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NFL Week 6 MVP, COY and ROY Power Rankings

Every week we have different candidates here, because the 2010 NFL season has been wacky. And that’s okay, as it makes ranking MVP, Coach of the Year and Rookie of the Year candidates more fun. Anyway, here we go….

MVP Power Rankings

1. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts—Okay, so Philip Rivers and Kyle Orton have more yards per game, but they play for 2-4 teams. Manning’s Colts are 4-2, and check out these numbers through six games—1916 yards, 67.3 completion percentage, 319.3 yards per game, 13 touchdowns (leads NFL) and just 2 interceptions, for a QB rating of 103.4. As usual, Manning sort of defines what the term MVP is all about.

2. Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers—I heard someone on NFL Network the other day call Matthews the “best defensive player in the NFL.” Not bad for a linebacker in his second year, who was selected after 25 other players in the 2009 draft. Anyway, Matthews has 9 sacks to lead the NFL, and 21 tackles through five games…and the Packers sorely missed him last Sunday in a loss to Miami when Matthews sat out with a hamstring injury.

3. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers—We’re leaving Antonio on here this week because he left the game against the Rams last Sunday with an ankle injury, leaving Philip Rivers without his favorite target. And then the Chargers lost the game. To the Rams. Gates only had 2 catches for 12 yards in that one, but on the season he still has 31 receptions for 490 yards and 7 TDs (which leads all tight ends and receivers).

Honorable mention: Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles (thanks to Kevin Kolb’s performance last Sunday, Vick got bumped off the list); LaDainian Tomlinson, New York Jets; Brandon Lloyd, Denver Broncos; Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos; Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers; Osi Umenyiora, New York Giants; Arian Foster, Houston Texans

Coach of the Year Power Rankings

1. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers—If you start the season without your star quarterback for four games, and have the likes of Charlie Batch, Dennis Dixon, and Byron Leftwich at the helm, coming out of that 2-2 would be a huge moral victory. Well, Tomlin came out of that stretch 3-1 and it could have been 4-0 if not for that last-gasp drive by Joe Flacco and the Ravens a few weeks ago. Of course, the D led by a healthy Troy Polamalu and hard-hitting-to-a-fault James Harrison, has helped, but let’s give Tomlin some huge and well-deserved props here.

2. Steve Spagnuolo, St. Louis Rams—Has anyone noticed that the Rams are 3-3, having already equaled their win total from 2008 and 2009 combined. And they’re giving up less than 19 points per game after allowing 27 per game last year—something that has much to do with the Rams’ defensive whiz of a coach.

3. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants—How do you go from the scorching hot hot seat to a coach of the year nomination? Ask Tom Coughlin, who the New York media had being replaced by Bill Cowher a few weeks ago when they lost badly to the Colts, and then beat themselves badly in a loss the Titans at home. The Giants rallied around Coughlin and squashed the previously unbeaten Bears, then crushed the upstart Texans in Houston 34-10, before not allowing the dreaded trap game against Detroit ruin his team’s winning streak. So from 1-2 to 4-2, and tied with the Eagles for the division lead. That’s why Tom Coughlin is on here.

Honorable mention: Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks; Raheem Morris, Tampa Bay Bucs; Todd Haley, Kansas City Chiefs; Rex Ryan, New York Jets; Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles

Rookie of the Year Power Rankings

1. Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions—Suh leads all NFL defensive tackles with 5 sacks, and he also has 21 tackles through six games, plus an interception—a pretty rare feat for a DT. Is there any doubt that this young big man is the real deal?

2. Jahvid Best, Detroit Lions—Injury may have slowed Best down, but how about the fact that to go along with 249 rushing yards, Best has 31 catches for a league-high 285 receiving yards among running backs. That’s 534 all-purpose yards through six games.

3. Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams—He’s way down the list of quarterbacks stat-wise, but Bradford is averaging 226 yards per game and has 7 TD passes. We’ll let the 8 picks slide for now, because let’s face it—the kid is helping to lead the Rams to respectability.

Honorable mention: Max Hall, Arizona Cardinals; Rolando McClain, Oakland Raiders; Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys; Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

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Starting Dennis Dixon forces Steelers to get back to their roots

PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 12: Rashard Mendenhall  of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs through the Atlanta Falcons defense during the NFL season opener game on September 12, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

For decades, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been known for two things: playing defense and running the ball down opponents’ throats.

Under head coach Mike Tomlin, they haven’t gotten away from playing defense, but the running-the-ball-down-opponents’-throats-thing has kind of gotten away from them.

On Sunday, they did both things well in a hard-fought 15-9 win over the Falcons in overtime. They held Atlanta’s offense to 58 yards rushing and three field goals, while gaining 143 yards on the ground, which included a 50-yard touchdown burst by Rashard Mendenhall to win the game.

One thing that will get overlooked about Pittsburgh’s big rushing day was the fact that they had to start Dennis Dixon at quarterback because Ben Roethlisberger was suspended. With Dixon under center, the passing game was extremely limited. And with the game being tight throughout, OC Bruce Arians almost had to keep the ball on the ground and his young quarterback out of pivotal passing situations.

