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Archive for February, 2011

Everywhere you look you are likely to read about the 18 game regular season being a big point of discussion in the NFL labor agreement negotiations between the owners and the players.  But don’t be fooled, this is not the key issue.

Dollar Bills

The big sticking point for the NFL labor agreement.

The 18 game regular season is a nice chip for the league to use to show that they are trying to give the fans what they want – more football that really counts.  In other words, it’s a tactic to get the fans on their side.  But, it was more likely just floated out there to get a feel for public approval.  Well, the public is not that crazy about the idea.  Less than 50 percent of people identifying themselves as NFL fans support the jump to 18 regular season games.

So what’s the real issue?  No surprise – it’s money.  The one thing you need to watch for is the revenue split between the owners and players.  In the current deal $1 billion is taken off the top of the $9 billion of total NFL revenue and given to the owners for “expense credits” that include stadium payment issues and the like.  The rest of the $8 billion is split with 60% going to the players and 40% going to the owners. 

The owners are pushing for another $1 billion to come off the top in the next agreement, dropping the players pool share by $600 million.  How the discussions around that issue work out will determine how quickly a deal gets done.  Everything else will be decided relatively quickly.

I hope the agreement comes soon, but my fear is that it won’t happen until late August or September.  Until then most everything in the NFL will be frozen in time.

Photo source: borman818

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It all comes down to this…after two weeks of preparation for the teams and endless analysis from the NFL community, Super Bowl 45 is almost upon us.  And it should be a great matchup.  Both teams got off to great starts in their championship games and were able to hold off their opponents to advance to the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl Rings

Will the Packers or Steelers add to the collection?

I can see both teams winning this game.  Here are the key things to watch:

  • Early nerves – Watch how the Packers come out in the first quarter.  Do they look nervous?  Are they a little too pumped?  Or are they settling in quickly?  Having been here before the Steelers might be able to get a quick score.
  • Line of scrimmage battle – B.J. Raji has really taken off for the Packers.  He is an extremely disruptive force in the middle of their defensive line.  The Steelers are at a major disadvantage with Doug Legursky at center in place of the injured Maurkice Pouncey.  Pittsburgh is going to have to contain Raji and prevent him from blowing up their running plays and getting a quick jump on Ben Roethlisberger.
  • The outside edge – The Steelers should have an advantage in getting Rashard Mendenhall to the outside on runs.  Watch Green Bay’s defensive strategy to see if they run blitz outside the tackles to try to crumble the edge before Pittsburgh can establish it.
  • Four and five receiver sets – One of the more interesting story lines should be the offensive formations of the Packers.  Will they even try to run the ball?  Will they attempt to utilize the “Bone” formation at all?  Or will they just start from the get go with four and five receiver sets and try to spread the Steeler defense out?  Green Bay is likely to have a major advantage in multiple receiver sets as their wideouts have favorable matchups against the extended secondary of Pittsburgh.
  • The impact of Polamalu – Troy Polamalu has been kind of quiet in these playoffs.  As he’s still recovering from major bumps and bruises suffered throughout the season this last two weeks of rest should really help him.  Will the Steelers set him loose on blitzes?  Or will they need his help in coverage?

Who do I like: Packers 27-21

Why: Aaron Rodgers was spectacular in the Georgia Dome but struggled in the elements of Soldier Field.  He’ll be back inside for the Super Bowl and I expect him to be sharp.  The Packers should be able to do enough quick read stuff on offense to keep the nasty Steelers pass rushers off of Rodgers. 

I think Raji will play a big role for the Packers.  I think Pittsburgh will struggle to control him the whole game.  I do think the Steelers will have success running the ball and finding Heath Miller in the ball control passing game but I think their receivers will struggle to get open against the excellent Green Bay cornerbacks.  I think the Packers will call on their defense to make a big stop within the last two minutes and that the unit will be up to the task and seal the historical win for this great Green Bay franchise.

Photo source: jdtornow

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