Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI: Patriots on defense

Defense is not the Patriots strength.  They ranked 31st in total defense this season.   Part of the problem was injuries.  With some of their starters back for the playoffs, they improved.  They should be able to handle Ahmad Bradshaw running, but I don’t think that they are fast enough to stop the Giants’ receivers.

Here are the starters and key players on the Patriots defense.

Tackles and Ends

Vince Wilfork (#75, Defensive Tackle) – The only guy who played on defense on the Giants Super Bowl team in 2008.   

Kyle Love (#74, Defensive Tackle) - Tough, solid blocker.

Brandon Deaderick (#71, Defensive End) - Began starting when Andre Carter was injured. 

Mark Anderson (#95 Defensive End) - Veteran player and the best pass-rusher on the team


Jerod Mayo (#51 Outside Linebacker) – Playing well Patriots -- He quietly is having one of his best seasons as the team has used more 4-3 defense, which seems to suit him better.

Brandon Spikes (#55 Middle Linebacker) – Was out early in the season because of an injury. 

Rob Ninkovich (#55 Outside Linbacker) - Patriots -- He is a typical Patriots player: A tough, hard-nosed player who plays hard all the time.


Devin McCourty (#32 Cornerback) – Had a great rookie season last year, but has played average this year. 

Kyle Arrington (#24 Cornerback) – Had seven interceptions this season. 


Patrick Chung (#25 Safety) – Missed some of the season with injuries.  

James Ihedigbo (#44 Safety) – Not really fast, but did get a sack in the AFC championship game.   

Ok, tomorrow we will look at their teammates on offense.

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, January 30, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI: When the Giants are on offense

Six days to Super Bowl XLVI!  The teams are in Indiana getting prepared for the rematch of Super Bowl XLII.  Actually, I should say that the same teams from Super Bowl XLII are appearing in Super Bowl XLVI because it is not truly a rematch.  Vince Wilfork is the only defensive player who was on the team in 2007.  On the offensive side of the ball, Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer are no longer Giants receivers.  However, the game should be just as exciting as the championship game five years ago.

To start our preview of the big game, let’s look at the Giants’ offense.  The Giants offense has a great passing game.  Led by quarterback Eli Manning, they have a trio of wide receivers who are quick.  They were able to beat the Patriots during the regular season without several starters.  The key to the offense’s performance will be how the offensive line plays.  They really struggled to protect Eli during the regular season.  He was sacked 28 times. 

Here are the potential starters and key players on the Giants offense.


Eli Manning (#10) – NFL quarterbacking is in his blood.  Dad Archie Manning is a former NFL quarterback (played most of his career with New Orleans Saints) and brother is Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.  He was the MVP of Super Bowl XLII.


David Baas (#64) – Struggled with injuries during the regular season.  Suffered another injury during the NFC championship game.

Guards and Tackles – Need to block and allow Eli time to get the ball to his receivers.

David Diehl (#66, Left Tackle)  - Moved from guard to tackle and replaced Will Beatty.

Kevin Boothe (#65, Left Guard) – Replaced David Diehl.

Chris Snee (#76, Right Guard) – Head Coach Coughlin’s son.

Kareem McKenzie (#67, Right Tackle) – Veteran tackle who needs to step up and protect Eli.

Tight End

Jake Ballard (#85) – Had the winning touchdown when they played the Patriots during the regular season.

Wide Receivers

Victor Cruz (#80) – Small and fast.  Third in receiving yards (1536) during the regular season.

Hakeem Nicks (#88) – Did not play the Patriots during the regular season.

Mario Manningham (#82) – Started while Nicks was out.  Had a touchdown in the regular season matchup.

Running Back

Henry Hynoski (#45, Full) – Did not play in the regular season game against the Patriots.  Strong blocker and should help Bradshaw get some yards.

Ahmad Bradshaw (#44) – Did not play in the regular season game against the Patriots.  Keeps running after taking a hit.

Tomorrow we will look at the Patriots defense.  We’ll see if they can take down Eli and stop those quick receivers.

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, January 23, 2012

Off to the Circle City

The teams are set for Super Bowl XLVI!  Congratulations to the New England Patriots and New York Giants who are packing their bags to go to Indy and play for the Lombardi Trophy.  It will be a rematch of Super Bowl XLII.  That year, the Patriots were undefeated and suffered their only loss in the Super Bowl. 

Similar to the 2007 season, New England dominated throughout the season and led the AFC.  The Giants journey to this championship game was just the opposite.  They were only 9-7 this season and did not earn a spot in the playoffs until after the final game of the season.

