Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’

Post NFL season prediction examination

February 11, 2011 Leave a comment

As the NFL season is now at an end, it’s time to see how pathetic my pre-season predictions were which you can see in this previous post from September –

Well, here are how the standings actually finished, with my pre-season prediction in brackets:

AFC East

1. New England Patriots 14-2 (12-4 – 2 games out, not bad)

2. New York Jets 11-5 (9-7 – 2 games out, not bad but underestimated)

3. Miami Dolphins 7-9 (8-8 – 1 game out, pretty good)

4. Buffalo Bills 4-12 (5-11 – 1 game out, ok but a bit generous with the wins)

AFC North

1. Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4 (8-8 – 4 games out, what was I drinking?)

2. Baltimore Ravens 12-4 (13-3 – 1 game out)

3. Cleveland Browns 5-11 (3-13 – 2 games out, not bad)

4. Cincinnati Bengals 4-12 (8-8 – 4 games out, wow they were bad)

AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts 10-6 (13-3 – 3 games out, can I blame injuries?)

2. Jacksonville Jaguars 8 -8 (7-9 – 1 game out, alright)

3. Houston Texans 6-10 (8-8 – 2 games out, not bad but I thought this was to conservative)

4. Tennessee Titans 6-10 (10-6 – 4 games out, a rusty like Smith prediction)

AFC West

1. Kansas City Chiefs 10-6 (4-12 – 6 games out, those Chiefs are fast…)

2. San Diego Chargers 9-7 (11-5 – 2 games out, not bad but I’ll blame injuries again)

3. Oakland Raiders 8-8 (5-11 – 3 games out, underestimated)

4. Denver Broncos 4-12 (6-10 – 2 games out, not bad but overestimated)

NFC East

1. Philadelphia Eagles 10-6 (8-8 – 2 games out, not bad, this was made when Kolb was the guy)

2. New York Giants 10-6 (7-9 – 3 games out, can’t remember my reasoning for this)

3. Dallas Cowboys 6-10 (11-5 – 5 games out, doubt I was alone with this poor judgement)

4. Washington Redskins 6-10 (6-10 – NAILED IT, I love a nice predictable franchise with no drama…)

NFC North

1. Chicago Bears 11-5 (4-12 – 7 games out, yeah I’m sorry Chicago)

2. Green Bay Packers 10-6 (13-3 – 3 games out, not the worst ‘3 games out’ ever)

3. Detroit Lions 6-10 (5-11 – 1 game out, pretty good)

4. Minnesota Vikings 6-10 (11-5 – 5 games out, bye bye Brett)

NFC South

1. Atlanta Falcons 13-3 (9-7 – 4 games out, poorly underestimated)

2. New Orleans Saints 11-5 (12-4 – 1 game out, pretty good)

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10-6 (3-13 – 7 games out, maybe worse than my Chicago prediction)

4. Carolina Panthers 2-14 (6-10 – 4 games out, massively overestimated)

NFC West

1. Seattle Seahawks 7-9 (9-7 – 2 games out, not bad and I didn’t know anyone else picking them for the division)

2. St Louis Rams 7-9 (5-11 – 2 games out, not bad but clearly a bit better than I thought)

3. San Francisco 49ers 6-10 (9-7 – 3 games out, not good)

4. Arizona Cardinals 5-11 (8-8 – 3 games out, ‘3 games out’ also the Cardinals quarterback philosophy)

In terms of the playoffs, I did predict the Packers to reach the Super Bowl but I had them losing to the Colts so I can’t really claim to much of a victory in that. Anyway, roll on the new season and lets sort this Collective Bargaining Agreement out and get back to the action.

NFL clamps down on hits, what’s next, touch football?

October 21, 2010 2 comments

The recent hot topic in the NFL is the matter of illegal hits by players and how the league are looking to stamp out these illegal hits to reduce the risks of serious injuries amongst players. The league showed their current tough stance on the matter by handing out three huge fines to James Harrison, Dunta Robinson and Brandon Meriweather hitting them hard at the wallet after they hit hard to the helmet. In total, 11 players have been fined this week and the NFL have come out firing with these fines and the league has stated that fines will continue for dangerous hits with the possibility of players also being suspended.

