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Jetsfan115
01-19-2011, 11:51 AM
NFL final four playoff rankings
Adam Schein

http://msn.foxsports...position-011811

Can you ever remember a championship Sunday so evenly matched? You can make the case for the Bears, Packers, Jets or Steelers to go to the Super Bowl and win it.

Let the debate begin. We rank the final four teams in every category, SCHEIN 9 style.

1. QUARTERBACK

Packers – I made the case for Aaron Rodgers last week as the second-best quarterback left in the tournament. An epic display, going 31-for-36, throwing for three touchdowns and 366 yards against the suddenly overmatched Falcons just proves my point. And with Tom Brady now out, Rodgers is the best of the best.

Steelers – It was a vintage Ben Roethlisberger performance; toughness and execution in the clutch. The Pittsburgh quarterback overcame six sacks to hit Antonio Brown on a 3rd-and-19 late in the game. Ben is unorthodox, but he is a winner.

Bears – Jay Cutler has been a different player since the bye week, since the offensive line started providing legit pass protection. The Bears needed to jump out on Seattle early and remind the Seahawks they were a sub .500 team. Cutler provided the fireworks.

Jets – I have to put Sanchez here out of fairness. But the kid is a remarkable 4-1 in the playoffs. Try that one on again. Mark Sanchez is 4-1 in the playoffs in just two years in the NFL!! Sanchez, after a slow start, was sensational on the road against a Bill Belichick-coached team on Sunday. All season long, Sanchez has had a knack for the moment, a knack for winning.

2. RUNNING BACKS

Bears – Surprised? Check the stats and watch the games in the second half of the season. No team was more successful than the Bears running the ball since Mike Martz changed his approach. Jay Cutler told me on Monday that Matt Forte is the best running back in the league if you combine running skills, hands and pass protection. While that’s up for debate, Forte has been superb in all areas. Forte rushed for 1,069 yards on a strong 4.5 yards per carry. For perspective, think how awful the Bears offensive line was in the beginning of the season. He also caught a whopping 51 passes from Cutler this year for 567 yards.

Jets – LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene have proved to be a sturdy combination with a perfect combination of skill sets for the Jets.

Steelers – Rashard Mendenhall can put up the numbers. But I just don’t fully trust him when it comes to ball security.

Packers – Green Bay finally has balance, or at least the threat of balance, on offense with James Starks. But the Packers are clearly the worst running team left in the tournament. As Aaron Rodgers told us a few weeks ago, they use the short passing attack in lieu of the run.

3. WIDE RECEIVERS

Packers – I consider this the single toughest category to grade. You can make the case for Green Bay, New York and Pittsburgh getting the top spot. I’m choosing the Packers based upon depth and talent. Greg Jennings is a great, reliable star, finishing with 12 TD catches and 1,265 yards in the regular season. Donald Driver’s talent and skill go beyond the stat sheet. His route-running is precise. While James Jones can have a case of the yips on occasion (see the Philly playoff game), he is deep threat who is good for the acrobatic catch (see the Atlanta playoff game). Jordy Nelson is ultra-reliable, proving it once again on Saturday night with eight catches against the Falcons.

Jets – Browns fans might not believe it but Braylon Edwards has been tough, clutch and sure-handed all through the regular season and postseason. Santonio Holmes has been clutch for a long time. And Jerricho Cotchery is a strong No. 3 target, excelling at getting yards after the catch.

Steelers – It makes me a bit queasy to list Pittsburgh third. I think Hines Ward is a Hall of Famer with his hands, toughness, blocking ability and flair for the big play on third down and in the red zone. Mike Wallace had a breathtaking year for the Steelers. Emmanuel Sanders and Antonio Brown (as the Ravens learned the hard way) have the ability to burn you deep.

Bears – Now, Chicago’s receivers are clearly fourth. But I think they are underrated and they fit Mike Martz’s scheme perfectly. Earl Bennett is Cutler’s security blanket. Devin Hester gets better as a receiver every time out, and with the emphasis on running the ball and defenses now respecting it, Cutler is finding the speedster down field for big plays.

