Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pirates Game Day 159 Live Blog

The Pirates and Marlins playing in Florida to end the season. You can clearly see the schedules just threw up their hands and said f it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bucs Clinch Top Pick in 2011

With the Seattle Mariners 3-1 win over the Texas Rangers tonight clinched something that everyone pretty much already knew but it was just made official. The Pirates clinched the top pick in the 2011 draft. I could say the Pirates just clinched Anthony Rendon, but that is something that is still up in the air and something that will only play out with time, but right now for all intensive purposes it will be Anthony Rendon.

Rendon is a third baseman from Rice and is a pretty complete player if you beleive in what the "experts" say. Some say that he might have been taken over Bryce Harper if he was in this years draft class and other think he could fall to second in the 2011 draft. What will affect this immensley will be the status of his college season in 2011 and how his ankle rebounds from being broken some months ago.

Last season Rendon put up a .388 batting average in 61 games played as a freshman. He 94 hits, 14 doubles, 20 home runs and 72 RBI. Not a bad line that will get you the National Freshman of the Year award last season.

Again Rendon did break his ankle, but from all reports he is going to be more than ready for the 2011 college season and he said the rehab is going along very well.

Another thing to think about is if Rendon has a bad college season. Outside of falling off the face of the Earth I doubt that that this will happen but you never know and you have to be ready for that.

Outside of Rendon there are a few good arms in the draft in TCU's Matt Purke and Gerrit Cole from UCLA. For my money Purke is the better pick of those two. I have seen him pitch and he is a bulldog. He can get up to 95 from the left hand side and has a very good slider. I mean I wouldn't be disapointed with Purke and I would be shocked if the Pirates didn't have Purke or Rendon at the draft.

The only downside about this whole situtation is having to listen to "Are the Pirates goign to take him" "The Pirates are cheap" "The Piraets will not spend the money for a top pick". I can handle not hearing that, but whatever. If Rendon can live up to the stock then this can be a very good lineup in as early as 2013.

I will have much more on this later as we have a lot of time to discuss about it. It will be fun to watch these guys in the college season.

If there is a silver lining for this season then this post might be it. I will take what I can get.

Pirates Game Day 157 Live Blog

I do not have a good feeling about the game tonight. As bad as it has been this year you can just feel something worse coming. Hell, for all I know they will win. Meh. Come chat bout it.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pirates Game Day 156 Live Blog

Come in and chat as the battlin Bucs can eliminate the Cardinals from playoff contention with a win tonight. Charlie Morton on the bump. You might not have noticed, but he has been pretty good since getting recalled.

LaMarr Woodley Beasts on Sports Science

Um, so LaMarr Woodley is pretty big and pretty strong, that is why he was invited on Sports Science to see how long it would take him to get through two layers of protection to get the quarterback.

So if you didn't see it yesterday here is the video of LaMarr Woodley on Sports Science:

What a beast.

Be scared Joe Flacco

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Good Luck Chuck. Steelers Win. Steelers 38, Buccaneers 13

Well, well, well. Look at what has been going on. The Steelers play great defense, winning football games and Chuck batch throwing three touchdown passes in the win. No, this is not 1999, this is what Steelers football is about when the one they call Big Ben is not on the field. Pretty impressive. Suck it haters, 3-0 bitches.

Good luck might have been given to Chuck when he went out for the game, but Chuck politely said to take that luck and stick it up your ass.  Boom. (see how I used this sentence to justify using that PS?)

The Steelers got the ball first, after CBS was done jerking themselves off to how great Brett Favre looked when he was walking into the Viking Dome or whatever they call that dump. Jokes.

Well Chuck tossed up a pick on his first pass, which wasn't a good pick (but then again what is a good pick) and set up Tampa Bay on the Steelers 30 yard line or something. They gained nine yards on four plays and kicked a field goal. That was about all the excitement that was in store for the Bucs today. It also made it touch on the Tampa Bay squad going into Heinz Field with the way this defense has been playing.

Wait, what? They weren't playing in Pittsburgh? They were in Tampa? No they weren't. Really?

The Steelers were on beast mode from then on. Early in the game the offense didn't look good and you might have thought to yourself that this might be a long day, nah. Chuck had it all on lock. 46 yard BOMB to Mike Wallace and the Steelers had their first regulation touchdown of the season, in the third game. Whatev.

Not too shabby Chuck, not too shabby at all.  Not idea what the Buc's DB was doing.  Dude never turned around to look for the football.  The ball was under thrown and Wallace caught it because he was actually looking for the football. Amazing how that works huh?

That touchdown was the first of four touchdowns in the first half.  Three more in the second quarter.  In the first half  the Buccaneers had one good drive after the first Wallace touchdown.  They went 15 plays and ate up almost nine minutes of the game clock but only would settle for a field goal on the drive. Bend but don't break defense. Those points wouldn't be on the board if Ike Taylor made a routine interception. In a shocking revelation Ike Taylor can't catch.

Rashard got the goaline carry and put the Steelers ahead 14-6 and you probably had no idea what was going on because you hadn't seen two Steelers touchdowns in the same game all season.  Nuts.

Just when you were settling in to watch the defense carry the team to another victory it was off again for Chuck Batch.  Another under thrown ball is tipped by the Bucs DB and into the hands of Wallace for a 41-yard touchdown.


Hines Ward followed and Tampa Bay pretty much ignored him like the Bubonic Plague in the end zone for the third touchdown pass of the day for Chuck.

After scoring only 34 points in the previous two games the Steelers scored 28 in the first half of this game against a Tampa Bay team that was 2-0 and supposed to be amazing.  Not really.

This about sums up what the first half (and game) was like for Tampa Bay.


The second half was pretty bland.  The Steelers pounded the rock and got a three from Jeff Reed in the third quarter.

The fourth quarter brought a first for the Steelers defense. Tampa Bay was driving down the field trying to get back into the game, and then it happened.  Josh Freeman went back to pass, ball bounces off a receivers hands and into the air and Brett Keisel picked the pass off and took it back 79-yards to the house for the Steelers touchdown.

Keisel's first interception and first touchdown.  An underrated player that doesn't get any credit for the stuff he does, but he got rewarded today with the defensive touchdown.  It was awesome to see him and his grizzly beard run down the sideline with his defensive teammates for the touchdown.  Pretty much summarized the season so far. The defense does anything it wants.

All business

Game, bitches.

My thoughts:

- Even when he is not on the field Troy is a beast. If you didn't see it, check out what he did on the sideline:

- It was nice to see the offense finally wake up. I know that a lot of people are really going to be all over Chuck's push to start for the rest of the foreseeable future. I am as big of a Steelers fan as anyone out there, but I also think I am pretty understanding of what needs to happen. I like Chuck and he did do a great job today, but this is Ben's team. Chuck under threw Mike Wallace on both touchdown passes, pretty bad, and both balls coulda been picked had the Bucs had someone that knew how to play DB. I don't care, love the win, but don't get it twisted, Ben gives this team the best chance to win.

- The offensive line was great today. Not good, great. Rashard had gaping holes to run through and Chuck was not touched all day. No sacks given up and plenty of running room. I am not sure what else you would watch from the offense today. This also must be taken with a grain of salt because no matter what their record was and how much hype they got coming in this Tampa Bay team is bad. They are not a good football team and their defense couldn't do anything. Still nice to see that the line is capable of this, and I have been very happy with the line so far this year. Keep it up because the Baltimore defense will be a lot better than what Tampa Bay brought today.

