Posts about Football

In defense of Johnny Manziel

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Every once in a while, the NFL gets a player entering the draft who causes more discussion than is necessary. This year there’s no doubt that Johnny Manziel “aka Johnny Football” from Texas a&m is that man this year. First of all, having the name of the sport in your nickname is absurd in itself. It adds even more unwarranted pressure to an already full slate like the one Manziel is facing. But it’s pressure that “Mr Football” has put upon himself with a side of pressure that has been completely manufactured by the media. Johnny Manziel was a football star, playing for a school in the most football-heavy state in the country while playing in the most important conference in college football. Let’s add to the fact that he’s the first ever freshman to win the Heisman trophy, the most prestigious award a player can receive in NCAA football. Add all that up and mix it with a personality like the one Manziel carries around with himself. What did the rest of the sports world expect to happen? Just imagine if every mistake one made at 19 and 20 years old (on and off the field) was magnified and your entire persona was based on those two years. That’s what Johnny Manziel is looking at right now. Like most scrutinized athletes in the past, doubters are just waiting to pounce on Manziel’s next mistake and in contrast, “super fans” are waiting for moments of brilliance so that they can say to “I told you so!” to those same doubters. It’s the tug-of-war that we’ve seen for decades now.

Right now it’s the “super fans” who have the upper hand after Manziel had an impressive NFL pro day yesterday. His workout style was a bit unorthodox, running his drills with full pads and a helmet on, but still effective. That’s something most players don’t usually do but then again, when has Johnny Football followed in other player’s footsteps in those kinds of things. I know EPSN’s comment section isn’t the mecca of sports knowledge and analysis, but check out the flurry of comments at the bottom of this article yesterday. Nothing controversial was written in the article but the reading the comments, one would assume that the writer was either calling Manziel the biggest bust of all time or the greatest quarterback to ever walk the field. And because ESPN can’t avoid being themselves, they threw in two comments about Manziel on Twitter by LeBron James and Michael Vick, two of the most talked about athletes from the past decade or so. What’s my sports opinion on Johnny Football’s pro day? He was impressive in just about everything that he did. He had to be because he had a large crowd watching him, a crowd that included a former president (H.W. Bush) to go along with various officials and at least 30 team representatives. With all this pressure and attention on one player, the biggest question is, of course, will Johnny Manziel live up to the hype when it comes to the next level?

Ultimately it’s impossible to say. Remember how impressive Jamarcus Russell was in his pro day? Or how unimpressive Tom Brady was before the draft? I admit, those are two of the biggest extremes that we’ve seen in the history of the league but either one is quite possible for Manziel. The general consensus is that “Mr Football” isn’t the best quarterback in the draft (I like Bridgewater personally) but despite being either being the 3rd or 4th best QB, he could very well be taken with the 1st overall pick in the NFL draft next month. It’s silly for a team not to take Jadaveon Clowney first overall but imagine if it’s Manziel to the Texans, a local hero that can completely change the fortunes of a franchise. But then Manziel does nothing and he eventually turns into this generation’s Ryan Leaf. Now imagine if he drops (also very likely) in the draft board. People start doubting whether he’ll be taken and then ends up falling to a team like the Cardinals. Or even the Browns, who have had the absolute worst luck when it comes to QBs. Imagine him changing THAT team’s fortunes. It’s a lot of speculation that seems irrelevant to talk about at this point. Here’s one thing that I know: wherever Johnny Manziel goes and whatever he does, at the very least, he’s going to be entertaining and will continue to be must-watch TV for all sports fans. So let’s calm down with all the accusations and opinions on him. All you can ask at this point is for Manziel to put in the work and (appear) to stay focused in the months before the draft happens. And right now, that’s what he seems to be doing so. I’m rooting for you Johnny Football.

