Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Penguins Game 8 Preview - vs. New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils

7:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Last Penguins Game
October 25, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, Nashville 0


Probables

Pittsburgh (4-2-1) [via Dailyfaceoff]

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Pascal Dupuis - Brandon Sutter - Evgeni Malkin
Blake Comeau - Nick Spaling - Steve Downie
Zach Sill - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Defense
Kris Letang - Olli Maatta
Paul Martin - Christian Ehrhoff
Simon Despres - Rob Scuderi

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

New Jersey (4-2-2) [via Dailyfaceoff]

Forwards
Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr
Ryane Clowe - Patrik Elias - Damien Brunner
Reid Boucher - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder
Tuomo Ruutu - Jacob Josefson - Stephen Gionta

Defense
Andy Greene - Damon Severson
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Eric Gelinas - Jon Merrill

Goaltender
Cory Schneider


Stats

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Steelers Game 8 Recap - Steelers 51, Colts 34

This was an offensive assault form both teams. The Colts and Steelers combined for nearly 1,100 of offense and Ben Roethlisberger nearly set an NFL record for passing and that is just the start of what we all can talk about around the water cooler tomorrow. Do people still talk around water coolers? Whatever.

This starts and ends with Roethlisberger. He's played some really great football games throughout his career, but this is the best of them all. He threw for 522 yards and six touchdowns (!!!) and was in complete control. He threw the football 40 times in only 49 attempts and averaged over 10 yards per attempt. He really did nothing wrong the entire game and while he only threw nine incompletions a few of those were drops that could have easily went for catches. Ben doesn't throw a great deep ball but he was on point with it today along with pretty much every other pass.

Oh yea, and this:



Dude just makes plays and with Indianapolis putting up 34 points the Steelers needed their foot on the gas the entire night. Ben had his foot on the gas the entire night and carved up the second-ranked pass defense (according to Football Outsiders) like it was not big deal.

The Steelers offense as a whole gained 639 yards as a team. They had a pair of receivers go over 100 yards and they had 117 yards on the ground. 34 first downs, went 8-of-13 on third downs, and had the ball for nearly 40 minutes of action. There are a lot of good offenses that put up big numbers but this is one of the best offensive performances I have seen, maybe in my lifetime.

It would take me maybe 12 hours to do this recap if I went though and talked about every single player that had a great game today. Instead I will just talk about groups. First I will talk about the receivers. Man, were they good today. I mean I could talk about how good Antonio Brown is, but I think all of you guys know what he brings to the table. I think I can just post this here and it will about sum up how good he was today:



Martavis Bryant had been outstanding the last two weeks. I think when people talk about needing a "tall receiver" it is somewhat foolish because just being tall doesn't mean you are going to be good or just because you are small means you can't be successful in the red zone (look at Brown). That being said, Bryant has made a big impact and today he caught five passes for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He got behind the defense for a 52 yard bomb and even though he dropped a very catchable ball in the third quarter (I think) he has been nothing but impressive through two games. Two games is a pretty small sample size but with some of the struggles of Markus Wheaton and Lance Moore it is good to see a guy come in and make an immediate impact.

Heath Miller is winding down his career. He is still a really solid player but he is not nearly the player he used to be but as he showed tonight he can still put up great numbers when given the chance. He caught seven passes (in eight targets) for 112 yards and a touchdown. He found the soft spots in the defense and when Ben wasn't seeing anything down the field Miller was as reliable as he always is with catching the football and making something happen.

The offensive line. Man. The Colts got after Andy Dalton last week and shut out the Bengals so coming in I knew it wasn't gong to be easy for the Steelers to make things happen in the passing game. All the offensive line did was keep ben clean the entire game and give him as much time as he needed to throw. Mike Adams has been a liability for much of his tenure as a Steeler but tonight he was pretty outstanding. Actually everyone was outstanding on the line and they were as good in the run game as they were in pass protection. The offensive line has been pretty poor in the recent past filled with injuries and inconsistent play so to see a game like this is really refreshing.

Le'Veon Bell is the man. He might be the second most important player on the offense behind Roethlisberger and that is because he can do so much with the football. He ran for 92 yards on 24 carries and then added six catches for 56 yards. Getting the ball into his hands is always a good game plan and when he can also catch passes as well has find the holes then you are going to have a very dangerous player. He didn't break the big one today but on numerous occasions he was so close to and you could just feel the big play coming. That is exciting stuff.