- Rashard Mendenhall has been solid all year. Some people are going to downplay his season because he only had 60 yards before his overtime run and around that last week, but he is running hard and holding onto the football. Rashard has had a problem with fumbles but so far this year it has been solid. He has some patients and ripped off some big runs today moving the chains, even against eight man fronts. He is good after contact and even was the goal line back today.  After thinking this kid might be a bust he has really proven that he can carry the load and if he keeps improving this year like he has been they he is going to be a top back in the league, even if he isn't in the top five of rushing yards.

- Last year the whipping boy of the Steelers defense was Will Gay, and rightfully so.  He was bad and didn't seem to be able to do anything right. This year is totally different. With Bryant McFadden back Will is able to be this teams nickle back and he has excelled in the secondary and has been a real force for the team. Now he is able to match up on slot receivers and his coverages have been great this year and he has been good with his tackling and making this secondary very strong. He even had a sack today coming off the corner. Love it.

- Sure there is Troy and Silverback and Wood but if you ask me the MVP so far this season is Lawrence Timmons. He has gotten better every year and this year he has been in top form. Today he led the team in tackles had a sack and forced a fumble. Opposing teams run games are stopped because of him. He can do it all while being fast and athletic enough to cover tight ends and backs in pass coverage. MVP in my eyes.

- I don't talk about this guy enough because I think as a Steelers fan you should know, but Aaron Smith has been beastly. I just talked about how Lawrence Timmons is the guy who shuts running games down, but it is just as much Smith too. Aaron Smith might be the most underrated defensive player in the NFL. He gets no respect, but if you as any offensive minded NFL coach I would put money on them having all good things to say about Smith and you would probably find out he is impossible to game plan for.

3-0 is a very nice thing. Baltimore next week. We need to do what the players do. Enjoy this win today, but as soon as you wake up tomorrow morning (assuming you sleep) you should be focused on the Baltimore Ravens. Doesn't get much bigger than this.

Big win. Enjoy it.

Maybe more to come later.

As always leave it in the comments for things I might have missed or things you want to talk about. Let me know your thoughts.

Pirates Game Day 155 Live Blog

Final home game for the 2010 season.  Go hit it up up live blog style. Magic number is 3.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Steelers Game Day 3 - @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2-0.  That is not what most people around the league thought of after the Steelers were going to play the Falcons and Titans. Instead the Steelers put on an absolute clinic on how to play NFL defense.  That is what it is all about my friend.  The Steelers will have to do the same thing this week, albeit against a must weaker team even though they are 2-0 themselves.  But I digress.  Busy weak so brief preview.  The stats:

Last Week:

Pittsburgh 19, Tennessee 11
Passing: Batch: 5/11, 25 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 23 car, 69 yards
Receiving: Wallace: 2 rec, 25 yards

Tampa Bay 20, Carolina 7
Passing: Freeman: 12/24, 178 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Williams: 27 car, 51 yards, 0 TD
Receiving: Winslow: 4 rec, 83 yards, 0 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)
Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 240.5 yards/game (31st)
Tampa Bay: 280.5 yards/game (24th)

Pittsburgh: 116 yards/game (31st)
Tampa Bay: 173.5 yards/game (25th)

Pittsburgh: 124.5 yards/game (10th)
Tampa Bay: 107 yards/game (15th)

Pittsburgh: 17 points/game (21st)
Tampa Bay: 18.5 points/game (t-17th)

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 266.5 yards/game (6th)
Tampa Bay: 309 yards/game (15th)

Pittsburgh: 52 yards/game (4th)
Tampa Bay: 111.5 yards/game (15th)

Pittsburgh: 214.5 yards/game (17th)
Tampa Bay: 197.5 yards/game (t-11th)

Pittsburgh: 10 points/game (t-1st)
Tampa Bay: 10.5 points/game (3rd)

There isn't really much story line unless you buy into the whole bullshit notion that "Oh my God THESE two teams are 2-0. Suck it media. We are two games into the season and you think that both of these two teams ended the recession. Give me a break. Even though both of these teams are 2-0 they are a vast difference in 2-0.

The team from Tampa Bay is so good that they don't even need to show their games in their home markets. That is right, blacked out of the Tampa area. What a joke. Oh and add onto that that they beat the Browns and Carolina. Those two teams might have COMBINED for 20 wins in the last five years and 18 of those probably come from Carolina. Reading Sports Pickle a few days ago they brought up a good point when you are looking at how surprising these two teams are being 2-0:

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that should pretty much tell you about the "surprise" factor that is around this game.  Basically this is just some joke that the media is going to use to hype up a game that even the home teams fans can't get behind.  Joke City.

You know what the real story might be?  The soldier will be in the building:

Could you have a more "foot in mouth" moment?  I mean really Kellen?  I am not even going to get into it.  Just think about it like this KWjr, you have more wins in one season with the Bucs than you ever did with the Browns.  I know what you guys are thinking.  You are thinking I am going to make a crack about him not being able to ride a cycle, but I will let him go on this one.

ummmmmmmmm, not bad....

Ok, ok, back to

Sure the Bucs might have only played the Browns and Panthers but they are doing it with basically a rookie QB and he has been playing well.  He was taken 17th overall two years ago.  Sure people are going to talk about how good he has been all year so far and this and that and how he has pretty much led this hap hazard offense to two wins, but truth be told Josh Freeman is basically a rookie QB.  Sure he gets to play against some of the best defenses in the NFC South (if there was an extreme sarcasm font I would use it for that phrase) but he has thrown more career picks (19) than touchdown passes (14).  That is good, right?  RIGHT? Whatever helps you sleep at night Tampa.

 The Steelers defense is going to have something special for Mr. Freeman and is going to make his head spin.  I know that Freeman might have played against a couple good defenses in the past but in his short time frame he really hasn't faced a defense like Dick LeBeau is able to bring.  This Pittsburgh Steelers salavates on young quarterbacks.  I mean look at last week.  A rookie quarterback in Vince Young, err, a proven vet, err...could not find anything and turned the ball over about every other time he touched it (literally) so this defense can do a lot of things that the ordinary defense can't do.  To have Troy Polamaulu lining up 20 yards off the ball before the snap and be in the box when the ball is being snapped.  I would be freaked out if I was the Tampa Bay Bucs.

All joking aside this is going to be a pretty good game.  Not because Tampa Bay is a great 2-0 team, but because the Steelers are just that inept at playing the offensive side of the game. If you looked earlier on the offensive stats you would notice that the Steelers are in the bottom of total offense and passing offense and that is not going to get any better until Ben gets back.  Charlie Batch gives the Steelers a much better passing attack but in all truth he has only started in like five games in the past nine years. The Steelers aren't going to toss the ball all across the field but they are going to do the best to at least give the running attack and the defense a better fighting chance.

The game plan for the game should focus mostly on running the football. Like I said before Chuck isn't going to go down the field a whole ton.  The Black and Gold only need enough passing offense to keep the defense honest so that they can do their thing on the ground.  While the offensive line has been bashing pretty much the whole year I am the one of the other side of the fence. I think the line has been holding their own and just giving the quarterbacks enough time in the pocket and opening up some good holes for Rashard to run through. Everyone thinks that every play the defensive line should be lying flat on their backs but here is a news flash, the denfense is good sometimes.  I think the Steelers that the Steelers are going to mostly run, but they will let Chuck throw a few times and pound the rock.

Along the lines of the offensive line, we are going to be looking at the heat.  It is supposed to be hotter in Tampa than it was in Tennessee last week so that is going to open up some questions for your Black and Gold. In Tennessee the offensive lineman had to actually rotate out of the game to avoid the heat and not cramp up.  That led to a lot of players flipping line spots, which is never good.  Trai Essex is out for the game with a banged up ankle so that is just another to the injury list that the Steelers have. Luckily for Pittsburgh Max Starks will be back to stabilize the offensive line and hopefully continue this win streak. The Steelers are also wearing their black jerseys. Shocker.