Steelers linebacker Harrison suffered the largest fine for an illegal hit this week

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Harrison’s fine has been the biggest talking point after the player stated he would consider retiring from the game as a result of it because he didn’t feel as if he could continue to play if he wasn’t allowed to play how has done since a child. Harrison has developed into one of the premier defenders in the NFL over the last few seasons, becoming renowned for his strength and pace to beat blockers and make big hits on ball carriers and the quarterback. However, the league decided that his hit to the helmet of Cleveland Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi deemed a $75,000 fine although he was not penalized during the game for the hit. Harrison was also fined $5,000 dollars earlier in the season for a hit on Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young. Robinson and Meriweather were both fined $50,000 dollars for their hits. Meriweather was also penalized during the game with a 15 yard penalty for his helmet to helmet hit on Baltimore tight end Todd Heap and has since apologised for the hit stating that he would “play within the rules” from now on.

Clearly vexed by the fine, Harrison was excused from Steelers practice on Wednesday giving him time to sort out his emotions and so he himself could decide if retiring was what he wanted to do, although the Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin expected him back the next day, and Harrison did return to the team in preparation for the weekends game in Miami.

To many, including myself, Harrison’s reaction to his fine may seem a little over the top. Although the fine is undeniably huge, the reasons for it are understandable. In the last season or two, head and neck injuries and in particular concussions have become the big worries for the NFL as they look to increase protection to players. The rules on hits to defenseless receivers and helmet to helmet tackles have changed in an attempt to increase safety and these fines and threat of suspensions demonstrates how seriously the NFL is taking the matter.

Nobody wants to see players seriously injured during games, and the NFL will always try to improve safety to players, especially on the back of a spate of similar injuries or a major incident such as the Kevin Everett injury in 2007. Everett suffered a fracture and dislocation of the cervical spine when playing on special teams for the Buffalo Bills that was described as life threatening by doctors. However Everett did make good strides in his recovery and managed to walk out at the Bills final home game of the same season just over three months later. After Everett’s injury, the league decided that system teams used to block for kick returner’s, using a wedge made up of a number players charging down the field, was to dangerous and the rule was changed to limit the number of players allowed to form a blocking wedge to 2 players.

Although anyone can understand that player safety is of paramount importance, the NFL has been built upon tough defenders who strike fear into the hearts of opponents because they know they are going to be hit, and hit hard. Harrison is not the only defender to come out and express his disappointment and concerns about the new hard-line taken by the NFL. A number of the best defensive players, and unsurprisingly the hardest hitters in the league are worried about how the game is developing. Baltimore Ravens linebacker told that the way things are going “the game will be diluted very quickly.” Lewis has always been a fearsome defender and he has expressed that he won’t be changing anything about his game because of the league’s official view. “My opinion is play the game like that game is supposed to be played, and whatever happens, happens”.

Another veteran defender, Arizona Cardinals’ Joey Porter told There’s no more hitting hard. That’s what our game is about. It’s a gladiator sport”. A number of other players voiced their concerns to including Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman “”What they’re trying to say — ‘we’re protecting the integrity’ — no, you’re not…It’s ruining the integrity. It’s not even football anymore. We should just go out there and play two-hand touch Sunday if we can’t make contact” and Miami linebacker Channing Crowder “If I get a chance to knock somebody out, I’m going to knock them out and take what they give me,” Crowder said. “They give me a helmet, I’m going to use it”.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league isn't changing rules, simply enforcing them.

Players are clearly worried as to how the league officials are fighting against illegal hits. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell stated to “It is incumbent on all of us to support the rules we have in place to protect players” and the leagues executive vice president, Ray Anderson agreed that tough football was what fans wanted and what the league wanted and that they are not trying to get away from that, but what the league wants is to remove the illegal and dangerous hits that can put players careers at risk.

