Archives for: 2009, week 04

02/01/09

And Now a Word From Our Sponsors... Super Bowl Sunday

Permalink 01:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Whatzzuuuuuuuup? It's Super Bowl Sunday. Time to get ready for the most celebrated game on our planet.

All the hoopla surrounding the big game has been splashed on airwaves from internet to tv to blogosphere's around the world. Aside from the games, one of my favorite moments of past Super Bowls has been off the field... commercials!

For those of you who run from the tv at commercials breaks... stay seated.

Ad agencies go all out in anticipation of the largest tv audience of the year. Super Bowl XLIII has garnered a record $206M in ad revenues. Ad rates sold out between $2.4M - $3M per 30 second slot. Some become instant sensations. Some hilarious. And, yes, the few busts which leave many of us wondering why bother? Only the memorable survive... and survive they do... like old relics. How many old schoolers remember Coke's Mean Joe Greene spot from 1979?

My all time favorites have been produced by Coca-Cola and Budweiser. Bud has had all sorts from talking Chimpanzee's and frogs to flatulating Clydesdales. CareerBuilders.com has been trying to get in on the action recently too.

So what's it going to be today? Big bang for the buck? Or, complete waste of dough? I'm guessing they'll be plenty of commercial chatter around water coolers nationwide beginning tomorrow morning. YouTube will be on fire with downloads.

01/30/09

Super Bowl XLIII: Arizona vs Pittsburgh

Permalink 07:29:22 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Super Bowl XLIII is a very intriguing matchup on paper. On the surface, everyone is talking of the NFL's #1 ranked Pittsburgh Steelers defense against a revved up Arizona Cardinals offense. I going deeper in this blog. Exposing where the game will be won or lost and how coaching familiarity comes into play.

Arizona Cardinals (9-7)

Head Coach: Ken Whisenhut. Arizona's rookie coach is one victory away from leading the Cards to their first ever Super Bowl Championship. Interesting twist, Whisenhut is Pittsburgh's former Offensive Coordinator which might pay dividends for his defensive play calling packages. His previous stint in Pittsburgh might tip off is defense to certain looks. Whisenhut's offense likes to mix it up and take advantage of mismatches on the outside. Look for many misdirection runs to freeze Steelers aggressive linebackers.

Offense: QB Kurt Warner leads the NFL's 4th ranked unit. He's coming off a stellar season (4583 yards, 30 TD). Cards offense supplies Warner with plenty of weapons. Three 1,000 yard wide receivers (Fitzgerald, Boldin, Breaston) and former All Pro RB Edgerrin James are the main targets. Warner knows he'll be facing relentless Steelers blitzes all game long. He needs to hang tough in the pocket with Marino-like quick releases to cutting WR's exploiting single coverages.

Defense: Cards overlooked D has 8 Playoff interceptions. They've been playing bend but don't break D making big plays at the right moments. Pass rush needs to pressure Roethlisberger into mistakes and to shut down an elusive Willie Parker out of the backfield. Secondary provides big hits but has had moments of ineffectiveness throughout the year. Steelers offense will bring many different looks. Key for Cards is keeping plays in front of them and not getting burned deep or by Pittsburgh gadget plays. Defense must step up by forcing Steelers into many 3 and outs.

Special Teams: Any game can be changed on a dime when special teams makes or blows big plays. Steady place kicker Neil Rackers and newly acquired punter Ben Graham cannot make any mistakes. Rackers is steady. Graham sometimes out kicks coverages which could come back to haunt Cards.

Key: In my eyes, this game will be decided by how effectively Arizona's offensive line can hold off the Steelers front unit. It's the names nobody knows which will determine success or failure. RT Levi Brown, RG Duece Lutui, C Lyle Sendlein, LG Reggie Wells and LT Mike Gandy. These 5 players must have their career best game or it could be a long evening. Simple plan, staving off blitzes for Warner and creating running lanes for Edgerrin James. Running attack execution is a must or Warner will be looking at dangerous 3rd and longs. If Warner gets time to throw, Arizona's attack will be hard to stop. Protect the ball is another must. Steelers thrive on creating costly turnovers.

Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)

Head Coach: Mike Tomlin. Tomlin is a defense specialist. Steelers own #1 ranked defense. Continues in Knoll/Cowher tradition of mis-direction ball control offense supported by tenacious defense. No nonsense coach isn't afraid to mix it up with trick plays.

Offense: QB Ben Roethisberger gets the job done. Sometimes it isn't pretty but he's one of the QB's in the league you want at the with the game on the line. Pressure is no stranger to Big Ben. He's already won a Bowl game. RB Willie Parker handles the running attack and might be in store for a big day. I think Pittsburgh will rely heavily on Parker as they try to dominate time of possession to keep Arizona's offense on the sidelines. Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward provide the deep threat while TE Heath Miller will be a possession go to guy along with Nate Washington. Offensive line should not take Cards D unit for granted. Cards D has made big plays when they've had to. Steelers front 5 need to dominate.

Defense: Well deserved hype surrounds this crew. NFL regular season #1 and +5 turnover ratio in two playoff games. These guys swarm around the ball and destroy those daring enough to touch it. Farrior, Clark, Harrison, Woodley, Timmons, Taylor, Polamalu, Foote, Keisel & Co. will be ready to bring punishment. Steelers blitz from all angles and bring pressure on nearly every single snap. Coverages are often disguised to fool opposing blocking techniques. Biggest challenge of the year vs Cards three 1000 yard receivers. Blitzes make for single coverage which could easily be exploited.

Special Teams: Santonio Holmes already has one punt return TD this post-season and might find plenty of room to roam vs Cards coverage unit. PK Jeff Reed and P Mitch Berger will be counted on to play mistake free football.

Key: All the talk has focused on Pittsburgh's defense. Yes, they'll have to step up and shouldn't have much trouble putting a pounding on Warner. Key on D is pressure and covering wideouts. Another key is their offense. Willie Parker needs to turn it up field and penetrate gaps for positive yards. Steelers drop-a-lot WR's will find plenty of lanes vs Cards zones. This is not the game for drops. If Roethlisberger & Co. is sharp early then folks will be talking of Steelers offensive prowess after the final gun.

PREDICTION: Steelers pounding offense controls the clock. Willie Parker roams for 150+ yards. Roethlisberger moves offense at will. Steelers defense creates turnovers. Cards show a few early flashes but can't sustain any sort of momentum. Steelers knock off Arizona, 33-20.

Steelers Set Sights on Sixth Championship

Permalink 04:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers shoot for their sixth Super Bowl Championship this weekend against Arizona. If it wasn't for Neil O'Donnell phantom throws against Dallas... they might be going for 7.

Much of the talk leading up to this game has centered around Pittsburgh's top ranked defensive unit. I'm sure they'll be blitzing all game long trying to rattle Warner into rushing passes. No question Warner will be landing on his rump often. Covering the Cardinals receivers will decide the game. If the Steelers secondary can get the job done then victory is within reach. Don't underestimate underdogs. Especially the Cardinals. Their offense can control games if Warner is sharp and James explodes throw holes.

(Super Bowl history)

Previous Pittsburgh Super Bowl teams were filled with some of biggest names in the game. Heach Coach Chuck Knoll's touch has been emulated throughout the years. It if isn't broke, don't fix it. Terry Bradshaw, Mean Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Franco Harris, Rocky Bleier, Jack Ham, Mike Webster, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Mel Blount, Jerome Bettis. Those guys played in some of the more memorable games.

Some may say, including myself, current players get it done with the same Steeler style and tradition. QB Ben Roethlisberger knows how to win. It isn't always pretty but he's tough in crunch time. Hines Ward & Santonio Holmes stretch the field while the defense led by AP Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Casey Hampton and James Farrior punish opponents. Quite a cast of characters.

So far Super Bowl XLIII previews have gone as I expected. Pittsburgh garnering most of the attention between Big Ben and defense. Watch out for Arizona! Games are won on the field. NY Giants are prime examples being heavy underdogs in two of their victories.

Stay tuned for my Super breakdown.