The Colts have a pretty outstanding offense and Andrew Luck is as good as it gets throwing the football. Indianapolis had 448 total yards of offense and scored 34 points but the defense played a pretty good game. I don't really know how to describe it because when you give up so many yards and so many points you probably aren't going to win a lot of games but they were getting after Luck. The Steelers haven't really been able to pressure the quarterback but they were hitting Luck on pretty much every drop back. Lawrence Timmons essentially was living in the Colts backfield as he hammered Luck all game. I don't know how he got up from some of those hits and I give him a ton of credit because he stood in the pocket and made some big time throws knowing he was going to get smoked.

The Steelers forced a pair of turnovers and turned one of those into a defensive touchdown thanks to William Gay jumping a route in the first half:



That cop was PUMPED.

The Steelers haven't created a lot of turnovers but they used the momentum and Gay was able to jump the route and give the Steelers some non-offensive points. It was a good feeling and something I wasn't ready for.

Things were pretty tense in the second half. The Colts are a team that never give up and usually come back for their wins. The Colts got it as close to eight points in the fourth quarter but the Steelers never broke. I am not really sure I ever felt like they were going to lose after halftime even though there was that sense of doubt.

Anyways, the Steelers got the win and it doesn't matter how. They scored 51 points and their quarterback just manhandled a pretty good pass defense. Fun stuff.

It's Ravens week.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Penguins Game 7 Preview - @ Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators

8:00 p.m., Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN

The Last Penguins Game
October 23, 2014 - Detroit 4, Pittsburgh 3 (OT)


Probables

Pittsburgh (3-2-1) [via Dailyfaceoff]

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Pascal Dupuis - Brandon Sutter - Evgeni Malkin
Blake Comeau - Nick Spaling - Steve Downie
Zach Sill - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Defense
Kris Letang - Olli Maatta
Paul Martin - Christian Ehrhoff
Simon Despres - Rob Scuderi

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

Nashville (5-0-2) [via Dailyfaceoff]

Forwards
Filip Forsberg - Mike Ribeiro - James Neal
Colin Wilson - Derek Roy - Craig Smith
Olli Jokinen - Calle Jarnkrok - Taylor Beck
Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Viktor Stalberg

Defense
Roman Josi - Shea Weber
Anton Volchenkov - Seth Jones
Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Goaltender
Pekka Rinne


Stats

Friday, October 24, 2014

Steelers Game 8 Preview - vs. Indianapolis Colts

Another long week and another abbreviated preview this week. I will be giving you the nuts and bolts on the Colts, who are a pretty good team. The Colts currently lead the AFC South division and have scored 216 points which is second in the AFC, only eight points behind the Broncos.

The Colts defense struggles against the run on defense but their offensive and defensive passing games are top-notch and rank among the best in the league. With the Steelers struggles and overall inconsistency they are going to need to play some pretty outstanding football to pull out a win.

Lets take a look at the Colts.

Here are the numbers for the Indianapolis offense:

The Indianapolis offense ranks eighth in the league with an overall DVOA of 8.7% that includes a passing game that is renamed fifth in the league (35.3% DVOA) while the rushing game ranks 25th (-18.0% DVOA)

Passing

Andrew Luck
Completions: 199
Attempts: 302
Completion %: 65.9%
Yards: 2331 (leads NFL)
YPA: 7.7
TD: 19
INT: 7
DVOA: 25.2% (4th)
DYAR: 774 (1st)
QBR: 76.7 (6th)

Rushing

Trent Richardson
Attempts: 101
Yards: 358
Average: 3.5
Touchdowns: 2
DVOA: -15.4% (31st)
DYAR: -29 (31st)
Success Rate:

Ahmad Bradshaw
Attempts: 70
Yards: 336
Average: 4.8
Touchdowns: 1
DVOA: -2.3% (21st)
DYAR: 19 (22nd)

Receiving

T.Y. Hilton
Receptions: 47
Targets: 68
Yards: 711
Average: 15.1
Touchdowns: 1
DVOA: 26.6% (8th)
DYAR: 211 (3rd)
Catch Rate: 69%

Reggie Wayne
Receptions: 38
Targets: 62
Yards: 434
Average: 11.4
Touchdowns: 1
DVOA: 0.8% (33rd)
DYAR: 65 (26th)
Catch Rate: 63%

