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NFL Super Bowl XLIX Pick and Preview

January 30, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Everything in the 2014-15 NFL Season all comes down to this, my readers. The regular season is over. The playoffs are over, and two teams are left to compete for the Lombardi Trophy in the last game of the 2014-15 NFL Season, Super Bowl 49, which will air on NBC, February 1st. The two teams in this year’s edition are the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, for the NFC, and the New England Patriots, for the AFC.

Both the Seahawks and the Patriots are very exciting and tough teams. The Seahawks are famous for their quick and relentless defense. The team is lead by the unflappable QB Russell Wilson. Their defense includes the excellent CB Richard Sherman and SS Kam Chancellor. Even though Wilson is awesome at QB, the offense goes through RB Marshawn Lynch. The Patriots are lead by QB Tom Brady, along with his arsenal of weapons, such as TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon LeFell, and others. The Patriots defense is excellent, and includes NT Vince Wilfork, DE Chandler Jones, and star DB Darrelle Revis.

In this blog, I will be discussing these two teams, and will be making my prediction for Super Bowl Sunday. Even though both of these teams are polarizing, I will not be discussing any of the distractions that have been dominating the discussion surrounding both teams in the Super Bowl . If you want to hear about that rubbish, you can watch ESPN. I’m all about the game and these two teams who worked their rear ends off to get here.

So, without further ado, here’s my prediction for Super Bowl 49. I hope my readers will enjoy this blog. As both teams hail from cities that have produced great musical artists, I may sneak in a few musical references. I plan to examine each team, their respective conference championship game, game plan, and end the blog with my final prediction.

SUPER BOWL 49: The Seattle Seahawks vs The New England Patriots

Date: February 1, 2015
Network : NBC
Kickoff : 6:30PM, EST
Stadium : University of Arizona

The Seattle Seahawks

Analysis: The Seahawks are the defending champions for a reason. One being resiliency. They were left for dead in the regular season due to injuries and the Percy Harvin trade. Somehow, they kept going. They lost at home to the Dallas Cowboys. They lost to the San Diego Chargers. People were losing their minds. However, late in the regular season, guys, like Bobby Wagner, came back from injury , and the team gelled. The Seahawks had the number one defense by the time the season ended. Where are the Cowboys and Chargers?

The Seahawks NFC Conference Championship Game:

This resilience showed in the Seahawks’ win over the Green Bay Packers. I will say that I am still not sure if this was a case of the Packers losing the game, or the Seahawks winning it. I mean, Packers Coach Mike McCarthy made some strange calls. The Packers should have been more aggressive offensively. I know about Brandon
Bostick, and his mistake on the hands team, but it shouldn’t have come to that.

Anyway, in that game, QB Russell Wilson, had a very bad game. He threw several interceptions. Did he and the team give up? They didn’t, and got Marshawn Lynch going. Wilson made some key plays, and ran in for a touchdown himself. The Seahawks took advantage of the mistakes that the Packers made, and walked away with the victory. Also, CB Richard Sherman badly injured his elbow, and valiantly kept playing. This team is tough physically and mentally.

The New England Patriots

Analysis: In a very similar storyline as the defending champions, after a devastating 41-14 loss in Week 4 to the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots were also written off by such illuminaries such as ESPN’s crack reporter, Trent Dilfer, who said, “The New England Patriots can’t win.” (Dilfer has since apologized. )The Boston area media, along with the talking heads on the NFL Network and ESPN were saying that QB Tom Brady’s no longer a great QB. Calls for backup QB Jimmy Garropolo came as well. After the loss though, led by head coach Bill Belichick’s mantra, “On to Cincinnati,” the Patriots demolished the Bengals, pretty much never looked back. This is an excellent team that has a lot of resiliency. This team is as physically and as mentally tough as they come.

The AFC Conference Championship Game.

The Patriots pretty much destroyed the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. The score was 45-7. The reason that the Colts got 7 was because of the interception by DeQuell Jackson in the first half. The Patriots led 17-7 at half time. They scored 28 more after halftime. They used LeGarrette Blount as their main RB. The man ran in for 3 TDs. The Colts defense was just beaten and battered. That Colts team was not ready for prime time.

Keys to the Game:

Seahawks:

On Offense: I would have Russell Wilson use his legs more, when he throws. He appears to be much more accurate when throwing on the run. If he’s to throw from the pocket, make sure that WR Doug Baldwin, or whomever the target, is, where the Patriots are a bit vulnerable, and that’s in the middle of their defense. I also would have Marshawn Lynch do a lot of the work. The Seahawks run a similar run scheme like the Ravens do, which has given the Patriots defense trouble.

On Defense and Special Teams : I would try to get pressure up the middle to test how good injured Patriots C Bryon Stork is. Like all QBs, Brady doesn’t respond well with pressure in his face. I also would get people on Rob Gronkowski. Of course, that’s better said than done. The defense line has to do better with stopping the run. In the team’s four losses, the defense has given up over 100 yards. On Special Teams, I would try to just keep the Patriots deep, so they have poor field position. I’d hope for a score on a kick return as well.

Patriots:

On Offense: I would try to spread the defense out. I would try to have Brady make sure he has the right matchups, so he can get the ball to his targets. The Patriots needs a balanced offense, in order to sustain drives. I definitely would run the ball. As I have said, the Seahawks gave up over 100 yards in their four losses. Brady must be smart concerning Richard Sherman. He can’t totally avoid him, but Brady must pick his spots. As much as Gronkowski is his main target, Brady needs to rely on his other receivers like LaFell, Julian Edelman, etc.

On Defense and Special Teams: Defenders need to watch for both Wilson and Lynch. Defenders must be very disciplined, and tackle well. I am talking about bringing the runner to the ground. DE Chandler Jones and Vince Wilfork need to make sure that if they have Wilson sacked, make sure they do so, because he is very elusive. The Patriots secondary needs to step up in this game. It will be interesting to see where Revis will be on the field. On Special Teams, they need to make sure that they tackle well. I have seen some run backs where the runner got the opposing team in better field position due to poor tackling.

My Prediction for Super Bowl 49:

We are looking at two teams who are pretty evenly matched. Some may say it is strength against strength, but I don’t see it that way. These are two tough minded teams coached by two of the best coaches in the NFL in Pete Carroll (Seahawks) and Bill Belichick (Patriots). You have two awesome QBs, Russell Wilson, who’s on the ascension, and Tom Brady who’s already a legend. Whether you like either team or not, that’s how I see it.

I think we are going to see a very physical game. The game will be a bit of a chessmatch between the two coaches. I don’t expect a high scoring game. While the Seahawks did win its NFC Conference Championship Game, and I respect them as the defending champions, that was also a game they could have lost. The Seahawks are facing a team in the Patriots that I don’t think are a pushover like some may think .

I expect the Seahawks to play well. After all, they play the Arizona Cardinals in this Stadium once a year, as they’re in the same division. I suspect that the crowd will be very pro-Seahawks as well. Therefore, the Seahawks will be used to the noise. As Russell Wilson is so calm, I expect he will have a great game.

As for the Patriots, I’m expecting a very well prepared team to come out on all cylinders. I expect the team to have a great game plan for the Seahawks defense. I am expecting Tom Brady, who’s playing in his sixth Super Bowl, who also said he has been watching tons of Seahawks tape, to have a great game. I expect whichever RB, be it Blount or Jonas Gray, to have a great game. On the defense, I expect Darrell Revis to have an amazing game.

My Super Bowl Pick:

As everyone knows, the National Anthem is performed. I honestly wish they would just put up a video of the Star Spangled Banner performed by Seattle’s own Jimi Hendrix ( Jimi Hendrix – The Star Spangled Banner [ American Anthem ] ( Live at Wo…: http://youtu.be/sjzZh6-h9fM ), and use that. Fans watch the first half of the game and the commercials. Fans either put up with Or take a bathroom break during this year’s halftime show which is Katie Perry ( Katy Perry – Firework: http://youtu.be/QGJuMBdaqIw ) . The game is done. and, as I picked this to win it all in my 2014-15 Pre-season blog, I am sticking with my pick. I stuck with this team despite the doubters. I was very confident that this will be their year. This will will give their city some “peace of mind,” to quote Brad Delp of Boston ( Boston-Peace of Mind: http://youtu.be/WGRrOEbY3pI) Winner: The New England Patriots by a score of 24- 17.

Of course, as the confetti falls, whether or not my prediction is correct, this song plays:

Queen – We Are The Champions (Official Video): http://youtu.be/04854XqcfCY

Well, that’s all. Enjoy the game, even if you just like the commercials.

