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Early game Week 17 Quick Slants

Hines Ward, Mike Wallace AP

The early games in Week 17 mostly lacked drama. The Steelers clinched their bye easily, making the Ravens game meaningless.  The Falcons dominated the Panthers, killing the Saints’ hope for a bye.   And the Bucs beat New Orleans for good measure.

While we wonder if the Bucs’ improbable run can continue another week, here’s our early quick slants:

1. Pittsburgh had a flawless game offensively against an underrated Browns defense.  Pittsburgh really protected Ben Roethlisberger well and opened up huge lanes in the running game.  It’s a promising sign for a much maligned offensive line going into the bye week for the No. 2 seed Steelers.

2. The Ravens didn’t get the result they wanted in Cleveland, but they did get some luck on Sunday.  Oakland’s win over the Chiefs made it far more likely the Ravens won’t have to face their playoff nemesis Peyton Manning.   A Colts win Sunday means the Ravens will be headed to Kansas City.  A Ravens-Jaguars game also remains possible.

3. Despite the win, the Ravens haven’t impressed with their play down the stretch.  The Bengals had them on the ropes multiple times Sunday.  The Bengals and Browns out-gained Baltimore the last two weeks.  I think Baltimore’s 9-7 team last year was better than this year’s 12-4 squad.  The defense and running game were more dominating.

4. The Browns and Dolphins didn’t help their head coaches keep their jobs Sunday.  With reports circulating that Eric Mangini will be out in Cleveland, the Browns got steamrolled by the Steelers.   Pittsburgh’s first four drives ended in touchdowns.

The Browns were a much better team this season despite finishing with the same 5-11 record, but this game was a reminder of old Browns teams.

The Dolphins were even more disappointing.  They were down 31-0 to the Patriots by the middle of the third quarter.  The Dolphins finish the season on a three-game losing streak to the Bills, Lions, and Patriots.   Look for owner Stephen Ross to move on from Tony Sparano and try to make a splash with his head coaching hire.

5. On the other end of the spectrum, Tom Cable’s troops helped his cause with a decisive 31-10 win in Kansas City.  The Chiefs played to win throughout, which made this result particularly impressive.   Oakland went 6-0 in the division and there is still serious doubt whether Cable will return to the job next year.

6. The Chiefs had a truly awful day at the office.   Matt Cassel was absolutely pounded, knocked to the ground all day against Oakland.  Jamaal Charles was banged up in the contest.  There will be a lot of negativity surrounding the Chiefs this week following the news that Charlie Weis is leaving for Florida.

7. The Saints had a similarly costly day in a similarly meaningless game.  With the Falcons taking care of business in Atlanta, the Saints had nothing to gain Sunday.  Instead, they lost three players to injury against the Bucs.  They also lost a game where red zone turnovers popped up like earlier in the season for the Saints.

8. Tampa’s win in New Orleans keeps them alive for a playoff spot heading into the afternoon games.  They need the Packers and Giants to lose to get in.  The game also showed the Bucs can beat a quality team.  Drew Brees came out midway through the fourth quarter in a one score game, but Tampa deserved this one.  Raheem Morris likely just earned a few more Coach of the Year votes.

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13 Responses to “Early game Week 17 Quick Slants”
  1. mswravens says: Jan 2, 2011 5:57 PM

    Yup. The Browns & the Bengals kicked the Ravens’ ass the last two weeks – and that’s why they scored a combined 17 pts against the Ravens!!! Rosenthal, you were wrong when you predicted the Ravens wouldn’t make the playoffs – and you’re wrong again!

  2. holeinone09 says: Jan 2, 2011 5:57 PM

    Couldn’t ask for a better ending to the regular season for the Steelers. They played possibly their most complete game of the season. They demolished the Browns on their home field, completely avenging last year’s fluke victory that kept the Steelers out of the playoffs. For those of you that hate Ben, now you saw what he can do given some protection from the OL.

    Overall just a wonderfully masterful game by the Steelers, on their way to their seventh Super Bowl win!

    GO STEELERS!!

