View Full Version : Three Things You Should Care About

10-02-2010, 03:01 AM
Three Things You Should Care About
Kerry J. Byrne
http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/w ... index.html (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/kerry_byrne/10/01/gotw4/index.html)

1. The 2010 Steelers will make a run at the modern record for scoring defense. The record for stingiest scoring defense in the Live Ball Era (1978-present) is held, not surprisingly, by the famous 2000 Ravens. They surrendered just 165 points all year (10.31 points per game). The 1986 Bears (not the more famous '85 Bears) are No. 2 on the list at 187 points (11.7 ppg).

The Steelers have a legit shot to challenge Baltimore's record. Defensively, they're firing on all cylinders right now, and they've surrendered just 11.0 ppg, against three pretty good teams (Atlanta, Tennessee and Tampa).

The remaining schedule is filled with a long list of offensive lightweights, too. First and foremost, there are six divisional games, starting Sunday, against Baltimore (which currently scores 14.7 ppg), Cincinnati (19.7 ppg) and Cleveland (15.0 ppg). Not one of those teams fields an offense that scares anybody, let alone frightens a great defense.

Then there are still games against the Dolphins (17.3 ppg), Raiders (17.3), Bills (15.7) and Panthers (10.7, dead last in the NFL). That's 10 of 13 remaining games against offenses that will struggle to move the ball and score against the Steelers.

Blend a great unit like Pittsburgh's defense with some favorable forces like scheduling and you get the recipe to make a run at the record books. Hey, the mighty 2000 Ravens benefited from favorable scheduling, too: they played four games that year against two of the worst offenses in modern times. The division-rival Bengals and Browns each failed to score even 190 points that year. They were shut out twice, and totaled just 14 points, in four games against Baltimore.

2. Somebody needs to put Baltimore's ground game on the side of a milk carton. The 2009 Ravens ran the ball as well as any team in football: They averaged 4.72 yards per attempt on the ground (fourth), totaled 2,200 yards (fifth) and led the NFL in rushing TDs (22)

Their ground game proved its mettle in the playoffs against the Patriots: Ray Rice ripped off an 83-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage and Baltimore dominated the Patriots, 33-14, on a day when Joe Flacco completed just four passes for 34 yards. It was New England's first home playoff loss since 1978. The rare woodshed beating came courtesy of a dominating performance on the ground by the Baltimore offense.

But that explosive ground game was contained the following week in a 20-3 playoff loss at Indy (19 attempts, 87 yards). It's yet to regain its powerful form.

The 2010 Ravens average a humble 3.14 yards per attempt on the ground (29th), they've totaled 267 yards (23rd) and they have scored just one rushing TD. Third-year back Rice has been largely bottled up (52 attempts, 210 yards, 4.0 YPA, 0 TD).

It's a performance that does not inspire hope against a Steelers defense that has surrendered a miniscule 2.63 YPA on the ground this year. Add in the fact that Flacco has failed, at least so far, to regain his 2009 form, and it spells a very long day for the Baltimore offense.

3. The Steelers already dominate our indicators. So you know Pittsburgh boasts the No. 1 defense in football through three games (11.0 ppg). But they're already No. 1 across the board in the critical Quality Stats we use to measure teams at Cold, Hard Football Facts.

These are stats that have a direct correlation to winning football games. We don't look at stats that wow the fantasy crowd. We look only at those stats that mean the difference between victory and defeat on Sunday.

Pittsburgh is No. 1 in Bendability, our measure of team-wide defensive efficiency. Essentially, it's an effort to quantify the phenomenon of the bend-but-don't-break defense. It tells us how many yards opposing teams must generate to score a single point. And so far this year, Pittsburgh's opponents have needed to rip off a daunting 25.3 Yards Per Point Scored. That's tough. That's real tough.

To put that figure in scoreboard terms: Pittsburgh's opponents need to crisscross the field the equivalent of nearly twice (177.1 yards) just to score a touchdown and extra point.