4. OFFENSIVE LINE

Jets – Brandon Moore was an elite guard this year. Nick Mangold is the best center in football. D’Brickashaw Ferguson is an athletic rock at left tackle. And Wayne Hunter has filled in very capably for Damien Woody at right tackle.

Packers – Too high? Or just an indictment of the teams they are being compared to? For the sake of fairness, look at how the Packers offensive line has played against the Giants, Bears, Eagles and Falcons over the last four weeks.

Bears – Offensive line coach Mike Tice could be the unsung hero of the Bears with his outstanding work coaching up Chicago’s protectors. The group is far from elite.

Steelers – Even head coach Mike Tomlin has lamented about the bad luck his line has had with injuries this year. The lack of depth, talent, and poor play reared its ugly head on Saturday against Baltimore. Young center Maurkice Pouncey is a stud.

5. DEFENSIVE LINE

Bears – Wasn’t easy determining who was the top dog in this category, but the tie goes to Julius Peppers.

Packers – I voted B.J. Raji first team all-pro this year. He is an absolute monster up front in the middle of Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense.

Steelers – Casey Hampton is still a handful. The club does miss Aaron Smith, despite Ziggy Hood turning a corner.

Jets – It’s a very solid, workmanlike group. Mike DeVito is the best defensive end you’ve never heard of.

6. LINEBACKERS

Steelers – James Harrison is a play-making stud who takes over games. LaMarr Woodley is the perfect partner in crime. And James Farrior’s excellence is somehow still underrated. He is the leader of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bears – It’s not easy putting a unit that features Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs second on any list. The pair has been flat-out dominant.

Packers – Clay Matthews is a match-up nightmare for the opposition.

Jets – It’s not often that a star in New York flies under the radar. But that’s the case with David Harris, the lone Jet who lets his play do the talking. Bart Scott will run through a wall for Rex Ryan.

7. DEFENSIVE BACKS

Packers – Tramon Williams had two picks in the first half against Atlanta to change the game. The “pick 6” at the end of the half closed the book on the Falcons. And Williams' playoff heroics, including the game-saving interception of Michael Vick in the playoff opener, are not a fluke. He was excellent all season long. Charles Woodson still makes plays, whether it is an interception, forced fumble or a blitz off the edge.

Jets – Darrelle Revis is the best pure corner in the NFL. Antonio Cromartie backed up his words against the Patriots. Safeties Eric Smith and Brodney Pool have played their best ball of the year in the playoffs.

Steelers - Troy Polamalu is a beast. But is he 100 percent? He sure didn’t look like it on Saturday. Ryan Clark created two turnovers in the third quarter to change the game against Baltimore. The Pittsburgh corners are very, very vulnerable.

Bears – Tim Jennings has improved. Chris Harris has been solid all year. But this is not a superb group.

8. SPECIAL TEAMS

Bears – Devin Hester is Devin Hester. He spooks teams. Nobody has better starting field position than Chicago.

Jets – Sure, Nick Folk scares you, but a healthy Brad Smith is a strong returner. And playoff sub Antonio Cromartie has done a fine job. Steve Weatherford was awful against the Pats but brilliant last time out in Pittsburgh. Mike Westhoff is a great special teams coach.

Packers – The last time Green Bay and Chicago met, the punting was excellent. But there always seems to be an issue with Green Bay’s special teams, including Saturday night, when they allowed a 102-yard return to Eric Weems.

Steelers – They are improved from a year ago, but still not totally trustworthy.

9. COACHING

Steelers – Mike Tomlin is excellent and has a Super Bowl ring to prove it. Dick LeBeau is the best defensive coordinator in the NFL.

Packers – On Saturday night, Troy Aikman said Mike McCarthy was his coach of the year for navigating the Packers through injury and adversity this season. In addition to being a great head coach, McCarthy is an excellent play caller. Dom Capers is one of the best in the business at coaching defense.

Jets – He might not be your cup of tea, but Rex Ryan is 4-1 in the playoffs in his first two years as an NFL head coach! And all four wins have come on the road. This is a sensational accomplishment. Not to mention Ryan is 3-2 against Bill Belichick. Ryan and Mike Pettine do a great job with the Jets defense. Brian Schottenheimer has been in a groove calling plays.

