An Outsider's View of the AFC Playoff Field (and Threats to Pats)

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Rusty Coupe

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
A Pitt vs NE AFCCG doesn't seem out of the question by any means at this point.
 

luuked

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A Pitt vs NE AFCCG doesn't seem out of the question by any means at this point.

At this point I am more concerned with the Colts and Bengals than any of the other teams in the AFC because of the mobility of their QB and its effect on Belichick. I'd prefer not to see that damn contain rush this season anymore. Even if it gets the job done.. I DONT CARE AND CANT STAND IT

Also.. for now I will ignore the Superbowl and a potential Rodgers/Wilson opponent. There is time in January to worry about that one.
 

Ring 6

PatsFans.com Wall of Fame Member
Any Given Sunday.
Really any team could go into any opponents home field and beat them. With crappy teams the chances are there but minute, and they would need a lot to go right.
With playoff caliber teams, and the next step up 12+ win teams, the chances are just that much better, because they have something about them that is excellent. Whether its a top QB, a strong pass rush, etc.
Great teams are great partly because they are able to neutralize, break even, or overcome an opponents greatest strengths....MOST of the time. On any given day, that may not be the case.
The Patriots will be prohibitive favorites to go to the SB, perhaps the biggest favorites we have seen since 2007. All that means is that the odds are in their favor.
In my opinion, what tips the odds, is the intangible ability to play your best at the most crucial time. The SB winning Patriots teams feasted on having that intangible. Hopefully this years team has it as well, and my opinion is they seem more like a team with that quality than they have since before the Ellis Hobbs PI and the Champ Bailey/Ben Watson play in 2005.
 

SEA_Pat

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
Yeah I would think that the greatest threats to the Pats will be teams with fearsome front 7s...so probably prospective NFC opponents will present a greater challenge.

I hear you on the Ravens....But I would point out that they did lose 4 of its last 5 during their SB year. If any year was an example of 'falling into the playoffs' that was it. But in any event IMO it's less about records in the playoffs than matchups...the Ravens have all kinds of problems, but the *type* of team they are I think can be challenging to a team like the Pats (or really, any high-powered offense with a less mobile QB, that has off and on issues with its OL play) Still it would be a shocker for the Ravens to even reach Foxboro, let alone win :)

I agree with your analysis, but I'd note that the intangibles seem to me to be the biggest single factor in playoff upsets. The biggest single intangible out there is Baltimore's complete lack of respect/fear for New England which gives them an edge over any other team we'd face in my opinion. BTW, that same intangible works in the opposite manner against Pittsburgh, whom I think the Patriots feel they can beat anywhere at any time due to their history.

What is your opinion of Pittsburgh's front 7 in comparison to Baltimore's? Seems to me they've been playing really well after a pretty mediocre start.
 

mgteich

PatsFans.com Veteran
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-- your Pats will be the prohibitive favorite to advance to SB XLIX, and rightfully so given your performance against the AFC's best this year.

Bottom line -- don't be shy about booking your Arizona flights, this is looking like a NE Super Bowl.

Thanks for the vote of confidence and the fine post. The OPEN question is would you take the patriots against the field? That is what "prohibitive favorites" means to me.

QUESTION 1
I figure that the patriots should be a 3-1 favorite to win the first playoff game. What are your and posters'
estimates?

QUESTION 2
When we get the conference championship, anything can happen, but I figure us as a 2-1 favorite.
What are your and posters'
estimates?

Now, do the arithmetic. What are the odds of the patriots going to the Super Bowl (use your own estimates)?



























If the patriots are 3-1 favorites for Game 1 and 2-1 favorites for Game 2, then the appropriate odds to go to the Super Bowl is an even bet (50%). Also, because of the possibility of even a minor injury, the odds of the patriots reaching the Super Bowl are less if any key players play next week. We've seen this before when Welker was injured.
 

Archeryaddict12

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
Honestly I am not expecting the pats to go to the sb and win it. I would love it, but it's less stressful when you don't have huge expectations. Just let the chips fall where they do, and if it means a pats sb title then so be it.
 

patsinthesnow

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One main reason IMO the Steelers would have a tough time on offense vs. us is Revis vs Brown.

Brown is the best WR and route runner in the league. If Revis could eliminate him 1 on 1, I think the Steelers would be screwed. Brown caught 5 balls or more in each game this season. He is a beast.

Have these two ever faced off? Revis is the best at mirroring a WR's route and Brown is the best route runner. It would be fun to watch.
 

Gronkandez

2nd Team Getting Their First Start
Holiday greetings and congrats from a Steelers fan...



********
Bottom line -- don't be shy about booking your Arizona flights, this is looking like a NE Super Bowl.

Happy holidays everyone -- lillloyd

Don't believe this man! It's the classic jinx move.... The Steelers are in the best position. No Pressure and no one is talking about them. When they are expected to win they lose to the Jets, Saints, Bucs etc.