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Seahawks dominate Broncos to win Super Bowl XLVIII

NFL: Super Bowl XLVIII-Denver Broncos vs Seattle Seahawks

Once the first snap of the game resulted in a safety, I thought to myself “Well…now anything is possible” and a bit of impossible did happen. How does Seattle, a team built around their superior defense, prove their worth on the biggest possible stage? I’d say that completely dominating the opponent in a Super Bowl is a good start. Let’s also mention that the Broncos, the team that Seattle overpowered, set records on offense by the season’s end. Denver had Peyton Manning last night, one of the best of all time but for pretty much the entire game, Manning did not live up to what he had done all season long. Seattle’s first Super Bowl title was won by their defense, shutting down the Broncos offense and controlling the pace of the game in a 43-8 rout in favor of the Seahawks. I’m actually still having a hard time trying to figure out exactly what happened last night. My prediction had the Broncos winning a close game but I never doubted that Seattle was good enough to take the title themselves. Of course, I never could have predicted that the Seahawks could go out and put up such a dominant performance. Even though i’m pretty sick of hearing the phrase “defense wins championships” it was very evident that Seattle’s defense was so good and had such a presence, that Denver had no answer.

Let’s not forget that despite taking a back seat in the headlines, Seattle’s offense deserves some credit. Russell Wilson had a very solid game (18-25, 206 yds, 2 TDs) but what was most impressive about his game was his ability to formulate some nice drives once Seattle needed their offense to really put the game away for good. Denver actually did a very good job of defending Marshawn Lynch, something that teams were finding hard to do. But despite the Broncos’ best efforts of defense, Seattle was still able to get key first downs after Denver put the pressure on. Malcolm Smith was a great choice for MVP but it’s shame that there isn’t a way to give the award to the entire defense as a whole. Or what about Percy Harvin? The ultimate x-factor stayed true to his label and had one of the biggest plays of the game, the kick off return to start the second half and essentially clinch the game for the Seahawks. I thought Denver could recover from 22-0, still only three scores, but once the lead was pretty much 30 points, it felt like it was officially over.

At 36-0, the clock was the only thing left to settle but one had to wonder: are the Broncos going to score at all? It doesn’t matter how good anyone thought Seattle’s defense is. No one could have predicted that through almost all of the 3rd quarter, Denver would still have a 0 on the scoreboard. Demaryius Thomas was the only bright spot in Denver’s dreadful night, breaking a Super Bowl record with 13 catches to go along with 118 yards and a TD reception. Thomas now holds that reception record but i’m pretty sure that doesn’t make him feel any better about losing the game in such a disappointing fashion. Peyton Manning is the main target of negative discussion today, many questioning how good Manning really is and where he now ranks in QB history. It’s crazy how one one player, in the span of 24 hours, can go from potential “GOAT” to “perennial choker” just because of one performance. It’s fair and unfair at the same time. Last night’s game will be a big black eye on Manning’s career-long resume but as I’ve stated previously, it should not take away from what he’s already done.

Congratulations to Seattle on their first Super Bowl trophy. Very well deserved.

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Peyton Manning doesn’t want talk about his “legacy” during Media Day

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There’s no doubt that Richard Sherman will get the biggest crowd and the most attention during Super Bowl Media Day. Sherman has been hanging out in a whirlwind of discussion, ranging from his play on the field to his comments away from the field. At least we know this, #25 on the Seahawks is a smart guy and whether he’s playing all of this up for “his brand” or not, he’ll come to play on Sunday. Much like the rest of the Seahawks team, the most important game of their lives starts on Sunday at approximately 6:25 ET. Seattle is trying to win their first Super Bowl and cement their place in NFL history. But it’s very difficult to really cement your place in a league where everyone forgets how good you have been from week to week. Just ask Peyton Manning. He’s coming off the greatest season in history for a QB and today, during Media Day, he’s still being asked what this season and what Sunday’s game means for his legacy. Manning was quick to shrug off the question stating that “I’ve been being asked about my legacy since I was about 25 years old. I’m not sure you can have a legacy when you’re 25 years old. Even 37 — I’d like to have to be, like, 70 to have a legacy. I’m not even 100 percent sure what the word even means.” Sure, it’s only of those robotic-like answers that we’ve to expect from a professional like Peyton Manning but it holds a lot of truth. When you’ve had a career like Manning, can one game really define your legacy? It can but at the same time it can’t. 

We can all agree on this: Peyton Manning is among the greatest QBs that the NFL has ever seen. Where you rank him among the other greats (Montana, Elway, Unitas, Brady etc.) is up to personal preference for the most part. How much do you value postseason success? How much do Super Bowl titles matter? Those have been the biggest criticisms when it comes to discussing Manning’s “legacy” as a quarterback. If Manning leads the Broncos to win Super Bowl 48, how much does his legacy change? Remember, there has never been a starting QB to win a championship with two different teams.  Manning would also be the oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl since John Elway, the man who recruited him, did so himself. Two rings are better than one and two rings since his last one (2007) would be something that only his little brother as managed to do. Let’s not forget that this is that same little brother’s stadium where Manning will be playing in on Sunday. I could go on and on about how much is at stake but I can’t help but side with Peyton Manning when it comes to to his opinion on the matter. We all know how much is on the line, it’s the Super Bowl. The biggest sporting event in the country and one of the biggest in the entire world. So there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a major part of how we look at Manning but it’s not going to make or break what he’s done in his already legendary career. Let’s save all the legacy talk until Manning’s career is completely over, not before one championship game.

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Denver is methodical and Seattle holds as they are both conference champions.

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Yesterday’s games surprised me. To begin with, I didn’t expect the Broncos have a such a dominant victory over the Patriots. Denver was a dominant team for the most part of the season but late in the season, questions started to arise about how well they would perform when it was all on the line. After all, recent history showed that when it mattered most, Tom Brady and the Patriots should have been victorious yesterday afternoon. But as we all know and have come to realize, “should have” is not a phrase that matters in sports. Especially at the professional level. We were “supposed” to see at least one of the home teams lose the game. The Patriots’ slow start pretty much squashed their chances of coming back, even with a chance for a one-possession game late in the game. It was San Francisco’s turn to be David, showing all the signs of a team bound for their second Super Bowl in a row. Someone forgot to tell Seattle about all of that, taking the 49ers’ best punch early and coming back with their own strike. What the Broncos and Seahawks showed us, is that in a season where the unexpected was expected, order can be restored and the two favorites can both reach the final game of the season. Before we get to this all-world Super Bowl match up, let’s see how it all went down.

We started the championship Sunday in Denver, where the weather was uncharacteristically warm and the sun was shining all over the AFC title field. Remember how dreary and cold it was when the Ravens won there last year? Peyton Manning’s weather “demons” weren’t going to be a factor. While Manning didn’t make any throws that jumped off the screen, he did manage to rack up 400 yards and a couple of TDs, most of which was the result of long and methodical drives. In fact, Manning’s most memorable moment (too many m’s?) came when he bobbled a snap but recovered and easily threw a first down pass. The Broncos started off well, taking advantage of the Patriots’ defensive back Aqib Talib, their best player on defense, getting hurt. Tom Brady never really took the field in the first half, where the Patriots only managed to put up 3 points. Matt Prater’s leg put up most of the points for Denver but it was the long drives that were the key. Remember when the key to stopping Peyton Manning was keeping him off the field? Well that’s what happened, except it was Brady who never had good field position or multiple long drives. Let’s not forget that the Broncos defense limited a Patriots running game that was thought to be very potent. Once the late two-point conversion wasn’t successful for New England, the party started rocking in Denver. Perfect timing on the marijuana legalization law.

Wait, you’re telling me that the two places where marijuana is legal are sending their teams to the Super Bowl? I need to sign the Dallas petition. Seattle is in fact the champion of the NFC and they are going to face off against Denver in Super Bowl 48. Early on in looked like the 49ers were going to run away with this game. San Francisco wasn’t very potent on offense, most of it coming because of Kaepernick’s legs, but their defense was simply amazing in the first half. Neutralizing any and all offense as the Seahawks could only muster a field goal at halftime. Marshawn Lynch had a big scoring run to start the second half. But the Niners responded quickly, scoring on this incredible throw by the 49ers’ QB. Am I the only one who realizes how mind-blowing that throw was? As incredible as that throw was, Kaepernick also had two key interceptions, the second one sealing the deal for Seattle. The second one was the Richard Sherman interception. Sherman made an incredible play to seal the deal for the Seahawks, and for all of his obnoxious antics, at the very least, #25 backs up his talk with his play. San Francisco’s rally came up just a bit short and Seattle is on their way to New York, to try and win their first Super Bowl. The Seahawks fans are celebrating endlessly right now but shame on them for throwing food on Navarro Bowman, who suffered a gruesome injury. It looks like it was only one idiot but it’s not something you ever want to see.

