NFL 2011-12 Playoff preview
The 2011 NFL regular season has been brought to a close. After 17 weeks of combat on the field week in and week out. After TD passes, long TD runs, interceptions, sacks, some helmet to helmet hits and even a stomp or two, and of course through the dreaded summer lockout we have now gotten down to the finest 12 teams.
Last years champs, the Green Bay Packers. After going 15-1 on the year, they get to sit back and wait for their game to come to Lambeau field.
Now comes the 2nd season, the season that measures the whole lot. I am going to take a glance at the playoff picture today, in each conference, and see who may get up and who may not perform on the big stage heading into the 2nd season.
Firstly the AFC
The New England Patriots 13-3; The Patriots were a softly potent team. With up and down games, allowing 294 yards a game in the air, and 117 on the ground. Brady still making stars out of players, except for Ochocinco who vanished this season completely.
The Baltimore Ravens 12-4; The progress of Ray Rice continues, with his sheer speed and athletic ability. With 7 games of 140 or more total yards, he a monster weapon to have, especially with Vonta Leach blocking for him out of the backfield.
The Houston Texans 10-6; Finally the Texans make the playoffs, coming in as losers of 3 in a row. With Andre Johnson missing 9 games on the season with an injured hamstring, and then losing their QB Matt Schaub in the season as well.
The Denver Broncos 8-8; The chronicle of the AFC, Tim Tebow leads an offense that will be tested enormously. Can Tebow put up the points to beat any of the other teams in the AFC?
The Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4; the Steelers still doing what they do, play defense. They stop the run game and are 1st in passing YDs allowed, at 171/game. Surprising scoring a little less than last year, when they made the Super Bowl.
The Cincinnati Bengals 9-7; Rookies leading the team into the tourney, gotta love it. Andy Dalton was great in his rookie season, immediately getting a lethal click with other rookie WR AJ Green, whom he connected on 7 TD passes with in 2011.
Tops in each position heading into the AFC playoffs.
QB; Tom Brady, still carrying the torch, with a phenomenal season of 39 TDs and 5235 YDs, he makes all players better.
RB; Ray Rice, 7 games where he averaged 5 or more yards rushing/carry, his dual threat ability is unrivaled.
WR; Pittsburgh, I like the combination of speed demon Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown, good for about 150 YDs every game between them. And even Hines Ward still getting 46 grabs as well.
Defense; Baltimore Ravens 16.6 ppg, 48 sacks, 15 picks, 21 forced fumbles and a great front line and top quality secondary as well.
Coaching; John Harbaugh, He has a team led by erratic QB Joe Flacco, an aging defense, and a team that has always played bridesmaid, this year they jumped the broom and have home field in their favor.
The Green Bay Packers 15-1, The Pack are certainly back and in force. This year is completely different for them, this whole team has been amazing from start to finish.
The San Francisco 49ers 13-3, The Niners return to glory led by a stifling defense, and a ruffian attitude that backs down from no one. Alex Smith had his best season yet with a 90.7 QB rating, directing the game flawlessly.
The New Orleans Saints 13-3, An extremely treacherous team, Brees is even better than he was from 2009. Is it possible, I didn’t think so, but he is.
The New York Giants 9-7, Fought hard to get in, almost blew the division with their 1-5 streak in the middle to end of the season, but they won when it mattered, now they come in fueled up and ready to go.
The Atlanta Falcons 10-6, The Falcons receiving corps are better than last year, but their defense has declined slightly. Adding rookie Julio Jones (54 catches, 959 YDs, 8 TDs) to the mix, means more offense that they can put up, which they will need to go against the top end boys.
The Detroit Lions 10-6, The Lions 1st playoff appearance since 1999, when Gus Frerotte was leading the team. QB Matthew Stafford has had an incredible season, showing what he can do when healthy. The man though is still Calvin Johnson, with 8 games of 100 or more yards receiving, including 2 of 200+. Their relationship is an extremely dangerous one indeed.
QB; Aaron Rodgers, this is a real hard one, he has been outrageous this season, but so have several others, take your pick, I’m flipping a coin and going with Aaron.
RB; Michael Turner, 1340 yards, 6 games over 100 yards, 301 carries and adding 11 TD, still pounding away.
WR; The Giants. Cruz, Nicks, Manningham had 3251 yards between them, on a team that doesn’t quite have the play calling like other big slingers like Green Bay.
Defense; The San Francisco 49ers, 14.3 ppg, 42 sacks, led by LB Aldon Smith and his 14. A ball hawking secondary had 23 picks, with a +28 turnover ratio.
Coaching; Mike McCarthy, although stacked with ridiculous talent, which can be a mammoth help. Led by backup QB was still able to hang 45 pts up, and throw for 480 YDs and 6 TDs.
With the playoffs starting up I couldn’t be more excited. Playoffs, it’s win or go home, sure wish NCAA would learn from this. But that’s for another day.
Written by Tony Karpinski from VegasTopDogs.