On the offensive side of the ball don't be surprised if you see a trick play or two on Sunday.  I mean it might be out of necessity that the Steelers have some trick plays to just finish the game.  Listen, Chuck Batch is starting, Byron Leftwhich is the backup and that is it.  We have a guy who gets hurt every year and a guy who, for all intensive purposes, is still hurt.  What if they both go down you say?  Antwan Randle El.  Yep, you are correct.  The same kid who ran QB at Indiana in college is going to be the emergency quarterback for an NFL team. He has been taking snaps in practice in preparation of maybe having to play on Sunday. Unreal.

The special teams battle is going to be one the Steelers should win.  Sure taking one back to the house last week against the Titans was big, but it needs to make some headway in all forms. Dan Sepulveda has been pretty busy so far this year with the all ineptness of the offense and he has been pretty money.  We know that the Steelers are going to have some stalled drives and it is up to Danny to flip field position and let the defense pound down on the Tampa offense.  El is also probably going to be returning punts and he is already getting bashed pretty hard. Listen, would a flash punt return be nice?  Sure. But to be honest as long as he catches every punt and keeps the possession with the Steelers then I am more than ok with that.  People are going to bitch and moan that he should be averaging 20 yards a punt return, but the first time he muffs a punt it will be life "what the hell was he trying to do".  As long as he secures the ball I am ok with whatever he does.

The Steelers have won the last three meetings against the Bucs.  They are also pretty good in the state of Florida.  I remember what happened the last time the Steelers were in Tampa Bay. Do you?


Well there is a ton of shit I could go over here but like I said in the intro, long week. Lets get this shit done.

Hit it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tosh.0 with Brooks Orpik and Jagoffs

Some of you may or may not watch Tosh.0, but it is a great show. Hilarious as a matter of fact. Last night I put a post up about how NCIS referenced Mario Lemieux, which is pretty bad ass. Well, tonight there were two Pittsburgh references in Tosh.0.

The first is a Brooks Orpik sherzey:

Then we get Daniel Tosh back from commercial break and he throws this out:

Maybe I get too excited about Pittsburgh things, but hearing him say jagoff really made me laugh and miss home a little bit.

Hope yinz enjoyed.

Pirates Game Day 151 Live Blog

James Harrison: Defensive Player of the Week

Today James Harrison was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Week by the National Football League.

Not surprising because Harrison led a stud defensive team to a 19-11 win over Tennessee. Harrison pretty much did everything: 11 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

He also was a part of this:

I have a few problems with all of this:

1) The entire defense needs to win this award. Has this ever happened? I know James spear headed the defense but Lawrence Timmons, Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu also were just as big. Giving the Defensive "Player" of the week award to the whole defense would be fine, although the NFL would never do that. You know what would be better? Give it to Dick LeBeau. What a beast.

2) James Harrison should have won AFC Offensive Player of the Week award too. I mean he, and the defense, pretty much was the offense on Sunday so you might as well give the Steelers defense both awards. I think that is fair.

Also am throwing in this, because lets face it any time you talk about James Harrison is a good time to use it:

Tampa better watch its back.

Here We Go.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

NCIS and Tony DiNozzo Dig Mario Lemieux

Everyone knows how good NCIS is. Gibbs is basically Chuck Norris and the show is probably the best on TV right now. Tonight they stepped it up to a new level with this gem:

Pirates Game Day 150 Live Blog

Sunday, September 19, 2010

D is for Defense. Steelers Win. Steelers 19, Titans 11

Make no mistake about this game, the final score was 19-11, but the game was never even remotely that close if you watched it. The Steelers defense treated the Tennessee Titans like they were the inferior little brother or sister that you beat up on when you were younger. Actually, it was nothing like that, it was a lot worse for the team that wore white on Sunday. It was a punishing performance by the black and gold defense and they (along with Vince Young) propelled the Steelers to a 2-0 start, something most people thought wouldn't be possible.

The defense stole the show and forced seven turnovers and used and abused the entire Tennessee Titans offense and team and sent that team back licking their wounds. It was great to see.

Oh, and the Steelers wanted me to pass something on to the rest of the NFL (because coaches and players obviously read this):
We're back, bitches

Now lets take a look at how things unfolded today in Tennessee.

The first thing that we noticed is how bad the Titans really want to be like the Steelers. Going into LP Field all the fans were handed powder blue towels with the number 12 on them. I guess that is supposed to mean you are the 12th man on the field. Awesome, real cute. Still saw a ton of yellow towels flying around.

You know when it wasn't really loud? During the first 10 seconds. MeMo was standing back for the kickoff and I was thinking to myself "Man that is really weird, why isn't Antonio Brown returning kicks" and then MeMo got the ball and handed it off to AB and he was gone.

Just when you think the special teams isn't going to be a factor, bam it happens. You know what was even better? The Steelers kick off to the Titans and the Steelers break down in some coverage, but leave it to Stevenson Sylvester, a rookie, to come from behind and cause a fumble that the Steelers recover.

What happens next? Only almost a full out throw down fight. Cortland Finnegan tried to mix it up with about half of the team and actually threw punch at Hines Ward and somehow Ward got a penalty too. I was not really surprised there was offsetting penalties because there were about 20 people in the tussle, but Finnegan is very lucky he wasn't tossed. After all that Dennis Dixon gets strip sacked and the Titans recovered. Meh. They job around and get a few first downs and then kick a field goal to make this a 7-3 games. Whatever. Still a great start for the special teams and a huge boost since the offense struggled in Atlanta.

The Steelers were very pedestrian in the first half and relied on the foot of Jeff Reed to put up two more field goals in the first half. The Titans did a hell of a job of looking like the football was a hot potato that they couldn't handle. Tennessee turned the ball over four, count em, four times in the first half. VY was picked twice in the first half and fumbled away two more. Not really what you want to do.

The big story for the Steelers in the second quarter when Chuck Batch came out. I was wondering what the hell was going on but it was quickly found out that DD had a knee injury and probably would not be back on the field. Awesome. Fourth string QB in that game. That is right, fourth string.

The Titans came out for the second half and really didn't do much else. The Steelers defense just came out and made things miserable for the Titans and their running game. Chris Johnson came in with 12 straight 100 yard rushing days and he wasn't "up to snuff" as Mike Tomlin might say today and was shut down, mainly by Lawrence Timmons and James Harrison. He barely was getting back to the line of scrimmage on most plays and looked pretty dejected.

I can see how Vince might get dejected as things were going like this for him all day:

On the third Titans possession in the second half James Harrison was his studly self and strip sacked Young to give the Steelers the ball back and Jeff Reed converted another field goal to put the Steelers up 16-3 at that point. It was really a dominating performance by the defense in Vince Young's face.

That would be it for youngin Vince. Vince gets pulled in favor of Kerry Collins. You know listening to the pregame shows you would have thought that Vince Young was the next Super Bowl winning QB, and actually Mike Irvin said that he would be a SB winner. Sorry, but that is what Vince Young really is. Making terrible reads and basically throwing interceptions to the other team. Like this one to LaMarr Woodley:

and this one to Troy:

Kerry didn't do so hot when he was in there as he was picked on his fourth pass attempt by Bryant McFadden.

A couple series later, with about six minutes left in the half, Collins was strip sacked by LaMarr Woodley and the Steelers came up with the ball again deep in Titans territory. This time the Steelers converted. The Steelers almost had a touchdown but it was called back due to a hold. Damn. Skippy comes out and knocks it down for a 19-3 lead. Seems over right? Doubtful.

