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Monday, May 11, 2009

Why I don't look at rankings

I always find it amusing when fans start complaining about writers' rankings of NFL teams, particularly in the offseason. Last I checked, this isn't college football. The championship is played for on the football field, not in somebody's computer or on a ballot.

That said, I really find offseason rankings to be of no use.

I don't want to pick on Peter King of Sports Illustrated because he's a guy I know and respect, but his latest Monday Morning Quarterback includes a dreaded offseason rankings list.

That he has New England No. 1 and the Steelers No. 2 doesn't bother me. If somebody put a gun to my head and forced me to rank the teams, that's where I'd put them as well.

But Chicago at No. 4? Based on what? Don't give me this Jay Cutler stuff. He's going to have to prove to me that he's something more than a malcontent. And he's not going to be throwing to Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal this season. Instead, it will be Devin Hester and Rashied Davis.

There also may not be a more overrated player in the NFL than Brian Urlacher.

So no, I'm not buying into the hype surrounding the Bears just yet.

Last on King's list, by the way, are your Cleveland Browns. The Browns have begun their 14th rebuilding plan since rejoining the NFL in 1999.


Skinley said...

I agree with offseason rankings being about as useful as a fifth wheel, Dale. But, being that its the down time for the NFL, I like to read them. I hope New Englad gets exploited this year and I'm not convinced Brady will be the same this year. As of now, I think our schedule is very favorable, at least compared to last years, but then again I think we would all take a year "like last year".

Anonymous said...

I think its funny that the Browns are rebuilding again. They would be better off having kept Romeo. I couldn't believe how they jumped all over Mangini. They guy is a hack who tries and fails to imitate Bellicheck(spelling).

Patrick said...

don't shoot me, but I actually think Cinci might suprise some people this year

Their D was ranked 12th last year, maybe even 11th. Now I know that 11th or 12th isn't so great, but think about how awful their offense was. They have Palmer coming back and didn't lose anything significant besides Houz...whatever it is to spell it.

I don't think they will win the SB, but I like them to win 8 or 9 games.

Anonymous said...

How quickly we forget that 'da Bears were just in the Superbowl only 2 short years ago and the team is pretty much intact (albeit older now). Please don't tell me that Cutler, whiner or not, isn't far better than even "good" Rex!

Dale Lolley said...

If I had to make a pick right now, I'd say the Bengals will finish second in the AFC North behind Pittsburgh. The defense is getting better and the offense is still very dangerous. Add to that an easier schedule than Baltimore and you've got 9-7, 10-6 possibilities.

steelers fan from the 70s said...

I think that the Patriots will be a very formidable team this season. Brady should be back to full strength by the end of the season/playoffs.

While it's been great to see the Steelers win 2 of the past 4 Super Bowls, it would be nice to see them knock off the Patriots in the playoffs, which they have not been able to do since Brady has been there.

Can they do it? I don't know. It would be a tough challenge. Lebeau's defense has often been outmatched against the Brady led Patriots (the game last season carries an asterisk in my mind since Cassell was the qb), but Lebeau finally has a lot of pieces to try and slow down that NE offense.

Anonymous said...

I think our defense actually did a good job in 07 containing the Pats offense for nearly 3 quarters but they finally got EXHAUSTED because our offense did NOTHING. I don't just grade a defense based on points given up but I also take into acount the actions of the offense. If your offense is commiting turnovers and going 3 and out constantly then any defense is going to have problems. That loss was totally on the offense (and Anthong Smith).

Patrick said...

I have to strongly disagree with anonymous. that game was PATHETIC in every aspect you can think of. The effort, the execution, on every aspect. I can't even get into how much that game sucked - one of the most disappointing Steelers "efforts" I have ever seen.

And if Anthony Smith was in place during those plays, then great, you have Anthony Smith one on one with a receiver, not a good match up still.

They owned us and outcoached us.

I agree with steelers 70 fan though. While our SB runs, especially in 05 were great, the only team we ever beat that was "great" was Indy. I would like to see a Steelers team like the one that was 15-1 and just dominated games (until the playoffs that is). That to me was such a great team and I think this year the Steelers have that chance.

Man that year was fun, back to back blowouts of the eventual SB teams who were both undefeated at the time? That was domination.

Dale Lolley said...

I have to disagree with you Patrick.
That was a 17-13 game at the half. I didn't see a lack of effort, to be sure.
There are plenty of times when a defense will allow its free safety to get matched up one-on-one with a receiver. The pass rush has got to get there.
Brady is just very good at buying time in the pocket to allow a receiver to get deep.

Blount Trauma said...

Dale, I don't disagree with your thoughts on Cinci, but say a little more about why you think the Ravens are going to fade a bit this year.