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NFL 2014-15 Championship Playoffs Predictions and Preview

January 16, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Greetings, my readers. We are nearly at the end of the NFL 2014-15 season. When the Super Bowl arrives on February 1st, it will be a long off season. There will be 31 teams trying to figure out how to win the Super Bowl, while one team is happy. Of course, they’ll have off-season work to stay on top. That being said, as Sunday, January 18, 2015 is Championship Sunday, we will find out which two teams will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy in Arizona.

Let’s discuss the four teams, and how they got to this point. I will start first with the NFC Teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, as they’re playing first. Both of these teams got byes. The Packers were the 2 seed, and the defending champion Seahawks were the 1 seed.

In the Packers’ divisional round game against the Dallas Cowboys, despite being hobbled by a severe calf injury, QB Aaron Rodgers was phenomenal. RB Eddie Lacey did a great job gashing holes through that Cowboys defense. The Packers defense did a good job in slowing down the Cowboys and their run game.

As for the Cowboys, they had their chances to win this game. RB Demarco Murray fumbled. QB Tony Romo had a couple of bad snaps. There was some strange play calling. I didn’t understand why they threw on the 3 and 1. The kicker missed some 3 pointers. Again, about the Dez Bryant non-catch, according to the rule, it was NOT a catch.

The Seahawks ran roughshod over the Carolina Panthers. I realize that the Panthers were not all that great to begin with, due to their regular season record (wait until the NFL expands the playoffs field to 14) , they were awesome. Kam Chancellor was a man amongst boys. He was all over the place. What an amazing job he did. DB Richard Sherman did a great job. QB Russell Wilson is awesome. I was marveled at how he manipulated the pocket.

The Panthers did put up some sort of a fight. I just think they were over matched. QB Cam Newton needs to develop more patience in the pocket. The Panthers need playmakers for whom Newton to have a rapport. It was very obvious in the game that WR Kelvin Benjamin was not going to cut it.

Now, let’s discuss how the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts got to this point. The New England Patriots earned the 1 seed, therefore skipped the Wild Card round. The Indianapolis Colts earned the 4 seed, and had to play the Bengals at home. In my “2015 Divisional Playoff Prediction” blog for this site, I had already shared my thoughts on that game, so I won’t be redundant.

In the Patriots divisional round against the #6 seed Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots stumbled out of the gate, so to speak, both on offense and defense. In fact, due to the Ravens and their defensive line, the Patriots only ran the ball 14 times. Anyway, down two touchdowns at two points in the game, QB legend Tom Brady brought the team back both times, and threw the winning TD to Brandon LeFell.

The Patriots defense didn’t have its act together in the first part of the game. The second half of the game, the defense was a lot better, with DB Devin McCourty intercepting Ravens QB Joe Flacco. With the Ravens down 35-31, Flacco threw a killer endzone pick. At the end, with 14 seconds to go, the Ravens had one last shot to win, but it fell short when Flacco’s Hail Mary attempt was knocked out of the endzone by Devin McCourty.

The Ravens had their shot to win this game. They were touted as New England’s biggest threat. All week, the Ravens, and their staff were acting like big bullies. In press conferences, DT Terrell Suggs wouldn’t even say Tom Brady’s name. I mean, John Harbaugh was crying about how the Patriots didn’t know what tough was.

Well, in the beginning, the big bad Ravens had their way with Brady and the Ravens. The Patriots could not run the ball. The Patriots gave up running the ball. The Ravens QB Joe Flacco and the offense were in full command of the game. The second half of the game started, and the Patriots shook off their bye week rust, and fought back. Yes, about that 4 man offensive line play, Coach John Harbaugh does need to read the playbook. Besides, your team gave up not one, but two two touchdown leads. Sounds like the case of the backyard bully getting what he deserves.
The Indianapolis Colts came into Denver, and played a great game, and defeated the Denver Broncos. They slowed down the running game, and rendered RB C.J Anderson mostly ineffective. They stopped him on a crucial 4th down play late in the game. I was very impressed with Vontae Davis and the Colts’ secondary. They did a great job going against Denver’s Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas. Even though he threw 2 Ints, QB Andrew Luck played a great game. He and T.Y. Hilton have a great chemistry. I also think the offensive line protected Luck well, so he could get the ball to his other targets.

As for Denver, it was hard to se the great Peyton Manning playing like that. He had to have been in a lot of pain . However, if you have paid any attention, he’s been playing like that for awhile, even before the December 14th Chargers game (where the quad injury reportedly occurred). Since that Week 10 Rams game, Peyton hasn’t looked right. I hope he makes the best decision for him and his family. Anyway, as for the rest of the team, they surely didn’t help Manning out. Pass rusher DeMarcus Ware did not show up. Has Ware EVER shown up in big games? Aqib Talib got burnt all day long. Some of the Denver play calling was odd.

Now that I’ve discussed how the final four teams got to this point, here are my predictions for Championship Sunday.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Green Bay Packers at the Seattle Seahawks
Network : FOX
Kickoff : 3:30PM, EST
Stadium : CenturyLink Field
Winner represents the NFC in Super Bowl 49.

Analysis:

What Seattle must do:

In order to win against Green Bay is to prevent the Packers from running the ball. The Seahawks’ losses this season have been to teams who have been successful at running the ball. I noticed that in the Chargers game (Seahawks allowed 101 yards rushing.). I also saw that in the Dallas Cowboys loss (allowed 126 yards ). The run defense will need to keep Eddie Lacey in check. Seahawks will have to commit to the run, and the offensive line will need to protect QB Russell Wilson.

What Green Bay must do:

Due to the crowd noise, Aaron Rodgers will be using a silent count, and will be limited physically, but he’s very smart. I’m sure he will try to get the ball out quickly. I also think that RB Eddie Lacey will be running between the guards. Rodgers and Coach McCarthy must come up with a better game plan against that brilliant Seattle secondary (Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor , Bobby Wagner ) than the last time the two teams met on the opening day of the 2014-15 NFL Season.

Prediction : This game is going to be a tough one. It is going to be interesting to see if Aaron Rodgers can go into Seattle and advance to his second Super Bowl of his awesome career. Can the Seahawks win, and go back to the Super Bowl with a chance to repeat? We can only watch and see.

Winner : In my “2014-15 NFL Season Preview ” blog, I had picked the Green Bay Packers to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 49. Well, I am sorry, but I believe in my integrity, so I am sticking with Green Bay. Winner : Green Bay 34-30.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Indianapolis Colts at the New England Patriots
Network: CBS
Kickoff : 6:40PM, EST
Stadium: Gillette Stadium
Winner represents the AFC in Super Bowl 49.

Analysis:

What New England must do:

The New England Patriots have beaten these Andrew Luck-led Colts in 3 previous meetings by double digits. The Patriots can not be overconfident, and take the Colts lightly. I still remember the 2011 Divisional Round game against the New York Jets, where Jets QB Mark Sanchez (after just beating Manning and the Colts the week prior) lead a 28-21 upset over the Patriots in Foxborough. The Patriots had defeated that same Jets team 45-3 earlier that season. Trust me, the Patriots don’t want to see that again (Joe Flacco also pulled the defeating P.Manning-Brady double in 2012.). This rematch is for a trip to the Super Bowl. This Patriot team needs to be focused.

The injury to watch is center Brian Stork. The offensive line has been up and down all year. The offensive line must have a great day, and protect Brady. If the offensive line does its job, Brady will have a great day. TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon LeFell, WR Julian Edelman, and others should be able to get open. As the Colts have a porous run defense, I would think that the Patriots will run the ball, as they need to have a balanced attack.

The Patriots defense needs to play better than last week, especially on the running plays. The Patriots secondary needs to do better with guys like Fleener, etc. The Patriots special teams have been awesome. They need to step up their game. Special teams play could very well decide the outcome.

What Indianapolis must do:

Andrew Luck must play a nearly perfect game. What I mean is that he can’t throw picks He can’t fumble the ball. He also has to do better in figuring out Belichick’s defensive schemes. Luck is going to be great. Like Brady, the Colts’ offensive line has to protect their QB. The playmakers for the Colts must try to outsmart Patriots DBs Brandon Browner and Darrell Revis, and make plays.

On defense, the Colts defense have to try to get a pass rush on Brady. Their secondary have to figure out how to stop TE Rob Gronkowski. If the Patriots offense decide to run the ball, the Colts porous run defense better figure out how to stop it. The highlight for the Colts, other than the offense, is their special teams. I would suspect that they would try a trick play as well.