  3. kevo126 says: Jan 2, 2011 5:59 PM

    ed reed=best safety in the nfl…by far

  4. jamie54 says: Jan 2, 2011 6:08 PM

    We bang on the Raiders often enough but if the owner would stay out of the way the team looks like they found an identity exactly the opposite the way Al Davis likes to operate. Instead of a down the field aerial assault the Raiders are a smash you in the mouth and stomp on your head team. With a modicum of success this year it’ll be interesting to see which way Davis leans.

  5. nssmuckers says: Jan 2, 2011 6:14 PM

    @Kevo126

    You’re funny.

  6. bucforever says: Jan 2, 2011 6:47 PM

    Bucs won but it looks like season’s done. Coach Morris’s goal of “Race to Ten” was successful. Everybody needs to get better / healthy for 2011. A good draft and some smart aquistions will make the Bucs a real threat in the NFC south. GO BUCS in 2011. Can’t wait for training camp to start.

  7. sarahpalinhater says: Jan 2, 2011 6:59 PM

    Ed Reed isn’t CLOSE to Troy Polamalu…Reed is ONLY a Center-fielder Safety just looking to go for the Pick…he gives up HUGE plays when he doesn’t get the pick. And Reed
    is ” Super-soft “….He will never lay the wood over the middle,,,he’s afraid to. As where Troy will make a guy like Ronnie Lott look like Deion Sanders when it comes to hitting.

    Only a TRUE MORON would ever hint that
    Eddie ” Munster ” Reed is anything close to the player that Troy P is :-)

  8. jeffperk says: Jan 2, 2011 7:28 PM

    Real easy for the Steelers to look real scary & bad when they clearly played against a team that layed down, rolled over & played dead for them. Steeler fans can pound their chest all they want, but that’s all this “game” against Cleveland was. I expected more from Cleveland, but their players just wanted the game over so their season could end.

    GO RAVENS!!!

  9. Bubby Brister says: Jan 2, 2011 7:28 PM

    ed reed=best safety in the nfl…by far
    ————————————–

    Yeah and Mike Vick is league MVP… by far.

    Moron.

  10. billywonkaa says: Jan 2, 2011 8:41 PM

    @jeffperk

    Like the Bungles did for the Ravens…Roll over and play dead, nice win by the skin of their teeth! Never More, Never More

  11. steelers6pack says: Jan 2, 2011 9:03 PM

    jeffperk says:
    Jan 2, 2011 7:28 PM
    Real easy for the Steelers to look real scary & bad when they clearly played against a team that layed down, rolled over & played dead for them. Steeler fans can pound their chest all they want, but that’s all this “game” against Cleveland was. I expected more from Cleveland, but their players just wanted the game over so their season could end.

    GO RAVENS!!!

    ————————————————-
    Hey moron, the Clowns beat the Pats! We exposed the Clowns for what they really are! Don’t be hating since your team has not been to Super Bowl in 10 years and Pittsburgh won 2 in that time! STEELERS OWN THE AFC NORTH and when was last time Ravens won the division? Oh wait you won it twice in 03 and 06 and Steelers won it in 02, 04, 07, 08 and 2010! YOU ARE THE STEP CHILD TO US! GET USE TO IT!

  12. somesome says: Jan 3, 2011 5:45 PM

    @sarahpalinhater
    .. and that is why Polamalu has missed more than an entire season in 5 seasons combined. Palomalu is agreat player but you have to be on the field to compete. Not even in the same category as Reed. Yes the FS is more likely to get INTs than the SS but Ed is only one game away to crush even Rod Woodsen’s INT yards returned record.

    You can cry all you want and yes Troy is great player and yes I would want him on my team … but not even in the same class as Ed, not even close. He is frail and briddle, just like Freeney and Sanders.

    If you have not seen Ed laying the wood over the middle then it just shows you don’t know what you are talking about and that ou just watch Steelers games.

  13. tobiasjodter says: Jan 3, 2011 7:04 PM

    somesome says: Jan 3, 2011 5:45 PM

    You can cry all you want and yes Troy is great player and yes I would want him on my team … but not even in the same class as Ed, not even close. He is frail and briddle, just like Freeney and Sanders.
    ————————————————-

    Hmmm… Ed Reed has played in 22 of 32 games the last 2 seasons… I wonder why that is? That’s only 2 more than Troy.

    And apparently he’s hurt again:

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2011/01/03/ravens-expect-ed-reed-to-be-fine/

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