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In an NFL season full of chaos, the Divisional Playoff games provided stability

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Every single team that won this weekend, was favored by the fans, analysts and whatever legal (illegal) betting lines one looks at. Who could have predicted that? For this entire NFL season, there seemed to be some sort of surprise, lurking behind every game that came out to surprise us before the final whistle was blown. That’s the main reason that I went ahead and picked the Chargers to upset the Broncos. Did I really think San Diego would go into Denver and take down the most successful offense in the league’s history? Not necessarily, but judging by this season, it would not have surprised me. The Chargers, showing all the signs of past Super Bowl winners, almost tied the game near the end but Denver played sound football to close out the game. So did New England, Seattle and San Francisco. Maybe that’s what was so chaotic about this weekend: the fact that in a season full of surprises, the teams that were “supposed to win” actually went out and did just that. It sets up for some really good conference title games, with endless story lines, but first let’s just take a quick look at how these teams got in to the final four.

As most people (social media) have made fun of by now, it’s baffling to think about what Marquis Colston was doing at the end of the Saints-Seahawks game. My only guess is that he assumed there wasn’t any time left on the clock but even then, no matter what your position, an NFL-level player should now how to properly execute a lateral. What’s most surprising than that bizarre play is that despite New Orleans not playing all that well, they were still in the game until the final minute. Lots of that goes to Seattle’s defense, who deserve tons of credit for shutting down the Saints the entire first half. Think about this: Drew Brees didn’t find Jimmy Graham until less than a minute was left in the game. Maybe that’s what happens when Richard Sherman decides to follow and hound Graham for the entire game. Marshawn Lynch was the main weapon for the Seahawks (130 yds, 1 TD) and his power running led the way on the offensive side for Seattle.

Things weren’t so close on Saturday night with the Colts taking on the Patriots in Foxborough. I wasn’t surprised about the Patriots coming out with such a dominant win, scoring at will against a Colts defense that just seemed overwhelmed. Who could have predicted that the Patriots would score over 40 points in the playoffs without any of those scores coming from Tom Brady but instead, a power running game? LeGarrette Blount was the feature back for New England, scoring four TDs on the ground as he led the Patriots’ offense. How crazy is that? For the Colts and Andrew Luck, it’s growing pains as this young team continues to progress. Luck’s second year brings him a bit further in the playoffs but his errors (4 INTs) show that he still a lot of time to grow in his young career. The Patriots now advance to their third straight title game against a familiar opponent.

Speaking of third straight conference title games, how impressive were the 49ers yesterday? Out of all teams that won this weekend, San Francisco looked the most impressive, on the road and heading to their 3rd straight NFC title game. It’s a run that also includes a Super Bowl berth and the most impressive stretch for any team in recent years. Even though Carolina led for most of the 2nd quarter, San Francisco just kept playing their style of football and took back control of the game. Kaepernick’s stat sheet didn’t particularly stick out but he played sound football and made the right plays. His main target was Anquan Boldin, who continues to come up big when his team needs it the most. The Panthers were a bit disappointing but when looking at their team, it’s difficult for a team with lack of experience to come out on top against an experienced team like the Niners. Panthers have a nice future but right now, it’s the 49ers time.

Things ended in Denver, where the Broncos took a big lead over San Diego and did enough to fight off a late Chargers comeback that fell short. Peyton Manning led the Broncos, as usual, as they dominated the first half. Not just on the offense but Denver shutdown San Diego’s offense for three quarters, not allowing a score until a couple of minutes into the 4th quarter. It was impressive but as San Diego started to make a comeback, things started to get really interesting. But unfortunately for Philip Rivers and co, they did not get a final attempt to tie the game as the Broncos played very well in controlling the clock and getting key first downs. From there it was a just a couple of kneel downs by Manning, and the Broncos move on to face the Patriots in what should be a great AFC conference title game.

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NFL Playoffs preview: Divisional Round

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We’re officially at the apex of the football season. I know the ratings will continue to climb until we finally get to the Super Bowl, but in terms of amount of quality football that we’re going to watch, the divisional round provides the best and the brightest. Just look at the QBs we’re going to be seeing this weekend. One could argue that if you assume Aaron Rodgers also belongs, the remaining eight quarterbacks are the best in the league right now. There’s a combination of veterans with postseason experience mixed with the young, up and coming future faces of the league. What more could a football fan as for? But as the games gets tighter, it gets more and more difficult to predict. From past experience, I’ve always realized two things about the second round. The first is to never overreact after a first round victory. The second is that there’s always a home team that gets upset in the divisional round.

The divisional festivities begin with the Saints in Seattle, a rematch from Week 13. In fact, all but one of this weekend’s games are rematches. Last time these two teams squared off, it was completely dominated by the Seahawks from start to finish. Do the Saints have a realistic shot to win in Seattle? Right now, Seattle (-8) is a heavy favorite and most people don’t give New Orleans a realistic shot at winning the game. I’m not in that camp. First of all, the Saints have clear advantages in two key positions: quarterback and head coach. Drew Brees didn’t need a heroic effort last week as the Saints had a solid running game. If that stays true, New Orleans has a shot to control the clock and minimize the crowd noise by getting constant first downs. Despite some of the advantage the Saints might have, i’m not going to pick them to win this game. Seattle’s pass defense is just too good and they’ve been nearly unstoppable at home. Saints give a good fight but the Seahawks move on the NFC title game.

Prime time Saturday features the most eye-catching quarterback match up. All-American hero and poster boy Tom Brady is looking to further improve his postseason resume when future great Andrew Luck visits the Patriots (-7) in Foxborough. The Colts are firing on all cylinders after their second half comeback over the Chiefs but is that enough to get them going in the first half of this game, given their season trend of slow starts? The Patriots aren’t the type of team that gives up big leads. In fact, Belichick and Brady are well known for running up the score, showing no mercy when it comes to putting their opponents away. If i’m a Colts fan, that’s what fears me the most. Aside from the QB battle, the Colts pass offense against the Patriots defense is the match up that intrigues me the most. Can Indianapolis take advantage of a porous New England secondary? Luck will most likely be great and continue to fight, no matter what the score is, but I feel the Patriots will get off to a fast start that they won’t give up.

Sunday begins with what I believe to be the most competitive game of the weekend. What baffles me about this game is that the 49ers (-1) are favorites on the road, against the Panthers, who beat them previously in SF exactly two months ago. I know, I know, the Niners were missing some key players but it feels slightly disrespectful to Cam Newton and co to be underdogs. These two teams play a very similar style. Both have excellent defenses and an excellent running game, led by their dual-threat QBs. It’ll be interesting to see how well Kaepernick’s connection with Michael Crabtree continues after a great performance last week. Not having Steve Smith at 100% will hurt the Panthers’ offense but I expect the Carolina defense to do well in limiting the 49ers attack. Even as I write this, i’m still not sure who is going to win this game. In all honesty, it will come down to who has the ball last in scoring position. Carolina’s only loss at home this season was to Seattle, in the first game of the season. Panthers edge out the Niners.

We’ll know three of the four teams left by the time the Chargers visit Denver (-9.5) to take on Peyton Manning and his arsenal of weapons. Last time around in Denver, Phil Rivers (Mr Bolo tie) and the Chargers surprised the Broncos on a Thursday night. How much do we take from that game? Thursday night games are always wonky but the Chargers presented some real problems for the Broncos. San Diego is showing all the signs of the Super Bowl champs of the past few years, catching breaks and gaining momentum at the games go on. This time around the Chargers defense won’t have Andy Dalton’s mistakes to take advantage of. Or will they? Manning’s “cold weather woes” will unlikely be in play but his “Chargers woes” will be. Yes, i’m going for it. The Chargers will control the clock with long drives, get enough pressure on Manning and upset the Broncos. Because of the way the league has been going all season long, i’m going with the possible over the probable in this game. Chargers upset the Broncos.

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Looking back at the NFL’s Wild Card weekend

For a second, things seemed very bleak for me. After the Colts managed a ridiculous comeback to get my picks going in the right direction, things went south very quickly for me. Unconventional things started happening and all of a sudden I was fighting just to stay above .500 for the weekend. San Francisco made sure of that with their win but then I began to think. I have no rooting interest since the Cowboys aren’t participating but i’m still a fan of football and i’m still a fan of great games mixed with exciting finishes. And that’s what we got this weekend. Aside from San Diego’s semi-dominant victory over the Bengals, the other three games were decided by a total of six points. What more could a football fan ask for? Let’s start in chronological order:

There’s one obvious question to ask here: was it a Chiefs meltdown or a Colts comeback? It’s always going to be impossible to predict 100% whether it was one or the other but watching the game, it felt more like an Indianapolis comeback than it did a Kansas City meltdown. We’ve seen all season long that Andrew Luck and co are a second half team. Known for their notoriously slow starts, but somehow still managing to be at their best when it matters most. It’s all led by Luck, of course, who continues to be so impressive in his infant career. Sure, the Colts caught some breaks but despite Luck’s three interceptions, they managed to fight back from a 38-10 deficit in the 3rd quarter. Things bounced their way the entire second half, literally. And to be quite honest, I’m still not sure how the Chiefs were able to amount such a large lead. It seemed like every other play, starting with Jamal Charles, a different Chiefs player was going down injured. Play calling, time management and injuries were all deciding factors for the Chiefs.

Saturday night continued to have surprising results. The game had the Saints in Philadelphia and while it didn’t have the scoring barrage that the previous game did, it was still just as entertaining and captivating. More of a classic, grind-out playoff style game that included four lead changes. What’s more surprising: that the Saints won a playoff game on the road or that they used a potent running game mixed with solid defense to do so? Normally the Eagles don’t get out-played on the ground seeing that they have LeSean McCoy, the rushing title champion for this season. It felt like the Eagles start was just a little too slow. Even though they managed to take lead after being down 20-7 in the 3rd quarter, it seemed to take everything they had to do so. The Saints countered with a nice return and drive to set up a game winning field goal as time expired. The Saints win a playoff game on the road, without hero-ball from Drew Brees. What could be more surprising than that?

It’s certainly not Andy Dalton’s multiple interceptions in a playoff game. Dalton had plenty of yards against the Chargers but his three turnovers (all in the second half) haunted the Bengals as they were trying to rally for pretty much the entire second half. Just like the Saints, San Diego used a strong running game along with some strong pressure defense to anchor their road playoff win. Do people realize that Phillip Rivers only completed 12 passes for 128 yards during yesterday’s game? That’s not to say that Rivers wasn’t impressive. When he was needed, number 17 on the Chargers make some crisp passes to his multiple weapons. Quick shout out to Danny Woodhead (pictured above) who might be my favorite non-Cowboys player. For the Cincinnati, it’s another season without a win in the postseason and another bad performance by Andy Dalton. It’s scary to say but the Chargers are showing all the signs of three previous Super Bowl winners as they head into Denver this weekend.

The most anticipated game of the season lived up to the hype. Was yesterday’s game between the 49ers and Packers the coldest postseason game in recent memory? The only other one that comes to mind is the Giants-Packers game back in the 07 season. To sum up yesterday’s game: Aaron Rodgers won the battle but Colin Kaepernick won the war. Of course both QBs had a good team performance surrounding them but #12 and #7 were both part of the two most impressive plays that we’ve seen in the playoffs so far. Rodgers’ escape was mind-boggling but Kaepernick’s clutch run pretty much sealed the win for the Niners. In all honesty, I wish I could watch that game again. It was slow at times but freezing weather does that. It looked like the 49ers were going to dominate because their defense wasn’t letting Green Bay do anything but the Packers responded nicely. From there it was both teams trading punches with neither ever leading by more than one score. Great game to end a great weekend of NFL playoff football.

