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Seahawks hold off Redskins; lingering thoughts from week 5

10-7

After their win over Denver, the Seahawks were looking to use their bye week to focus up on the rest of the season which lies ahead. Their journey to try and repeat as champions got going again in our nation’s capital, taking on a Redskins team that was trending in the wrong direction. Washington isn’t as bad as they looked on Thursday night almost two weeks ago, but no one was expecting them to provide Seattle with some real competition. At least for myself, last night’s game was more competitive than expected but we did get the end result that was anticipated. Carried by Russell Wilson’s big game, the Seahawks went into DC and took down the Redskins, holding them off for most of the game and eventually closing the game out with a strong 4th quarter finish. Wilson finished with a career-high 122 yards on the ground, to go along with a score, and also paired that with 201 yards and two scores through the air. An all around, excellent performance from #3 on Seattle. Early on, it appeared that this would be a rout in favor of the Seahawks as they led 17-0 at halftime. But Washington fought their way back into the game with some big plays (Kirk Cousins to DeSean Jackson) and got within one score twice in the second half. Washington had the ball multiple times with a chance to drive and tie the game, but Seattle’s defense stepped it up. Let’s also remember that Seattle’s punting unit did an excellent job pinning the Redskins deep into their own territory, allowing Seattle to play the more risky style of defense that they flourish in. And of course, my favorite play of the night was Seattle’s fake field goal early in the forth quarter that successfully got them the first down. Now the Redskins try and save their season but with injury and off-the-field issues continuing to linger, they might be looking at early hope in next year’s draft. Seattle is now tied with Arizona atop their division and have a big game this weekend when my Cowboys are in Seattle for what (I hope) is a great game.

First off all, i’d like to apologize to a couple of players for not included them in “plays of the week” yesterday. So Sammy Watkins and Riley Cooper, you both made catches worthy of being some of the best plays of the week. Also, I can’t believe I completely missed on Philly Brown’s punt return for a touchdown. It was a great run but what made it special for me is the abundance of flags on the play and how obscure the entire series was. Just goes to show that playing until the whistle will usually result in something good. So tomorrow, now that we’re over a month into the season, i’ll be ranking the best five teams in the league. I’m torn on a few teams (one that includes the one I support) and whether or not their record, as a opposed to their actually strength of schedule, should be the stronger determinant. The debate rages on and on of which factor should determine which team is doing best right now. Remember, it’s more a ranking of if all these teams were to play on a neutral field this weekend, which would have the bench chance to come out on top. And it’s not a probability ranking, so things like a team’s momentum and current injuries (or lack thereof) both come into play, among other factors. Then on Thursday i’ll be going through the dregs of the league.

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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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Seahawks dominate the Saints and how it affects the NFC landscape

12-3

Going into last night’s game everyone knew one thing: the Seattle Seahawks are a good team but when they’re at home, they’re an elite team. Probably the best in the entire league. It’s impossible to tell because they don’t go up against the Patriots or Broncos this season but at least we know they’re on top of the NFC without a shred out doubt. While completely dominating the Saints last night, Seattle also clinched a spot in the postseason during their most impressive win of the season. The final score was 34-7 and that was very indicative of how the game played out. From start to finish the Seahawks were doing what they wanted on offense and defense. If Seattle’s secondary was supposed to be depleted, no one told them and the Saints weren’t able to take advantage of it. Drew Brees started the game with a 3 and out, followed by a fumble that was returned for a TD by the home team. The Saints managed to score in the 2nd quarter but it took a nearly perfect drive to do so. Things continued to favor Seattle when the ball was switched to them on offense, led by an MVP-like performance from Russell Wilson. Normally the tough Seahawks running game leads the way but it’s the only thing the Saints defense was able to control, limiting Marshawn Lynch to only 45 yards. No matter. Wilson was picking up the slack left and right, looking every bit like a veteran QB who just saw this as any other regular season game. Once Seattle scored another TD just before the second half was over, the game felt all but over from that point on. So where does this leave these two teams heading forward?