Defense does it again
Defense wins championships.  It’s cliché, but phrases become cliché because they are so true.  Yesterday, the phrase got another nod from both championship games.  New England is known for their offense.  Their quarterback, Tom Brady, is one of the best at the moment.  During the regular season he had 11 games with 300 or more passing yards.  In the AFC championship game he only had 239 passing yards.  Pats fans have to be thankful that their defense stepped up.  They sacked Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco three times and limited them to just 19 first downs.  Until the end of the game, both teams traded points.  On the last play of the game the Ravens missed a field goal to send the game to overtime.  New England won, 23 – 20.

Out west in the NFC championship game, the defense shined too.  The Giants and San Francisco 49ers game was tight.  Both defenses made some great stops, but the Giants defense put the stamp on the game.  They only allowed the 49ers to convert one third down and recovered two fumbles (one was forced) that led to points.  The second fumble recovery was in overtime and led to them scoring their final points and beating San Francisco on the road 20 – 17. 

Now we will see which defense leads their team to a championship ring.

Are you ready for Super Bowl XLVI?
Next week we, we will do our annual week-long special for Super Bowl.  We will write every day and break down the strengths and weaknesses of each of our Super Bowl teams, New England Patriots and New York Giants.  You will be able to compare and make your prediction for the winner of Super Bowl XLVI.  Read posts on the line of scrimmage, offense, defense, special teams, game strategies and playing time to freshen up on your knowledge.  Don’t forget the new overtime rule for playoffs that began last year. 

It’s our birthday!
Two years ago after Championship Sunday, I began writing about football to help ladies join the conversation at the office.  Since then, other ladies have joined me in the mission to level the professional playing field by education and exposing women to sports.  We added workshops, golf clinics and fun networking events like our NFL Glam Party.  We were also featured in the NFL’s women’s apparel campaign, Fit For You.  What a year!  We have even more planned for 2012, so stay connected! 

Thank you for following.  We hope that we have helped you join the conversation at the office and surprise your sweetie. ;)  We look forward to another exciting year!

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, January 16, 2012

Defending Super Bowl champs knocked out of the playoffs

OK, here are my picks for the NFC Divisional Playoffs:

1.     San Francisco 49ers over New Orleans Saints.
2.     New England Patriots over Denver Broncos
3.     Baltimore Ravens over Houston Texans
4.     Green Bay Packers over New York Giants

Not bad.  I got three right.  Interestingly, I said that I would love to see a big upset to add some drama to the playoffs.  Well, I got an upset and I am sure Packers fans are mad about my wish.

It is not surprising that the New York Giants came prepared to play.  While they only won nine games during the regular season, they ended strong.  I also think that they had a little chip on their shoulders because people were not really taking them serious.  It is surprising that they went into Lambeau Field and beat the Packers by 17 points.

Here is why the Packers lost.
1.     Nonexistent running game - QB Aaron Rodgers was the leading rusher.
2.     Listless passing game – Too many incomplete and dropped passes.
3.     Not focused – Three fumbles and two failed onside kicks.

So the teams for the conference championship games are set.  The New England Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC Championship Title.  The New York Giants will go west to play the 49ers for the NFC Championship.   I think the 49ers and Patriots will win.  But, if one can upset the Patriots, the Ravens certainly have the potential.

NFL conference champions are on Sunday.  The AFC game is at 3 p.m. on CBS and the NFC game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on FOX.

Heels & Helmets

Not bad.  I got three out of four right. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

A football week to love

I am asking for forgiveness now.  I am all over the place this week.  Between my beloved Wolverines winning their first bowl game since 2008, a crazy weekend of NFL playoff games and the Allstate BCS NationalChampionship game happening tonight, there is a lot to talk about in football.  Forgive me.

AMAIZEING all right
Last week Michigan Football got a boost with a victory over Virginia Tech in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.  While the football world declared that a win showed that Michigan was back; Head Coach Brady Hoke, said that, “Michigan never left.”  Gosh it is so nice to have a Michigan Man back at the helm of this program.  I know, this seems a little arrogant, but there is a difference.  It is not about growing up in the state.  It is not about being an alum of the university.  Coach BoSchembechler who started the designation was not either.  It is about understanding and respecting a great tradition with a very proud history.  It is about loving Michigan football.  I hate to seem corny as if I don’t have a life outside of Michigan football (I do, really); but it is the truth.  When you have that knowledge and passion, you lead with enthusiasm and make everyone buy into your system.  This is what Coach Brady Hoke did.  Yes, he had experience coaching at Michigan, so he had the trust of the university’s community.  However, he did not come in and make a mockery of the most winningest college football program by saying things like running out of the tunnel into the largest football stadium in the world would mean nothing to him.  Who would jump up to support someone like that?  Not me.  It is ungrateful.  Hoke also understood what was important to his audience.  Win a Big Ten Championship.  He reiterated this several times to the media throughout the season, so you know that he believed this to his core and would work hard to make it happen.  This is a leader that you get behind.  If I feel like this as an alum over 600 miles away from Schembechler Hall, imagine what it did for the guys inside in the locker room.  This is why I agree with Coach Hoke, Michigan never left.  We are the same program, with great talent and a desire for excellence.  We now just have a coach who understands this.

