 26, 2007
Bengals: What are the Chances...?
Having said all that, Steelers' fans still have at least two good reasons to be worried about this game. First, even without Henry the Bengals still have the kind of offensive firepower that is capable of gouging the Steelers' pass defense. An elite veteran QB like Carson Palmer can do a lot of damage with the receivers he has at his disposal, and with the exception of New England and Indianapolis no passing offense presents more matchup problems for the Steelers' "D" than that of the Bengals. Second, Pittsburgh will need to match the Bengals' intensity, as Cincy will be treating this contest as its biggest game of the season. If Pittsburgh is a little 'flat' (as was the case at Arizona and at Denver), the outcome is likely to be unfavorable.
Ultimately, The Steelyard believes the Steelers will emerge victorious, but we don't feel strongly about it. We give the Steelers a 55 percent chance of defeating the Bengals.
"What are the Chances ...?" is 5-1 this season and 18-4 all-time.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Mid-week Steelers' news from Pro Football Weekly
Click here to read PFW's "The Way We Hear It" (AFC North); this week's Steelers' blurb features KR Allen Rossum.
Click for Cans (reprise)
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Steelers Fans Should Know Better
First, Pittsburgh did not change its identity this past Sunday. The Steelers' offense did what is does best nowadays, which is to move the ball through the air. While the unenlightened national media continues to portray the Steelers as a run-first team, Steelers' fans should know better. All season long the Steelers have been a pass-first team (and the same was true during the Super Bowl year). More often than not, the pass-oriented approach works; Pittsburgh builds a lead through the air and then switches to a run-oriented attack in the second half (thereby padding its rushing yardage totals). This approach didn't work particularly well versus Denver, but I didn't hear anyone complaining after Pittsburgh's opening drive, which was virtually run-free and ended in a touchdown. The fact is, Denver played with more passion and that's why it won the game. Let's not blame the Steelers' game plan.
If fans want something to worry about perhaps they should question why the team has failed to match its opponents' intensity in two straight road games. It's no surprise the team failed to match Arizona's intensity; for all intents and purposes that game was the Cardinals' Super Bowl. But the loss to Denver was a mild surprise, hence the first "loss" of the season for "What are the Chances...?" (5-1, 18-4 all-time).
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Broncos: What are the Chances...?
Bottom line: Denver possesses a significant home field advantage, but Pittsburgh is a more talented and healthier team and should emerge victorious unless it commits an inordinate number of penalties and turnovers. The Steelyard estimates' the Steelers' chance of success at 70 percent.
"What are the Chances...?" is 5-0 this season and 18-3 all-time.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Roethlisberger's composure praised
On a different note, today is the sixth anniversary of former New York Jets safety Damien Robinson's arrest for possession of an assault rifle in the parking lot of Giants Stadium prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins.
Click here to read more about that bizarre incident.
Labels: Ben Roethlisberger
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Big Ben moves up on MVP meter
Scout's eye on the Steelers
Meanwhile, today is also the anniversary of the "still chopping wood" ax incident, which occured in the Jacksonville Jaguars' locker room four years ago today. Click here to read about the circumstances surrounding one of the strangest football injuries of all-time.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 0
"What are the Chances ...?" is now 5-0 on the season and 18-3 all-time.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Seahawks: What are the Chances...?
But even though there is good reason to like the Seahawks, one can’t forget that the Steelers still have Roethlisberger playing quarterback, and Big Ben figures to play considerably better than he did during Super Bowl XL, when his nerves--understandably--got the better of him. It’s also worth noting that historically, the home team has dominated this series, with the Steelers owning a 5-2 edge in games played in Pittsburgh.
The Steelyard wouldn’t be surprised if Sunday’s game is vaguely reminiscent of the ugly Super Bowl game, as many of the core players remain from those teams. And while we’re not entirely comfortable with this prediction, we think the Steelers will somehow find a way to prevail. That’s why we’re giving the Steelers a 55 percent chance of beating the 'Hawks.
* “What are the Chances…?” is 4-0 this season and 17-3 all-time.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Click for Cans 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Advance word on forthcoming Rooney book
But to me the most interesting item concerns the 2004 draft. Rooney writes that with Eli Manning and Philip Rivers off the board early in the first round “our people seem to have focused on Shawn Andrews, a big offensive tackle from Arkansas as our likely number-one pick…. But when out turn came, I couldn’t bear the thought of passing on another great quarterback prospect the way we had passed on Dan Marino in 1983, so I steered the conversation around to [Ben] Roethlisberger. After some more talk, we came to a consensus and picked Roethlisberger.”
All I can say is, Way to go, Dan! It would have been foolish to take a right tackle over Big Ben, especially since the Steelers were badly in need of a long-term solution at the QB position. I’ve always believed that when a team has a chance to select a potential franchise quarterback it has to seize the opportunity--particularly a team like the Steelers, which rarely has a chance to select in the top 10 of the draft. In my opinion, the Steelers have been too quick to pass on quarterbacks over the years. For instance, back in 2000 the Steelers had the opportunity to trade the 8th overall pick (used to take Plaxico Burress) for two of the Jets’ first-round picks (one of which could have been used on Chad Pennington). Selecting Pennington would have been a worthwhile risk back in the Kordell Stewart era.
Labels: Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Cowher, Chad Pennington, Dan Marino, Dan Rooney, Eli Manning, My 75 Years With the Pittsburgh Steelers and the NFL, Philip Rivers, Plaxico Burress, Shawn Andrews, Tom Donahoe