For the fourth time this season, a Patriots game was determined in the last two minutes. For the first time, however, they won. The game ended when Patriot’s Rob Ninkovich knocked the ball out of Mark Sanchez’s hand in overtime, recovered the fumble, and ended the game with a 29-26 win. (more)
Its not hard to tell that these two teams just don’t like each other. The ongoing rivalry between the New England Patriots and the New York Jets has not been forgotten. Jets Coach Rex Ryan said, “I’ve never stopped thinking about the Patriots.” (more)
The Celtics will open at home this Tuesday against the Brooklyn Nets. The team’s preseason opener was in Turkey where they lost to Fenerbahce Ulker 97-91. The Celtics then beat Milano 105-75, however, evening out their record 1-1. They returned to Boston last Monday hopefully after bonding as a cohesive unit. After playing the New York Knicks in CT this past weekend, catch them at the TD Garden on Tuesday to see if they can make a mark in the preseason. (more)
Veteran RB Brandon Jacobs is no longer a member of the New York Giants but still didn’t hesitate to defend the organization as New York’s team in a recent interview with CBSSports.com. He shared his opinions on how the New York Jets will never obtain the Super Bowl title they seem to talk about and guarantee so frequently. (more)
The New York Jets and Denver Broncos encountered a problem in Tim Tebow’s contract that could reject the initial deal all together. Many believe that Tebow could wind up with the St. Louis Rams if things fall through. (more)
Peyton Manning will allow himself one week to decide on which NFL team to play for next season. The four-time MVP was recently cut by the Indianapolis Colts after quarterbacking the franchise for 14 years. He missed the entire 2011 NFL season after neck surgery last September and was due a $28 million bonus if the team decided to keep him. (more)
The AFC East currently features three teams at 5-3 between the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. After a pair of tough losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Giants, the Pats are in danger of losing three straight for the first time since 2002 when they pay visit to the Jets Sunday at MetLife Stadium. (more)
The Pittsburgh Steelers will look to advance to their third Super Bowl in six years when they host the New York Jets at Heinz Field on Sunday evening. The Steelers are fresh off of a hard fought victory over the Baltimore Ravens, 31-24, on Saturday. The Steelers pulled off the victory the same way they always do in January; with great defense and clutch offense. Pittsburgh held Baltimore to 126 total net yards, only 2.4 per play, and kept the Ravens out of the end zone for the entire second half.
This week we can expect much of the same from the Steelers, as they will face the New York Jets, who will undoubtedly try to establish their running game and control the clock. The Jets, who are fresh off of an upset of the Super Bowl favorite New England Patriots, are also where they are because of defense. Like the Steelers, they have a great pass rush that attempts to force their opponents to throw the ball downfield to create offense.
However, the Jets differ from the Steelers once you get to that second level. They have Darrelle Revis, one of the few elite shutdown corners in the NFL, who can eliminate any receiver from the game. On the opposite side is Antonio Cromartie, who is the playmaking corner who gets more than his share of opportunities to come down with turnovers. But Cromartie is also prone to mistakes, especially over the middle of the field. Whichever Steelers receiver, either Hines Ward or Mike Wallace, is matched up with Cromartie could have a big game and ultimately, could be the key to a Steelers victory. (more)
If you are a football fan, you have heard the old phrase “defense wins championships.” The Baltimore Ravens really made that a point when they won the Super Bowl in 2000 behind what some call the best defense in league history and a borderline inept offense. Now, more than a decade later, the league has migrated to a more offensive style. Passing numbers have never been as high, and various league records have fallen in recent years, many right here in New England.
But even with these offensive trends, it is still a great defense that will bring home a championship under most circumstances. Just look at the final four teams remaining this season. They are all ranked in the top six for points allowed, with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers being the top two. As for total yardage allowed, which is the criteria by which NFL defenses are ranked, only the Chicago Bears, who are ranked ninth, were outside the top five.
So knowing that defense is still what wins in the NFL, is it any surprise that the top seeds in each conference will be watching the championship games on Sunday? Both the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots had great scoring defenses, in fact, they are the two who are missing from the top six, but when you look deeper you will find that they are not nearly as strong as the others.
In yardage allowed the Falcons and Patriots ranked 16th and 25th respectively, which will not get the job done in the playoffs in most years. They were both teams who relied on turnovers and employed the “bend but don’t break” strategy. Defenses like that have won before, such as the New Orleans Saints last season, but most of the time it takes a truly strong defense, one that can stop the league’s best offenses in their tracks, to win a championship. Neither the Falcons nor the Patriots had that. Now they have to sit at home and watch four teams that do fight for a chance to play in the Super Bowl.
New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts, Saturday 8:00 EST
The AFC playoffs get under way Saturday night when the New York Jets travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts. The game will be a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game, which the Colts won by a score of 30-17. This match-up is arguably the most intriguing of the weekend, as both teams have been inconsistent this season despite being among the most talented teams in the NFL.
The Colts, of course, are led by Peyton Manning, who has carried the team to the playoffs this year after they suffered an onslaught of injuries that would have spelled doom for almost any other team. And it almost did. Just a few weeks ago, the Colts looked like they had a legitimate shot at missing the playoffs for the first time since 2001, as they sat at 6-6 and were looking up at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite that hole, the Colts were able to fight their way into the playoffs by winning their final four games, and also earn another AFC South division title, giving them at least one home playoff game.
On the other side, the Jets have slowed down considerably after talks of them taking the AFC’s top seed, losing three out of five. The slide took the Jets from potentially having home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs to being the sixth seed and having to play three road games if they get to the Super Bowl. The Jets have been held back by quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has a completion percentage of just 54.8, an atrocious number for this day and age, and a quarterback rating of 75.3, which puts him at 27th in the NFL. (more)