EDIT: Any team with Polamolu on it and the Defensive Coordinator who got smoked by Tebow in the playoffs doens't scare me. I could be wrong but I don't think so. The Bengals scare me; specifically that D-Line. Dunlap schooled Vasquez all over the field. Yes, Marvin Lewis is a bad coach and Dalton is Dalton BUT they can over come that for one game.

I also don't trust the Steelers because they've had an incredibly easy schedule. They beat the Colts and KC but both were at home.
 
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A man named Brady

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
The ravens secondary is trash but their front seven is outstanding.

I don't like that matchup against our o line
 

The_Riddler

2nd Team Getting Their First Start
I have a deep, and I mean Deep hatred for Steelers fans that started in 2001 due to their inability to accept defeat, yes that includes you Kordell Stewart. The better team did win Kordell et all, we kicked your ass twice at Hallowed Heinz Field in Black and Gold country in two of the biggest AFCCGs. Live with it and accept it for what it is.

My order of fan hatred are Pitt, Denver then Indy, but this guy is the one sensible Steeler fan I'll embrace.

Kick Denver's ass for us then come to Foxboro for your annual Foxboro Ass whoopin ! And thank you for those two AFC Title rings on black and gold turf in front of those crying fans which lead to our Lombardi's...I will never forget Troy Brown's punt return and Rodney picking off Big Ben Pay Off Cover Up....
 
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Deus Irae

PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club
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I actually consider the Steelers to be the biggest threat to the Patriots, unless Manning is injured and recovers in time for a potential Patriots/Broncos matchup.

I don't think it's even close, BTW, unless KC sneaks in. As long as Manning's tossing mallards, hook bills and pekins around out on the field, the rest of the crowd would be vying for a distant second.
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
I agree with your analysis, but I'd note that the intangibles seem to me to be the biggest single factor in playoff upsets. The biggest single intangible out there is Baltimore's complete lack of respect/fear for New England which gives them an edge over any other team we'd face in my opinion. BTW, that same intangible works in the opposite manner against Pittsburgh, whom I think the Patriots feel they can beat anywhere at any time due to their history.

What is your opinion of Pittsburgh's front 7 in comparison to Baltimore's? Seems to me they've been playing really well after a pretty mediocre start.

IMO Baltimore has the better front 7, even with Ngata out. I don't think it's particularly close, even with Pitt's front 7 getting healthier and improving significantly over the past few weeks.

Aside from the obvious bookend OLB terrors, Balt has its young guys (Jernigan, Mosely) playing extremely well. Don't forget, Ngata has been suspended but would return for the playoffs. Just a solid, physical front 7 that can really get after the passer. For obvious reasons, I'm not a Baltimore fan, but it's a shame what's happened to their secondary with all their injuries because they could have been a *really* tough out with Jimmy Smith etc. still up. (I think Balt has lost 5 DBs to IR?!)

I will say this about Pittsburgh's front 7 -- they have improved pretty drastically. Heyward has been arguably Pitt's best defender this year, our NT (McClendon) is finally healthy, and the light bulb seems to have gone on for Tuitt (whom Pitt is extremely high on). Timmons is very solid in the middle, and Harrison's ageless play has rejuvenated Worlids on the other side. I was shocked to see Pitt had ascended to 6th in rush defense given their issues earlier in the year (although a cynic would say, why run on Pitt when you can just go deep?!) They seem much more stout and physical and can get after the passer more. But it's also a bit of a house of cards, given the youth/inexperience of Tuitt and the possibility that Harrison could be susceptible to injury given his advanced age.

The hope for Pitt fans is that the front 7 stays healthy and continues to improve in the playoffs. We don't necessarily need a Steelers' D, circa 2008, to compete this year -- we just need an *average* defense. (And believe me we have been far worse than our current defensive ranking -- we are right at the bottom of most defensive efficiency rankings).
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Don't believe this man! It's the classic jinx move.... The Steelers are in the best position. No Pressure and no one is talking about them. When they are expected to win they lose to the Jets, Saints, Bucs etc.

EDIT: Any team with Polamolu on it and the Defensive Coordinator who got smoked by Tebow in the playoffs doens't scare me. I could be wrong but I don't think so. The Bengals scare me; specifically that D-Line. Dunlap schooled Vasquez all over the field. Yes, Marvin Lewis is a bad coach and Dalton is Dalton BUT they can over come that for one game.

I also don't trust the Steelers because they've had an incredibly easy schedule. They beat the Colts and KC but both were at home.

"classic jinx move" - funny :) So is your post a classic anti-jinx move? To be completely 100% honest, 'jinxing' had no impact on my post, I believe what I said...but that said it's refreshing to know that our fan base isn't the only one that's superstitious when it comes its football team...