With five minutes left and down by 16 Collins did something that Vince Young couldn't and took the team on a 17 play, 86 yard drive that resulted in a Nate Washington touchdown. That was the first touchdown given up by the Steelers defense all year. Sure the Steelers played prevent defense there, but they kept things underneath and kept the Titan in bounds and the clock ran.

Maybe the play of that drive wasn't made by the Titans, it was made by Troy Polamalu. On a second down play this is what he did:

I know you are thinking "ah onsides kick, we will get this and it is over." Not so fast. The Titans recover the onsides kick after the Titans motioned into a center onsides kick. Will Allen tries to catch the ball on the bounce and it didn't work. Titans ball. There was a close call but McFadden and Clark break it up.  The Titans then try a very creative play where they run a check down pass with no time left at midfield.  Ballsy call, but didn't really work as Chris Johnson actually lost yards.  Joke. Game.


-The Steelers only gained 127 yards of total offense. 127 yards. Most players in the NFL gain more yards than that. You wanna know what? They won. Who cares. As Mike Tomlin says there are no style points in the NFL so who cares. There were some injuries to the offensive linemen and we were on our fourth string QB. Stoosh made a few great points on Twitter saying that the Titans defense should look this good, they are playing a fourth preseason game offense. He is right, things were not good, but the defense stepped up and became the offense. I will take it. If this happens when Ben is back then it is worth noting but I don't care.

-That being said I didn't think the running game was too bad. The Titans knew the Steelers had to run the football, especially when Dixon went out and for Rashard to get 69 yards was good. A couple of big runs in the fourth quarter on a few drives were huge and for the most part I think the o-line did a decent job. Sure they gave up four sacks but we are playing with literally maybe one starter half the time. The linemen were being rotated in because of the heat so they could get fluids in their body, I am sure that is not easy.

-What more can you say about James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley? 92 had two sacks a forced fumble and 11 tackles (10 solo). 56 had four tackles, a sack and an INT. Woodley was dropping off in coverage a little bit and was doing a hell of a job. Those two are just straight freaks and James Harrison was a fixture in the face of Vince Young and Chris Johnson.

-A whole blog needs to be made about Lawrence Timmons this year. Dude should easily win the defensive player of the week award. The only problem? James Harrison, but LT should win it. He had 15 tackles (12 solo) and was a beast in the run game. I mean the strides he made from even last year to this year is really unreal. If Chris Johnson has a new tattoo of Lawrence Timmons helmet on his chest I wouldn't even bat an eye. What might have been more impressive than his run stopping (which was incredible) was his pass coverage. I noticed a few times that LT was matched up man-on-man with Chris Johnson out of the backfield in pass patterns and was with him stride for stride and was all over him. LT is so freakishly athletic he is able to do this and he is going to be something special if he keeps this up.

-This might be one of the best defensive performances you could possibly see. I mean they forced seven turnovers. This was a Titans team that was FAVORED by five points going in. People were talking as if Vince Young was an elite QB before the game and the Steelers defense made him look like a school boy. It seemed as if there were 15 defensive players on the field today. Unreal performance. If this defense plays like this the rest of the season then this is a division winning team and a serious Super Bowl contender.

-Speaking of defense how big of a deal do you think that Troy Polamalu is to the defense? I would say he is a pretty big deal. The DB's couldn't buy a pick last year and he made two picks in two games. Two HUGE picks. That play on the goal line is probably the play of the year so far. No lie my jaw dropped and I was speechless when that happened. I don't care what people think, Troy is the best player, regardless of position, in the NFL. If they had to redraft the entire NFL he would be the first overall pick. Player like this don't come around too often and he is on our team. Unreal.

-On the Titans side of the ball we didn't really talk about Chris Johnson.  CJ is a very good running back, probably the best in the league.  Sure he is a possible 2,000 yard back but he can also catch passes and make other things happen.  If there was one thing that was pretty clear today (to me at least) was that CJ does not like to take hits.  It just seemed like as the game wore on he just got more tense and indecisive with the football and was not hitting the line with the power he usually does.  The Steelers hit him hard and early in the game and it took a huge toll on him.  CJ has been know for not taking many hit because he is very good with his body positioning and absorbing blows, but today he was exposed a few times and the Steelers smacked him around.  I am not saying he is weak, there are just some people in the NFL that don't like to get hit and I think he is one of them.  Hines Ward is a guy who likes to get hit and it shows in his game.  CJ is not like that.  He is the best in teh league, but you are able to get into his head and alter his game if you can smack him around.

-I thought Jeff Reed did an exceptional job today on his kickoffs. We all know he is pretty money on field goal attempts but a lot has been made of his kick offs. They don't go deep enough and it leaves the defense hamstrung, la la la. Today he was kicking the ball into the end zone with consistency. I don't know if it was due to the weather, I don't care. It was a nice job by Jeff.

-The offense looked bad. We all know that. It was hard to watch when we had the ball, but IT DOESN'T MATTER. When we started this it was pretty much agreed that the Steelers needed to go 2-2 before Ben got back and the Steelers got those two wins against good teams. Style points don't matter to Mike Tomlin and they shouldn't matter to you. Hell a monkey (literally, a wild monkey) could line up at QB and he he gets the Steelers a win I don't care. If the Steelers can get another win or even both then this team is going to be dangerous when Ben gets back. Throw the offense out the door and just focus on W/L. Would you be happier if the offense racked up 450 yards of offense and lose by 2? I wouldn't, I would rather gain 100 yards of total offense and win by 8. Book it.

What do yinz think? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments section.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pirates Game Day 148 Live Blog

Steelers Game Day 2 - @ Tennessee Titans

The Steelers are fresh off a win over Atlanta and now they go to the south to play a pretty decent Tennessee Titans team.  Needless to say a win here and the Steelers are looking great going into a week three match up with Tampa Bay with a chance to pile on the wins before Ben gets back after his four game suspension.  The Titans really have a lot of unknowns in the trenches, which I am not sure if that is good or bad.  Enough of this, lets get to the preview.

Last Week:

Pittsburgh 15, Atlanta 9 (OT)
Passing: Dixon: 18/26, 236 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Mendenhall: 22 car, 120 yards, TD
Receiving: Ward: 6 rec, 108 yards

Tennessee 38, Oakland 13
Passing: Young: 13/17, 154 yards, 2 TD
Rushing: Johnson: 27 car, 142 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Washington: 3 rec, 88 yards, 1 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)
Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 354 yards/game (11th)
Tennessee: 345 yards/game (12th)

Pittsburgh: 211 yards/game (16th)
Tennessee: 140 yards/game (28th)

Pittsburgh: 143 yards/game (4th)
Tennessee: 205 yards/game (2nd)

Pittsburgh: 15 points/game (t=17th)
Tennessee: 38 points/game (t-1st)

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 295 yards/game (13th)
Tennessee: 286 yards/game (11th)

Pittsburgh: 58 yards/game (6th)
Tennessee: 136 yards/game (28th)

Pittsburgh: 237 yards/game (22nd)
Tennessee: 150 yards/game (8th)

Pittsburgh: 9 points/game (t-3rd)
Tennessee: 13 points/game (t-8th)

Both teams are coming off pretty big wins, althought the mean of "big win" is different for both of those respective teams. The Steelers win was big because they were facing a playoff caliber team without their top player. The goal, as I have stated millions of times, was to go 2-2 without BR. With the win against Atlanta they only have to win one of the next three games in order to get there, if that was your goal. You have to think they have a good shot of beating a bad Buccaneers team in week three to this swing game against the Titan could vault them and give them a ton of confidence.

The Titans on the other hand played a pretty bad Raiders team, and it showed. I know know the line "well everyone said that the Raiders were a ton better this year and they are on their way up and blah blah blah." You know what else people said? The world was flat, how'd that work out? Thought so. The Raiders still can't defend the run and Chris Johnson capitalized.

The key to the game is making Vince Young beat us. Nobody can sit there and try to say that Chris Johnson isn't a good back or that the Titans front line isn't good at making holes and seams for him and his dread locked hair. People say it all the time but if you make a team one dimensional they are much easier to beat. Can Vince Young carry a team on his arm for a win? I doubt it. Can Vince Young win with a balanced running game and he manages the passing attack? Hell yea. I do not think Vince Young is a very good quarterback but if the running game is going to gash the defense some then things could get very interesting.

The Steelers defense showed a lot last week, especially Lawrence Timmons and Bryant McFadden. What people don't really realize with Lawrence Timmons is that his good play (like last week) really opens up the rest of the linebackers to play their own game. Nobody has to cover for his mistakes anymore. LT is making good plays in the run game and is more than athletic enough to cover tight ends in patters so it really loosens up the defense for everyone to do their job and that is what we got last week.

The Titans are not as recognizable as they have been over the past couple of years. Gone are the likes of Keith Bullick and the towel stomping and in the place are a bunch of really unknown defensive players. Former Steeler Chris Hope is in a very good secondary with Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin. The pass defense is pretty good and those DB's are able to lay the wood if Dixon is going to leave something up high over the middle.

The linebackers include Jamie Winborn, Stephen Tulloch and Will Witherspoon. Tulloch is the best of the group as he has accounted for over 100 tackles over the past three or four years. Don't ask me how many years, I know it is over the last few plus one or two but I am really lazy. He did lead the team with 121 tackles last year and two sacks. Meh, two sacks is what LaMarr Woodley has for breakfast.

Like I said Vince Young is not the guy I would want to have on my team (fantasy or real) to try and get wins. Sure he might have gotten better but man what a headcase. He gets booed a few years ago and basically runs away from home. Speaking of which I hope none of the Steelers flash the hook em horns sign upside down because if you do then you might get this:

YEA GO GET EM VINCE. I wonder if Pacman was with him.

Young has problems throwing the short ball, but he is pretty decent at throwing the deep ball. Gonna be pretty hard to throw the deep ball when you have James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in your grill all day. The Steelers defense is predicated on giving up the underneath routes and getting pressure on the QB. Get some pressure on Vince Young and slow the run game down and I think the Steelers have a nice chance in this one.

What might be different about this football team than most you will see the Steelers play this year is that they are more of a helter skelter offensive unit. They will run a wild cat type offense thanks to the athleticism of Vince Young. Well that and he isn't a very good quarterback. He is going to get out of the pocket and is going to run and make stuff happen if he is able to break containment. With this kind of format Chris Johnson becomes even more of a force in the offensive play book. Just because he doesn't get the ball on a hand off doesn't mean that he isn't going to catch passes. Johnson caught 50 balls for 503 yards. Not too shabby.
The defense is going to have to contain and keep things in front of them. What does this mean? You might not see the pass rush that you are typically seeing. Last time these two teams met the Steelers used a more contained rush to keep things bottled up and not let a screen pass beat them and not let VY get outside the pocket. The Steelers don't face a ton of "wildcat" offenses (even though it isn't true wildcat, whatever that is) so it will be interesting to see if they get after it this time.

Just like last week the offensive line is going to have to be good again. The Steelers are going to want to run the football again and control the clock and dictate the game. The Steelers were able to do that against Atlanta and even though they tried to get into the uptempo style of game the Steelers were able to make them play of they wanted to play, and that was a huge testament to the offensive line. DD got sacked three different times, but it really wasn't that bad. Two of them happened on back-to-back plays and other than that the protection was pretty good for the Steelers and Dixon. The running game wasn't great but it was good enough and the dam finally broke when it needed to. Before Rashard's 50 yard walk off winner he only had 70 some yards, but they weren't bad yards. They were moving the ball well and Ike Redmond was good at converting some third and short.

Everyone is hyping up the Titans pretty big this season. A lot of people are thinking that they are too much for the Steelers and Dennis Dixon. I don't really see it like a lot of people do. Don't get me wrong, Tennessee will be a good team and it will be tough, but would it shock me to see the Steelers win. The Titans are alright, but not a great as some thing. The Steelers win this one. The score? Probably something like 24-16, I think DD gets some points on the board.

What did yinz think? Am I off base? Let me know in the comments.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mets Route Pirates, Duke

Over the entire year Zach Duke has been more bad than he has been good and tonight was no different. Duke was very pedestrian again when he only went 3.1 for eight runs, seven earned on nine hits. I mean anymore Duke has been pretty much just batting practice for opposing hitters. After the game it was reported by DK and a few others that Duke will most likely be out of the starting rotation, per John Russell. I am not shocked at all, I would actually be pretty surprised if Duke was back next year as he is due a raise and he is certainly not pitching like it.

Other than Dukes terrible performance the offense wasn't much better. The Pirates only had five hits over the nine innings they took to the plate and the starters only accounted for three of those hits. It was just that kinda night for the offense. Most of the starters were yanked for replacements in the latter half of the game and that was about all she wrote. Not a bad idea to give guys some rest because guys like McCutchen, Tabata, Walker and company get very few days off.

All told the Pirates moved to 48-96 in this dismal season and only have 15 wins on the road. 15 wins on the road. Most teams have more wins in a month than we have had on the road ALL SEASON. Like I said many many many times before if this is not rock bottom I don't want to see what is. This is becoming very hard to watch.

The Pirates are now seven games "up" on Seattle for the top spot (for the #1 pick that is). While typing this the Mariners were playing so that could go up by a half game or down by a half game. Before the Seattle game ended the magic number is 11. That means all that has to happen is the number of Pirates losses/Seattle wins (if they stay in second to last) equal 11 will clinch the Pirates the number one pick next summer. So if the Pirates lose 6 more games and the Mariners (or whoever else) wins five games then the Pirates clinch. Hope that makes sense.

As bad as all of that sounds it could be worse. The youngsters are playing really well and Neal Huntington has done a hell of a job bringing guys in (McDonald, Resop) in the trade deadline. It looks like things (talent) wise are getting there. We won't be there next year but the steps are being taken in the right direction and I am happy.

Lets Go Bucs.

Pirates Game Day 144 Live Blog

Sunday, September 12, 2010

They're Back. Steelers Win. Steelers 15, Falcons 9

I don’t know if there was a bigger opening game for the season than there was today for the Pittsburgh Steelers. This was huge. The defense is pretty much back and it is only going to get better. DD did what he had to do and there were very little mistakes. Gotta love being a Steelers fan.

The Steelers started the game off right getting the points on the board. I don’t know what was going on but the play calling was excellent. Running the football and running easy screens for DD to get acclimated to the game. The Steelers chewed up 7:03 off the game clock and ended with a 52-yard field goal by Jeff Reed. Reed has been good kicking at Heinz Field but you woulda thought he was bashing a towel dispenser at Sheetz the way he hit that field goal, with about five yards to spare.

The defense stepped up and made some plays to end the quarter. Matt Ryan barely had room to breathe during the quarter as he was harassed and give no time to make passes. LaMarr Woodley continued to be his studly self and ended a Falcons drive with a sack of Ryan. The Steelers then ended the quarter with a stop of Mike Turner on a 3rd and one. If the defense can play like this the Steelers can win some football games this year.

The Steelers and Falcons really played a glorified chess match for the second quarter, not taking a lot of chances and just trading punts for the most part. With about five minutes left in the first quarter the Steelers hit some big passes and drove down inside the Falcons 30 before DD threw a pick. He had Heath Miller wide open and the linebacker was underneath. Instead of putting some touch on the pass he threw a bullet like the backer wasn’t even there. Needless to say that was picked off and killed a drive.

The Steelers got the ball back and made a push with the two minute offense and got in some good field position, but Dennis again threw a low pass to an open Randle El and forced a 55-yard try by Skippy but it just missed hitting the left upright. Plenty of leg on the kick and actually might have been good from 60 so that is a nice look for Skippy.

With the miss it gave the Falcons to get a few plays and work into field goal range and they knocked down a 49 yarder to go into the half tied.

Dennis did ok, the play calling really helped him and BA did a nice job of setting him up to be successful but DD just needed to relax and throw the football. He basically threw the ball into the ground with open receivers and that needed to change and really was the reason the Steelers weren’t up at the half.

The second half was much more of the same as the first half. Nothing dazzling just a decent big play here and there and a lot of meh. Dennis opened up a little bit and got the ball down the field to Mike Wallace for a big time play and set up a short Jeff Reed field goal after the Falcons went up by three with a field goal in their first possession of the half.

The Steelers and Falcons jobbed around a little bit more and then midway through the fourth quarter the Steelers put together a pretty nice drive. Dennis Dixon found Hines Ward on back to back plays to drive into the red zone.

The drive stalled and DD almost threw another pick so getting three points was pretty good in my mind and gave the Steelers a 9-6 lead.

This is where the Steelers defense folded last year. Today it didn’t fold, but let the Falcons drive down the field and make a few plays. The Steelers got unlucky when Lawrence Timmons sacked Ryan, forced a fumble and Silverback took it to the hosue for a TD. The play was challenged and then overturned when it was shown that Matt Ryan was in the throwing motion. Good call, but unlucky. They did buckle down once Atlanta got into the red zone and forced another field goal to tie the game at nine. It must also be noted during this drive that it was reconfirmed that holding James Harrison is still legal in the NFL.

The final two minutes of regulation was unreal crazy. The Steelers get the ball, right before the two minute warning Mike Tomlin called a timeout after gaining seven yards on first down. Second down, after the TO, BA calles a pass and DD gets sacked. Third and long and DD gets sacked again. Balls. Daniel Sepulveda booms a punt that went like 90 yards and set up Atlanta on their own 20 yard line. First play was unreal. Matt Ryan tries to throw an out route and Troy breaks on it from midfield and makes an unreal pick on the sideline. The Steelers were set up to win this thing. Jeff Reed, 40 yards out, wide right. You have to be shitting me. Reed is money and he missed.

The Falcons won the toss and then the defense took over. Forces the Falcons to punt and after a shoddy punt the Steelers took over at the 50 yard line. That is when it happened. First down. Rashard Mendenhall. To the house. First play from scrimmage for the Steelers in overtime and they made very short work of it.

Huge win for the Steelers.


-The defense was the real deal today. That is the kinda defense this team needs this year if they are going to be a real player for a playoff spot. They need that kinda play from its secondary which was very impressive today. Sure Rody White had 100+ yards receiving but that was about it. Bryant McFadden had a very nice game and Troy was his normal studly self. Harrison and Woodley each came up with a sack and late in the fourth quarter the refs actually called a hold on an offensive lineman against Silverback.

-Speaking of McFadden there is one thing that he doesn’t get enough credit for in his game and that is that he is a very good tackler. He lead the team today with 14 total tackles and he was very good around the line of scrimmage and made some very nice open field tackles. This was a problem for the Steelers last season and BMac makes a vast improvement on that.

-Third and short was a success today. Isaac Redman was the short yardage back and he converted. I do not know off hand how many he converted, but he was very successful at moving the sticks.

-Someone wants to say this but nobody wants to get their hopes up, but the offensive line did a pretty nice job today. They did a nice job in the preseason in the running game and opening up holes, but they were really good today. David Johnson threw a huge block on Mendenhall’s game winning touchdown run and there were very few penalties on the o-line today. I know they gave up three sacks, but they weren’t that bad as a whole. DD had some nice time to throw and really didn’t have to roll out of the pocket to escape. Nice effort by the line.

-Starks went out with an injury. This could be a big injury. Jon Scott came in a did a pretty good job from what I can see. Didn’t look good when Starks got rolled up on and couldn’t even put pressure on it, but you never know with injuries.

-The Atlanta Falcons are a good football team. Lets not get this twisted, this wasn’t some bad team that came in and we beat. This was a good football team. Matt Ryan isn’t an elite QB like Fox wanted you to think but he is still better than most. Mike Turner is a really good running back and Rody White can play some football. The defense dig a great job of getting the big stop, but that is a good team.

-DD wasn’t terrible. His stat line looked pretty good. 18/26 for 236 yards and a pick. Not terrible, but he coulda been a lot better. He should improve but he was a part of this win. Sure he had the one turnover but for the most part he kept things in perspective and took care of the football and got this team a win.

-Heinz Field was electric today. Usually these early season games are tough and it takes the fans a while to get into it too, but that place was pretty loud today and they represented the team on the field with some noise when the team needed it.

-Hines Ward went for six catches and 108 yards. He is a big time player.

-Mendenhall had a really nice game. He kept pounding the rock and finally got rewarded for it. He had good vision today and got what he could when there wasn’t anything there. I can’t really recall too many times he was taken for a loss. He finished with 22 carries for 120 yards and the line touchdown of the game. Nice work.

Huge win for the Steelers. I am sure there will be more to add to this later but for now this is all you get. Did I miss something? Did you see something different? What are your thought? Leave em in the comments.

Pirates Game Day 142 Live Blog

Steelers Game Day 1 - vs. Atlanta Falcons

It is finally here. We have waited so long for this day. Some of us have waited longer than others but last year left a very bad taste in the mouths of all of Steelers Nation and with the players themselves. The Steelers are without their top wideout from a year ago (Santonio Holmes) and a top three quarterback for four games (Ben Roethlisberger). Guys are back (Larry Foote, Antwann Randle El, Bryant McFadden) and everyone is focusing on other teams (Cincinnatti, Baltimore). The Steelers have an uphill battle this year but I think we all have the faith and we are sure as hell ready for the season to start. It's go time. (Not real sure what the Phillies part is all about in the title)

Before we get into what is big this week, lets look at the statistical breakdown of the game:

Last Meeting:

October 22, 2006
Atlanta 41, Pittsburgh 38 (OT)

Passing: Roethlisberger: 16/22, 238 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT
Rushing: Parker: 20 car, 47 yards
Receiving: Ward: 8 rec, 171 yards, 3 TD

Passing: Vick: 18/30, 232 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Dunn: 26 car, 69 yards, TD
Receiving: Crumpler: 117 yards, 3 TD

Offense (rank in NFL)
Total Offense
Pittsburgh: 371.3 yards/game (7th)
Atlanta: 340.4 yards/game (14th)

Pittsburgh: 259.3 yards/game (9th)
Atlanta: 223.2 yards/game (14th)

Pittsburgh: 112.1 yards/game (19th)
Atlanta: 117.3 yards/game (15th)

Pittsburgh: 23 points/game (12th)
Atlanta: 22.7 points/game (13th)

Total Defense
Pittsburgh: 305.3 yards/game (5th)
Atlanta: 348.9 yards/game (21st)

Pittsburgh: 89.9 yards/game (3rd)
Atlanta: 106.8 yards/game (10th)

Pittsburgh: 215.4 yards/game (16th)
Atlanta: 242.1 yards/game (28th)

Pittsburgh: 20.3 points/game (t-12th)
Atlanta: 20.3 points/game (t-12th)

The rosters from the game above are pretty different huh? I would say so. The Steelers don't match up against the Falcons all too often so you really can't talk about too much history when these two teams together. Unless they are going to play in the Super Bowl these two teams typically match up once every four years.

