In this week’s matchup of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Joe Caputo, challenges staff writers Mike Pietroforte and Andrew Grossman and coresspondent Greg Oriolo to answer questions about which Harbaugh will be victorious in the Super Bowl, which basketball team is the NBA’s best in New York, and who gets the end of the year hardware for the NFL.
1. The Harbaugh brothers are the first brother duo to ever coach against each other in a Super Bowl. Which is the better coach and will that better coach be crowned the Super Bowl XLVII Champion?
MP: My pick to win the Super Bowl is the Baltimore Ravens. What sets them apart from the Niners is the experience of Joe Flacco. Both teams have elite defenses, but I think Baltimore’s defense will be able to take advantage of the inexperienced Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick has proven himself so far in this postseason, but I don’t believe the defenses of the Falcons and Packers compare to the rejuvenated Raven defense — one that has given up an average of 19.0 points per game against the intimidating offenses of Denver, Indianapolis and New England. What stands out the most is that they held the Patriots to only 13 points in the AFC Championship. Something that always decides big games like this are turnovers, and I expect Colin Kaepernick to have more of them than Joe Flacco. Look for ballhawk Ed Reed to be a large factor in this final game.
AG: In a competition between brothers, the younger Harbaugh will take the title. Jim may have less NFL coaching experience, but that will hardly matter Sunday. He has won enough big games in the NFL to know what to expect for the season’s final matchup. Prior to taking over the 49er’s organization, they had not had a winning season in eight years. During his two years in San Francisco, Jim not only won the NFC West, but he also led his team to the conference championship twice. As for John, he too has had a successful career as a head coach, but unlike his younger brother, he inherited a competitive football team from the start. That being said, San Francisco has a much more complete team and is statistically ranked in the top five for defense and rushing. It will not be easy, but the 49ers should prevail, adding to the organization’s Super Bowl legacy.
GO: Both Jim and John are great NFL coaches. In a combined seven seasons, these brother as head coaches have been in the playoffs seven times, two for Jim and five in a row for John, which is unbelievable. To pick a better coach is very tough, but for two reasons I believe Jim is the superior. First, he is a better emotional leader. He is a players’ coach and has taken a skilled team that struggled before his arrival to 24 total wins in the last two years. Next, in starting Colin Kaepernick, he’s taken a risk that John wouldn’t take, which propelled the 49ers to a new level. In the end, it’s the players that play the game. I feel that the game will come down to Kaepernick. Joe Flacco has proved that he can play in big games over the last two postseasons, so I expect him to have a “good” game. Kaepernick has much less experience and could be due for a bad game. The 49ers will win if he plays well, which I think he will.
Greg gets 3 points for talking about Jim Harbaugh’s decision to switch to Colin Kaepernick. Andrew gets 2 points for pointing out that John Harbaugh’s team was better when he inherited it. Mike gets 1 point for mentioning Flacco’s experience, but he never mentioned a Harbaugh.
2. The Nets and Knicks just completed their season series against each other, splitting their four games 2-2. Which is the better team and does either have a chance to take down the Heat in the Eastern Conference?
MP: I actually think both teams match up well against the Heat. I like the Nets against the Heat because, while they do have skilled scorers in Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, they also have some guys that get seriously active on the boards with Reggie Evans and Kris Humphries. I think one of the ways a team can get the better of the smaller, running Heat is to dominate them on the glass. However, in each of their two meetings with the Heat, they’ve lost big. I like the Knicks because they have plenty of depth in terms of talent. In both games that the Knicks have played the Heat this year, they’ve beaten them by 20 points. Looking at their performances this year, I think the Knicks have a better shot against the Heat. I also think that they are the better team because they have so much depth. Between Kidd, Melo, Chandler, Amare and Felton, the Knicks just come with a taste of everything. They bring experience, offense, defense and star power to the table and I think they’d be a very scary matchup in the postseason.
AG: Although the Nets have had a great season compared to previous years, the Knicks are still the best team in New York, with Carmelo Anthony playing at an MVP level right now. They pride themselves on having a deep bench and, as Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton get healthy, they are destined to make a run. That is not including their dominant big man in the middle in Tyson Chandler. The Knicks have made the playoffs the past two years and have much more experience than the young Nets team. That being said, if the season were to end now and a matchup between the Heat and Knicks would occur, the defending champions are definitely favored. There is a slight possibility New York could get the upset because the champs are struggling as of late and the Knicks have definitely shown that they are a force in the Eastern Conference. In today’s game, it is all about the star players and the Heat definitely have the edge in this category as Lebron, Wade and Bosh trump the trio of Carmelo, Stoudemire and Chandler.
