Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Another episode of the Sunday matinee that is the rematch of the 2004 NFL Draft is upon us as the San Diego Chargers will travel to Heinz Field to do battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The marquee will once again light up brightly as it features the names of the two teams' draft mate quarterbacks: "Big" Ben Roethlisberger and Philip "Whiskey" Rivers.

This duel between the two gunslingers, their fourth showdown, has added edge because of events that have transpired over the last week. Events that affect each paladin differently. Events we'll refer to as: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY

The Good: Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin Wednesday on his quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: "I'll see how his body responds in the morning and we'll go from there." - http://blog.steelers.com/2012/12/05/tomlin-it-was-a-positive-day-for-ben/

Big Ben Wednesday on his arm: "Getting there. I have to talk to Heath Miller. He's my barometer. He tells me how close I am to 100% on velocity and stuff."

Per Bob Labriola of Steelers Digest on Thursday on his Twitter (@BobLabriola) account: "Tomlin tells Teresa Varley of Steelers.com that Ben (Roethlisberger) will start on Sunday: http://blog.steelers.com/2012/12/06/roethlisberger-will-start-vs-chargers/"

This assures the two gunslingers will face each other for the fifth time since their draft in 2004. They're four shootouts (three in the regular season and one in the postseason) have seen Big Ben still standing three times. One time leading to the Super Bowl in 2008.

The two have similarities between them that can't be ignored, either. These are their statistics averaged out over a 16-game regular season through their nine years in the league as of the start of this season:

Big Ben:

Completion percentage: 63.1
Yards: 3,862.9
Touchdowns: 25.1
Interceptions: 14.0
Y/A: 8.0
Y/C: 12.7
QB Rating: 92.1

Whiskey Rivers:

Completion percentage: 63.5
Yards: 3,933.3
Touchdowns: 26.6
Interceptions: 12.5
Y/A: 8.0
Y/C: 12.6
QB Rating: 95.5

Fairly even, thought Whiskey Rivers pleases the fantasy numbers, fancy pants types. That's when things change.

The Bad: When you get down to brass tacks, the two riflemen start to look a little different. Like which one is Wyatt Earp and which is Billy Clanton at the O.K. Corral.

As mentioned earlier, Big Ben has ridden off into the sunset three of the four times. The average head-to-head is as follows:

Big Ben:

Completion pct: 71.4
Yards: 1,048
Touchdowns: 4
Interceptions: 2 (both in 1 game)
Record: 3-1

Whiskey Rivers:

Completion pct: 60.4
Yards: 968
Touchdowns: 8
Interceptions: 4
Record: 1-3

Then things change even more. Big Ben and the Steelers have gone on to take home two Super Bowl trophies, going through Whiskey Rivers to get one of them, and have fought for a third.

Whiskey Rivers? Well, shucks, he hadn't even russled himself up an AFC Championship game.

Now, things get even worse. With his team already sitting at 4-8 and Whiskey Rivers trying to help his team prepare for Sunday, he has to hear this...

The Ugly: According to Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego, head coach Norv Turner and general manager A.J. Smith are to be fired at the end of the season: http://tinyurl.com/a2kvqjh

Sources told Acee that Chargers owner Dean Spanos has “resigned himself to the fact that Smith can’t be kept in the current environment of plummeting performance and fan unrest.”

Then, later, Spanos himself comes out and says that this is not actually the case.

As quoted by Adam Schefter on his Twitter (@AdamSchefter) account: "Dean Spanos: 'I haven't shared my thoughts with anyone. I will make my evaluations at the end of the season. Anything coming out now, from sources or otherwise, is pure speculation.'"

Nah...that won't be a distraction.

We'll leave all that to Judge Roy Bean. Because, whatever ends up happening there, the two quarterbacks will still face each other again for 2004 NFL Draft bragging rights and another notch in their belt come high noon Sunday.

Well, 1:00 p.m. EST at least.

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TIDBITS: Steelers injury/practice report: DNP: Mike Adams, Drew Butler (illness), Ryan Clark (hip), Byron Leftwich (shoulder), Troy Polamalu (not injury related), Ike Taylor (ankle) and Woodley (hamstring); LIMITED: Emmanuel Sanders; FULL: Antonio Brown, Willie Colon, Jerricho Cotchery, Will Johnson, Mike Wallace and some guy named Ben.

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Speaking of Troy...
Per Ed Bouchette from his Twitter (@EdBouchette) account Thursday: "#Steelers Polamalu said today the calf injury that cost him 7 games was to a different muscle than the one in the first game of the season."

So much for them taking it slowly with Troy, as he played in 50 of 64 defensive snaps (78%) against the Ravens Sunday.

Up until that game, Troy had missed nine games and had played five total quarters of football.

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What to expect from Ben Roethlisberger according to ESPN's Jamison Hensley: http://espn.go.com/blog/afcnorth/post/_/id/60711/what-to-expect-from-roethlisberger

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The last time Plaxico Burress wore a Steelers uniform inside Heinz Field was the 2004 AFC Championship game.

Burress will make his return Sunday, but it may not be a triumphant one. It could be a dud, per Mark Kaboly: http://tinyurl.com/bmtw6af