So the Steelers are not only tough on defense, they're frustratingly efficient on defense, too. (For some perspective, Oakland is No. 32 in Bendability. Its opponents need just 72.0 yards to score the equivalent of a touchdown and extra point.)

Meanwhile, as reported here last week, the Steelers are still No. 1 in our Defensive Hog Index -- they boast the best defensive front in football. We introduced the Defensive Hog Index before the 2007 season, and the No. 1 team in the indicator has twice won the Super Bowl (2007 Giants, 2008 Steelers). Teams with the better Defensive Hogs, meanwhile, are a remarkable 25-8 in the playoffs over that period.

So the DHI is an incredible indicator of postseason success, and the early No. 1 ranking bodes well for the Steelers.

Finally, Pittsburgh is No. 5 in Defensive Passer Rating, the most important stat to look at if you want to know about a team's ability to shut down opposing passers (do not look at yards allowed; means nothing). The Steelers boast a 68.1 Defensive Passer Rating (put another way: opposing quarterbacks have managed a combined 68.1 passer rating).

Most importantly, Pittsburgh's TD-INT ratio is an impressive 1-to-5. They've allowed just one TD through the air this year, while hauling in five picks -- almost always a game-changing play.

Baltimore is No. 7 in Defensive Passer Rating (71.98). But, remarkably for a team so high, has yet to intercept a pass.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts

Pittsburgh is not only winning in impressive fashion without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, but also beating good teams. One of the primary Quality Stats we use to compare teams at Cold, Hard Football Facts is our Quality Standings.

Essentially, we measure how each team does against what we call Quality Opponents (teams that currently have a winning record).

The Steelers are 3-0, as you know. But more importantly, they're 3-0 against three teams that have not lost to anybody else. Pittsburgh victims Atlanta, Tennessee and Tampa are 6-0 against teams not named the Steelers. That's a pretty remarkable little stretch of success and an extraordinarily rare occurrence at this point in the season.

It's quite likely that the Falcons, Titans and Buccaneers will all have winning records at the end of the year, meaning all three will still qualify as Quality Opponents for Pittsburgh by the end of the season.

Three Quality Wins is a pretty good total over the course of any season, because history has proven to us that it's extraordinarily difficult, even for very good clubs, to consistently beat Quality Opponents. Both the 2005 and 2008 Super Bowl champion Steelers, for example, went just 4-4 against Quality Teams.

Last year's Super Bowl contenders, the Saints and Colts, each boasted five Quality Wins during the regular season. The record is seven Quality Wins in one season.
The Pick

The Ravens and Steelers pride themselves on a similar style of football: both value the ground game and boast an institutional pride in their great defenses of the past and even of today. But the Steelers usually do both a little bit better.

And Pittsburgh appears to be doing both quite a bit better this year. In fact, in the eyes of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, the Steelers are easily the best team in football right through three weeks. Expect the Steelers to make life extraordinarily difficult for the Ravens and then expect them to welcome Roethlisberger back with a sparkling 4-0 record. Watch out, NFL!

Pittsburgh 19, Baltimore 10

Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/w ... z11BMyz8MO (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/kerry_byrne/10/01/gotw4/index.html#ixzz11BMyz8MO)

10-02-2010, 06:48 PM
1. The 2010 Steelers will make a run at the modern record for scoring defense.

I would love to see this happen! :tt2

10-02-2010, 08:13 PM
All I care about is Ws!!!!!!

10-02-2010, 08:26 PM
Less garbage time TD's and this becomes an even scarier scoring D. Amazing!! Hopefully the team can be consistent in this effort- it's a long season.

10-02-2010, 09:01 PM
From all views so far it seems that these guys are team-first. Records such as this mean nothing to them IMO. They just want that all important record - The 7th Lombardi!!

10-03-2010, 02:21 AM
Breaking down Steelers vs. Ravens
Sunday, October 3, 2010
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 02505.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_702505.html)

3 reasons why the steelers will win

1) Rashard Mendenhall The Steelers don't have a good history of running the ball well against the Ravens, including Mendenhall. He's fourth in the league in rushing averaging 110 yards per game.