IMHO the Bengals may have a great rep on D, but like the Steelers they are a shell of what they once were defensively. They are bottom 3rd in the rankings (below Pitt even!), but more importantly they generate almost no pass rush (20 sacks through 15 weeks). Zimmer's departure seems to have had a huge negative impact. Of course, that dynamic could change if their running game is suddenly dominant with Jeremy Hill's emergence -- that could significantly change TOP and put their defense into much more favorable situations going forward. But while I respect Cincy as a good team overall, this has not been a good year for their defense and I don't think it is 'scary' in the way it has been in previous years. (And...it still has Andy Dalton at QB! ;)

Finally, I won't dispute the Steelers' easy schedule...but they seemed to lose to the doormats and play better against better competition. Their 'strength of victory' percentage was actually good, relative to the other AFC participants, because of this. As far as only winning at home against good opponents--that seemed to be a common theme this year, not something restricted to Pittsburgh.
 

Deus Irae

PatsFans.com Retired Jersey Club
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...the light bulb seems to have gone on for Tuitt (whom Pitt is extremely high on)...

Pittsburgh has taken my preferred player in each of the past two drafts:

I wanted Tuitt, the Patriots took Easley
I wanted Wheaton, the Patriots waited and took Boyce


Easley may yet pan out, but I really like what Pitt's been doing in the last couple of drafts.
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Pitts front 7 is barely in the same league as Baltimore's. Definitely in the bottom 10 in the NFL.
IMHO the truth is somewhere in between -- Pitt's front 7 isn't in the same league as Baltimore's (few are)...but Pitt's front 7 has been playing better than bottom 10 in the league over the 2nd half of the season.

The bottom line though is that I agree -- Baltimore's front 7 is one of the few in the entire NFL that has the potential to be extremely disruptive to high-octane passing attacks with inconsistent OL play and non-mobile QBs (such as NE's). Pitt's front 7 can't compare in this sense.
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
One main reason IMO the Steelers would have a tough time on offense vs. us is Revis vs Brown.

Brown is the best WR and route runner in the league. If Revis could eliminate him 1 on 1, I think the Steelers would be screwed. Brown caught 5 balls or more in each game this season. He is a beast.

Have these two ever faced off? Revis is the best at mirroring a WR's route and Brown is the best route runner. It would be fun to watch.

IF Pitt actually made it that far (a major, major "if") I agree that this would be a fascinating matchup. AB has Iverson-like quicks in and out of breaks which would seem to favor him...but Revis has unusual quickness for his size, plus a 20-30 lb weight advantage. I imagine a large part of who would win such a matchup would be how tightly the refs called the game when Brown tried to get off the line (although Pitt's use of bunch sets tends to keep their WRs from having to fight to hard when they release).

Another interesting aspect of this would be the fact that Brown is too integral to the Steelers' offense to simply avoid -- Revis Island or no, Pitt would have to keep trying to feed Brown. There would be no "avoiding that side of the field". So if Revis consistently won this battle, it would be an absolutely enormous advantage to New England, just as you're saying.

FWIW I don't think these guys have ever played each other - Revis was injured in 2012 when AB got his big contract and began establishing himself as the de facto #1 WR.
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
Pittsburgh has taken my preferred player in each of the past two drafts:

I wanted Tuitt, the Patriots took Easley
I wanted Wheaton, the Patriots waited and took Boyce


Easley may yet pan out, but I really like what Pitt's been doing in the last couple of drafts.
Tuitt has a chance to be an outstanding 3-4 end for a long time. Very hopeful that he works out.

Wheaton is a hard worker and has a promising skill set, but his longer-term development may be hampered by the fact that his profile (smallish quick/fast WR) is too similar to Brown's, whereas Martavis Bryant's skill set (size/larger catch radius/good long speed) may complement Brown's much better.

That all said I thought Easley was looking like a keeper for NE?
 

lillloyd

Third String But Playing on Special Teams
I have a deep, and I mean Deep hatred for Steelers fans that started in 2001 due to their inability to accept defeat, yes that includes you Kordell Stewart. The better team did win Kordell et all, we kicked your ass twice at Hallowed Heinz Field in Black and Gold country in two of the biggest AFCCGs. Live with it and accept it for what it is.

My order of fan hatred are Pitt, Denver then Indy, but this guy is the one sensible Steeler fan I'll embrace.

Kick Denver's ass for us then come to Foxboro for your annual Foxboro Ass whoopin ! And thank you for those two AFC Title rings on black and gold turf in front of those crying fans which lead to our Lombardi's...I will never forget Troy Brown's punt return and Rodney picking off Big Ben Pay Off Cover Up....

Much respect for your abiding hatred of all things Black n' Gold. (Although I can assure you, in the 13 years since 2001, most Steelers fans have accepted that that AFCCG did in fact happen, and we did in fact lose lol).

Your post made me think of the old wrinkly dude in the Star Wars movies who tells Luke to 'embrace the hate' or whatever... ;)
 

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