Prediction : As much as certain people in the sports media want to take shots at the Patriots, and especially at Tom Brady, I think this team is going to be a tough team for the Colts to beat. Coach Bill Belichick will have this team ready. The team is tough, not only physically, but mentally. I am sure that Coach Chuck Pagano will have something up his sleeve, but the Patriots will be ready. The game won’t be an easy one, but I think that the Patriots will prevail.

Winner : Patriots 30-20

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NFL 2014-15 Divisional Playoffs Predictions and Preview

January 09, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Last weekend’s Wildcard games are in the books. I hope my readers enjoyed a couple of them. I didn’t do all that great in my Wildcard Weekend Prediction blog. I went 2-2. I thought that the Indianapolis Colts vs the Cincinnati Bengals game and the Baltimore Ravens vs the Pittsburgh Steelers game were the best of the four. The lack of offense (especially from Arizona) in the Arizona Cardinals vs the Carolina Panthers game had me bored to death. The Dallas Cowboys vs the Detroit Lions game was decent, but the refereeing controversy hurt the game.

Let’s briefly discuss each game in further detail. In the Arizona vs Carolina game, the game was pretty lopsided. How does a team put up just 78 yards, or so? I thought that Arizona was better than that. The Panthers made a ton of mistakes as well (botched a punt, interceptions, and was giving Arizona chances, but Arizona just had tough times capitalizing. My advice to Coach Bruce “We can win the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton” Arians is to not be so cocky about your backup QB situation.

In the Baltimore vs Pittsburgh game, I don’t know where to start. The Steelers did not have Le’Veon Bell. Well, it looked like to me that the coaches, from Head Coach Mike Tomlin on down, had no answer for that Baltimore pass rush. No one on the Steelers coaching staff could figure out adjustments?

Of course, I had forgotten about the “bad Steelers” that can pop up, and that is what happened. This is the same Steelers team who lost to the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, and New York Jets. The Steelers played scared. Now, Let’s not shortchange the Ravens. They played a great game. QB Joe Flacco was relaxed in the pocket, and made some excellent plays. RB Justin Forsett gashed the Steelers defense like a knife through butter.

As for the Bengals vs Colts game, I thought it was a really good game. Even though they were at home, the Colts defense did a great job. They put a lot of pressure on Bengals QB Andy Dalton, and even stopped the Bengals running game. Colts QB Andrew Luck had a good game . I loved that TD he threw when he was being tackled. He demonstrated terrific arm strength.

I know that folks are making hay over QB Andy Dalton and Coach Marvin Lewis, as the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. Dalton didn’t play that badly in the game. He also didn’t have a couple of his main targets either.Even so, I don’t know if Dalton freezes at playoff time, or gets too intimidated by the big moment. The Bengals need to deal with this. My problem with Lewis is that in many cases, he’s too conservative in his play calling.

Now, to the Lions vs the Cowboys game. Before I discuss it, let’s get to the refereeing controversy. I’m not going to rehash it, because it’s been replayed to death. However, the NFL has an image problem concerning the refereeing, in my opinion. The NFL will fine players, coaches, and even owners for criticism of the game officials. Why then, when referees make obvious mistakes, does the NFL just make apology statements after the fact? They don’t punish the refs. Oh, sure, low scoring refs during the regular season don’t get to work the playoffs. Well, look what happened last weekend. That’s the best the NFL can do?

I am not saying that the Detroit Lions lost because of the bad call. I am saying that the NFL has to do better concerning their referees. The NFL can’t give incompetent referees a huge amount of rules to memorize and enforce, and then when said referees screw up on a national stage, act as if the officiating is above criticism. The NFL can not issue apology notes after the horse has run out of the barn, so to speak.

As for the game, it was a good game. If folks paid attention, the Cowboys almost gave the game away. The Lions, especially Ndamukong Suh, just pounded on that Dallas offensive line. Dallas QB Tony Romo was getting sacked and hit. Lions QB Matthew Stafford was having a great day. After halftime, the Cowboys came out of their stupor, and took control.

The Lions secondary were making a ton of penalties. Tony Romo had a great second half, with a pair of TDs. What really hurt the Lions was not that screwed up referee call , but their head coach and his failure to go for it on 4th and 1. He didn’t trust his own team to get a first down? Anyway, it was a good game. The lesson that the Lions and other teams can learn is that teams need to make sure they play THEIR game, and don’t make dumb penalties so you don’t have to worry about a referee making a “wrong call.”

Now that I’ve reviewed last weekend’s Wildcard games, I am going to discuss my predictions for this weekend’s divisional round games. On Saturday, January 10th, the New England Patriots (1) will host the Baltimore Ravens (6), and the Seattle Seahawks (1) will host the Carolina Panthers (4). On Sunday , January 11th, the Green Bay Packers (2) host the Dallas Cowboys (3) , and the Denver Broncos (2) host the Indianapolis Colts (4). The respective winners advance to their respective conference championship.

All four of these games are very exciting. There’s a ton of drama involved in all four of these games, both on and off the field. There are injuries and grudges involved. Who needs a soap opera, when you have the NFL? Anyway, as I said, I was 2-2 in my prediction column last week. I hope that I can do better. So without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2015 NFL Divisional Playoff games.

AFC Playoff Divisional Game
#1 New England Patriots vs #6 Baltimore Ravens
Network : NBC
Kickoff : 4:35PM EST

Analysis: Is everyone ready for the actual game to start? I certainly am. To paraphrase Led Zeppelin, “Hey. Baby, have you heard the news?” “The Baltimore Ravens are back in town?.” ( Led Zeppelin – Heartbreaker: http://youtu.be/qJi3DSROkJs). I mean, the world is out. “Here come the big bad Ravens.” “The Flacco has Brady’s number.” “Tom Brady can’t play anymore.” Well, let’s see. how many teams with a winning record did Baltimore beat this season? One? Now, counting the Steelers,two? The Patriots have an 8-3 record overall vs Baltimore. The media would have you believe that the Patriots are the #6 seed.

As for the game, the Patriots offensive line is going to have to have a stellar day against that Ravens pass rush to protect Tom Brady . Fortunately, the team earned the bye week, and it sounds like the Patriots will have Sebastian Vollmer and Dan Connelly back. The Patriots need to spread the Ravens out, something the Steelers failed to do. The Patriots have to use some uptempo offense to keep Baltimore honest . One difference for the Patriots offense is the presence of TE Rob Gronkowski. The weak Ravens is going to have to account for him. The Patriots needs to be patient with their running game also.

The Ravens are going to depend on their defense to try to limit the Patriots from scoring. QB Joe Flacco is very effective with the deep ball. His main target, Torry Smith, has drawn 17 DPI calls, so the Patriots secondary needs to be careful. Flacco is also great at drawing DPI calls with his other receivers. RB Justin Forsett will be a factor, so DT Vince Wilfork and the Patriots defensive line have their work cut out.

Prediction : This should be a great game. I am expecting a fairly physical game. Even though many folks in the media have treated Baltimore as if THEY were the #1 seed, I think their playoff run ends here. Winner : Patriots 27-17

NFC Playoff Game
#1 Seattle Seahawks vs #4 Carolina Panthers
Network : Fox
Kickoff : 8:15PM EST

Analysis : This game is going to be a defensive struggle. I don’t expect to see a lot of scoring in this game. I expect the audience to be loud, being that they are the 12th Man. I wish all fan bases were that enthusiastic. Anyway, these two teams have met three times, with the Seahawks winning all three. What’s interesting is that the Panthers had lead all three into the fourth quarter.

The Carolina Panthers are on a hot streak. QB Cam Newton and the offense have been doing well in the past few weeks. So has the Carolina defense. The defense suffered a huge blow when one of their top defensive players, DT Star Lotulelei broke his foot this week in practice. That won’t help in trying to contain either Seattle QB Russell Wilson or RB Marshawn Lynch.

As for the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, they’re getting players back from injury. That will only help them. This is a dangerous team, especially at home. The Seahawks have the #1 ranked offense. Wilson and Lynch will be lethal weapons by themselves.

Prediction: I do expect the Panthers to put up a fight in the early part of the game. The two teams are very familiar with one another. However, I think this game is a very easy call. I think the Seahawks will win this game rather easily. Winner: Seahawks 24-10.