2) Mike Wallace Baltimore has had trouble in the past giving up the big play, and who in the league makes more big plays than Wallace? He averages 26.7 yards per catch and has receptions of 54, 46 and 41 yards.

3) Lawrence Timmons Timmons has been one of the most dynamic defenders in the league through three weeks. He leads the team with 33 tackles, and he has the speed to neutralize Ray Rice out of the backfield.

3 reasons why the steelers will lose

1) Haloti Ngata The 6-4, 350-pounder could very well be the most disruptive force in the NFL, and he's going against a relatively undersized rookie center in Maurkice Pouncey.

2) Ray Rice Rice, if he plays, can dominate games in a variety of ways. Against the Steelers last year, he rushed for 229 yards and caught six passes in the two games.

3) Anquan Boldin The Steelers don't allow receivers to get deep, but that isn't going to stop Boldin from trying. He caught eights passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns last week against the Browns.

10-03-2010, 02:28 AM
Game 4 Matchup: Steelers vs. Ravens
Gerry Dulac breaks down the AFC North showdown
Sunday, October 03, 2010
By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


When the Ravens have the ball: QB Joe Flacco has struggled against the Steelers' defense, throwing six INTs and only three TDs in the past four games against them. After throwing four INTs in Week 2 against the Bengals, he came back with three TD passes in last week's victory against the Browns. It is not known how effective RB Ray Rice (knee contusion) will be, but he has practiced and is expected to play. Rice had 229 yards rushing and 81 yards receiving in two games against the Steelers last season and is the only back in the past 37 games to rush for more than 100 yards against them. The Steelers' defense leads the league in points allowed (33) and takeaways (10) after three games.

When the Steelers have the ball: QB Charlie Batch will start his second game in a row. Batch, though, does not have to worry about Pro Bowl S Ed Reed (hip), who is on the physically unable to perform list. Without Reed, who leads all active players in interceptions (46) since 2002, the Ravens do not have an interception in three games. They will have to make sure they don't let WR Mike Wallace, who has catches of 52, 46 and 41, get behind them. The Ravens' defense is ranked No. 1 overall in the league, but was uncharacteristically leaky against the Browns, especially against the run when they allowed RB Peyton Hillis to rush for 144 yards on 22 carries. They will have to tighten up against RB Rashard Mendenhall, who is third in the AFC with 332 yards rushing and has three runs of 20 yards or longer.

Favored: Steelers by 1 1/2.

WR Anquan Boldin ... He had three touchdown catches against the Browns, emerging as the type of big-play receiver the Ravens were hoping to provide for QB Joe Flacco. Boldin is a strong, physical receiver who runs well after the catch, making him a good matchup for physical CBs Bryant McFadden and Ike Taylor. They have done a good job of not letting receivers get behind them.

The Steelers have won four in a row and nine of the past 10 against the Ravens at Heinz Field. However, that doesn't accurately reflect the competitive closeness of the teams. The last six games -- two of which were overtime -- have been decided by a total of 28 points. The Steelers' regular-season home record of 58-22-1 is the league's fourth-best since 2000.
Keys to victory ...

To win, the Ravens must ...

1 Keep Flacco from TOs. He has six interceptions and three lost fumbles in five career games against the Steelers.

2 Heed the speed. Without Ed Reed, the Steelers will test the middle of the field with deep throws to Wallace, who averages 26.7 yards per catch.

3 Latch on to Batch. He does a good job of stepping up in the pocket, forcing the Ravens to get an inside rush to push him outside his protection.

To win, the Steelers must ...

1 Dice Rice. They have already held Michael Turner, Chris Johnson and Cadillac Williams to a combined 89 yards on 41 carries in three games.

2 Be Raven-ous on the ground. The Steelers have not had a 100-yard rusher against the Ravens since Jerome Bettis in December 2004, a span of 11 games.

3 Be bold with Anquan. McFadden has done a good job not letting the play get behind him, something that plagued the secondary a year ago.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10276/10 ... z11H5PrL7X (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10276/1092002-66.stm#ixzz11H5PrL7X)