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Previewing the NFL Playoffs Wild Card weekend

 

For most of the worldWild-card playoffs: Nick Foles, Aaron Rodgers, Jamaal Charles, Andy DaltonThe the holiday season has officially ended. The clock struck midnight at the respective time zone and just like that, New Year’s was over and back to the real world. Not so much for NFL fans because this weekend starts the biggest celebration of the season that culminates with Super Bowl XLVII. Even though the SB seems like an eternity away, for teams beginning their journey this weekend, it’s only three wins away. But will any of these teams be participating in the biggest game of the season? Recent history says so: the last three Super Bowl winners all begun their title runs in the wild card round. First we have to see who comes out on top this weekend. Jay Cutler contract jokes aside, of course.

Chiefs at Colts (Sat 4:15 ET): Normally the least interesting game of the four gets this spot. Sure, it might get the lowest ratings but that doesn’t mean the game won’t be good. These teams faced each other just two weeks ago in Kansas City and in all honesty, the Colts gave the Chiefs a good old fashioned  ass-kicking. There’s nothing to indicate that this time around, with the game in Indianapolis, that the result will be any different. The Colts are playing good football right now, winners of three straight led by some stellar play by Andrew Luck. The Chiefs have been surprisingly bad as of late, losing a couple in a row and overall since their by week, they’re only won two games out of seven. Oh yeah, those two wins came against Washington and Oakland. In fact the only playoff team the Chiefs beat this season were the Eagles back in mid-September. Do the Chiefs have the talent and coaching to win the game? Certainly but i’m going with the hotter team and the better QB. Colts edge out the Chiefs.

Saints at Eagles (Sat 8:10 ET): This was the toughest game for me to figure out. And in to be frank, i’m still hesitant to try and predict what’s going to happen. The Eagles and Saints have some of the most prolific and high-scoring offenses in the entire league. Which one will reign supreme? If you go by the way their last game was played, the edge goes to the Saints because they looked unbeatable. Then again, it was against the Buccaneers. The Eagles beat the Cowboys (better than TB) on the road but Dallas had Kyle Orton as their starting QB. My biggest problem with taking the Saints is how shaky they’ve looked on the road all season long. New Orleans’ last non-dome road win was against the Bears back in mid-October. The Eagles on the other hand, have won four straight at home and every win has been impressive. It’s probably going to come down to which offense gets going first and sets the tempo. The Eagles are just better at home than the Saints are on the road. Eagles advance to the next round.

Chargers at Bengals (Sun 1:05 ET): Sunday starts off with a match up between two of the hottest teams in the conference and the league in general. The Chargers were a bit hotter (or luckier, if you will) as they finished the season winning four straight while catching all sorts of breaks. Is it better to be good or lucky in the NFL? Well as much as the Chargers have had fortunes go their way, Cincinnati was no stranger to the football bouncing their way. The Bengals’ offense, despite some erratic play for Andy Dalton, has been on fire as of late. The Chargers offense on the other hand, changes from game to game and at times, can feel downright frustrating. San Diego has the talent and the better QB to win game. The Chargers also have all the momentum in their favor, a sign of success in recent years during the playoffs. One thing sticks out at me though: the Bengals did not lose a home game this season. Is this where the Bengals end their drought of playoff wins? I think so. Bengals get a close victory over the Chargers.

49ers at Packers (Sun 4:40 ET): It’s hard to see how this isn’t the biggest game of the weekend. These teams have faced each other three times in less than a year and while the Niners have come out on top all three times, it’s been very fun to watch. How much will the weather affect this game? Right now the weather is predicted as a high of ZERO degrees. Both teams have a strong running game that will likely be in full display because of the conditions. Aaron Rodgers is back but is he back to his championship-level form? His first half back was rusty but some of the plays that Rodgers made in the second half indicate that he’s nearly back to his 100% form. The Packers will need a big performance from their offensive weapons if they hope to change the recent trend of San Francisco victories. The 49ers are winners of six straight and Colin Kaepernick seems to be a good groove. Remember, Kaepernick has looked like the best football player of all time when facing the Packers. 49ers win a hard fought game in Green Bay.

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