NFC Divisional Playoff Game
#2 Green Bay Packers vs #3 Dallas Cowboys
Network : FOX
Kickoff : 1:05PM EST

Analysis : This is a battle of two teams where something has to give. The Green Bay Packers are 8-0 at home. Their opponents, the Dallas Cowboys, are 8-0 on the road. There is one thing that could be the deciding factor. No, I am not talking about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) and that ugly sweater either. I am talking about the calf injury to Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

The Green Bay Packers have been lights out at home. They are undefeated at home this season. To be fair, the team nearly lost to the hapless New York Jets, and the mediocre Minnesota Vikings, and the eventual #1 seed in the AFC New England Patriots. However, they hung on and won. One of the main reasons is Aaron Rodgers. No one can underestimate his value. That’s why his calf injury is troublesome. He can play from the pocket, but what makes Rodgers awesome is his mobility. Sure, LB Clay Matthews, RB Eddie Lacey will have an impact on this game, but not like Rodgers.

As for the Cowboys, Tony Romo doesn’t have great performances when the weather is under 40 degrees. As the Packers run defense is not all that great, I suspect that RB Demarco Murray will be used quite a bit. The Cowboys may be down several defenders as well, as a couple of them are in the concussion protocol.

Prediction : I would pick the Packers outright if Rodgers were 100 percent. I am not sure how this game will go. I’m on the fence, to be honest. Winner : I am going with the Packers, because Rodgers is just that good. Packers 30-27

AFC Divisional Playoff Game
#2 Denver Broncos vs #4 Indianapolis Colts
Network : CBS
Kickoff : 4:25PM EST

Analysis: This should be a good game. The two QBs , Peyton Manning (Broncos) and Andrew Luck (Colts) will be forever linked. Peyton Manning was drafted by the Colts in 1998, and then released by the Colts in 2012 over injury/contract concerns. In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Colts drafted QB Andrew Luck. Now, the two face each other in the playoffs. The two are 1-1.

Denver has looked just alright going into the playoffs. It sounds like the bye week helped lots of banged up players, including Manning (thigh) recover. I’m expecting this team to come out looking a lot better. They’re the #3 defense. DB Aqib Talib has been doing well as of late. It will be interesting to see if pass rusher DeMarcus Ware will show up in the playoffs . I think the Denver offense will be much better, especially with a more balanced offense.

The Indianapolis Colts need to protect Andrew Luck if they want any chance of winning the game. They played well against the Bengals, but this time, they’re not at home, and this Broncos team is way better than the Bengals. The Colts defense must challenge the Denver receivers. They must do what the Patriots, the Rams, and other teams have done. Don’t be so afraid of the Broncos.

Prediction : I think that the Colts are over matched in this game. Playing at Denver is also difficult with that crowd noise. The Broncos are significantly better than the Colts, and I am thinking that the Broncos will win this comfortably. Winner : Denver 35-17.

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Top Five Memorable NFL Wild Card Moments

January 02, 2015 By: Category: lists, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

It is ironic when you look back at the last couple of decades of NFL Wild Card games and notice the plethora of exciting moments in the NFL playoffs. Often times you have one team that overlooks an opponent who takes them by surprise. Other times you have teams with nothing to lose who take that same attitude onto the football field.

NFL fans often overlook the NFL Wild Card playoff round as nothing more than a series of games between mismatched teams. Wild Card rounds generally feature at least one if not more teams that barely made the NFL postseason.

However some of the most exciting NFL playoff moments over the last two decades have come from this opening round of postseason play. Either way there is plenty of wild action in the Wild Card round and with that said let’s take a look back at the Top Five Memorable Moments in NFL Wild Card History.

Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans Jaunary 08, 2000. The Music City Miracle! We have all seen losing NFL teams try the lateral as time ends to try and pull off a last second score. It usually ends in chaos that looks like something out of circus. That was until the Music City Miracle. The Buffalo Bills had just pulled off the unlikely comeback kicking a field goal to go ahead with only 0:16 left. On the ensuing kickoff Lorenzo Neal took the ball, handed the ball to Frank Wycheck who then threw a lateral across the field to Kevin Dyson who scored a 75-yard touchdown with no time left. The Titans wound up going to the Super Bowl and were a few yards of winning the Lombardi trophy.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks January 06, 2007. The Cowboys set up for a game winning field goal, Tony Romo bobbles the snap with 1:19 left, and the Seahawks win the game. If you are an anti-Cowboys fan like me, this is probably top of the list. Romo and the Cowboys rolled into the playoffs and were picked by some to win the Super Bowl. The Cowboys set up for an easy 19 yard field goal which would have put them ahead and theoretically won the game. That was until Romo lost the snap, Jordan Babineaux from Seattle recovers the ball, and the Cowboys lose the game. NFL blogs still have fun with this one.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers January 04, 2004. Matt Hasselbeck tells the world, “We want the ball and we’re gonna score” in overtime and subsequently throws an interception. Unless you were a Green Bay Packers you stood up and went nuts in your living room when Hasselbeck said those infamous words to the referee after winning the coin toss in overtime. Unfortunately those words would come back to haunt the former Packer moments later after Al Harris returned a Hasselbeck interception 52 yards for the game winning touchdown.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers January 05, 2008. David Garrard’s game saving 32-yard scramble up the middle on 4th and 2 in the final two minutes. This is one of the most under appreciated clutch NFL moments in postseason history right here. The Steelers had gone a 19 point run in the fourth quarter to take the lead in what was shaping up to be one of the great comebacks in Steelers history. The Jaguars were stopped and on 4th and 2 were less than two minutes from one of the all time postseason collapses. Instead David Garrard scrambled to the 10 yard line and set up a game winning Josh Scobee 25-yard field goal.

Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers January 03, 1999. T.O. is born! San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens hauls in a 25-yard touchdown catch in traffic with :08 seconds to go to win the game. This was one of the greatest touchdown catches in NFL history as Terrell Owens not only caught the ball in traffic but was sandwiched between two Packer defenders as he reached the end zone for the win.

Article first published as Top Five Wildest NFL Wild Card Moments on Technorati.

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NFL 2014-15 Season Week 14 Recap and Week 15 Picks

December 11, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

  • All the years that Jeff Fisher was with the Tennessee Titans I never recalled him twisting the knife the way he did this past Sunday against the Redskins. 2 years ago the Redskins mortgaged their present and future to trade up and take Robert Griffin III with the 2nd overall pick. These trades very rarely, if ever, work out. I can remember when Mike Ditka traded 8 or 9 picks for Ricky Williams when he was coming out of Texas in the late 90’s. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk…..and people still think 1 man is greater than 6? I can almost guarantee if someone was crazy enough to call Bill Belichick and offer him 7 draft picks for Tom Brady, that he would assuredly take that offer. If I had the number one pick, 10/10 times if someone wanted to trade with me to get it and they were as insane as the Raiders, Mike Ditka or Dan Snyder and offered a gold mine, I would never turn it down.

When the Rams took the field for the coin toss this past weekend and Fisher sent out all 6 draft picks the Rams made thanks to the RG3 trade to be captains for the game. I don’t know what provoked this action out of Fisher but man, ever hear about not kicking a man when he is down? The Redskins are one of the worst disasters in recent memory. When the Lions went 0-16 years ago, THEY had a brighter future than what the Skins do now. Regardless of your feelings about what Fisher did, it sure did fire up his team and they posted their second straight shutout. Although the playoffs seem like stretch for the 6-7 Rams they continue to impress.

  • Do you hear that? Listen closely….It is the sound of Johnny Manziel rallying the Cleveland Browns and sending them into the playoffs. Don’t confuse my optimism with thinking Manziel can be a future great or a Hall of Famer. I’m not worried about his size or “ability to take an NFL hit.” The Browns have been abysmal on offense for the last few games and it was amazing that they won any of them and didn’t lose them all. Manziel will guaranteed give them a spark they need and even if they don’t win, they sure will be more entertaining than they have been. The Browns should have made this move last week and not stuck with Hoyer. They wasted one of their season’s best defensive efforts and were poised to beat the Colts but Hoyer messed it up with his terrible inaccuracy and turnovers. I laugh when I think that just a few weeks ago the stories were rampant that Hoyer was going to sign a “big money” contract and rumors of what the Browns will get for Manziel in a trade were wild throughout the NFL. Regardless of how Manziel and the Browns finish the season, Hoyer is done and gone from Cleveland. Manziel is the future for this team (for at least next season).

Recap of picks from Week 14:

Bold Prediction from Week 14: Buccaneers over the Lions. –WRONG – C’mon Tampa! Geez, I didn’t ask you to upset the Patriots or Packers this week.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 14: Bengals over the Steelers. –WRONG- I continue to talk myself into picking the Bengals for these big games and they repeatedly let down EVERYBODY. They are just not a “big time” team. They have no problems beating the lowly bottom feeders but with a real chance to put the division lead out there, they dropped the ball big time.