Dwayne Allen
Receptions: 21
Targets: 33
Yards: 305
Average: 14.5
Touchdowns: 5
DVOA: 33.2% (5th among tight ends)
DYAR: 91 (3rd)
Catch Rate: 64%

Offensive Line
Adjusted Line Yards: 4.22 (9th)
Power Success: 50% (31st)
Stuffed %: 19% (18th)

Rushing Frequency:
Left End: 15% (4.86 ALY, 6th)
Left Tackle: 10% (4.45 ALY, 5th)
Middle/Guard: 57% (3.79 ALY, 25th)
Right Tackle: 4% (5.77 ALY, 2nd)
Right End: 15% (4.71 ALY, 6th)

Here is a look at the Colts Defense. They rank 9th overall in terms of DVOA at -5.6% while they rank 2nd in pass defense (-12.7%) and 30th in rushing defense (5.3%).

Here are some of the statistical leaders for the defense:

D'Qwell Jackson
Total Tackles: 52
Solo Tackles: 34
Sacks: 3.0
Passes Defended: 0
Interceptions: 0

Jerrell Freeman
Total Tackles: 27
Solo Tackles: 17
Sacks: 0.0
Passes Defended: 2
Interceptions: 0

Mike Adams
Total Tackles: 24
Solo Tackles: 21
Sacks: 0.0
Passes Defended: 6
Interceptions: 2

Vontae Davis
Total Tackles: 20
Solo Tackles: 17
Sacks: 0.0
Passes Defended: 12
Interceptions: 2

Bjoern Werner
Total Tackles: 19
Solo Tackles: 14
Sacks: 4.0
Passes Defended: 1
Interceptions: 0

Here is a look at the Colts special teams

Kicking

Adam Vinatieri
Field Goals Attempted: 14
Field Goals Made: 14
Long: 50
1-19: 0-0
20-29: 5-5
30-39: 5-5
40-49: 3-3
50+: 1-1
Extra Points: 24-24

Punting

Pat McAfee
Punts: 27
Yards: 1,285
Average: 47.6
Long: 61
Inside 20: 13
Touchback: 1
Fair Catch: 10
Average Return Against: 4.3

Returns

Griff Whalen
Kick Return Attempts: 8
Kick Return Yards: 221
Kick Return Average: 27.6
Kick Return Long: 32
Kick Return TD: 0
Punt Return Attempts: 20
Punt Return Yards: 133
Punt Return Average: 6.7
Punt Return Long: 22
Punt Return TD: 0

Prediction: Colts 29, Steelers 20

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Penguins Game 5 Preview - vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers

8:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Penguins Last Game
October 18, 2014 - Pittsburgh 3, New York 1


Probables

Pittsburgh (3-1-0) [via Dailyfaceoff]

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Pascal Dupuis - Brandon Sutter - Evgeni Malkin
Blake Comeau - Nick Spaling - Steve Downie
Zach Sill - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Defense
Kris Letang - Olli Maatta
Paul Martin - Christian Ehrhoff
Simon Despres - Rob Scuderi

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

Philadelphia (1-3-2) [via Dailyfaceoff]

Forwards
Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jake Voracek
Brayden Schenn - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Wayne Simmonds
R.J. Umberger - Sean Couturier - Matt Read
Zac Rinaldo - Chris VandeVelde - Blair Jones

Defense
Nick Grossmann - Andrew MacDonald
Nick Schultz - Mark Streit
Michael Del Zotto - Luke Schenn

Goaltender
Ray Emery


Stats

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Steelers Game 7 Recap - Steelers 30, Texans 23

First almost the entire first half the Steelers like one of the worst football teams in the league. They weren't doing anything right on offense or defense and they were getting booed off the field on nearly every offensive possession. It was really bad times. After they failed to put up points on the first drive and subsequently pin the Texans on their own six yard line they allowed Houston to go 94 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown. Not only was that bad but allowing Houston to gain huge chunks of yards was a concern:



Woof.

Luckily for the Steelers fans the something clicked late in the second quarter and it led to a landslide of points that I don't think I have ever see from a Steelers team in my lifetime. Shaun Suisham closed out an eight play, 60 yard drive with a field goal with 3:08 remaining in the half and it was the first of 24 points the Steelers would score in the last 3:08to turn a 13-0 deficit into an 11 point halftime lead.

