The Reuters global sports blog
Given the nature of American football, Super Bowls inevitably get billed as a battle of two quarterbacks and this year’s finale features two of the most entertaining in the game – Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.
It is, of course, a gross over-simplification to view the complexities of the game as simply a contest between the two men who take the snaps.
So much depends on how much protection they can get from their offensive line, how well the opposition covers the receivers that are the main offensive outlet and of course how effective the running game is, but there is no doubt that the effectiveness of the decision-making and execution from the quarterback is key.
What is particularly fascinating about this year’s match-up is that both Roethlisberger and Rodgers are quarterbacks who are willing to run with the ball.
Tis the season so, the Lineman is getting a little help from his friends this week.
Ms. Lineman, who has her bookie on speed dial and is a sparkling 5-1 the last two weeks, is willing to share her secrets (this one time only, she claims) while the G-Man has been eagerly waiting for the chance to atone for his dismal 1-5 showing filling in for the Lineman last season.
The NFL’s website really is a model in what a modern sports league should offer its fans and among the many handy features is a playoff picture that shows exactly what the situation would be if the season ended now.
As it stands, the top team in the AFC is the 9-2 New York Jets while in the NFC, the Atlanta Falcons are in control with 9-2. Both teams are almost assured a place in the playoffs but have they got what it takes to go all the way to Dallas?
I have to wonder about American sports fans sometimes. On Sunday, the New York Jets blew a 16-point lead to trail 27-23 with less than a minute to go and their fans flooded out of the stadium. It was a remarkable lack of faith in a team which had shown in the previous two weeks that it can win late, with victories in overtime.
The fans heading out of the Meadowlands to beat the traffic, missed quarterback Mark Sanchez lead a remarkable drive to victory. Sanchez connected with Braylon Edwards with a great 42-yard pass that brought the Jets to the Houston Texans’ six yard line with 16 seconds on the clock and he then found Santonio Holmes in the left corner of the end zone on the next play to win the game.
One of the things you quickly learn about American football is that there are a multitude of differences between the college game and the pro game — different rules, different traditions and a different atmosphere.
There is also one glaring difference that you hear very little reference made to. While college football is dominated by teams from the southern states, the NFL is traditionally won by teams from the industrial North.
Flicking through the television channels in Budapest, Hungary, last week, it took just five clicks before I stumbled across live coverage of the Minnesota Vikings playing the New England Patriots.
It was somewhat unexpected that a game which has very little following in Eastern Europe would be live on television but I should have known better. That day, the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers had been playing in London and now that ESPN has a channel in the region, it is surely only natural they beam in live coverage of ‘America’s Game’.
Sunday’s controversial video review decision in the Steelers-Dolphins game should be a reminder to those who support replays that cameras can’t see everything.
After a rash of brutal hits at the weekend, including a couple of very nasty helmet-to-helmet clashes, there is plenty of talk about how to eliminate the use of the helmet as a weapon in the game.
Here is an idea – eliminate the helmet.
When I mentioned that suggestion yesterday, a friend remarked that I sounded like one of those NFL fans who watches a soccer game and says that the goal should be made bigger. I take the point (even though I actually I do think the goals in soccer should be made bigger) but there remains an inescapable logic to getting rid of those hard helmets with face guards that offer players enough protection for them to feel ready to fly head first into tackles.
I keep hearing the same phrase over and over again when it comes to the NFL. From pundits both paid and voluntary, the same mantra is repeated: “The NFL is a passing league”. In other words, the key to success in the league is having an elite quarterback and a top quality receiver corps, who can rack up the yardage. “Establishing the run” still gets trotted out on a Sunday morning as a key tactic but week after week, the numbers show record-breaking pass yardage.
And those numbers are pretty persuasive. Those diligent chaps at the NFL stat department provided a few after Week five’s action and it is pretty clear we are on course for a record breaking season:
If there is one thing that can be said with any certainty after the first quarter of the NFL regular season, it is that nothing is certain in this league, this season.
After four weeks of action, the unfancied Kansas City Chiefs are the only team with a 100 percent record and the results and performances across the league are making fools out of most pundits.