Bears – This really isn’t fair with Lovie Smith’s great coaching job and Mike Martz remembering to run the ball.

so he ranks it 5-4 advantage jets

Buddha Bus
01-19-2011, 11:55 AM
Pretty fair assessments IMHO. You could call a tie between the Steelers and Jets WRs for second, but everything else seems pretty much accurate.

FanSince72
01-19-2011, 11:56 AM
All of that plus two dollars will get you a ride on the subway.


What else you got?

StainlessStill
01-19-2011, 11:59 AM
I agree with most of it BUT the defensive line. That yahoo marked the Steelers linebackers as the #1 unit, but mark our defensive lineman lower than all teams. Why do you think our linebackers are so stout? Because our vicious defensive lineman open it up for them and our run stoppage, who is by far the BEST in the league, and possibly ever, starts with Casey Hampton, Brett Keisel, and Ziggy Hood. I'd give the Steelers D-line the edge.

SteelCityMom
01-19-2011, 12:01 PM
Steelers – Rashard Mendenhall can put up the numbers. But I just don’t fully trust him when it comes to ball security.

I'm interested to know why he's worried about ball security. Yes, Mendy had a fumble against the Ravens, but all RB's have fumbles every now and then (even the great Ray Rice). Mendy only had 2 fumbles in the regular season though...on a lot fewer carries, both LT and Greene had 2 fumbles a piece. :noidea:

To me, Mendy vs. Greene and LT is a wash. And I feel like I'm being generous with calling it that.

Nice read otherwise though.

Fire Arians
01-19-2011, 12:02 PM
steelers d-line gets no respect, the trio is probably the best 3-4 DL setup in the league even without a healthy smith.

steelers o-line if flozell is back from his illness and ready to play isn't the best, but a lot better than they get credit for.

wr corps are still underrated by the media. young money crew backed up by hines ward (who still has some left in the tank to you doubters) and heath, i guess if you don't know now you betta ask somebody ;)

anyway with that said this should be a good game. good post

BTW mendenhall has no ball security issues. He's only fumbled the rock 3 times this season which is less than most premier backs can say. he might have had that issue in the past but he's much improved on that now.

Foreign Alphabet
01-19-2011, 12:04 PM
Wow i'm shocked that the jets linebackers are last on any list. And to be completely honest, I don't disagree with the list either. Goes to show how awesome the linebacking corps are on these last four teams

Fire Arians
01-19-2011, 12:08 PM
Wow i'm shocked that the jets linebackers are last on any list. And to be completely honest, I don't disagree with the list either. Goes to show how awesome the linebacking corps are on these last four teams

thats true. well you know just because the bears have urlacher they ain't gonna be #4. somebody has to be lol

sarahpalinhater
01-19-2011, 12:21 PM
Yeah, that GREAT Packers Defense/secondary huh ? Tell me fans, that EXACT same defense and secondary that was there last season,,,how did Ben do against them in last seasons game ? Can anyone remind me please ? :tt03:

Jetsfan115
01-19-2011, 12:21 PM
Wow i'm shocked that the jets linebackers are last on any list. And to be completely honest, I don't disagree with the list either. Goes to show how awesome the linebacking corps are on these last four teams

pretty much. i think the jets have a top 5 LB gourp but i agree that those 3 are better. Steelers should be number 1. 2 stud pass rushing OLBs and 2 stud Run stuffing ILBs. Bears have urlacher and briggs, the pack may be a bit overrated. matthews is a beast but the res of them are pretty pedestrian

thats true. well you know just because the bears have urlacher they ain't gonna be #4. somebody has to be lol

pretty much. briggs is also a stud

SteelCityMom
01-19-2011, 12:25 PM
BTW mendenhall has no ball security issues. He's only fumbled the rock 3 times this season which is less than most premier backs can say. he might have had that issue in the past but he's much improved on that now.

Yeah, I definitely don't get that statement either. Both LT and Greene have fumbled the ball more in the past two years than Mendy has.