The Steelers forced a pair of turnovers inside the Texans' 20 yard line and in five plays and in 1:10 scored three touchdowns. Houston had no idea what to do. They looked like they didn't have an answer and just kept coughing the ball up and the Steelers kept their foot on the gas.

For much of the season the offense has been wildly inconsistent but for a brief stretch last night they completely dominated the opposing team and damn near put the game away.

Thanks to some shoddy receiver play recently Martavis Bryant, the Steelers fourth round pick out of Clemson, caught his first touchdown pass in his first game played from Ben Roethlisberger which was followed by a Lance Moore and Le'Veon Bell touchdown receptions.

The Moore touchdown was something to behold as it was Antonio Brown throwing the pass a play after the Steelers forced an Arian Foster fumble. Brown was going from left to right and stopped right after the handoff and rolled back to his left and threw a strike to Moore who was decently covered. What can't Antonio Brown do?

Speaking of, I think I sound like a broken record but Brown continues to be one of the very best receivers in the league. He caught nine passes for 90 yards and it would have been even more if the officials would have gave him a touchdown late in the game. It looked like it was a good catch on the TV and it didn't come back to hurt the Steelers but it's hard to get a touchdown taken off the board. Currently Brown leads the league with 719 receiving yards on 50 catches, the most among receivers (Matt Forte leads the league with 52). You know that there is going to be a game where he gets shut down but right now I just can't see that happening.

Another "broken record" is Bell. Dude is just a monster. Over the past five years the Steelers have done a really poor job of utilizing the backs out of the backfield despite having some good athletes back there, but this year is different. Bell caught eight passes for 88 yards including a huge 43 yard catch and run on third and long in the second quarter that led to the Steelers first points of the game. Bell also had 12 carries for 57 yards for almost five yards per carry. When the ball is in his hands a lot of things go right.

Bell also had a stake in this little tidbit:



Overall I don't think the Steelers have a very good team. They struggle on offense, struggle on defense, and struggle on special teams. They had an outstanding stretch of football in the second quarter but most of the first half was just horrible. The inconsistencies were still there but I guess it might be a good sign that they were at least able to overcome the lackluster play and win the game. They still were not able to finish drives but they were able to get points. In back-to-back drives in the fourth quarter they got field goals but putting the game away would have been really nice.

Defensively it was the same as the offense. I don't think they are a good defense and they are relying on some really past-their-prime players but the fact is that they stepped up last night. The Steelers have had a really tough time creating turnovers but they got three last night and they all came at really crucial times. They really struggled in the first half giving up scoring drives in each of Houston's first three drives but after that they buckled down and allowed Houston to gain only seven yards on the next five drives (one was to end the half). That is some good defense to pick up the offense.

After giving up massive amount of yards on penalties the Steelers committed only six penalties for 38 yards on Sunday.

All Lawrence Timmons does is make tackles. Actually he throws up on the field too, which might have been the sole reason for the turnaround late in the second half, but that is neither here nor there. Timmons made 12 tackles with 11 of them solo, and had a sack and two tackles for loss. He has been a bit up and down this season but overall has been pretty steady all season. That is how you bounce back from throwing up on the field.

The Steelers are now 4-3. The season hasn't been good but all things being equal they are only one back in the loss column from both Baltimore and Cincinnati and while I don't think they are a playoff team you never know what can happen.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Penguins Game 4 Preview - vs. New York Islanders

New York Islanders

1:00 p.m., CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Last Penguins Game
October 16, 2014 - Dallas 3, Pittsburgh 2


The Probables

Pittsburgh (2-1-0) [via Penguins website]

Forwards
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Patric Hornqvist
Pascal Dupuis - Brandon Sutter - Evgeni Malkin
Steve Downie - Nick Spaling - - Blake Comeau
Zach Sill - Marcel Goc - Craig Adams

Defense
Christian Ehrhoff - Paul Martin
Olli Maatta - Kris Letang
Rob Scuderi - Simon Despres

Goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury

New York (4-0-0) [via Dailyfaceoff]

Forwards
Cory Conacher - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo
Josh Bailey - Brock Nelson - Ryan Strome
Nikolai Kulemin - Frans Nielsen - Cal Clutterbuck
Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Colin McDonald

Defense
Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk
Thomas Hickey - Travis Hamonic
Brian Strait - Calvin de Haan

Goaltender
Jaroslav Halak


Stats