Friday, September 19, 2008

Yellowjackets: A Nemesis No Matter How You Describe Them

Nemesis For Lawnmowers and Eagles
The interesting part about football is how you can break a game down beforehand into how an offense will do against a defense or even how an individual player will do in a head-to-head match up. Let’s face it, as it is in any war, soldiers get killed in individual combat, but ultimately it’s all about what country wins.

So it is in Philadelphia this weekend where a regional skirmish, "The Battle for the Keystone State", will be waged. All weekend you will be bombarded first with television spots promoting Big Ben and Fast Willie versus Donovan McNabb and Brian Westbrook. While it is true that these two combinations will be carrying the battle forward for their respective teams, the bigger story is the two defenses and how they will handle their respective challenges.

It’s been well documented over the years how important it is for a defense to be able to get off the field in key third down situations. As most football observers would agree, it’s much more tiring for a team to play defense than to play offense, so when an offense starts to get the upper hand…as did both offenses in Monday nights' Dallas-Philadelphia track meet, the results can be high scoring affairs and defenses that just can’t keep up.

The Eagles are going to have their hands full Sunday with a retooled Steeler defense that should be renamed the “Yellowjackets” first and obviously because yellowjackets wear “Black and Gold” and secondly because they swarm like yellowjackets to the football. By year end, this team may well become known for having one of the most ferocious blitzing, tackling and coverage teams of any in most recent memory...and probably one or more of them will bite in a pileup too!

For this primary reason I am staking my entire, considerable football reputation on the Yellowjackets harassing and inflicting "stingers" on Donovan McNabb until he goes into submission while Big Ben and his troops tune up the Philadelphia defense. In a game that will serve notice to the rest of the NFL, I expect the Steelers to win it on the road by a 24-10 score. I think the Dallas game on Monday may have taken some from the Eagles and they do have a day less rest and preparation time to get ready for this one. So look for a Yellowjackets win on Sunday and no, I’m not viewing this game through a bee’s complex lens, just telling it like it is…this defense is the best in the NFL and this team’s balance, including greatly improved special teams, makes them an early favorite to get to and win the Superbowl. And it’s only week three when I’m telling you this and we still have 14 regular season games to play! Now that's courage! Not a purple heart's worth, but courage nonetheless!

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