01/28/09

Benched? Stars Without Teams - 3 Weeks Until Spring Training!

Permalink 05:00:00 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Has our nations current economic downturn begun to take hold on Major League Baseball?

There's quite a list of solid players still looking for teams as Spring Training 2009 begins in three weeks (ESPN Free Agent Tracker). Check out this list of unsigned players: Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr, Orlando Hudson, Ivan Rodriguez, Kevin Millar, Ben Sheets, Frank Thomas, Jason Varitek, Ty Wigginton and a load of other players who could prove to be valuable pickups.

The Yankees & Phillies were quick to sign a few big names right out of the gate. Manny Ramirez remaining unsigned is quite baffling. Is baseball collusion back in business? The Dodgers are NUTS if they don't sign Manny after what he did for them last season. How about seeing Manny in a Mets, Angels, White Sox or Indians uniform in '09? These four teams have cash and will be challengers this season.

Call me crazy. The best fit for Manny is ......... Oakland Athletics!.

Think about it. A tremendous boost for an already redesigned 2009 lineup. Oakland brought back Jason Giambi and went hard after Matt Holliday. Add Manny and fans will fill a usually empty Oakland ballpark. Add Manny and become an instant AL West contender. Add Manny and become AL West favorite over LAA for the first time in years. Add Manny, and if he wants out, trade him for future draft picks, young talent or all the above. Oakland is the one team in MLB where signing Manny makes most sense for wins, economics, marketing and fans. Add Manny, and his new teammates receive an instant shot in the arm boost knowing Oakland is now a serious Title contender. Add Manny, and watch tv revenue/team exposure soar. No downside here. Manny can be Manny all he wants as an Athletic. Ego's are not an issue with this squad. Bust a move Billy Beane!

Bobby Abreu (career .300 hitter, .405 OBA) without a team is crazy. Who wouldn't want him? Adam Dunn and his 40 homer seasons is suddenly unwanted after being the subject of trade rumors every season. Many remaining free agents have me wondering if how many could sent to the showers for an early, unwanted retirement. Are offers not coming? Or, are players holding out for more gold?

If the rationale behind unsigned players is they're holding out for more money... then someone wake them up to what's going on in the world. Pettitte did, too little to late for his wallet. He had rejected a $10M Yankee offer only to resign a couple of months later (yesterday) for $5.5M with incentives. Holding out doesn't appear to be an issue except for players renegotiating with '08 teams. It's evident, just like millions of others, owners wallets took a big hit which will ultimately trickle down to lower salary offers when negiations begin/resume.

I wonder if the Yankees are having buyers remorse? Sabathia for $161,000,000. Teixeira $180,000,000. Burnett $82,500,000. Timing is everything. Pressure has never been greater on NY to win, on both sides of town, especially with two new over budget ballparks getting ready to debut.

We'll see if countdown to spring training heats up a quiet free agent market. There's too many talented players sitting on the sidelines. Buckle up! The next few weeks could be very telling.

01/26/09

NCAA's Top 10 Hoop Power Rankings

Permalink 05:00:00 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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Sports Sections of the World

by Digger

2008-09 NCAA Basketball season has been filled with action packed wire to wire games featuring some of the best teams in our nation. Teams have been fighting to climb the ranking/poll ladder. Wake Forrest & Pittsburgh held #1 briefly, now it's Duke's turn to secure top honors.

Approximately one dozen games remain in the regular college basketball season. I'm betting the rankings will change quite a bit between now an then.

For the serious college fans seeking to catch every game in HD surrounded by big time parties... head to Las Vegas for March Madness. When it comes to sports, the best time to be in Vegas is for the NCAA Tournament. During the Sweet 16 to be precise. It'll be one heck of a party filled experience for those seeking exciting times.

Here it goes, my College Top 10 for the week of January 26th:
1) Duke (18-1)
2) Pittsburgh (18-1)
3) Connecticut (18-1)
4) Oklahoma (19-1)
5) North Carolina (17-2)
6) Wake Forrest (16-1)
7) Xavier (17-2)
8) Marquette (17-2)
9) Michigan State (16-3)
10) Louisville (15-3)