Breakdown of the AFC Stars and Dawgs by Matt Cauz @mcauz56
NY Jets / New England
Stars: T. Brady NE-QB, S. Holmes NYJ-WR
Dogs: M. Sanchez NYJ-QB, D. Revis NYJ-CB
I know what you're thinking, how can Darrelle Revis be a "dog". Listen I love the way he plays, but the dude didn't have any interceptions in 2010 (Not his fault, teams avoid throwing his way) and finished the year with a mere 32 tackles. As for the Jets, most of their defensive players have similar numbers so it's difficult to focus on just a handful of "star" players. Your best bets are going with Davis Harris and Bart Scott who finished the season first and second in tackles. I also like Antonio Cromartie to have high tackle numbers in this game as I expect Bill Belichick and Brady to focus on him over Revis (and don't forget those return yards with Cromartie).
Speaking of Brady, how can you not Captain him? The guy's numbers are impossible to replicate even if you're playing '94 Madden on your old Sega Genisus. The problem with New England is you never have an idea who is the clear alpha dog WR or RB. The good news is that even if the Pats have a 24 point lead they still will be pouring it on so everyone should get a taste. Your best strategy with New England would be to take Brady, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and just the top
Patriot defensive players.
As for the Jets I expect a ton of runs and for the team to take multiple shots deep in every quarter. With this in mind, keep an eye on the Patriots LB's and safeties as they accumulate high tackle totals.
Hernandez, Aaron (New England / Tight End)
Yes we all know that Tom Brady is a star. My mom knows that and she still thinks Joe Montana is playing for the 49ers. I really like Hernandez who hasn't played since week 15 but in two games against the Jets he put up nine receptions for 152 yards and one touchdown.
Holmes, Santonio (NY Jets / Wide Receiver)
You're going to need to score points to beat the Pats, and Holmes is the most explosive player on the field for the Jets. Plus if the Pats get up big, well I have two words for you folks ... Garbage Yards!!!!
Tomlinson, LaDanian (NY Jets / Running Back)
Tomlinson's late season swoon may have had more to do with the team's decision to rest him for the playoffs. Well it paid off as LDT (Sorry "LT" is for Lawrence Taylor) scored two touchdowns and racked up 99 total yards against the Colts. Tomlinson looked great early in the year versus the Pats and should put up solid numbers again.
Jerrod Mayo (New England/ Linebacker)
Again Rex Ryan is going to want to run the ball 30 times at least. Last time they met, Mayo registered 12 tackles.
Sanchez, Mark (NY Jets / Quarterback)
Until we change the scoring where you don't lose points for turnovers than you must avoid Sanchez at all costs. Doesn't it feel like Sanchez is due to for at least three turnovers?
Wilfork, Vince (New England / Defensive Tackle)
Forget his recent appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated, Vince is a classic case of great "real" player, but he's a lousy stats player. Since you don't get points for disrupting a run play in the back field, I say avoid Wilfork.
1. Tom Brady QB (New England)
2. BenJarvus Green-Ellis RB (New England)
3. Santonio Holmes WR (NY Jets)
4. LaDanian Tomlinson RB (NY Jets)
5. Jerrod Mayo LB (New England)
6. Aaron Hernandez TE (New England)
7. Antonio Cromartie DB (NY Jets)
8. Danny Woodhead RB/WR (New England)
9. Bart Scott LB (NY Jets)
10. Wes Welker WR (New England)
Baltimore / Pittsburgh
Stars: T. Polamalu, PIT-S, A. Boldin, BAL-WR
Dogs R. Mendenhall, PIT-RB, T. Heap, BAL-TE
The best rivalry in sports continues! There just isn't enough hate in sports today; but that isn't a problem when it comes to the Steelers and the Ravens. These guys genuinely don't like each other.
For Baltimore, don't be afraid to place your best on their passing game. Joe Flacco may not be a fantasy star but he has put up better than expected numbers against Pittsburgh. (522 yards & two touchdowns) The Steelers weakness is at CB so I expect good days from Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason. Oh don't look for Todd Heap to come even close repeating his numbers from last week against Kansas City!
Now I guess I should say that the key for Pittsburgh is the inability of the Steelers offensive line to keep Ben Roethlisberger healthy. But let's be honest, that isn't going to happen. They're going to be overmatched but it may not matter considering just how talented Roethlisberger is at avoiding the rush. The way to beat Baltimore is with the big play, not the 12-play drive, so Mike Wallace is going to be one player you want on your roster. Wallace averaged an astounding 21.0 per reception while gaining 1257 yards in 2010.
Let's be honest though, there maybe more points to be had with the defences than any skill position players.
Polamalu, Troy (Pittsburgh / Safety)
No defensive player is more important to their team's success than Troy. A big play machine, Troy is just as likely to get a sack as he is an interception.
Reed, Ed (Baltimore / Safety)
The guy misses the first six games due injury and comes back to pick off eight passes in 10 games! If the Ravens defensive line does their job, there will be plenty of errant Roethlisberger throws for Reed to go after.
Boldin, Anquan (Baltimore / Wide Receiver)
Boldin burned Pittsburgh for 118 yards and a touchdown the last time they met.
Ryan Clark (Pittsburgh / Safety)
Two years ago in the playoffs, his hit almost decapitated Willis McGahee. Clark averaged 7.5 tackles against Balitmore in 2010 and will have plenty of opportunities this weekend.
Rice, Ray (Baltimore / Running Back)
You don't run on the Steelers. Rice was shut down both times these teams faced off in the regular season.
Mendenhall, Rashard (Pittsburgh / Running Back)
Pretty much everything I said about Rice applies to Mendenhall. As a rookie Ray Lewis ended Mendenhall's season by breaking his shoulder.
1. Troy Polamula S (Pittsburgh)
2. Ed Reed S (Baltimore)
3. Anquan Boldin WR (Baltimore)
4. Joe Flacco QB (Baltimore)
5. Mike Wallace WR (Pittsburgh)
6. Ben Roethlisberger QB (Pittsburgh)
7. Ray Lewis LB (Baltimore)
8. James Harrison LB (Pittsburgh)
9. Terrel Suggs LB (Baltimore)
10. Derrick Mason WR (Baltimore)