Tag Archives: Ben Rothlisberger

NFL Divisional Playoffs: Steelers vs Broncos (Preview)

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Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6) vs Denver Broncos (12-4)

January 17th 4:40 PM ET/ 3:40 Central

Last Saturday’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals was not only impressive, great & epic, it proved to be costly as well. Scoreboard wise the Steelers might’ve won 18-16 but in the minds of many this upcoming game against the Broncos is where the Steelers injury riddled season ends.

Healthy, the Steelers were/are an offensive juggernaut not too many if any teams would like to face. They posses not only an All-Pro Quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger but also an All-Pro Running Back in Le’Veon Bell & an All-Pro Reciever in Antonio Brown. They also have guys like Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant & Heath Miller who can make plays as well. Oh, and the Steelers also have a legit guy backing up Bell in DeAngelo Williams.

The bad thing about what I just listed is….The stars are hurt….

Ben Roethlisberger has a separated shoulder. (Injured in the Cincy game.)

Antonio Brown has a concussion so he’s out for the game. (Injured in the Cincy game.)

And Le’Veon Bell has been out since Week 8 with a season ending knee injury. (Injured in a game against Cincy actually.)

Even backup running back DeAngelo Williams is out this week due to a foot injury.

Tough luck.

The Broncos on the other hand are a lot more healthy.

Even with the inconsistent play at quarterback this season (Peyton Manning & Brock O) the Denver Broncos were still pretty damn dominant in part because of their defense.

On defense guys like DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray, Derek Wolfe & Von Miller (linebackers/ defensive ends) can rush the quarterback while guys like Aqib Talib & Chris Harris Jr. can lock down the opposing teams’ receivers.

From top to bottom the Denver Broncos are the scariest defense in football.

On the season Denver has 52.0 sacks, 14int, 25 forced fumbles (13 recovered), two blocked kicks & 5 defensive TDs….

Prediction: bronx win 24-13

No Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell & DeAngelo Williams is going to hurt the Steelers ultimately. Throw in the fact that they have half of Ben & I don’t see them having much of a chance…. Peyton could still very much throw the game away. But that’s highly unlikely.

AFC North Preview

  1.   Cleveland Browns

The Browns have been all over the place in the past 3 years. Overhauls in coaching staffs, player personnel, and the entire Johnny Manziel factor has brought a lot more attention to the Browns than I can remember in quite some time. None of it positive. I don’t like anything in particular about this team even last year but somehow they were in the playoff race much longer than anyone expected them to be. Crowell was a positive on the offense but without Gordon once again, I still do not see any positive factors on the offense.  They  drafted  Duke Johnson who will hopefully be able to take on the load of carries for the team. The defense has some nice young guys but we won’t see the results of that until a good 2-3 years from now, and at that point they could have four different GMs, two new owners, and 6 new head coaches. Humor aside I don’t trust this organization for anything in the past 50 years and neither should you. I have the Cleveland Browns going 5-13 and last in the division.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers

This division is tough. There’s 3 teams that can easily steal the division title, and the Steelers are definitely one of those teams. They have the best offense in the division that’s not even a question. Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and Big Ben were either top 5 or 2 at their position last year. It’s odd to think about how high powered the Steelers offense and how average their defense is. There is nothing special about their defense once so ever. This is the same team that has made history in the league through their stout defenses. That is the only reason I have them here instead of higher. This team relies on Big Ben’s hot arm and Le’Veon Bell’s wonderful vision. The draft they had was okay. I liked what they did in the first 2 rounds but I’m not feeling too positive about the rest of it. I have this team going 10-6 just outside of the playoffs and 3rd in the division.

  1. Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens are a team that has consistently stayed relevant for quite some time now. Harbough keeps these boys ready on both sides of the ball. After the unfortunate Ray Rice situation, the Ravens had to find some answers somewhere for their running game. Forsett was that answer. Forsett kept the offense alive when he was finally given the chance to do something. His ability to find gaps and burst through the hole has always been at an elite level and in Baltimore he was finally able to showcase it. The Ravens have always been a team that doesn’t tear through their regular season schedule, but instead knows how to get hot at the right time in the postseason and make some noise. The Ravens have great young guys all over their defense and in particular, C.J. Mosley. The kid is just oozing with potential that has still yet to be seen and he had my DROY vote even though he didn’t win it. The WR core is even a less desirable one than before and although Steve Smith put up stats we have not seen from him in quite some time, I do not expect it to continue this season. They will need someone to step up in that core and I believe Harbough will find that man just like he found Forsett. I have the Ravens going 11-5, 2nd in the division, and losing in the second round of the playoffs.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals once again are just the best all around team in the division again. I have no hope in the franchise past the regular season, and even then the front office is incapable of making the right decision with a head coach who has yet to win a playoff game in the entire time he has been there. Oh, and Marvin Lewis has been on the Bengals as the head coach for 10+ years. Regardless of these many many shortcomings, when it comes to the regular season I see the Bengals coming out on top with their most recent core of guys. They have the best WR core in the division, best duo of RBs in the division, and probably the best defense in the division. The QB position is the only questionable factor, but Andy Dalton is not a bad QB at all. He is serviceable despite what many in social media will tell you. They do not have an easy schedule, but regular season I believe in them. I have the Bengals going 11-5, winning the division, and going down in the first round just as they have so many other times.

2015 Wildcard Preview and Prediction

After months and weeks of anticipation we’ve finally arrived to the playoffs where we have a clear cut view on who the 12 teams competing for the Superbowl are.

Within those 12 teams you have the:

(1) 12-4 NE Patriots

(2) 12-4 DEN Broncos

(3) 11-5 PIT Steelers

(4) 11-5 IND Colts

(5) 10-5-1 CIN Bengals

(6) 10-6 BAL Ravens representing the AFC

and the

(1) 12-4 SEA Seahawks

(2) 12-4 GB Packers

(3) 12-4 DAL Cowboys

(4) 7-8-1 CAR Panthers

(5) 11-5 ARI Cardinals

(6) 11-5 DET Lions representing the NFC.

Seattle, New England, Denver and Green Bay all get the week off (Top 2 teams in each conference) so that leaves us with eight teams playing this weekend.

Saturday 4:20 PM ET

Cards  cam

(5) Arizona Cardinals vs (4) Carolina Panthers 

Throughout the season both teams suffered a ton of injuries. Carolina’s injury woe wasn’t as severe as the Cardinals though. Arizona lost key players on the defensive line, in the secondary and in the line-backing core. On the offensive side of the ball the Cards lost starting quarterback Carson Palmer and starting running-back Andre Ellington. Hall of Fame bound receiver Larry Fitzgerald hasn’t been as productive either because of the injuries he’s been battling. Because of the offensive injuries Arizona has been having a tough time generating points.

This season Carolina has been in a funk just like it’s fellow NFC South counterparts. After having a stellar year last season Cam Newton has failed to deliver the same type of success due to the lack of weapons he has in his current arsenal. Despite injuries (distractions Hardy) to the defense and Cam having a somewhat down year the Panthers still managed to win their awful division. Rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin has shown that he can be a solid weapon and running back Johnathan Stewart has returned to a solid form, for now. They also have tight-end Greg Olsen playing at a high level.

Coming into this game the Cards have lost 4 of their last 6 games and managed to score over 17pts one time. They are on their 3rd-string quarterback and rank 13th in stopping the run and 29th in defending the pass. The Panthers are rolling right now having gone 4-0 in December. They rank 7th in rushing the football and 12th in passing. With Arizona pretty much being a team that relies on the defense to score Carolina should be able to dictate the flow of the game as long as Cam and co. don’t turn it over. The Panthers should win 16-9 with Cam getting playoff win #1.

Saturday 8:15 PM ET

ravens steelas

(6) Baltimore Ravens vs (3) Pittsburgh Steelers

The Ravens and Steelers both faced questions going into the season. The Steelers dealt with questions surrounding the defense as well as their running game. The Ravens had to deal with the never ending, traumatizing Ray Rice debacle. With Rice gone there was a void that needed to be filled in order for Baltimore to take the next step. Journeyman running-back, Justin Forsett, stepped into the starting role and complemented Joe Flacco to near perfection. With the addition of Steve Smith SR. and the arrival of Justin Forsett the Ravens offensive dynamic changed.

The Steelers at the beginning of the season were a model of inconsistency. Midway through the season that started to change. Led by the best receiver in football, Antonio Brown and the 2nd best running-back in Le’Veon Bell along with Ben Rothlisberger the Pittsburgh Steelers became a fun, yet rather scary team to watch. They would dominate on the ground as well as kill teams in the air. They went undefeated in December and are on a roll.

Heading into this match-up these division rivals split the season series with the home team winning each game. The Steelers are 4-1 since their Bye while the Ravens are 4-2. In this specific game the Steelers will be without Bell who was the 2nd leading rusher and will also have a limited Troy Polamalu in the secondary. Baltimore on the other hand is healthier and they’ll be getting star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata back to help man the middle. With Bell being out the onus falls on the shoulders of Big Ben. The Steerlers are 2nd in passing while the Ravens are 23rd in passing yards allowed. Big Ben could very well win this game but being one-dimensional could end up costing them. The Steelers will hand Joe Flacco his 1st Wilcard loss. Big Ben is is rolling right now and has more than enough offensive weapons in the passing game to beat Baltimore. Steelers win 34-27

Sunday 1:05 PM ET

Bengals colts trip

(5) Cincinnati Bengals vs (4) Indianapolis Colts

These were two teams that people thought would take the next step, especially the Colts. Andrew Luck was basically enshrined into the Hall Of The Fame without doing anything. Nevertheless the Colts won their porous division with little to no competition. En route to going 11-5 they got dominated by the likes of Pittsburgh, Dallas, Denver and New England. They went 4-5 against teams that are .500 and 2-4 against playoff teams. No resemblance of a running game and having only one stud receiver (TY Hilton) hurts them.

The Bengals started off the season on FIRE. After a few weeks they resembled a Superbowl team but quickly faltered after their Bye week. As of late they’ve been battling injuries that have plagued A.J. Green making the offense somewhat stagnant. Depending on the day Cincy can kill you with an aerial attack led by the likes Andy Dalton with Mouhammed Sanu and Green at his helm. Or they could gash you up on the ground with Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. You just never know with them.

Going into Sunday’s game the Colts have won 5 of their last 6. They are the best passing team in football but are top 3 when it comes to turning the football over (Andrew Luck). The Bengals have been solid as of late but got shut out earlier in the year by the Colts, losing 27-0. This game will more than likely not feature AJ Green. Dalton doesn’t have a playoff win nor does head coach Marvin Lewis. Unless Cincy runs the ball over 40 times, AJ Green suits up or TY Hilton isn’t 100% I don’t see the Bengals misfortunes coming to an end. Colts win 45-13

Sunday 4:40 PM ET

lions Triplets

(6) Detroit Lions vs (3) Dallas Cowboys

Often sought out as the most talented teams in the NFC, the Lions and Cowboys always seemed to disappoint until this year. Going into the season many predicted this would be Lion’s quarterback Mathew Stafford’s break out year. They changed coaches and gave Stafford more help by bringing in Ex-Seahawks wide receiver, Golden Tate, to complement Megatron. The Lion’s exceeded a few expectations because of how they managed to win games without Megatron. Golden Tate had a career year and the Lion’s defense was arguably the best in the league.

The Cowboys have exceeded everyone’s expectations excluding their own. They’ve discovered a new identity as I stated here (https://fortonsports.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/the-new-dallas-cowboys/) and have improved defensively. They boast arguably the best quarterback of the season in one Tony Romo, the leading rusher in football, Demarco Murray and wide-receiver touchdown leader Dez Bryant. The Cowboys also own the best offensive line in football. The game is won in the trenches and the Cowboys dominate in that aspect.

Ever since the home loss to Philly, the Cowboys have been dominant. They’ve scored 40+ points in 3 of their last 4 games (38 in one game) and are rolling on all cylinders. Dallas also went 4-0 in December. Detroit won 4 of their last 5 and have been very stout defensively. Defensive tackles N.Suh (monster) and Nick Fairley should be good to go giving the defense a boost. The Boys are the 2nd best team running the ball while Detroit is #1 in stopping it. Flipping the script, the Lions are 6th when it comes to turning over the ball and the Cowboys are 2nd in forcing turnovers. The Cowboys will win 27-14.  Stafford just isn’t efficient enough to win and is prone to turn it over multiple times resulting in Dallas getting easy scoring opportunities.

Each game this weekend is compelling and should be competitive.

Comment below with who you think will win each game.

Follow on Twitter @RyanDFort & @FortonsportsInc

Joe Flacco the Elite???????