O…M… Tebow
Wild is really not descriptive enough for the way the first weekend of the NFL playoffs ended in Denver.  Tim Tebow, who many criticize for not having an arm to be a NFL quarterback, completely dismantled the Steelers defense, with his passing game.  He threw 316 yards and had two touchdowns to take out the tough Steelers.  The passes were not short either.  One of touchdowns was an 80-yard pass in overtime that finished the game on the first play 11 seconds into overtime.  It was historical because the NFL used to play sudden death in overtime, so the first team to score won the game.  Now in playoff games, if you don’t score a touchdown, the other team has an opportunity to get the ball.  Tebow eliminated that option by going all out on the opening play of overtime.  I am still in awe.  Now Tebow will have to travel to New England and work his magic against Tom Brady’s Patriots.  I can’t wait.

Allstate BCS National Championship
Tonight’s BCS title game will feature two schools from the same conference for the first time.  LSU (#1) and Alabama (#2) are rivals in the Southeastern Conference.  They are playing for the second time this season.  Neither team scored a touchdown at their meeting during the regular season.  The game should be good because of the defenses.   I am going to give the edge to LSU because they have home-field advantage and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.  He is the only corner to since Charles Woodson to get national attention at that position and be nominated for the Heisman Trophy.  Catch the game on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!

What a year it has been in the NFL.  It seems so distant now, but six months ago we were panicking about the NFL lockout.  Fans were on pins and needles hoping that NFL owners and players would reach an agreement so that America could have its favorite sport.  Fortunately, for fans, sports bars, chicken farms and pizza companies, a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was reached and not one down of professional football was missed.

The lockout ended just around the time training camps usually start.  Teams rushed to sign rookie contracts, get players to practice and bolster their rosters with free agents.  The Philadelphia Eagles shocked everyone by signing four pro-bowl defensive players.  Nnamdi Asomugha (cornerback), Jason Babin (defensive end), Cullen Jenkins (defensive tackle), and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (cornerback) all became Eagles within three days of each other.

The Eagles offense led by Michael Vick was fast and exciting in 2010.  They put up points and made it to the playoffs.  The defense on the other hand needed some help.  Especially against teams that pass a lot.  With some impressive additions to the secondary and Vick healthy, I thought that Philadelphia would make the playoffs and end up representing the NFC in Super Bowl XLVI.  You know, defense wins championships. 

Sticking with the fact that defense wins championships, I picked the New York Jets to win the AFC and play in the Super Bowl.  With 10 starters returning on defense and cornerback Darrelle Revis not holding out this year, I was sure that this would be the year for the Jets.   

Neither the Eagles nor the Jets made the playoffs.  Both teams finished the season at .500, winning only half of their games.  It was disappointing to see Philadelphia come in third in the NFC East, but there is reason to be hopeful.   In December, the defense started to look like the strong unit that I expected to see all season.  Unfortunately, for the Jets things are gloom.  Their young quarterback, Mark Sanchez, really struggled.  He was finished the season fourth in interceptions (18) thrown this season. 

The road to Indy for Super Bowl XLVI gets tough this weekend when the NFL playoffs start.  Here are the contenders.


No. 1 New England Patriots (13 – 3)

No. 2 Baltimore Ravens (12 – 4)

No. 3 Houston Texans (10 – 6)

No. 4 Denver Broncos (8 – 8)

No. 5 Pittsburgh Steelers (12 – 4)

No. 6 Cincinnati Bengals (9-7)


No. 1 Green Bay Packers (15 – 1)

No. 2 San Francisco 49ers (13 – 3)

No. 3 New Orleans Saints (13 – 3)

No. 4 New York Giants (9 – 7)

No. 5 Atlanta Falcons (10 – 6)

No. 6 Detroit Lions (10 – 6)

The teams to beat are the Patriots and the Packers.  The Patriots are first in the AFC without a deep threat wide receiver.  Tom Brady has been manhandling defenses using two tight ends.  You have to be scared of the Packers because of their depth.  Anything can happen during the playoffs.  Green Bay’s backup quarterback, Matt Flynn, put up 480 yards and 6 touchdown passes in the team’s final game of the season. 

The other team that you have to watch is the San Francisco 49ers.  Jim Harbaugh has done a great job coaching this team.  They are prepared and run the ball well, which will help them use the clock during the playoffs.  If anyone can sneak passed the Packers, it will be the 49ers.

Heels & Helmets