In the past 2 regular seasons:

LT- 442 carries/ 6 fumbles/ 2 lost
Greene - 293 carries/ 6 fumbles/ 5 lost
Mendy - 566 carries/ 5 fumbles/ 5 lost

I guess LT is the best at not losing them. But in pure ball security, Mendy is by far the most trustworthy one. :noidea:

Greene seems to have abysmal ball security thought. I guess I just haven't watched the Jets enough the past couple years, I didn't realize he was fumbling that often.

austinfrench76
01-19-2011, 12:35 PM
I disagree with QB, RB and Defensive Line.

Ben = Clutch
RM = 100 yards last time we played the Jets
DL = Hood/Keisel and Hamp are playing at pro bowl levels!

Go Steelers!!!!!

Steelboy84
01-19-2011, 12:38 PM
Mendy does scare me at times with holding the ball away from his body.

Raw Steel
01-19-2011, 12:47 PM
How come no one was asking if Troy was 100% after the Browns game? Oh, because he made big plays. Last week, the Ravens wisely stayed away from him so Ryan Clark had the opportunities and he made the big plays. It's the most overrated theme of this game.

Steelboy84
01-19-2011, 12:52 PM
Ben said he loves Bruce Arians. Lol

chitownpit
01-19-2011, 12:57 PM
Rashard a fumbling problem? What?
Must be the same guy that thought Logan was
still on our roster this mourning.:noidea:

sarahpalinhater
01-19-2011, 01:04 PM
Rashard a fumbling problem? What?
Must be the same guy that thought Logan was
still on our roster this mourning.:noidea:





Maybe this guy mistakenly took Mendenhall for " Richard Huntley " :noidea:

chitownpit
01-19-2011, 01:06 PM
Maybe this guy mistakenly took Mendenhall for " Richard Huntley " :noidea:

possibility:noidea:

Devil's D
01-19-2011, 01:48 PM
“The Pittsburgh corners are very, very vulnerable”

I do not necessarily disagree with the ranking, but Ike Taylor deserves more respect…..WHO else does the guy have to shut-down?

Third Rail
01-19-2011, 01:52 PM
Schein picked the Ratbirds to win last week.

I like his column, but he's been wrong so many times this season (he had Eli Manning as an early MVP candidate) that it's hard to take anything he says seriously.

Third Rail
01-19-2011, 01:54 PM
“The Pittsburgh corners are very, very vulnerable”

I do not necessarily disagree with the ranking, but Ike Taylor deserves more respect…..WHO else does the guy have to shut-down?

Let's start calling him "Ike Island" or "Ikeland" until he gets some respect. Because in this league, nicknames exude credibility.

pete74
01-19-2011, 02:11 PM
Yeah, that GREAT Packers Defense/secondary huh ? Tell me fans, that EXACT same defense and secondary that was there last season,,,how did Ben do against them in last seasons game ? Can anyone remind me please ? :tt03:

that goes both ways though, look what they did against us in that game. also this is a different year and there alot better this season

StainlessStill
01-19-2011, 02:17 PM
that goes both ways though, look what they did against us in that game. also this is a different year and there alot better this season

^This. In my pre-season predictions, I picked Green Bay to win it all. I watched a lot of their games this year and they really jump out to you out of the screen with great weaponry and X-factor play makers on both sides of the ball. They hit a wall with injuries, but I said that if they qualify for the playoffs, then Green Bay got the team to go far and do some major damage. They got a GREAT team and their 3-4 defense, led by Clay Matthews, is coming around. Green Bay is like the Pittsburgh of the NFC, they play so much a like.

MikeHaullace
01-19-2011, 02:17 PM
“The Pittsburgh corners are very, very vulnerable”

I do not necessarily disagree with the ranking, but Ike Taylor deserves more respect…..WHO else does the guy have to shut-down?

I'm pretty sure this was written with excluding Ike in mind. After him, our CBs are VERY suspect. B-Mac is a great open-field tackler, but susceptible to getting beat over the top. Gay is serviceable as a nickelback, but one-on-one on the outside? Forget about it.

If Ike didn't have hands of stone, he would probably get the respect he deserves otherwise. Too bad he can't catch a cold during a Siberian winter. :banging: