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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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What to expect when the Broncos and Seahawks face off in Super Bowl XLVIII

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Alas, we’re only about 52 hours away from Super Bowl XLVIII from officially kicking off. It seems like a month since we last saw a real NFL game. No, the Pro Bowl doesn’t count because well, it’s the Pro Bowl. The only thing that’s unfortunate about it being two weeks since the last pro football game, is that Broncos-Seahawks is the final game of the season. Luckily for us, this is the match up that most NFL fans were waiting for. The top two seeds in each conference will bring their contrasting styles of play to the field, a cold field where it will be decided which team is the king of football. But first, we have to set aside all the off the field topics that, in all honesty, won’t matter once the ball is officially kicked off. Let’s forget about Marshawn Lynch’s lack of communication to the media and what Sunday’s game means to Peyton’s legacy. Let’s also forget about how “smart and articulate” Richard Sherman actually is. Let’s also forget about anything and everything that involves some sort of beef between Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan. There’s nothing worse than two retired NFL players, both who spend a lot of time on TV, creating some sort of riff to take the attention away from the actual game itself. I know the Super Bowl is more than “just a football game” but this time around, let’s just focus on what is going to happen on the field.

Most Intriguing Match Up: The obvious choice here is Peyton Manning and his weapons against the Seahawks secondary. It’s pretty plain and simple: the top offense in the league going against the best defense in the league. The four-headed monster (Thomas (2), Welker and Decker) will try and continue their season-long success against the toughest group of pass protectors in the league. Sherman will most likely cover Demarius Thomas the entire game so keep an eye on that for the entire game. How many flags will we see on Seattle? I expect the Seahawks to bring the pressure early, often and at the highest intensity. But despite that very intriguing match up, it’s not the one i’m most interested in. Let’s see how well Seattle’s running game does against the Denver defense. Something sneaky that has not been discussed enough is the fact that Denver has stopped two great running teams (Patriots and Chargers) in their playoff victories this year. Can Marshawn Lynch be effective? How well is Russell Wilson going to be able to use his legs to extend plays and find open receivers? They’re all questions that will be answered in the most interesting match up of the day.

The X Factor: You mean, aside from Percy Harvin? Harvin is probably the x-factor to end all x-factors. He might as well be the host and spokesman for the hit show on Fox. But since he’s too obvious of a choice, we’ll take it to the other team for this one. Little has been said about Knownshon Moreno, the Denver running back, who despite being just as important as any of their receivers, doesn’t get anywhere near the same attention. In case you didn’t know, Sunday’s game will feature some cold weather. No real chance of rain/snow but still, cold and just a bit windy. Guess what that means? More running plays! Moreno will be featured more heavily and because Seattle’s pass defense is especially good in the red zone, watch out for multiple hand-offs when the Broncos are close to the goal line. Manning will be the biggest figure on offense, as usual, but I have a feeling that Moreno will come up with some big plays in key situations. Possibly to run the clock down in the 4th quarter? We might even see #27 on the Broncos break his own world-record for tears shed during a national anthem.

So, who wins?: It’s hard to say. Vegas like the Broncos (-2) but as we know, Vegas is in the business of making money, not predicting the outcome of the game. Initially I thought that Denver would take the win, as they are the better team on paper and are better on offense than any other team ever. Seattle’s defense is excellent BUT the Broncos are better at offense than the Seahawks are at defense. Historically speaking, defense does win championships, we’ve heard it over and over. This trend is true in the Super Bowl and while I don’t know the exact stat, I think the top defense is 9-2 when it comes to the big game. Seattle has all the signs on a championship team: defense, running game, big-play potential. Will that be enough? Yes, Seattle had the best defense in the league but Denver had the best offense of all time. The Broncos broke records left and right, leaving opponents in the dust when trying to figure them out. It has just felt like Manning’s year from start to finish. My immediate gut feeling was that the Broncos would come out on top in a close game and i’m going to stick with my guns. Broncos-24 Seattle-23. Omaha!

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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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Chargers surprise the Broncos; questions for Sunday’s NFL games

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos

Have the Chargers figured out the way to stop the Broncos and their seemingly unstoppable offense? Let’s take a quick timeout and realize two things: 1. Teams aren’t going to be that successful against the Broncos on a regular basis. 2. San Diego is clearly just a bad match up for the Broncos. It’s frustrating to watch the Chargers do so well on the road against a Super Bowl contender after they’ve had such sloppy losses against teams like the Bengals, Redskins or Dolphins. Or at least we consider Denver to be a serious contended for the title come February. Are the cold weather questions back for Peyton Manning? It was evident that Manning was focused on making “easy passes” for most of the night, never really going past 15 or 20 yards down field. Was lack of rest a factor for the Broncos? Remember, no Wes Welker last night and the Chargers defensive backs did a nice job of limiting most of the Denver attack. It didn’t appear that way to start the game after Manning led the Broncos to a relatively easy drive for a quick TD. San Diego didn’t respond until the second quarter but once the response came, it was all downhill for the Chargers. Philip Rivers led the offense with a couple of TD passes to Keenan Allen (pictured above) while the Chargers offense controlled the clock for the entire game. San Diego had the ball for nearly twice the time that Denver did, keeping the Broncos offense on the sidelines, watching as the Chargers continued long drive after long drive. The Chargers looked and performed like a team who’s season was on the line. Now they turn to this Sunday’s games where they try to get some help from the Patriots and the Lions, hoping to tie the Ravens and Dolphins for that final spot in the AFC side of the playoffs. For Denver the road gets a little tougher in trying to nab the top seed in the conference because if the Patriots win out, they own the tie breaker over Denver. Easier said than done for a Patriots team dealing with so many injuries but either way it makes the AFC race that much more interesting.

One would think that because of what’s happening to Denver and New England that the Bengals have a shot for the top spot. It’s a stretch, considering that all three teams have favorable games to end the season but it the Patriots were to slip this weekend, it would make things exciting to watch. Unfortunately all of the early games that aren’t Patriots-Dolphins won’t have many implications where both teams have playoff stakes on the line. Here’s the underlining secret though, most of the favorites will be on the road for Sunday’s games. What does that mean? I think, for the most part, that games thought to be lopsided will be closer than usual. As we’ve seen in the past, at this point of the season a lot of teams that aren’t really playing for anything come out with nothing to lose. Just go play football. It’s a cliche but it does hold some value, even if it’s only for a neutral fan like myself, hoping for closer and more entertaining games. Will Cutler’s return affect a Bears offense that looked great on Monday night? Can the Seahawks look dominant on the road against the Giants? Can the Colts FINALLY get off to a good start against a really bad Texans team? Will the Eagles and 49ers take care of business on the road against an inferior opponent? And really, the same goes for the Chiefs, Panthers, Cardinals and Saints who are all facing less-than-great teams. Will my Cowboys take advantage of what looks like a Rodgers-less Packers team? If the Cowboys defense has any hope of bouncing back after an abysmal performance, it’s against the Packers when Rodgers isn’t there. The latest reports indicate that #12 will not be behind center for Sunday’s game.

It seems a bit easy to do so but I don’t care, i’m taking advantage of a depleted Patriots team on the road against the Dolphins (+2.5) this week for upset pick. The Dolphins are fighting for the second wild card spot while the Patriots are fighting to stay off the IR list. Can Brady still continue to lead the Patriots despite all of that? There’s no doubt but for all signs point to the Dolphins here. Teams usually have a tough time playing in Miami to begin with so i’m just taking the nice odds here. The Dolphins keep it very close and quite possibly win the game.

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Broncos dominate Raiders; lingering news from week 3

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Most people didn’t expect last night’s game to be competitive. The Raiders were going into the game with lots of questions, their only win coming against a Jaguars team that most people consider the worst in the entire league. The Broncos on the other hand have looked like the AFC favorite and continued to do so last night as they dominated the game from start to finish. Aside from a somewhat fluke fumble, Peyton Manning continued his ridiculous pace (32-37, 374 yds, 3 TDs) to start the season, reading the Raiders offense perfectly and executing just as well. Watching the Broncos on offense makes me wonder if any team out there is capable of slowing them down enough to keep the game within reach. Of course when you’re up against the Raiders, most NFL teams will look better than they probably are. The Broncos pressured Terrell Pryor and limited Darren McFadden to only 9 yards on 14 carries. If that doesn’t say “swarming defense” then I don’t know what does. But, that swarming style did come back to Broncos on a trick play by the Raiders. I can’t being to describe how much I love trick plays in the NFL and this halfback pass by McFadden at the end of the 3rd quarter was no exception. I loved everything about the play. They’re really rare but I hope to see a few more around the league in the coming weeks. That was one of the few highlights that the Raiders were able to hang their hats on so it wasn’t a complete catastrophe. Hey, they could have lost in a Giants-like manner.