No doubt this debate will continue throughout the season and there will probably be more fines and punishments handed out to players by the league. The debate itself simply adds to another problem to the negotiations for the new collective bargaining agreement for next season, causing more worries that there will not be any football to debate about next season.

One thing the league must do is maintain a consistent and fair approach to the punishments they intend to give out. The legality of a hit should not be judged on the outcome of that hit. If a player is injured because of a hit, it does not automatically become an illegal hit. Regardless of whether an injury occurs or not, there should be a clear distinction between the legal and the illegal.

The NFL has a long history of violent and aggressive play that has contributed to its success, not only in America but across the globe. Many fans are attracted to the ferocity of the game and whenever you see a big hit laid on a ball carrier, there is a collective gasp of awe followed by huge cheers around the stadium. I agree that it is important to try to protect players wherever possible but if players are worried of receiving serious repercussions for performing the big tackles, there is a chance that the game will become a slightly watered down version of what it once was.

Defense Wins Championships?

October 14, 2010 Leave a comment

So long a cliché in the NFL, the statement ‘defense wins championships’ has those who believe it and those who refute it. A number of NFL pundits and fans will say that defense will give you a chance, but a team needs to put up points if they are going to win. However, regardless of your view on this defensive philosophy, you can’t ignore what is happening after the first 5 weeks this season.


In terms of giving up points per game, the top 6 defenses in the league are:


  1. Pittsburgh Steelers               12.5
  2. Atlanta Falcons                       14
  3. Kansas City Chiefs                 14.2
  4. Baltimore Ravens                  14.4
  5. Chicago Bears                         14.8
  6. New York Jets                        16.2


The 6 best records so far this season:


  1. Baltimore Ravens                 4-1
  2. Atlanta Falcons                     4-1
  3. Chicago Bears                         4-1
  4. New York Jets                        4-1
  5. Kansas City Chiefs                 3-1
  6. Pittsburgh Steelers               3-1


Notice a pattern here? At the moment, the teams with the best defenses are the best teams in the league. An obvious statement maybe? Well, to win games, they need to score points. Do they have the 6 best offenses as well? The simple answer is no. The top ranked offensive team in points per game out of these 6 are the New York Jets (4th, 27 ppg). As for the rest, Atlanta Falcons (10th, 22.6 ppg), Pittsburgh Steelers (12th, 21.5 ppg), Kansas City Chiefs (19th, 19.2 ppg), Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears (joint 22nd, 18.4 ppg).


Other than the Jets, and to a lesser extent the Falcons, these teams have been winning with great defense whilst having just enough on offense. If the Steelers defense hadn’t started so well, Ben Roethlisberger could well have returned to a 0-4 or 1-3 team.


There are two other teams sitting at a .750 record and they are the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, both at 3-1. The Patriots currently average the most points per game in the NFL.


Unlike the top defenses, having an offense that puts points on the board hasn’t necessarily led to success so far this year. Of the top 6, there are the Jets at 4-1 and Patriots 3-1. There are however two teams with losing records in the San Diego Chargers (2-3) who are averaging 28 points per game and the Detroit Lions (1-4) averaging 25.2. The Lions stats have been skewed with them putting up 44 points in their win over St Louis, but they still averaged 20 points per game before this, putting them ahead of the Chiefs, Ravens and Bears offenses.


Having great offenses has always proved successful throughout the years, especially in recent times with teams like the Colts, Saints and Patriots dominating the league with their offenses. For instance, looking at last season the Saints won the Super Bowl with the 20th ranked defense in the league.


Maybe this season, the cliché becomes a reality and defense really does win championships. Maybe the high powered offensive teams such as the Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints will get back to some consistent form and win games regardless of their defenses.


However, if the season continues as it has begun, who’s to say we won’t see a Super Bowl involving the Jets and the Falcons or the Steelers and the Bears battling to see who can limit the other teams scoring the best.