The end result was a big win for a Steelers team that needs to at least split their first four games while Big Ben is out. Dixon certainly wasn’t flawless (he skipped throws into receivers all day and threw a brutal interception late in the first half with his team driving for a score), but he made a couple of key throws to keep the chains moving in the second half and allowed the defense and Mendenhall to win the game in the end.

Pittsburgh fans had to love what they saw today. That was good ol’ fashioned Steeler football at its best.

Can Leftwich and Dixon keep the Steelers afloat until Big Ben returns?

8-14-10:  Ben Roethlisberger  and Byron Leftwich  during the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Detroit Lions game in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field.

Merry training camp season, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the affects that Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension could have on the Steelers’ quarterback position.

After trading Santonio Holmes to the Jets in the offseason, some feel as though the Steelers’ biggest weakness is at receiver. But Hines Ward continues to be the model for production and Mike Wallace is turning heads as a potential deep threat. I also like promising sixth-rounder Antonio Brown and there have been reports that third rounder Emmanuel Sanders could beat out Antwaan Randle El for the No. 3 receiver job by the start of the season.

If I’m the Steelers, receiver isn’t my main concern – quarterback is.

As of this writing, Ben Roethlisberger is still slated to miss the first six games of the season due to a suspension. That number could be reduced to four games, but Roger Goodell has yet to make announce his decision either way.

But even if it’s only four games, the Steelers still have to be concerned about getting off to a slow start with either Byron Lefwich or youngster Dennis Dixon at the helm. They host the Falcons in Week 1 before facing the Titans and Buccaneers in back-to-back road games. They host the Ravens in Week 4, their bye is Week 5 and then they play the Browns at home in Week 6 before going on the road to Miami in Week 7.

While it’s a rather fruitless endeavor to try and predict the success of teams in preseason, it’s probably safe to assume the Falcons, Ravens and Dolphins will be playoff contenders, while the Titans will be improved as well. I’m sure if the Steelers can play .500 ball while Big Ben is out, they’ll take it. But what if Leftwich and/or Dixon put them in a hole early in the season?

Read the rest of this entry »

Roethlisberger looking forward to second chance

Speaking to the media for the first time since he rejoined the Steelers earlier in the week, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said that he was looking forward to a “second chance” and a new opportunity.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“I’ve put a lot of thought into my life, decisions that I’ve made in the past that I’ve been sitting at home thinking about things. I’ve been working closely with the commissioner on ways to make changes, corrections. So, I’m looking forward to the second chance and a second opportunity, not just in football because I think everyone knows what you’re going to get in football, but in life. I think that’s what’s kind of more important.

“A lot of them are personal things, you know, which is just something that I need to do. But it’s been neat being able to really re-evaluate my life and spend time with my family and kind of re-evaluate and re-figure what’s important in my life. That’s me … evaluating what I need to do and be smarter when it comes to certain things. Like I said it’s a new chapter and I’m looking forward to it and it starts with football. I’m glad to be back here … I’ll be talking to you guys a lot more.”

There are no shortage of young, drunk women that are ready to fawn over athletes and regret their decisions later. So we’ll see if Big Ben has made wholesale changes and whether or not he’ll follow through on some of the things he said to the media today.

And I hope he does change. Our society doesn’t need yet another athlete that has no concept of what it is to be a role model to kids. (Not that I think athletes should be role models anyway, but it doesn’t help when they publicly are accused of sexually assaulting not one, but two women in under a year.)

On a related note, the Post-Gazette is also reporting that it’s “obvious” that Byron Leftwich will be starting for the Steelers in Week 1. Dennis Dixon has yet to work with the first team, although that could change when training camp begins later this summer.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Bad year for Pittsburgh sports

Let’s recap 2010 for the Pittsburgh faithful:

- Ben Roethlisberger is accused of sexually assaulting a woman…for the second time in less than a year. His six-game (which might be reduced to four games) suspension leaves the Steelers with Byron Leftwich or Dennis Dixon as their starting quarterback to start the 2010 season.

- While nobody expects anything from them anyway, the Pirates, although currently not in last place, are six games below .500 and on pace to finish in the NL Central cellar once again this season (although not if the Astros can help it).

- The defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins were shocked by the Canadiens Wednesday night in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals – on their home ice, no less. What’s worse is that the game was damn near over with 3:30 left in the second period as Montreal somewhat cruised to a 5-2 victory. The Habs have become a great story, but the Pittsburgh faithful can’t be too thrilled that the Pens lost to a less superior team. (I know, I know – “on any given day.”)

- Pittsburgh doesn’t have a NBA team, but if they did, I’m convinced that they would be facing elimination right now in the playoffs. Either that, or gearing up for the NBA Draft Lottery.

The Sporting News made Pittsburgh No. 1 for its annual “Best Sports Cities” rankings in October last year. I’m thinking “The Steel City” won’t take home the honors this year.


Photo from fOTOGLIF

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