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I hate Tom Brady!

October 28, 2011 By: Admin Category: Players, Pre-Game Analyses

To paraphrase the Apollo 13 astronauts, “Pittsburgh, we have a problem”.

Our problems is 6’4″, weighs 225 lbs., and goes by the name “Brady”.

That’s right, I’m talking about Tom Brady.  You know him, don’t you?  He’s the pesky New England Patriots quarterback who has an annoying habit of beating the Steelers.

I once wrote an article called I hate Bill Belichick“.  That article was the inspiration for this one.  You see, I do hate Tom Brady.  Hate, hate, hate!

I’ve never actually met Tom Brady.  He’s never caused me physical harm.  He’s never insulted my mother.  I’ve never heard him refer to anyone using a racial slur.  He doesn’t kill kittens or puppies.  As far as I know, he’s a decent guy.  But I still hate him.

The reason that I hate Tom Brady has nothing to do with anything that he’s done to me personally.  Rather, it’s based on what he does to my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers; he beats them.

Tom Brady is 6-1 against the Steelers.  That means he’s beaten them 86% of the time.  $#@&^%#!!!!!!!!

Brady has beaten the Steelers in New England.  And he’s beaten them in Pittsburgh.  He’s beaten them in the regular season.  And he’s beaten them in the playoffs.

The guy I hate.

Brady has thrown for over 2,000 yards against the Steelers.  He’s tossed 14 touchdown passes against them.  And while throwing all of those passes, he’s seldom been sacked or intercepted.  See why I hate him?

The last time the Steelers faced the Patriots, Brady threw for 350 yards.  He tossed 3 touchdown passes during that game, and he ran for a 4th TD.  Grrrrrrr!!!  I’m getting mad just thinking about it.

As much as it hurts to admit it, Tom Brady is one of the most cerebral quarterbacks in the NFL.  He dissects defenses the way high school biology students dissect frogs.

Under Brady’s leadership, the Patriots have scored 30 points or more in 13 of their last 14 games.  The Patriots are ranked 1st in the NFL in passing offense, averaging over 350 yards per game.  So I’m sure that it’s not just Steelers fans who hate Brady.

But it’s the Steelers who have to face Brady this weekend, so our hatred probably runs deepest right now.

I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’ve come up with the only logical solution to the problem.  Tom Brady must die!

Now where did I put my friend Vito’s telephone number?  He’ll handle this problem quietly, and permanently.

Go Steelers!


Steelers vs. Patriots Preview

October 27, 2011 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

This Sunday, the Steelers will begin the most difficult 2-game stretch of the 2011 season.  They face the New England Patriots this weekend, and then they’ll face the Baltimore Ravens the following week.  The Steelers will host both games at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

Both the Patriots (5-1) and the Ravens (4-2) are in the top 10 in most NFL power rankings.  The Steelers are also in the top 10 in those rankings.  In fact, these 3 teams are the top 3 teams in the AFC in most rankings.  So the next two games will say a lot about AFC supremacy.

The problems with facing the Patriots is that they always seem to have the Steelers’ number.  The Patriots have won 5 of their last 6 games in Pittsburgh (including 2 AFC Championship games).

Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady is 6-1 against the Steelers during his career, and he always poses a difficult challenge for the Steelers.

The problem with facing Brady is that he violates one of the Steelers’ defensive philosophies.  The Steelers believe in stopping the run to force their opponent to become one-dimensional. They believe that if they can force the opponent to pass the ball, they have a high probability of causing turnovers and winning the game.

However, Tom Brady and the Patriots seem to embrace that challenge.  They seldom run against the Steelers, and are content to throw on just about every play.  They use the short passing game in place of their running game, and challenge the Steelers to stop them.  And Brady almost never throws an interception.

The Patriots rank 1st in the NFL in overall and passing offense, with averages of 474.5 yards and 350.5, respectively.  Brady leads the AFC in passing, and wide receiver Wes Welker leads the NFL in receptions.

Welker is always challenging, but the bigger challenge for the Steelers will likely be Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski.  Gronkowski is ranked 23rd in the NFL in receiving yards, and he already has 5 touchdowns.  That’s more TD catches than Steve Smith, Larry Fitzgerald, DeSean Jackson, A.J. Green, Jason Whitten, Roddy White, Reggie Wayne, or Vincent Jackson.  Moreover, Gronkowski caught 3 TD passes the last time the Steelers faced the Patriots.

Fortunately for the Steelers, the Patriots defense is ranked 32nd in the NFL against the pass.  That’s dead last.  They’re allowing their opponents to pass for 322 yards per game.

If the Steelers are smart, they’ll take a page from the Patriots’ playbook, and challenge the Pats to stop their passing game.  Frankly, I don’t believe that the Patriots’ defensive backs have the speed to stay with Steelers’ receivers Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders.

Steelers fans don’t usually expect to see the Steelers offense engage in high scoring shootouts.  But in this game, that may be exactly the formula that’s needed to win.  And frankly, I think it’s the type of game that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians dreams about.

Arians loves the passing game.  Loves, loves, loves!  In fact, if he could never call a running play, I think he’d do that.

If Arians is allowed to unleash his sprinters so Ben Roethlisberger can launch long bombs, Arians will likely die of happiness.  Moreover, the Steelers will likely win the game.

Steelers vs. Cardinals Preview

October 21, 2011 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

The Steelers travel to Arizona to face the “Steelers West” this Sunday.  This will be the first time the two teams have met since they squared off in Super Bowl XLIII.

The “Steelers West” (also known by some as the Arizona Cardinals) are always an unusual opponent to face.  That’s because they look like an offshoot of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  And in some ways, they are.

We all know that former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is now the head coach of the Cardinals.  Former Steelers assistant head coach and offensive line coach Russ Grimm holds the same position for the Cardinals.  Former Steelers assistant coach Ray Horton is now the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator.  Former Steelers cornerback Deshea Townsend is now their defensive backs coach.

Former Steelers linebackers Joey Porter and Clark Haggans both play for the Cardinals.  Most Steelers fans probably thought they were both retired.  But they’re actually playing in Arizona.  So is former Steeler Nick Eason.  And Crezdon Butler (though he’s on injured reserve).  If Alan Faneca hadn’t chosen to retire during the off-season, he’d probably still be on the Cardinals’ roster as well.

I know they say that “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery”, but what the Cardinals have done verges on the ridiculous.

Despite emulating the Steelers’ roster, the Cardinals haven’t been able to emulate their results.   They ended the 2010 season with a meager 5-11 record.  They’re 1-4 this season, and are one of the worst teams in the NFC.

The Cardinals’ problems began with the retirement of quarterback Kurt Warner.  Ken Whisenhunt cut Matt Leinart, the supposed heir apparent, and has had a revolving door of starting quarterbacks since then.

Most recently, the Cardinals signed Philadelphia Eagles’ backup QB Kevin Kolb to be their starter.  At best, Kolb has been adequate.  He’s thrown 6 interceptions, while throwing only 5 TD passes.  In general, teams like to see their quarterback throw more touchdowns than interceptions.  Kolb may want to work on that.  He may also want to work on improving his QB Rating, which is only 77.2.

Make no mistake, the Cardinals have weapons.  Former Pitt Panther wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is still one of the most dangerous receiving threats in the NFL.  He’ll give the Steelers’ secondary a considerable challenge.  And running back Beanie Wells is averaging 4.8 yards per carry, and has 6 touchdowns in only 5 games.

But despite their impressive list of former Steelers players and coaches, the Cardinals have little chance of actually beating the Steelers.  They have a mediocre offense, and a defense that’s even worse.

The Steelers never seem to blow anybody out, regardless of how bad their opponent is.  So the game will probably be close.  But the Steelers should come away with a win, and a 5-2 record, while the Cardinals sink to 1-5, and Ken Whisenhunt finds himself on the hot seat.

I guess copying the Steelers can only get you so far.


Steelers vs. Jaguars Preview

October 14, 2011 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

The Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend at Heinz Field.  This renews an old rivalry from the AFC Central Division.  The Steelers and Jaguars had one of the fiercest, and most physical, rivalries in the NFL back then.  In fact, Steelers/Jaguars was, at that time, the equivalent of what Steelers/Ravens is today.

But those days are long gone.  The current Jaguars have a 1-4 record, and seem to have been completely declawed.

The Jaguars are the final game of a 4-game stretch against the AFC South.  The Jags would likely be in last place in the AFC South were it not for the injury that has kept Peyton Manning out of the Indianapolis Colts’ lineup.  Without Manning, the Colts are winless, and are one game behind the hapless Jaguars.

The problems for the Jaguars started when they decided to cut starting quarterback David Garrard during training camp.  In Garrard’s place, the Jaguars are starting rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

It’s difficult for any rookie quarterback in the NFL.  But when you play for a team like Jacksonville that is almost totally devoid of offensive talent, it makes things doubly difficult.

Gabbert is averaging only 152 yards per game passing.  That’s REALLY bad.  In fact, it’s the lowest average of any starting quarterback in the NFL.  And to make things even worse for Gabbert, he’ll be facing the Steelers’ defense which is ranked #1 in the NFL against the pass.

Fortunately for Gabbert, he will have the option of handing the ball off to running back Maurice Jones-Drew.  Jones-Drew is one of the best runners in the NFL.  He’s ranked 4th in the NFL in rushing yards, and he’s having a much better season than any of the RB’s the Steelers have faced so far.

“There’s probably no one in football that means more to their team than Maurice Jones-Drew, in terms of the things he’s capable of doing and the things he does,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “When you watch him on tape, he’s a very physical runner. He has great vision, power and speed.”

We know that the Steelers have had difficulty stopping the run this season, so Jones-Drew should provide a challenge for them.  Thankfully, the Steelers seemed to remember how to stop the run last week.  If they play like they did last week, then stopping Jones-Drew will be a real possibility.  But if they play like they played prior to last week, then they may be in for a long day.

Fortunately for the Steelers, Aaron Smith is still hurt, so Ziggy Hood will get the start at left defensive end.  Ziggy’s presence strengthens the Steelers run defense, and it also seems to help LaMarr Woodley.  Both of those players will need to have a solid game in order to stop Jones-Drew.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Jaguars actually have a pretty good defense.  They’re ranked #8 in the NFL.  However, they should have difficulty stopping the Steelers’ high-powered offense.  The Jaguars’ secondary is suspect, and I think they’ll have difficulty matching up with the Steelers’ speedy young receivers.

This game isn’t likely to stir up memories of the old AFC Central battles between these two teams.  But it should result in a win by the Steelers, and that’s all that really matters.

Steelers vs. Titans: Key Match-ups

October 08, 2011 By: Admin Category: Pre-Game Analyses

The Steelers will face the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.  Obviously, this will be a battle between two football teams.  However, there are several specific match-ups that may play the biggest role in determining the outcome of the game.

These are the key match-ups to watch when the Steelers face the Titans:

Lawrence Timmons vs. Michael Roos

Lawrence Timmons will be replacing James Harrison at outside linebacker this week.  Timmons was originally drafted to play outside linebacker.  Moreover, he has filled in for both LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison at outside linebacker before.  So he does have experience playing the outside linebacker position in the NFL.

The problem is that Timmons will be facing Titans left tackle Michel Roos.  At 6’7″, 320 lb., Roos is a load.  More importantly, he’s one of the best, and most consistent, left tackles in the NFL.

Timmons is definitely not going to overpower Roos.  But perhaps his speed will be enough to overcome Roos.

Advantage:  Titans

Ike Taylor vs. Nate Washington

Former Steelers receiver Nate Washington is the leading pass catcher for the Titans.  With receiver Kenny Britt out with an injury, an even larger portion of the receiving burden will fall to Washington.

Fortunately, Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor is more than up to the task of covering Washington.  Ike has been playing at an extraordinary level this season.  In fact, other than Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor has probably been the most consistent member of the Steelers’ defense.

Ike is more than up to the task of shutting down Washington.  In fact, I predict that Nate is in for a very long day on Sunday.

Advantage:  Steelers

Max Starks vs. Jason Jones

Big Max was signed off the streets earlier this week, and he already finds himself in the Steelers’ starting lineup.  Jason Jones isn’t particularly good, but if Starks’ cardio isn’t up to par, he may make Jones look like Reggie White.

Advantage:  TBD

Mike Wallace vs. Courtland Finnegan

Courtland Finnegan is a speedy cornerback who is going to have his hands full going against Mike Wallace.  Finnegan is fast, but Wallace is faster.

Finnegan is a former Pro Bowl and All-Pro cornerback, so he’s not to be taken lightly.  However, he’s best known for talking trash.

Let’s see how much trash he talks after Wallace burns him for a long touchdown or two.

Advantage: Steelers

Steelers run “D” vs. Chris Johnson

The Steelers defense has been suspect (to put it mildly) against the run.

Titans’ running back Chris Johnson is…………..Chris Johnson.  Need I say more?

Advantage: Titans

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