This year's Falcons team is pretty good. Between Matt Ryan, Mike Turner and Roddy White they have a chance to put up some big points on the board and their defense is very good against the run, something that the Steelers will try to do a lot of on Sunday.

As everyone and their mother already chronicaled the Steelers will be without Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games of the season and Byron Leftwhich, the person that was supposed to take over for Ben, is down with an MCL injury. That leaves Mr. Dennis Dixon to take over for the Black and Gold. Earlier in the year everyone was screaming for DD to play because of his success (albeit in a loss) last season against Baltimore in an overtime loss. Now that BL is down some of those same people who begged for DD is now asking for Chuck Batch to get some PT. Lets not forget Chuck took like three snaps all preseason and missed all of last year and is a statue behind a suspect offensive line, but whatever. In the QB game the grass is always greener on the other side.

What does it mean that DD is back there? Rashard Mendenhall is going to have to be a huge factor. As Merril Hodge would say he needs to be a factor back on Sunday. The Steelers certainly aren't going to come out and have the pass set up the run like they would if Ben was in there so it is going to need to be the other way around. The line is going to have to dig deep and make some holes and give Rashard some room to run.

The line is going to be a huge factor in the passing game also. Might not be as big of a factor now that we have a mobile QB back there that can elude some of the pass rushing that will probably get there. The one thing we don't need is DD to have to worry about someone being in his face every time he takes a five step drop. Give him some time early, let him get comfortable and if he can get into a groove I think we will be alright.

The new look defense will be back on the field and lookin to reclaim some of that swag that they lost last season. It will basically look new with Bryant McFadden, Larry Foote, Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith back on the field either because the Steelers brought them in or they are coming back from season ending injuries. I know a lot of people have been talking about this defense getting better this year for the players I mentioned above but I really think this team is going to take a huge step forward this season. Last year they finished #5 in overall team defense but they just didn't have "it" last year and didn't finish games. I think that changes this year. If they can come out and get a few stop and smack around the Falcons a little bit then I think the Falcons will realize this defense is back.

The Falcons are going to be no slotch this week. I talked before about this team's offense and it is nothing to laugh at. Matt Ryan quietly put together a really good season last year throwing for over 2,900 yards and 24 touchdowns. Ryan is flanked by running back Mike Turner, who is small by stature but is one of the better backs in the leauge after racking up ten touchdowns last year.

The key is definatly going to be to stop the run and make that passing game beat us. When the Steelers defense is on, which I think it will be this year including tomorrow, they are very good at making teams one dimentional and when teams get to be on dimentional they are much easier to beat. If the defnese can stop the run they can let LaMarr Woodley and james Harrison pin their ears back and get after Matt Ryan and make his day very uncomfortable.

Limiting the mistakes is going to be huge too. If the Penn State game taught us anything last night is is that turning the ball over is going to kill you. Especially in the red zone. Limit the mistakes and I think the Steelrs should be right in this game the whole time. Turn the ball over and it makes it that much more tougher to win. Take the ball away and you are goign to have a much better chance to win. Should be a key point, as it always is.

Everyone has talked all preseason about what the Steelers are going to do or what they can do and what the expectations are with this team. It is time to put up or shut up. Everyone can talk all they wan, the game is decided on the field. I leave you with this Steelers Nation, hit it:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pirates Game Day 141 Live Blog

Thursday, September 9, 2010

2010 NFL Predictions

Now, when you look at these predictions make sure that you keep a few things in mind. One is that I have not gone through each schedule and said “well this team will beat this team and lose to this team and yada yada yada…” I went through and I am picking the division winners and telling you why. Secondly I am no NFL expert. I just know what I know and this is how I feel. Take it for what its worth.

First lets take a look at the NFC:
NFC North: Green Bay – A lot of people are high on the Packers and I am one of them.  Tons of people are also on the side of the Vikings, but truth be told I really doubt they are not going to top what they did last year.  Brett Favre had his best year of his long career last year and didn't turn the ball over.  For someone to expect that again is a little far fetched.  Brett turns the ball over a lot over his career and I think that is true again.  Aaron Rogers is the real deal too.  That offense is dangerous up there in Green Bay.  The special teams isn't that great and the defense is so-so but that offense can win games and that will get the Packers where they need to be in the NFC North.

NFC South – New Orleans – Last year I picked Atlanta to win the NFC South.  I was dead wrong.  Although I think the Saints will repeat as NFC Champ's I think Atlanta gives them a real run for their money.  The Saints are pretty stacked all things considered.  Drew Brees is the real deal and he has some pretty lethal targets to throw to.  Reggie Bush may not be a running back but he can still make some plays and break a game open with a punt return.  Pierre Thomas is going to be big this year and the defense will make enough plays to hold off the Falcons.

NFC East – Dallas – Listen, I hate this whole division.  Philadelphia, Dallas, Washington can all go 0-16 and I still wouldn't be happy about it.  Dallas has some good offensive weapons and should win this division.   The Redskins have McNabb but it will be the same sad story about the Skins.  Romo is a pretty decent QB and can make some plays and throwing to Miles Austin doesn't hurt.  The defense is decent and Barber and Jones can split the load for carries and make this team pretty good.  The tough part is that they play in a knock 'em out conference and they will get beat up every week.

NFC West – San Francisco  – I mean are you really kidding me?  Talk about a weak conference.  You know who is QB'ing the Cards? Derek Anderson.  Derek Anderson. Let that sink in.  This is a terrible conference and someone has to win it right?  This might be the trendy pick but Mike Singletary has this team's head on straight and he is hard nosed and I think we are going to see that out of the 49ers.

Lets now take a look at the AFC:

AFC South – Indianapolis - Peyton Manning is still on the team so they are still a pretty big favorite out of the South.  I really think the Texans are going to take a step up in the standings but I really think that they just fall short.  The Texans have a dangerous offense and will make a push for the wild card spot but I just don't see them getting over that hump this year.  It will be close but Indy takes it again this year.

AFC East – New England – The Jets are the talk of the town.  Rex Ryan, a young and upcoming QB, a tough defense and the city of New York.  I just don't buy it.  Sure they are real good but they still have a ways to go on offense before they can claim everything.  The Patriots may be out of their glory years but they are still the best team in that division.  It might come down to the last game of the season but I can see the Pats holding on for one more year at least.  If the Jets take the division it will be because of defense.  I can see Sanchez taking a step back and without Thomas Jones it will be tough on offense.  Tom Brady and Randy Moss can still ball, and somehow their defense always does just enough to get by.  I expect that to continue.

AFC West – San Diego – Jesus, are you kidding me?  I thought the NFC West was bad.  This might be just as bad of a division.  If you made an all star team of the NFC and AFC West teams you might have a fringe playoff team.  San Diego wins by default, somehow.  The expect the Oakland and Kansas City to get better this year, but how much worse could they get?  Denver has a chance, I guess.  Maybe they will get to .500 or maybe Tim Tebow wills then to 16 wins.  Joke.

AFC North – Baltimore - I know what you are thinking, how can I pick Baltimore to win the division.  Listen I am the biggest Steelers fan around and I hate the Ravens, but I can respect that this is a very, very good team.  With Ben on the shelf for four weeks that will make a difference and I can see the Ravens winning this division and getting maybe 12 wins.  I hate them, but they are pretty legit.  The only question I have is that how are the new players going to impact this team.  No lying that they brought it top talent, but did they have to cut key players to get these guys on the roster.  The Bengals will finish in third.  I can see a real dud for them this year.  They have had no sustained success in the last 15 years so what gives you the idea that they are going to start now.

