Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Super Bowl: A Fantasy Postseason Preview

One of the many great things about the Fantasy Postseason leagues is that they allow us to continue caring about sports often when fantasy addicts like myself used to stop giving a hoot. For most fantasy players, the highlight of the season is the draft. This is, of course, backwards to most sports fans who become increasingly interested as the season continues, but I don’t need to worry about that anymore. Fantasy drafts are still great, but championship games are getting their due. And I still care! So, this weekend we have the Super Bowl in Arlington, Texas.

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know that I am very biased when it comes to the Steelers playing those accursed Packers. One might think my feelings would even be stronger because Green Bay knocked out my beloved Bears ten days ago. However, I had to be honest: the Packers were the more talented team. Once Jay Cutler went out with the injury, I knew the Bears had little chance to win. The fact that Chicago made the game competitive made me happy and added to an already very satisfying season. Speaking of Cutler, those critics who thought he should have played with an injured knee should have shut up. Say what you want about Cutler, he doesn’t seem the type to sit out without being injured. He’s no Randy Moss!

Even though I will be rooting for the Steelers, I should able to analyze the matchup with some objectivity. While it hurts me to write it, Green Bay is very good. In the playoffs, they have achieved some balance on offense and James Starks has provided a spark for the running game. Starks had his best game against Philadelphia, but he continued to garner handoffs (and not fumble) through the playoffs. I doubt the Packers will have more success running the ball against the Steel Curtain than they did against the Falcons and Bears. Starks ran for less than three yards per carry in the last two games.

Aaron Rodgers’ arm still carries the bread and butter of the Packer offense and he has continued his excellent season throughout the Playoffs. While he did not throw a TD against Chicago, he did run for one and his ability to stay away from the pass rush set up much of the Packer offense. He will need that ability against the Steeler defense, which is not afraid to blitz in any situation.

The same could be said of the Packer defense – they like to blitz and one would suspect that they will have plenty of success against the second string Steeler line. Much has been made of center Maurkice Pouncey’s injury. The rookie center was named to the All Pro squad, but he is dealing with a high ankle injury and may or may not play. Injuries to the Steeler offensive line are nothing new and I think the team is probably best equipped to deal with one more. The backups have shown that they are not chopped liver because they have held the Ravens and Jets at bay for the most part. It helps that Ben Roethlisberger has the ability to improvise. I am not sure how much his past Super Bowl experience will come into play, but it can’t hurt.

Rashard Mendenhall had a nice week against the Jets, especially in the first half. One way the Steelers can keep the Packer blitzers away from Roethlisberger is by running the ball effectively. The Bears only ran for 3.5 yards per rush, but Matt Forte ran for 70 yards in 17 carries. The weight will once again be on the Steeler offensive line.

All in all, I expect it to be another exciting Super Bowl (although I hope the Steelers win by 40). Hopefully, you find yourself in a good battle for a Fantasy Postseason championship and can enjoy the game on one more level (and win your league). Good luck!