Last night’s game ended a week in the NFL that had some quality football but what’s also been going around the league is what seems to an abundance of off the field headlines. There’s 49ers’ lineback Aldon Smith checking himself into rehab after a DUI arresting just a few days ago, still playing in the game against the Colts by the way. Many questioned the Niners decision to do so, thinking it was best for Smith not play, this being his second time with a DUI arrest. Smith has since apologized to the team and staff so we wish him the best. Injury news includes Anthony Spencer of the Cowboys, Charles Tillman of the Bears, different offensive linemen on the Giants, Nate Burleson of the Lions and various others. All are in different situations but as we all know, the more an NFL season goes on, the more the injury report begins to take form. On a more obscure injury report, Ravens WR Jacoby Jones (currently rehabbing a knee injury) apparently had a stripper break a champagne bottle over his head. Not a strip club but a party bus. I’m guessing he didn’t give her enough of a tip for her services.

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Manning’s huge night leads Broncos past Ravens in opening night

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The weather delay might have been the reason that Peyton Manning got off to a slow start but once he got going, there simply wasn’t a way to stop his barrage of TD passes. I predicted yesterday that the Ravens, despite being significant underdogs, would be able to keep it close for the entire game. And for a half, it certainly looked that way. The Ravens were pretty effective in containing Manning’s targets to keep the damage minimal and went into the locker room up by a field goal but that all changed during the 3rd quarter. Manning began to find his receivers, especially Wes Welker in the 3rd and from there it was a night of historic proportions. Manning’s 7 TD night ties the NFL record for most in a single game as he led the Broncos to the first victory of this season. It’s been 44 years since a QB last did what Manning did last night. So big ups to him and anyone who has him as their fantasy QB. Yes, that includes myself so thank you Peyton Manning. And for the Ravens it was simply a combination of their offense not having enough balance (lack of touches for Rice) and their inability to contain Manning’s pass attack. It was the worst loss on the opening game by the defending Super Bowl champion. Back to the drawing board for Baltimore.

While that was a great appetizer for this weekend, it’s certainly time for the main course that comes in about 48 hours. There are some great games on Sunday. Aside from the Cowboys-Giants game come prime time, the games i’m looking forward to the most are the Bengals at Bears, Falcons at Saints and of course the Packers in San Francisco to take on Bryan’s 49ers. I’m slightly on the Bengals bandwagon. I don’t think they’ll reach 12 or 13 wins but I really feel that they can win their division. I also want to see the launch of the Bears’ annual hot start. Falcons at Saints just has so much potential for a high-octane, classic shootout. As far as the Packer-49ers game does, well, much doesn’t need to be said. Two of the best teams in the conference going at it early after their playoff game last season in which the Niners and Kaepernick dominated Green Bay. The revenge factor will definitely be in play. I’m also really interested to see how the 49ers offense will deal with the Crabtree loss and how well other teams have adjusted to the read-option. Games to avoid on Sunday? Well, anything involving the Jets, Raiders or Jaguars is a safe bet to stay away from. Luckily there are enough good early games to help us with that.

As far as the Cowboys go, i’m more optimistic than most. Most people are predicting another 8-8 season for my Boys but I think this season will be different a i’m looking at a division title with a 10-6 record. It remains to be seen that things will change but beating the Giants in Cowboys Stadium (what’s at&t?) on a Sunday night game is the way to start a season of success. Happy football season everyone! Enjoy the games.

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Getting ready for the 2013 NFL season

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It’s been a terrible offseason for myself. In terms of being really prepared for what’s to come this year and getting ready for the season to begin. Real life has gotten in the way over and over so unfortunately i’m not entirely prepared as much as I should be but i’ve crammed all week like i’m back in college, drinking redbull and everything. That’s not the most effective way to prepare for a season but it’s better than nothing. Alas, that’s my personal business and doesn’t matter because ladies and gentleman, football is BACK! Man, it feels so good to say that. I’ll say it again: NFL football is back! After the dregs of summer sports where most fans only care about their baseball team or the random grand slam happening around tennis, finally football begins. In approximately 7 hours and 30 minutes, the Ravens will take the field in Denver to face off against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The latest betting lines that i’ve seen show the Broncos as a 7.5 point favorite. Reasonable but at the same time, it seems a little high. I feel that the Broncos can score enough to win the game but their lack of pass rush (Von Miller) is going to allow the Ravens make some big plays to keep themselves in the game and cover the line. Aside from tonight’s game, there’s much to be excited about. Here are some of my burning questions:

What will be the teams that regress and the teams that improve?

It happens every season. The six teams that make the playoff for each conference are the never entirely the same in the next season. I’m not sure what the exact stat is but I think at least two from each conference change from season to season. Even though the NFC is very exciting, I think the obvious regression teams are the Vikings and the Redskins. Many people think the Vikings had a bit of luck last season and their schedule this season is much tougher. Adrian Peterson will no doubt have another monster season but will the rest of offense be able to keep up? The Redskins are the other candidate simply because RG3’s knee is still a question and because of how competitive the NFC East is from season to season. So if those teams are out, who’s in? The Saints are poised for a big season after their head coach returns. I like their chances of making the postseason because of their offense but their defense is still a big question so we’ll have to see happens. And the other team that joins the playoff festivities appears to be whatever team wins the NFC East. Since 2004, no team has won that division two years in a row so it’s definitely up for grabs.

Now it gets a bit trickier on the side of the league because while the NFC is very top heavy, the AFC really does feel like lots of teams can win this conference. I’d consider the Texans, Broncos and Patriots as locks for the playoffs in the AFC. But from there i’m struggling to figure it out because I think the North is up for grabs, mostly between the Bengals and Ravens. So maybe while they battle for the division, the other teams grab the wildcard. Will their record be good enough? We’ll have to wait and see. Now, the bandwagon for the Colts regression is absolutely full right now as everyone feels they’re going to take a step back. On the other side, the same amount of people are riding the Chiefs as the team that will greatly improve and make the postseason come winter time. If I had to pick one i’d say it’s more likely that the Chiefs improve and make a run for the postseason. Big upgrade at head coach, their quarterback will finally be at least average (Is anyone happier than Dwayne Bowe this season) and the overall look of their team looks great.

Those are just some of the few thoughts of this season. Tomorrow i’ll have some more predictions and a closer look at the week-to-week match-ups for Sunday but for now, let’s enjoy tonight’s action between the Ravens and Broncos as we embark on a new season of (hopefully) great NFL action. Good look to all the teams but especially to my Dallas Cowboys!

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Is a Brady vs Manning AFC title game inevitable?

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This isn’t a guarantee by any means but i’m sure you can guess which teams i’m leaning towards to advance to the AFC championship. It’s surely what the NFL and it’s money-hungry hands want. I’m not speaking for all NFL fans but i’m positive that most non-Ravens/Texans fans would prefer to see Brady face Manning next weekend. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves because as we know, crazy things happen in the NFL. Particularly this week where teams with the bye week can get caught off guard by being a little too confident. Then again there’s a reason that Vegas has the higher seed favored by more than one score (+9.5) but let’s take a closer look at how the Ravens or Texans can spoil some parties.

Biggest factors: Baltimore faced Denver not too long ago (week 15) and it was a lopsided affair in favor of Manning and co. Baltimore is a different looking team this time around with previously injured players not named Ray Lewis being much healthier and ready for action this time around. Can that be enough to slow down Manning? The Ravens need a couple of big plays on defense to help their offense keep up with Denver’s firepower. The Ravens must score quickly because being down by a TD against the Broncos in Denver is a death sentence. I know Ray Rice had 2 fumbles last week but look for screens and things of that sort to neutralize Von Miller’s pressure on Joe Flacco.

A big reason the Texans are playing this game in New England is because one month ago today, the Texans played against the Patriots on to road and it wasn’t pretty for Houston. Tom Brady and co laid the smack down. So what can Houston do to slow down the best offense in the league? Remember, this time Gronkowski is playing. For starters the Texans can’t get into such a big hole. The Patriots are susceptible to teams that can pressure Brady and control the clock. The Texans can do that but only if they score early. Playing catch up is not an option. The Texans biggest stars (Foster and Watt) both need big games and need to influence the game or else it’s going to be a long night for Houston.

Prediction: Like I said earlier, there’s a reason the Broncos and Patriots are favored so heavily at this stage of the season. They’re just better teams. It doesn’t take stats or extensive film study to figure that out, just watch the teams from week to week. That doesn’t mean that I don’t give the under dogs a chance this weekend. There’s always a chance for an upset and if I had to chose one, i’d take the Ravens. They’re not intimidated by any means and the Baltimore offense can catch fire at any moment. Also, Denver did have an extremely easy regular season schedule. I wouldn’t put my money on it though. Denver wins closer than expect and the Patriots roll. Get ready for an enitre week of Brady-Manning hype.

NFC tomorrow.

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