Patrick said...

what happened in the 2nd half then?

and thats all fine and well about the saftey on the WR, but the point still remains, even if Smith was on the guy and didn't bite, thats still a favorable match up to the Patriots. so while he completely goofed on the play, he still might have been beat deep anyway.

My point is, I don't blame that loss on Smith. That team gave up later in the game. I was screaming at the TV. I hated that game.

Ben said...

A healthy Polamalu and starting Woodley will make all the difference in the world against Brady and Moss.

Woodley is a beast, and with James Harrison on the other side, this duo has proved to be the most fearsome in the NFL. Clark Haggans just wasn't cutting it in his last year here. I'm looking for Woodley to take down Brady in an "intimidating manner." The subsequent roughing the passer penalty and $10,000 fine will be totally worth it. Everyone knows how well Brady plays when he's getting hit.

Most of the less-informed, casual football fans thought Polamalu was invisible in SB43. Those of us who know our stuff and pay attention realize he was taking away the vertical game for Larry Fitzgerald. Save for one play in the 4th quarter, he did a damn nice job of it, too. I look for him to do the same against Moss. A healthy Ryan Clark can never be underestimated, either. He won't bite on the play-action pass like Smith did, and he has no qualms about taking Wes Welker's head off.

Brady and Peyton are getting older. They're approaching the end of their prime as Big Ben is just entering his. The Steelers have always been a top team in the AFC -- their two Super Bowl wins since '05 attest to that. But I look for them to claim the top spot year in and year out.

Anonymous said...

I think its doing a disservice to the team to "wish" that the Steelers had beaten other teams to get to the Super Bowl. You can't apologize for who you play, because regardless of how they got there, the other team outplayed their victims as well.

Take for instance the divisional round last year. The Steelers were the ONLY home team to win their game. They were the only home team play to the level of a champion that week. In fact they were the only team that played to level of a champion the whole playoffs. That's why they won.

If we get to the playoffs next year and beat the Patriots but then lose the Super Bowl, what does that say?

Just because we didn't match up against the Pats in the SB runs takes nothing away from those runs. To allude to that is just folly.

Patrick said...

I didn't even say that it takes away from these runs, but in its simplest form, would you rather beat the Seahawks and Cardinals or a team like the Giants? The Broncos or the Pats (who have knocked us out of the AFCCG twice recently)?

The Steelers did what they did, and did it well in both runs. It was great and as a fan, you're right, you can't ask for anymore than for them to beat the teams they played. But when the playoffs start this year, I'll be hoping to play the best teams. I wanted TN in the championship game for a chance to get revenge on them and I thought they were a great team last year.

Anonymous said...



steeler fan from the 70s said...

I am very grateful that the Steelers won two Super Bowls in the last 4 years and I agree that you can only play the teams on your schedule.

So I don't think not facing the Patriots during those two Super Bowl runs is a detriment.

That said, my point is that the Patriots have usually presented a match up problem for our defense this decade. Let's look at the 2007 game for instance. Once Deshea got hurt in that game, the team had no answer for Welker. As a result the Patriots basically threw on every down in the 2nd half. We couldn't sell out and blitz, because the coverage wouldn't hold up. If we didn't blitz, the pass rush wouldn't get there.

Or you could go back to the 1rst game of the 2002 season. Many Steeler fans looked forward to a rematch against the team that beat them in the AFCCG the year before. But they spread us out that game and refused to even attempt to tun the ball for long stretches, nullifying our stout run defense and forcing Porter and Gildon to help with our porous pass coverage.

Fast forward to next season. It's hard to predict the NFL from year to year, but let's say that the Patriots and Steelers meet expectations and reach the playoffs. This will be the first time that I really think that Lebeau will have the bullets and versatility to match up with the Patriots offense.

They will have a lb who can cover Kevin Faulk in the flat in Timmons. Remember his interception last year? Faulk has often presented a matchup problem in past matchups.

They will have two big cb who could match up with Moss in Ike and Lewis. Ryan Clark is also disciplined enough to stay deep and help them over the top. They have multiple small quick type cb like Gay, Deshea and possibly Burnett who could match up with Welker.

Pola and Timmons should provide versatility to do everything from blitz to drop back into coverage, which should keep the Patriots offense guessing a bit.

If the Patriots try to pass every down as they have done in past matchups, the Steelers have multiple pass rushers that could win one-on one matchups and get to Brady at any time and sack, strip or injure him. Maybe the Steelers can even put Hood on the field as a DL who has pass rush ability in that type of situation. Maeanwhile, as I alluded to above, the coverage should be good enough to hold up behind the pass rushers, and even provide opportunities to set up some overload blitzes.

steeler fan from the 70s said...