Superbowl Mvp,record for most touchdowns thrown in playoffs history, 11-0 touchdown interception ratio in four playoff games with a Superbowl ring to cap it off. That’s everything Joe Flacco accomplished during this years playoffs; not to overlook the fact he out played both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning en route to accomplishing these feats. After that spectacular run one question must be answered; Is Joe Flacco ELITE? An elite quarterback does great things in both the regular season and postseason. Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Ben Rothlisberger and Aaron Rodgers are all elite quarterbacks because of that. You can’t just grade a quarterback on postseason play you have to look at everything. Looking at stats from last season Joe Flacco had 3,610 yards passing with 20tds and 12 picks, completing 57.6% of his passes finishing with a QBR of 59.7 (Total Rating 80.9). This season he had 3,817 passing yards with 22tds and 10 picks, completing 59.7% of his passes finishing with a QBR of 46.8 ( Total Rating 87.7). Now lets take a look at the elite quarterbacks’stats along with 6 others during this two year span.

                 THE ELITE
Tom Brady 2011: 5,235 passing yards 39tds 12 picks 65.6% passes completed. QBR 72.7 (Total Rating 105.6)
This Season: 4,827 passing yards 34tds 8 picks 63% passes completed 77.1 QBR and (98.7 TR)

Peyton Manning 2010 (didn’t play in 2011) : 4,700 yards passing 33tds 17 picks 66.3% passes completed 68.6 QBR (TR 91.9)
This Season: 4,659 passing yards 37tds 11 picks 68.6% passes completed QBR 84.1 (TR 105.8)

Drew Brees 2011: 5,476 passing yards 46tds 14 picks completed 71.2% of passes QBR 84 (TR 110.6)
This Season: 5,177 yards passing 43tds 19 picks 63% passes completed QBR 67.9 (TR 96.3)

Aaron Rogers 2011: 4,643 passing yards 45tds 6 picks 68.3% passes completed QBR 86.2 (TR 122.5)
This Season: 4,295 passing yards 39tds 8 picks 67.2 passes completed QBR 72.5 (TR 108)

Ben Rothlisberger 2011: 4,077 passing yards 21tds 14 picks 63.2% passes completed QBR 63.6 (TR 90.1)
This Season: 3,265 yards passing 26tds 8 picks 63.3% passes completed QBR 62.8 (TR 97.0)

Each of those quarterbacks won a SuperBowl or two and shows greatness throughout the season and postseason. It’s not an “I’ll show up for one part,” type of thing for them. They’re consistently consistent with everything they do. Regular season or playoffs they show up unlike the other QBs.

               The 2nd Tier

Matt Ryan 2011: 4,177 yards passing 29tds  12 picks 61.3% passes completed 69.1 QBR (TR 92.2)
This Season: 4,719 passing yards 32tds 14 picks 68.6% passes completed 74.5 QBR (TR 99.1)

Matthew Stafford 2011: 5,038 passing yards 41tds 16 picks 63.5% passes completed QBR 65.5 (TR 97.2)
This Season: 4,967 passing yards 20tds 17 picks 59.8% passes completed QBR 58.9 (TR 79.8)

Jay Cutler 2011 (injured*) : 2,319 yards passing 13tds 7 picks 58% passes completed QBR 59.8 (TR 85.7)
This Season: 3,033 passing yards 19tds 14 picks 58.8% passes completed QBR 51.9 (TR 81.3)

Matt Schaub 2011 (injured) : 2,479 passing yards 15tds 6 picks 61% completed QBR 67.5 (TR 96.8)
This Season: 4,008 passing yards 22tds 12 picks 64.3% passes completed QBR 62.6 (TR 90.7)

Tony Romo 2011: 4,184 passing yards 31tds 10 picks 66.3% passes completed 71.4 QBR (TR 102.5)
This Season: 4,903 passing yards 28tds 19 picks 65.6% passes completed QBR 62.7 (TR 90.5)

Eli Manning 2011: 4,933 passing yards 29tds 16 picks 61% passes completed QBR 59.4 (TR 92.9)
This Season: 3,948 passing yards 26tds 15 picks 59.9% passes completed QBR 67.4 (TR 87.2)

After viewing those stats does Flacco really belong in the elite category? How many of those 2nd tier quarterbacks is he better than? The answers are no and not many. There are plenty of QBs who led their respective teams to SuperBowl titles who weren’t elite. ( Example Eli Manning both years and Big Ben 1st year.) The playoffs help define your career but doesn’t nec essarily make it. If Flacco comes back next season stellar and playing out of his mind then maybe just maybe he can be considered Elite. But as if right now he’s not.