GO: Both teams are fighting for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and, in my opinion, the Nets are the better team and have a better chance at beating the Heat. They are more balanced in every aspect of the game. Offensively, they have an elite PG that can score/create in Deron, the most skilled offensive center in the NBA in Lopez who is fourth in PER, a sharpshooter in Joe Johnson and a great scoring bench. The Knicks are much more dependent on Melo, and one player cannot carry a team to the title, especially if they have to play Lebron. Also, the Heat don’t match up well defensively with the Nets. No one can stop Deron, and Brook will give Bosh trouble. Defensively, the Nets are the third best team in the East, allowing just over 94 points per game, and are a better rebounding team than the Knicks. Even though I don’t think either team matches up well against the Heat here, Lopez has more blocks than Chandler, Gerald Wallace can contain Lebron better than any Knick, and their team D will last better over seven games.
Greg gets 3 points for mentioning the lack of defenders for Deron and Brook. Mike gets 2 points for saying that rebounding could be key to beating the Heat. Andrew gets 1 point for pointing out the Knicks’ experience, though I wouldn’t call the Nets young.
3. The NFL Awards will come out during Super Bowl week. Who is your NFL MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year?
MP: NFL MVP comes down to either Peyton Manning or Adrian Peterson. The Broncos were a team that had success last year with a great defense and Tebow at the helm. While Peyton brought them over the top, the Vikings offense works only when Peterson works, and he dragged that team to the playoffs while threatening the single-season rushing record. Defensive Player of the Year has to be unanimous. J. J. Watt has been an absolute force this year. Even after the Texans lost Brian Cushing early on in the year, Watt kept the defense ticking. Coach of the Year goes to Jim Harbaugh. Big time coaches make big time decisions, and switching from Smith to Kaepernick has paid off. The Rookie of the Year competition this year might be the best the NFL has ever seen between Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. I think Luck’s 18 interceptions this year take him out of the running. The passing statistics between Wilson and RGIII are nearly identical (Wilson threw a few more TD’s, but he also threw a few more INT’s), but if you look into rushing, you’ll see that the dual threat of RGIII was a little more effective than that of Russell Wilson, rushing for 300 more yards and three more TD’s than Wilson.
AG: Adrian “All Day” Peterson may have been nine yards from breaking the NFL’s rushing record, but when it comes to NFL MVP, he will not come up short. Peterson plays for a Minnesota team with an average defense and the second-worst passing offense. From a defensive standpoint, all they had to do was to stop the run, and they still could not contain Peterson. This star running back literally carried the team to a playoff berth. When it comes to Rookie of the Year, Redskin’s Robert Griffin III deserves the award over Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson. Not only did he have a better quarterback rating, but RG3 had a total of 24 touchdowns to only four interceptions. Statistically, this quarterback was superior to all other rookies. On the defensive side of the ball, J.J. Watt was the best. Not only did he have 20.5 sacks, but he also deflected 16 passes, by far the most by any defensive end or linebacker. In his second year, Watt definitely has a bright future ahead of him. As for Coach of the Year, no one is more deserving of it than Bruce Arians. With no prior head coaching experience, he led the colts to a 9-3 record in place of Chuck Pagano who was battling cancer. What makes this feat even more impressive is that last year, the Colts were the worst team in the NFL with a record of 2-14.
GO: MVP will come down to either Peyton Manning or Adrian Peterson. Both had unbelievable comeback seasons, but since Denver made the playoffs last year, I think AP will win. He rushed for the second most yards in NFL history, as well as 1,000-plus yards after first contact, which is remarkable. Also, he led the Vikings with a second-year quarterback to the playoffs, whereas Manning inherited a solid team. I think Andrew Luck will win the Rookie of the Year award. He set the record for passing yards by a rookie and took a team with two wins in 2011 to the playoffs. RG3 was more efficient, but had a better supporting cast, whereas the Colts offense was dependent on multiple rookies. The consensus Defensive Player of the Year is J. J. Watt. Of the six players before him with 20.5 sacks or more, all have made the All-Pro team, and half of them won the Defensive MVP. Coach of the Year can go to anyone, but the Vikings’ Leslie Frazier has less talent to work with and took an average team as far as it can go.
Andrew gets 3 points for picking Bruce Arians as his Coach of the Year, way to think outside the box. Greg gets 2 points for pointing out Peterson’s yards after contact statistic. Mike gets 1 point for his Harbaugh pick, but he never picked an MVP.
Greg wins Around the Dorm, 8-6-4.