NFC Final Standing:

Green Bay
New Orleans
San Francisco

NFC Champion: New Orleans

AFC Final Standing

New England
San Diego
New York

AFC Champion: Pittsburgh

Super Bowl 45 Winner: Pittsburgh Steelers

I mean come on, I am going to homer the hell out of this one.  This is not only homer though, the Steelers defense is the real deal.  Bringing back BMac and Larry Foote is a big deal, oh yea and that Smith and Polamalu characters back so I see this defense making moves.  The offensive line isn't great, but Ben is.  The offense is going to be able to score points, despite what a lot of the pundits think.
Here We Go

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pirates Game Day 139 Live Blog

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pirates Game Day 138 Live Blog

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pirates Game Day 137 Live Blog

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pirates Drop Series to Nats: Nationals 8, Pirates 1

Charlie Morton got another start for the Pirates, and he picked up loss number 11 in a route at PNC Park. It was supposed to be a great day at the park with Maz getting his statue unveiled before the game and having a nice ceremony beforehand. I did not get to see the unveiling but I did get to see the pregame stuff on the field. It wasn't anything big but it was nice and very good to see for someone that made on of the biggest hits in the history of baseball.

Outside of the celebration for Maz the game was a pretty big dud. Chuck did ok through three innings but gave up five runs in the fourth inning. What was most frustrating about this was that it wasn't really all Chuck. It would be easy to just sit here and say that "Chuck really didn't have his stuff and got pounded in the gaps all day and got chased early". That was not the case. The defense was terrible to the tune of four unearned runs out of the six that Chuck gave up. You can't win with shoddy defense and the three errors led to six unearned runs total for the game.

This was just tough to watch. Everything went wrong. Not only was the defense shoddy but Chuck just seems to be unlucky. Couple the unlucky streak with not being very good and you get 1-11. Just tough to deal with. I like Chuck a lot and really think he can be good for the team but he needs to show something in spring training. I don't know if he will get another start but with how bad the rotation is already it is hard to imagine he will not get another shot at some point, whether that is now or later.

The offense wasn't horrid. They got a few hits here and there, actually 11 for the game which is pretty good. The Pirates 1-3 hitters had seven hits with Walker having three so you can't complain about that. To continue with the "Calvary" line Pedro went 1-for-4 but he hit a ball that might not have landed yet for his 11th home run.

With that being said I really must bring up the point again that this season, and probably most (if not all) of next, is not about wins and losses, they are about evaluation of our young talent. Sure it would be nice to win a few ball games but when you have Walker and Tabata hitting like they are and you have Cutch and Alvarez still playing decently well (well offensively for Pedro, his defense is shoddy at best) so I think things are moving along well. We do not have enough talent to compete and I do not think we will next year either. For those of you that think that Neal is going to go out and buy three starts and a short stop you are kidding yourself. Things are going in the right direction and I like what I see from the young kids. Couple that with the arms we have in AA and I think we can see the future is pretty bright for the franchise. This is a time to be genuinely excited about this team. I know I am.

Baltimore won 8-7 today. The Pirates are 5.5 games "up" on the O's and the magic number for the number one pick in the 2011 draft is 20. I think most of you know I want Anthony Rendon and he can put this team another step closer to making a move. I am excited. If you are a real fan you should be too.

Pirates Game Day 136 Live Blog

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Back to Reality: Nationals 9, Pirates 2

You knew that something good couldn't last a long time with the Pirates. It was a fireworks night, with a pack house at PNC Park and the Pirates put forth a pretty bad effort in a loss to Washington. Usually the Pirates are good in front of 30,000+ in the park, but not tonight.

Not too much to say about the game. Paul Maholm started strong and really breezed through three innings and then hit the wall in the fourth inning and gave up five runs and the Pirates really never stood a chance after that. This season Paul has been pretty good in bounce back games but tonight was a totally different story. Paul finished pitching only 4.1 innings giving up seven runs, all earned, and eight hits. Not what I would call a bounce back performance. Maholm really hasn't seemed to have hit any sort of stride this season as it has been up and down from start to start and sometimes from inning to inning. But isn't that the true story of the Pirates this year?

The offense wasn't great. Almost every Pirates starter had a hit, but nothing really substantial came out of that. Lastings Milledge had three hits, but his shoddy defensive play cost the Pirates some runs in the fourth inning, big shocker. Pedro continued to be pedestrian at third base as he committed his 12th error of the year. This past week has been pretty bad for Pedro defensively and makes you want Anthony Rendon even more.

The bright spot was Milledge and McCutchen, who hit a ball that got out of the park in like .3 seconds to give the Pirates one of their only runs of the game, which is pretty typical if you have watched the Pirates at any length this season.

Neil Walker also picked up his 100th hit of the season in tonight's game. Not enough can be said about how good Walker has been this season. Coming into the season I didn't have much hope for Neil, thinking he could be a platoon guy that hits like .260ish, but he has exceeded all expectations and made me look like a fool. He has been outstanding all while continuing to have a very high BABIP number, which would indicate he has been more "lucky" when he hits, but I always say I would rather be lucky than good. I will take it.

Baltimore took a game from Tampa Bay tonight also so Baltimore is five games up in the win column and the magic number for the number one pick is only 22.

Pirates Game Day 135 Live Blog

Steelers Cut 11, Get to 53

Well you knew it was going to happen soon, and it did. The Steelers made their final 11 cuts today to get their roster to 53 men.

There were not too many surprises on the list although there were some names that you thought might make the roster. The full 11 players that were cut were LB Patrick Bailey, CB Joe Burnett, S Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, WR Tyler Grisham, DE Sunny Harris, C Justin Hartwig, WR Stefan Logan, DT Steve McLendon, FB Frank Summers, OG Kraig Urbik and DT Doug Worthington.

As I have been saying for a few weeks now it is not a shock that Stef Logan got canned. Sure he set himself up with some records last year in the return game but he is a very one dimensional player. When your one dimension is kick returns then you have to go over and above to stick on a roster, especially with Mike Tomlin. HCMT is a guy that loves to have players on the team that are versatile and that is something Logan is not. I do think he will catch on somewhere else and possibly become a good returner in the NFL, but there just isn't that kinda room on the Steelers 53.

Frank Summers was someone that was a pretty versatile player that was playing fullback, but as we know the Steelers have basically shunned off the fullback in the offence.

I found that Pat Bailey getting cut was a little bit of a surprise. Not that he was going to be an enormous difference maker, but he was a pretty good special teams guy that could fill in and play a serviceable linebacker. Not really feeling one side or the other on this move, but it was one of the ones I looked and and actually had a reaction too. He had a pretty decent preseason so I fully expect him to catch on with a team.

Hartwig was a given after the Steelers gave him permission to seek a trade two days ago and not finding a deal he was a cutable player. When he signed with the Steelers a few years ago I liked the move and to be honest I don't think he was as bad as everyone made him out to be. He fell victim to Markice Pouncey being really good right away. He was just small for the position and it finally caught up with him.

The cuts also mean that a lot of the rookies who were on the bubble did make the team. Brown and Sanders (the rookie wideouts) both made the team which was not a surprise at all. They will both probably return kicks after being successful at it during the preseason, which is why Stef Logan is no longer on the team. Jon Dwyer is also on the team, almost certainly because of the last two weeks. My feeling is that Dwyer was going to be cut and then put on the practice squad, but after having a really strong last two preseason games the Steelers realized that there might be a chance that he wouldn't make it to the practice squad and another team would pick him up. Pretty much forcing the Steelers to keep him. Lets be serious he has a lot of upside and might be a really good fit for the team, and he forced the teams hand. That is what you have to do in the preseason to make the team.

Well those are my few thoughts on the final cuts. What do yinz think? Let me know in the comments.