As a follow up to my previous post, I forgot to add the following, which was the reason of my post:

While I am grateful for the 2 Lombardis recently, the Patriots have been an obstacle that the Steelers have not been able to overcome when it has mattered. That can't really be denied. If not for the Patriots, maybe the Steelers have an additional trophy (or two) this decade.

But I don't think that is necessarily the case heading into this season.

Anonymous said...

Do you guys forget when we played the Patriots from 2000 to 2007 they had cheated. CHEATED! they do not belong on the field with the steelers. They stole thier championship they did not earn it. They have no real superbowl wins. they should give thier ring to the 0 and 16 Lions because at least the accomplished something real.

Anonymous said...

Cheated? Yea, no one seems to mention that or take it into account when evaluating past playoff performances. It is a fact that the patriots systematically broke the rules to gain a competitive advantage . . .we will never know the degree to which it helped them or if the outcome of any games would have been different BUT if it wasn't something that benefitted them they would not have wasted the time to do. It gave them an advantage which is the reason they did it period.

Frank V. said...

Jay Cutler is a fraud who's never won a big game. He's one of those national media darlings. I guess because he has a strong arm. Most of the time these national media darlings turn out to be stiffs. Let's not forget Vince Young. Rumor has it, he has to play the tape of the 2006 national championship win over USC just to remember he was once good. In reality, he's not even as good as Kordell Stewart.
But don't worry, the blowhard stiffs of Around the Horn and other bogus shows will continue to love players as overrated as Cutler and Young and Leinart and Sanchez, who has yet to throw a pass in the NFL but is the so-called savior of the Jets. Meanwhile, it took two Super Bowl wins for these same idiots to admit that Big Ben is as good if not better than any QB in the NFL.
And since were talking about national frauds, hey Jay Mariotti how about using some of your money to buy a chest.

Dale Lolley said...

The reason I think Baltimore takes a step back this season is because teams now have a year's worth of film on their second-year QB. Ray-Ray is a year older and a step slower. And their second-place schedule includes games against second-place finishers New England and Indianapolis.
Granted, the rest of the schedule is the same as Pittsburgh's, but those two games make a big difference as opposed to the Steelers' games against Miami and Tennessee - which is at home in the season-opener.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, my post was in response to "Steeler Fan From the 70s"

steeler fan from the 70s said...

Maybe Baltimore takes a step back. I don't know. They've been an up and down team most of this decade, mostly because they have never had consistently above average play from the qb position. While I respect Newsome a great deal, it's hard to win consistently with the likes of Dilfer, Grbac, Boller, an old Mcnair, a rookie qb, etc.

It'll be interesting to see how Flacco does this year. I really wasn't that impressed with him last year, at least not as much as the national media was. He did seem like a down to earth guy and he threw a nice deep ball. But other than that, ... (I was impressed with Matt Ryan though.)

I definitely didn't think Flacco was nearly as good as Roethlisberger was his rookie year.

That said, who knows, maybe Flacco takes a big step forward this year. As a Steeler fan, I obviously hope that this is not the case.

Dale Lolley said...

I sat in front of Sal Palantonio during the game and listened to him ooh and ahh every time Flacco threw a deep pass. "Wow, look at that arm. That's a beautiful deep pass." Stuff like that.
After about the fourth one, I turned around and reminded him that Flacco didn't complete any of them.

steeler fan from the 70s said...

With regards to Flacco, I would argue that his ability to throw the deep ball (and the deep intermediate throws) was the Ravens best weapon in the playoffs.

Against Tennessee, he threw a beautiful strike to Mason for a td and another deep ball to someone else that set up a fg.

Against the Steelers, again their whole offense was due to the ability of Flacco to throw deep and draw a couple of pass interference calls.

LeapBrowser Search Engine said...

As a former steelers fan (now panthers) i hope that new england isn't #1. go steelers. love to play ya in the super bowl.

Anonymous said...

Who are you, Bill Cowher?

VCTMbrian said...

Bears are not going to be that good, but that division is lousy. I know it's the NFL and every year a new division is "best" but the NFC North is pretty weak. I'm not very high on Cutler either and think the Bears spent wayyy too much to get him from a team that had declared that they were going to move him.

Mike Jones said...

Remember when Peter King ranked Ben Roethlisberger the 17th best quarterback in the NFL after his atrocious, injury-filled 2006 season? And then he tried to rationalize it by saying he used stats+playoff performance. Right, just a year after Big Ben won a Super Bowl, too.

And how about when all the so-called experts predicted the Steelers to struggle in 2008 with the "toughest" schedule in the NFL. Twelve wins and a championship later, I think they were wrong.

Mike Jones said...

Here's King's rankings by the way...

When you think Vince Young and Jon Kitna are THAT better than Big Ben, it's time to cash in your NFL press pass.