Week 15 picks:

Bold Prediction for Week 15: Bills over the Packers. I’m painted into a corner this week as either all the games are scrubs against scrubs or elite vs elite. To be honest I would not be stunned if the Bills can pull this off. It’s in Buffalo and Green Bay has proven that any other stadium is their kryptonite. Everybody stumbles and they almost did Monday Night against the Falcons. Let’s do it Buffalo!

Guaranteed Lock for Week 15: 49ers over the Seahawks. Does Colin Kaepernick’s apparent regression scare me? No. Does the fact that Jim Harbaugh is guaranteed to not be in San Francisco next year scare me? No. The game is in Seattle? Whatever. I still believe in the 49ers to make some noise down the stretch and they will not go out quietly.

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NFL 2014-15 Season Q3 Report and Week 14 Picks

December 03, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Bold Prediction from Week 13: Falcons over the Cardinals. – RIGHT – Too easy, too easy. The Cardinals are starting a very slow crumble since Carson Palmer was injured. They are in a much different mental state then they were when the season began. When they were winning to begin the season without Palmer there was always knowledge that he was coming back. “Hey we are this good now, wait until we get our franchise QB back” was the feeling around the locker-room. Now, that knowledge and safety net of Palmer is gone. Missing something that you know is not coming back is much harder than missing something that you know will eventually return.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 13: Eagles over the Cowboys. –RIGHT – The “Sanchize” lives to play another day! Nick Foles’ who?! Big win for the Eagles on Turkey day.

Counting my Week 13 predictions I am 7-4 in my bold and 7-4 in my guaranteed locks for the season. You can send me any financial gains you have made to my PO Box at seasons end.

3rd Quarter Award for Best team: Green Bay Packers (9-3). The potential preview of the Superbowl was a great game and the reason why I put Green Bay as the best team in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is hands down the best QB right now in football and this team can win in any condition. I might be a little concerned with a neutral site matchup against the Broncos or Patriots but Green Bay already proved it once winning a Superbowl a few years ago in Dallas. (Runner up award: New England Patriots)

3rd Quarter Award for Worst Team: New York Jets (2-10). I have made no secret about how awful this team is from the top of the organization to the bottom. This team will guaranteed go through a complete overhaul in the offseason and will be off the playoff radar for the next 3-4 years. I weighed putting the Tennessee Titans into this slot but the emergence of Zach Mettenberger as a seemingly viable NFL Quarterback places them just behind the Jets in race for the worst team. (Runner up award: Tennessee Titans)

Surprise 3rd Quarter Award for a team: Cleveland Browns (7-5). I have waited long and patiently enough but the Browns have finally earned my recognition for one hell of a season. They are 1 win away from guaranteeing a non-losing season for the first time in years. I know they are in the midst of a mid-season QB controversy but they are very much alive and fighting for the AFC North crown. Ultimately if they do make the playoffs I have little faith in them making anything happen but it would still be a giant step in the right direction for this franchise. Even though the Bengals currently have the lead in the division, anyone of the teams involved could win. (Runner up award: All the teams in the NFC South who are about to win the Division with a sub .500 record)

3rd Quarter NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers AND Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots– At this point in the season I am looking at the first tie for MVP since Steve McNair and Peyton Manning tied back in 2003/2004 season. Top to bottom, Brady and Rodgers are near identical…..to include them both wearing #12 (I’m sure by now you have heard Bill Belichick’s GOLDEN comment for that one). The one category that Rodgers has on Brady is the interceptions but even then we are arguing 3 vs 6. Kudos to these guys for knocking DeMarco Murray off my MVP perch (who held the top spot for most of the year). Barring a statistical downfall from one of these two guys, I can easily see the award going to them both.

3rd Quarter Defensive MVP: JJ Watt, DE, Houston Texans – 5th in the League in Sacks (11.5), 2 defensive TD’s this season, 3 forced fumble, 5 fumble recoveries and 8 passes defensed. – Watt is guaranteed the Defensive MVP award even if he is unable to finish the season or the Texans miss the playoffs (hell Watt won it last year on the same 2 win team). I do like Justin Houston from the Chiefs (current league sack leader) but Watt literally makes every play happen for him. Houston is more of a system pass rusher (for a mental visual, compare his talents to Clay Matthews where I would compare Terrell Suggs to JJ Watt) where it doesn’t matter if you put Watt at the DT, Left or Right End or anywhere else, he is so freakishly talented that he can dominate.

What to expect for the Final Quarter of the season:

  • I mentioned above that one of the biggest storylines I have my eye on is the Cleveland Browns and their Quarterback situation. Early today it was confirmed that Brian Hoyer will get one more chance against Indianapolis on Sunday. I fully expect him to be on a short leash especially since Manziel did come in and was effective, but not effective enough to fully take the job away. Cleveland has to strike now that the iron is hot and literally anyone can win the AFC North. I personally would have went with Manziel as the Browns will go down early verse the Colts and Hoyer just doesn’t have the explosive play capability to surge the Browns back. If Cleveland loses on Sunday you can be assured that Manziel is in the following week.
  • I mentioned in my midseason report that I thought the Cowboys and Seahawks would choke the most coming down the stretch and I will stand by my statement. I know Seattle has turned it on as of late in back to back Division beat downs but I just expect them to falter towards the very end. They have a very tough road to finish the season against the Eagles, 49ers, Cardinals and Rams to round out this year’s campaign. For the Cowboys, the writing is becoming clearer on the wall. They are reforming back to the Cowboys of old and are not completing games from start to finish. They benefit from an easier schedule with 2 of their last 4 against inferior teams (Bears and Redskins) and have tougher games against the Colts and Eagles.

Bold Prediction for Week 14: Buccaneers over the Lions. Similar to my Cowboys and Browns theories, the Lions will always be the Lions until proven different. Just when you expect them to waltz to 9-4, Tampa Bay will have something to say in the upset win.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 14: Bengals over the Steelers. Time to put the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers to bed. They looked dominant weeks ago and the sexy pick for an underdog Superbowl win but since the gears have fallen off. Now, there are strong rumors that Ben is injured (stop me if you haven’t heard this before) walking into a must win game for them. I like Cincinnati to derail the Steelers and send them to their 3rd straight off season without a playoff birth.

 

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NFL Week 6 2014-15 Recap and Week 7 Questions

October 15, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

  • Let’s be a little cautious with the Cleveland Brown hype train. Remember a few blogs ago I commented that due to a seemingly an easy early schedule the Houston Texans could have really set up their entire season for the rest of the year? The Texans have since faltered due to their own poor play and the fact that some of their opponents have been better than advertised. The Browns are now in a very similar situation that I showed the Texans to be in. After drubbing the Steelers on Sunday, Cleveland now faces the Jaguars, Raiders and Buccaneers in the next 3 games. I don’t expect them to win all of them but what if they did? These are by far the worst 3 teams in the NFL. That would put the Browns at 6-2. Then the Browns can be in a simple solution such as all they have to do for the rest of the year is win every other game and boom; 10-6 and potential playoffs. The Browns are not a pretty team. They currently rank 21st in the league in total offense and their passing stats are lower than all of that. There’s an old saying in the NFL that “winning is the best disguise for problems.” The world is in love with Brian Hoyer and this team and for many reasons they should be but the bottom line is that they are a mediocre offense, slightly above average defense and play in a division where none of the teams can make up their minds about how good they want to be.
  • As collective fans of the NFL we all need to take some deep breaths and slow down the hype trains that are all leaving the stations at once and will assuredly cause a pile up. Hype trains such as the above mentioned Browns, the Seahawks faltering and the Cowboys being the greatest team since the 85’ Bears. We just wrapped up Week 6 people. I know the Cowboys have looked better than they should and the last 4 games for the Seahawks are as pedestrian as they come but there is still so much out there to be answered. It’s fun and exciting to be caught up in the moment but that kind of excitement should be reserved for Weeks 14 or 15. We aren’t even halfway through the season yet and we have already crowned the Cowboys as Superbowl 49 champs.
  • Kudos to the NFL for an article I read this weekend from Sports Illustrated. The NFL plans on proposing potential loss of draft picks to teams whose players can’t seemingly stay out of trouble. For years, talent has always outweighed any off field issue in the league. Based off this I fully expect Ray Rice to be back in the league within the next year and barring any prolonged jail time, I expect Adrian Peterson back as well. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for second chances but not the second chances that take place in the same week or season. Take for example a player with issues such as Santonio Holmes. He had multiple arrests over his career with the Steelers and the final straw had been an alleged night club incident where Holmes had thrown a glass at a woman. The Steelers were able to trade Holmes to the Jets for a 5th round pick (which in a roundabout way later became Antonio Brown) and cleansed themselves of the issues. The problem to me here was that Holmes had a mountain of off the field issues and the Jets (and most likely any other team) swept him up without fear and he was ready for the following season. So the Steelers chose to lose one of the best offensive players for morality purposes just so another team could have him? In the world of the NFL, everything is now right. Issues like this never get brought up again. “Yeah, this guy…this guy needed a change of scenery” is the most often used quote surrounding off the field issues leading to transactions with other teams. Rumors swirled about Desean Jackson’s abrupt departure after leading the Eagles in receiving last year. Rumors were that Chip Kelly and company feared Jackson had “gang involvements”. ……..So this didn’t deter the Redskins? Later more reports would come out about general attitude and comments that Jackson was “just not a good locker-room guy” that lead to the dismissal. How weird was that whole situation when it happened? How about Adam “never call me Pacman again” Jones. He was the 6th overall pick for the Tennessee Titans in 2005 and played that way at times. His mountain of off the field issues would be that of Mount Everest from 2005 – 2008. Jones was suspended for the entire 2007 season and then the Titans traded him to the Dallas Cowboys the following season where the issues continued. So the Titans got a clear conscience and pass from media and fans but the Cowboys didn’t care about Jones’ never ending rap sheet? I remember almost little to no criticism to the Cowboys for that move. It was just met with the typical “Ha-Ha-Ha, well that’s the Cowboy’s for ya” remarks. After the failed experiment with Jones in Dallas (shocker!) he was then out of the league for 2 years and resurfaced with the Bengals in 2010. Finally holding NFL teams accountable for off the field issues where teams would be hit financially and/or with draft picks can finally send a message to the teams that multiple issues can no longer be ignored just because of overwhelming talent. Once again, I am all for second chances but a TRUE second chance is maybe after your first moronic DUI the team lets you back, not the 345 chances Adam Jones or many others have had. This would stop the idiotic process of forcing a team to get rid of a player that inevitably gets scooped up by another team in the same breath and will now make teams honestly think about their future with a player if it will do more harm than good.

Questions and Predictions for Week 7:

Cincinnati’s season is potentially on the line this week. The NFL is funny at times. The Bengals were once 3-0 and seemingly on top of the NFL. Now having lost 2 straight and rolling into Indianapolis to face the Colts (it appears without AJ Green), the odds don’t look good for the Bengals. The Bengals find themselves now falling with the Steelers and being passed by the Ravens and Browns in the AFC North.

My Guess: Colts go over on the Bengals.

Bold Prediction for Week 7: Chiefs over the Chargers. The Chiefs seemingly are putting things together this season on the field at last. This is a must win game for them. They are at the bottom staring up at the Broncos (4-1) and their Sunday opponents (5-1). Dropping to 2-4 is not an option in this division. I don’t think San Diego learns from the scare they got from the Raiders last week and officially falter this week against the Chiefs.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 7: Pittsburgh over Houston. You almost never bet against the Steelers in a home primetime game (defined as Thursday Night, Sunday Night and Monday night). Not counting playoffs the Steelers have had 36 primetime games since Mike Tomlin became head coach. The Steelers are 11-6 at home during these games (but just 10-9 on the road). Although Arian Foster will do damage to the defense, I fully expect the Steelers to win.

Recap from Questions and Predictions from last week:

Does Rex Ryan become the first mid-season termination in the NFL?

My Guess: Jets are destroyed and Rex Ryan is termed middle of the week. –RIGHT/UNDETERMINED –The Jets were more competitive than I thought they were going to be, even as close as being down by one score late. Then the wheels fell off, they became the Jets again and are now have lost 5 straight to be 1-5. The loss was probably not embarrassing enough to cost Ryan his job midweek (I was expecting Tampa Bay Buccaneers performances for that to happen).

Bold Prediction from Week 6: The Carolina Panthers take down the Cincinnati Bengals. –PUSH- Oh joy, the ever loving moment when a tie occurs in sports. I hate ties. I hated it in hockey, hate it in soccer, hate, hate—hate ties. This was your typical slugfest where each team exchanged the lead throughout the game. I was surprised how effective the Bengals were on offense without Mega Star Wide Receiver AJ Green. I can’t ignore that the Bengals did have a field goal chance late in overtime to win it but a team like Cincinnati shouldn’t take until 3 seconds left in overtime to decide on trying to beating a team.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 6: The Eagles defeat the Giants on Sunday Night Football. – RIGHT- I am surprised the Giants laid a huge goose egg in this game, specifically the offense. Eli was sacked 8 times and the Giants lost Victor Cruz to a season ending injury. It doesn’t get any easier for the Giants as they face the red hot Cowboys next week.

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*In my opinion these teams are officially done and need to start thinking about 2015 sooner rather than later. Probably the most surprising to me to be done this early would probably have to go to the Jets. I didn’t expect a Superbowl or even playoffs but to be 1-5 and just an utter complete mess of a team was a real let down for them this year. I fully expect Rex Ryan to be out in New York even before seasons end. Especially if the Jets have an eye on a top collegiate coach that they would need to move fast on.

New York Jets – (1-5)

Oakland Raiders – (0-5)

Washington Redskins – (1-5)

Jacksonville Jaguars – (0-6)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)

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Super Bowl XLVIII Predictions and Analysis

January 31, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

It is finally here. The last game of the 2013/14 NFL Season, before the NFL moves into the off season, has finally arrived. Super Bowl XLVIII which will emanate from Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on February 2, 2014 will kick off at 6:30PM, EST. Viewers, and NFL fans, I am sure, have been bombarded with wall to wall coverage, and I am sure they are looking forward to the Super Bowl ads(I already saw one), and the Bruno Mars/Red Hot Chili Peppers Half time show (they couldn’t have gotten the three living members of Led Zeppelin?). I am sure people are looking forward to the game as well.

This year’s edition of the Super Bowl features two teams who couldn’t be any more opposite. Representing the AFC, are the Denver Broncos, led by QB Peyton Manning. Representing the NFC, are the Seattle Seahawks, led by QB Russell Wilson, but known more for their “Legion of Boom,” defense. The Broncos have the NFL’s #1 Offense, and the Seahawks have the NFL’s #1 Defense. This should be, on paper, a pretty interesting game, as to how the Seahawks defense will try to stop Manning’s prolific offense. On the other side, how will Peyton Manning try to outwit the defense of Seattle. Tons of strategy will be going into this game, for sure.

I hope that this will be a great game. I hope that the referees do not become a storyline concerning either team. That being said, I am going to analyze this game, and make my prediction.

The Seattle Seahawks:

The Seahawks got to the “big dance” by getting the #1 seed, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That “12th man” certainly came into play all season, and even though the “Hawks” lost one game at home, it was not a question they played way better at home. In the playoffs, they defeated the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round. In the NFC Championship Game, they defeated their NFC West rivals, the San Fransisco 49ers.

The big question mark I have about this team is that they are not at home. Can they play in that atmosphere, where they won’t have their “12th man?” Can Russell Wilson step up to the challenge? Will CB Richard Sherman have a big day despite all the distractions concerning his speech? At the press conferences, the man was STILL apologizing. The media needs to chill, in my opinion. How will the oft-injured Percy Harvin play? Will Harvin be a factor? Can they get Marshawn Lynch going. I

If the Seahawks can put up some points, and keep it close, perhaps they can have a shot. Russell Wilson needs to step it up in this game. The defense needs to pay attention to what Manning is doing. They also have to be aware when they are jamming Manning’s receivers. Depending on how the game is called, they have be aware that the receivers, like Decker, and Welker, will beg for a flag, instead of trying to catch the ball. Can’t commit a dumb penalty.

The Denver Broncos:

The Broncos got to the Super Bowl, like the Seahawks did, by getting the #1 seed. QB Peyton Manning obliterated NFL records for passing, and the offense set new offensive records. Great. Peyton and the Broncos get plenty of carrots as a reward. In the playoffs, the Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers (who had one of the stupidest game plans ever) in the Divisional Round, and beat the New England Patriots (whose defense let Peyton go up and down the field at will) in the AFC Championship Game.

The big question mark I have about this team is can they do what other “high scoring” teams in the past (1990 Bills, 1998 Vikings, 2007 Patriots) could not. Can they win on Sunday? Looking at their past two games, they scored 26, and 27 points. That is interesting. Of course, the media has been yammering about the weather, and how it will affect Peyton Manning. Well, I had no idea that Peyton Manning was the ONLY player on the field. It is true that he has a poor track record, when the temperature is under 40 degrees, but this is football.

If the Denver defense can continue to play like they did in the playoffs, and if Welker can hang on to a ball or two, the team definitely can win this game. Of course, when you have Peyton Manning, you always have a chance to win. I also expect the other receivers to have good games. Knowshown Moreno’s health is a concern, but I expect that there will be some sort of a running game. The Broncos should prepare for a physical game.

My Pick: Well, in my opinion, this is a game where I think it will get very physical. Can the Denver Broncos, a team that is basically a finesse team with a decent defense, defeat the Seattle Seahawks, a team that is a throwback to teams with a hard nose running game (and throw when needed), and play tough defense? Can Peyton Manning cap off a great year with a second Super Bowl ring? What will become of his legacy if he doesn’t?

Can Russell Wilson become the second QB of African American descent to start and win a Super Bowl since Doug Williams of the 1987 Washington D.C. Super Bowl winning team? Can Peyton Manning do what Kurt Warner failed to do (won with the St. Louis Rams in SB36, tried to win SB43 with the AZ Cardinals, but lost to the Steelers), and win two Super Bowls with two different teams (won SB41 with Indianapolis Colts and is trying to win with 2013 Broncos).

As you can see, there is a lot of history on the line. I think it all comes down to the experience. Broncos Head Coach John Fox, while not a Super Bowl winning head coach, has been to the Super Bowl as head coach of the Panthers, who lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl 38. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has never been to the Super Bowl. Yes, Carroll has several National Championship wins, but that was in College at USC. This is the big time. Peyton Manning, and Wes Welker (rather infamously) both have been to the Super Bowl, so they have an idea what to expect. Very few, if any of the Seahawk players or staff have Super Bowl experience, maybe one or two.

My pick to win the Super Bowl: I have picked against them all post season, and I have been wrong. Well, might as well go with the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join’em.” The Denver Broncos will be your Super Bowl XLVIII Champions.

Personal Note: I honestly don’t care who wins this game. I have no dog in this fight. If both teams could lose, I would be very happy. However, there has to be a winner. Of the two, it is the lesser of two evils, so I guess I’d like to see the Seahawks win. I am just not a Peyton Manning lover, and I never have been, and never will be. The deification of the guy by ESPN and NFLN makes it worse.

[ad 1Before I get the asinine, “that’s because you like Brady, or Big Ben,” comment, I am sorry to disappoint some, but there are a lot of “great” artists, athletes, etc., that I just never liked.Perhaps that subject will be for a future blog. Look, I recognize that Peyton is an awesome QB. I just am not a fan of his. He never appealed to me as a player, and I have seen him play in person.

Hope you enjoyed the blog, and the 2013-14 season.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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Defending Richard Sherman

January 29, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

It was the interview heard around the world. Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman intercepted a pass from San Fransisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick that was intended for receiver Michael Crabtree. Sherman’s heroics would seal the game and a trip to the Super Bowl  for the Seahawks. Right after the game, Richard Sherman would then go to the sidelines, and give Fox reporter, Erin Andrews one of the most memorable post-game interviews ever. The immediate reaction to the interview would also make it one of the most notorious interviews ever.The interview is right here as follows: http://youtu.be/5rWHDZDBk9w

Richard Sherman, as many know, in a CNN interview, did apologize for the distraction he caused. He said he did not mean to distract from his teammates, and said it was “immature” to attack Crabtree. He did say that he was very shocked by the reaction to the interview, particularly by those on Twitter who used racial slurs, and by those who called him a “Thug.” He also said that he felt that “Thug” is the new “N word.” He also explained about how he performed on the field (http://youtu.be/t1n3JrRhssQ)

In Richard Sherman’s defense, what really annoyed me was how the NFL media, the sports media, and sports fans acted as if they never heard of players trash talking before. I just was amazed at the reaction on Twitter, and on my Facebook timeline. I look in other NFL groups on Facebook, and I saw “Thug,” “Monkey,” and the like. What is up with that?  Why was it necessary to call Sherman a thug?  I have seen fans/media complain that too many NFL players use all the cliches, such as “We did it as a team.” “It is what it is.”  Now, when we see Sherman, who is brutally honest, he is a thug? Fans/media can’t have it both ways.

Richard Sherman, as many know, graduated from Stanford. Like fellow Stanford alumnus Colts QB Andrew Luck, Sherman is no dummy. Both men are highly intelligent. Both are very articulate. Both are very charitable. Both men also play in a gladiator sport. The sport is very physical, and very emotional.

Both men, even though Luck plays offense ( and is supposed to be the face of his franchise), and Sherman plays defense, leave it all out on the field.  The big difference is that both men handle things differently, as far as the “switch” from being a warrior on the field to being interviewed off the field.  Sherman, and many others, are just more animated. That does not make him a thug.

I could go all day giving examples, but I would like to know why athletes like NHL stars Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and former NHL stars like Tie Domi are not considered “thugs.” Not only do they trash talk, they get into fights. I realize that fighting is part of the sport of hockey, but I just don’t understand why someone, especially a notorious player like Domi, who was an enforcer, was never called a “thug.”

Hockey could be considered a “gladiator sport.” The players go all out, and are very emotional. Yet, if any of these guys runs their mouths like Sherman did, they are called “emotional.” To have guys who are “enforcers,” to me, definitely makes it a gladiator sport. Again, the enforcers are not “thugs” in the eyes of their fans, but Sherman is a thug because of a very animated interview.

Even NFL head coaches get into the act of trash talking. The Harbaugh brothers come to mind easily. What about the Ryan brothers? I could fill this entire paragraph with everything that NY Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan has said. I could also go on about what his brother, Rob has said over the years, and don’t get me started about their father, Buddy. Former Falcons coach Jerry Glanville is the king of trash talking. Barely any head coaches liked him, especially former Steelers Head Coach Chuck Noll.  Yet, none of these people are considered “Thugs.”

That all being said, the one thing that really gets under my skin is the hypocrisy of the reaction of the  media and fans is that during the October 14, 2014 game between the Patriots and the Seahawks, Tom Brady and Richard Sherman, and the other Seahawks were trash talking each other. During the TV timeouts, Brady gave Sherman a hard time, pointing to the scoreboard saying “We’ll see you after this win.” After the Seahawks’ win, Sherman made his infamous remark, “You mad bro’?” (Sorry.Tom. You deserved that one.) In a Fox Sports spot, Sherman explains what happened:  http://youtu.be/QdD5PlDAT6A

Well, all that week, The media and fans thought that was so funny, and so cute. I mean, Richard Sherman was turned into a media sensation. People LOVED his “trash talk” then. Even though I admit Brady probably deserved a little trash talk back from Sherman, and I admit his comment was, and is very funny, what I don’t get is that Sherman was trash talking. Sherman ALWAYS trash talks. What happened with Erin Andrews was trash talking.

Sherman was being funny and cute in the eyes of the fans and sports/NFL media, when he was trash talking Tom Brady, a first ballot Hall of Famer.  However, to this same crowd, he is a “thug,” when he is trash talking some WR after a very emotional game?  I am just having a terrible problem with this. Why was he called a “thug” in reaction to a very animated interview after a very emotional game, when he was NOT called a “thug,” when he had that trash talking incident with Tom Brady?  Fans and the media can not pick and choose in these situations, and call themselves fair minded. It is stupid, in my opinion, to consider Sherman a “thug,” regardless, but to cheer him on in one instance, and to call the man a “thug” in a similar instance is the height of hypocrisy.

As I have pointed out, talking trash is done by many athletes, even Peyton Manning. Trash talking even spreads into horse racing as well. What bothers me is that Richard Sherman seems to be the one that is being made the poster child for trash talking. Not only that, he is being made a target for racial slurs. It is very sad to see this behavior in 2014.

Richard Sherman is not the first to do trash talking and he is not going to be the last. I just have a hard time understanding, when Sherman did that trash talking in his interview with Erin Andrew, why people were acting like Captain Renault in “Casablanca” when he closes down “Rick’s Cafe,” when he says, “I’m shocked..shocked, there’s gambling allowed.”  My hope is that the word “thug” is used for actual criminals, which Richard Sherman is not.

To conclude this, I am NO Seattle Seahawks fan, not at all. I just felt I had to write this blog, because I feel that Sherman is getting a raw deal from the media, and from fans. I am not saying he is perfect, not at all. I am not even in love with trash talking. I don’t like it much, to be honest. I believe in “acting like you’ve been there before.” I am just writing this blog in Sherman’s defense because I think this young man is being treated unfairly, and wanted to stand up for what I think is right.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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NFL 2012-13 Divisional Playoffs Review & Commentary

January 15, 2013 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Well, my readers, the NFL Divisional round games for the 2012-13 post season are in the books. The weekend’s games were much better than the previous weekend’s Wild Card games by a mile. There were a lot of great plays, and the games were pretty high scoring games. Of course, there as a little drama as well.

I watched the games on Saturday, January 12, between the Denver Broncos vs the Baltimore Ravens, and the San Fransisco 49ers vs the Green Bay Packers in their entirety. On Sunday, January 13, however, due to illness, I only was able to watch the first quarter of the game Atlanta Falcons vs the Seattle Seahawks, and the last 5 minutes of the New England Patriots vs the Houston Texans.

That being said, I saw enough of the highlights of both the Falcons and the Patriots games to make this particular blog a general commentary on the weekend’s games, instead of an in depth analysis. I hope that my readers will forgive me, and will enjoy this commentary instead.

Before I get started, I am going to admit that the NFL games in the post season are harder to pick than in the regular season. Last week, I was 2-2. This week, I really swung and missed. I went 1-3. I think the sports gods are telling me to stick with picking the horses.

Let’s start this commentary by going over the results. In the Saturday games, the Baltimore Ravens pulled a stunning upset of the favored Denver Broncos in double OT by a score of 38-35, and the San Fransisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers by a score of 45-31.

On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons finally won their first playoff game in the Head Coach Mike Smith/ QB Matt Ryan era, when they just squeaked by the Seattle Seahawks by a 30-28 score, and the New England Patriots once again defeated the Houston Texans resoundingly by a score of 41-28.

As a result of these games, in the NFC Championship Game, the Atlanta Falcons will host the San Fransisco 49ers, and in the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens. The Championship Games will be aired Sunday, January 20, 2013. The winners of each game will advance to the Super Bowl in New Orleans on February 3, 2013.

Let’s start with the Denver/Baltimore game. I am not a fan of either team, especially the Baltimore Ravens. However, I feel as a journalist, I have to give credit where credit is due, and praise Ravens QB Joe Flacco. Flacco played a wonderful game, especially with his deep ball. He and his receivers, Jacoby Jones, and Torrey Smith had amazing chemistry. Flacco really is coming into his own as an awesome QB. Ray Rice, RB out of my alma mater Rutgers University, had a solid game as well.

The Baltimore Defense and Special Teams gave up 35 points, but they did not give up. They did make plays when it counted the most. Retiring LB Ray Lewis had 17 tackles in the game. The pass rush was lacking a good part of the game, but they eventually did get to Broncos QB Peyton Manning, sacking him, and causing a fumble. They also got him to throw a game killer INT.

As for Denver, I have to just say congratulations on a good season. However, John Fox had me shaking my head. He must come from the Marty Schottenheimer school of “play not to lose.” There is also a reason why Jack Del Rio, the defensive coordinator, is not a head coach anymore either. I mean, that Broncos defense that was ranked 5th in the NFL, and was touted by the talking heads as being so tough never showed up.

I mean, what happened to the secondary? People say Ray Lewis is “old.” I am no fan of Ray Lewis, but why are people saying Champ Bailey (who is no spring chicken) just had a bad game? Do people watch the games? Bailey showed the whole world that he got blasted by those Ravens receivers. Bailey was showing his age. So far in the playoffs, Ray Lewis has 30 tackles. I can’t believe I am defending Ray Lewis, but people have to stop giving certain players passes.

What happened to the vaunted Von Miller, and Elvis Dumervil, while we are talking about the Denver defense? I hardly heard their names. That defense as a whole was awful in the game. Luckily for Denver, they got 14 points from the special teams unit, and 21 points from the offensive side, or this loss would have been horrid.

Back to Fox, what was up with the play calling? You had two time outs with 30 seconds on the clock at the end of regulation, and you don’t let Peyton Manning chuck it down field for at least a shot at a field goal? That was just crazy. The clock management was awful.

As for Peyton, two picks, and the second one that he threw across his body, that was awful. Peyton looked alright out there. However, on that second pick, he should know more than anyone not to throw that. However, he again is one and done. I don’t know if the cold affected his arm or what, but he is now 9-11 in playoffs.

The 49ers/Green Bay game was awesome. I think that Colin Kaepernick grew up, and became a star right in front of our eyes. I missed part of the game due to watching the Ravens/Broncos game, but I found out about Colin’s pick six. However, it didn’t faze him, and he led the team to a TD, and the rest was history.

Kaepernick has great chemistry with WR Michael Crabtree. The two work well together. No, I am NOT going to call them Montana-Rice just yet, but the tandem is one to watch. Kaepernick is very judicious with the ball. He doesn’t take off running, and seems to know when to run. He also doesn’t run where he risks getting hurt.

The Packers on the other hand, appeared to be out of sorts. The offensive line has to be dealt with. Aaron Rodgers, as good a QB as he is, can not keep taking these beatings. The Packer organization needs to draft offensive line.

The whole team seemed to be puzzled on how to stop the 49ers from scoring, and on how to score against them. Rodgers made some ill advised throws that he usually doesn’t make. The Packers defense, as much as several members are touted by the media, were just gashed by the 49ers’ offense.

I never would have thought that the Packers, two post seasons in a row, would be blown out. On the other hand, the 49ers were just beasts.

Well, if there is any consolation to Packers fans, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. I saw the first quarter of this game before becoming ill, but I saw enough of the replays to make a comment.

Even though I am not a fan of either team, I am happy for Tony Gonzalez, who’s the main TE for the Falcons. He has been a great player for so long, and he has finally won a playoff game. Gonzalez is also considered a great person off the field as well.

That being said, even though the Falcons won their first play off game under Head Coach Mike Smith and under QB Matt Ryan, how it all happened made me still a little hesitant to totally buy in. In the first quarter, they started well against Seattle, building a 10-0 lead. Yes, Seattle’s CB Richard Sherman made some plays.

Now, even though the team won 30-28, some things bothered me on both sides. Going into the 4th quarter, the Falcons were up 28-7. I understand that there is a lot of pressure to win their first playoff game. I get that. However, what I question was the Falcon’s organization’s mental toughness. They started to get tight, and Seattle came back, and got a lead of 28-27 for about 15 seconds when Matt Ryan made some throws, and got the team into kicker Matt Bryant’s field goal range.

Here is where it gets crazy for the Seahawks, on the first FG attempt which Bryant wound up missing, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called timeout to “ice” the kicker. Well, that wound up being a mistake because on the second try, Bryant made it, giving the Falcons a 30-28 lead.

The Falcons win after the Seahawks recover the on side kick, and QB Russell Wilson throws a Hail Mary, but Falcons WR Julio Jones catches it.

The Falcons survived a huge scare. How does a team allow another to come back on them like that. Always keep the pedal to the metal. Don’t worry about people saying it’s “running up the score.” The other team has a defense, it’s their job to stop you.

The last game between the New England and the Houston Texans was pretty much what I expected as far as the outcome. This was the only game that I picked correctly. Thank you Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the gang. At least I got one right the whole weekend.

Congratulations to Tom Brady for passing Joe Montana for the most playoff wins. Brady now has 17, and Montana had 16.

We all know about Brady’s greatness, and that he had terrific stats in the game, so I don’t have to go over that. However, on the other side of the ball, I don’t know what to do with Matt Schaub of the Texans. He is a good, solid QB. I don’t know if I would label him “elite.” Right at the kickoff, Texans Daniel Manning ran a 94 yard return, only to be caught by FS Devon McCourty. Instead of punching it in for a TD, on the replay, I could see Schaub was skittish in the pocket, and threw the ball into the stands, and the Texans settle for 3 points.

The Patriots just dominated the Texans on both sides of the ball, despite the slow start. Unfortunately, Danny Woodhead injured his thumb, and Rob Gronkowski re-broke his arm. Woodhead is expected to play in the AFC Championship game, but Gronkowski is going to need surgery, and will miss the playoffs. However, the team seemed to be able to make the adjustments.

The Texans may have to look into getting more explosive players on offense, and defense. LB Brian Cushing’s injury hurt the team on defense. The team needs more offense besides Foster and Johnson.

As I said previously, the Patriots will face the Ravens for the AFC Championship Game. This will be the first time since Denver and Cleveland, when two teams have faced each other in the AFC Championship game back to back.

Well, that is my commentary. I hope you enjoyed it.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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