The Saints are still on top of their division due to tie breakers but now they’re really feeling the heat from Carolina, making their game this week that much bigger. New Orleans also goes up against the Panthers two weeks after that so that could very well decide not only the second seed in the NFC but also the 5th seed in the playoffs. Or could the 49ers even sneak in and take the 5th seed? San Francisco is beginning to look really solid once again, getting healthier as the weeks go by. But their next opponent is Seattle, a team that only needs one more win to clinch the NFC West and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. There’s very little chance of Seattle losing three of their last four to allow another team to slip into first so every other team in the NFC better get used to the idea that the road to the Super Bowl is going through Seattle. Could the Niners make things a little interesting with a win on Sunday? Yes but after that it’s out of their hands. Then there are the East and North divisions. Right now the Cowboys and Lions lead their respective divisions but the Eagles and Bears are right on their heels. Hey, what do you know, those teams play each other this weekend. The Lions are in Philadelphia on Sunday and the Cowboys are in Chicago on Monday. Both divisions could very well come down to the final game of the season but we’ll learn plenty from the results of those two games. It’s time for the homestretch people.

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Seahawks hold off Rams; quick look at the playoff picture

10-29

About 75% of the games in the NFL are impossible to predict. One could have one of the best teams in the league (Seahawks) going against their division rival, a team that’s mediocre at best (Rams) and even then it’s impossible to determine what’s going to happen. I predicted a dominant performance by Seattle because after last week’s win in Arizona, it felt like the road woes had been shaken off by this team. Turn to a scrappy Rams team and what seemed like 50 flags thrown by the officials resulted in Seattle needing everything it had to squeak out a victory on the road. The Rams looked like they were going to win game, producing a drive in the final minutes of the game only to see it come up just a few yards short as time expired. St. Louis was riding Zac Stacy’s great game (134 yds) for pretty much the entire comeback but when it came to the most critical possessions, he was only handed the ball once. Questionable play calling against a defense like Seattle’s is usually going to result in a team coming up empty in the red zone. Overall it was a weird game because the refs were a little too involved. Or was that just me? It seemed like the second half had a penalty flag on every other play. Russell Wilson didn’t have the greatest game (128 yds, 2 TDs) but it was enough offense to get the Seahawks the win so all’s well that ends well for Seattle as they improve to 7-1 and continue to keep pace with the Saints for the best record in the conference. Most of Wilson’s yards came on a bomb to Golden Tate, who went from excellent catch to complete idiot in a matter of seconds as a result of blatant taunting towards the Rams’ secondary. We all love some trash talking but taunting is taking it too far and there’s no place for it in professional sports.

Now that we’re officially halfway through the season (shedding a quick tear) it’s a good time to take a quick look at the playoff picture for both conferences. The AFC seems a bit easier to figure out because the West is so stacked and could very well have three teams in the playoffs. The Chiefs or Broncos are winning that division and the team that doesn’t will take the first wild card spot, that much we know. I’m also in the camp of the Patriots, Colts and Bengals being division winners. But could the Chargers join them? They’re in position to do and control their own destiny but the schedule gets tough in the second half. Remember the Chargers have yet to play the Broncos or the Chiefs so that’s four tough games. Add a road game in Miami and home for the Bengals. That’s trouble for any team but if San Diego beats the teams they should, splits their tough games, then I think they’re in. But if they don’t, the Jets are only a game back and have a much more favorable schedule.

The NFC gets trickier because to begin, no one wants to win the East division. My Cowboys have certainly had their chances to pull away from the crowd but fail to do so. How are the Giants, who started 0-6, still in contention for the division? I’d rather not talk about it. The only for sure division winner? That looks like the Saints. The West is certainly still up for grabs but it’s going to come down to weeks 11-14 where the 49ers and Seahawks not only play each other but they both have a game against the Saints. Those few weeks could decide not only the division but also the top seed in the conference. Up north I think it’s the Packers division to lose but looking at the Lions schedule, they could keep pace with every one of Green Bay’s wins. The key is going to be their match-up week 13 in Detroit. The wildcard is great especially if the Lions stumble because what do you know, the Panthers are right there! You also have the Cutler-less (for a few weeks) Bears only 1 game back and the Cardinals still very much alive as well.

We’re about to hit the best part of the regular season. Get ready folks!

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Seahawks race past Cardinals; questions for Sunday’s games

10-18

In their games that weren’t in Seattle, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks had looked a bit underwhelming for pretty much the entire season. Narrow victories over the Texans and Panthers presented people with the questions that if it came down to a must win (playoffs) for Seattle, would they be able to prove themselves on the road? Well last night was a step in the right direction for Seattle. The Seahawks struck early, with great plays made by Wilson, to take the lead and then used their running game partnered with the defense to secure the victory. Sure Wilson had a couple of fumbles but he made up for it by going for 235 yards and 3 TD passes. Wilson also had a couple of those plays that make you think “Hmm…yeah, only him and a couple of other QBs can do that.” But credit the Seahawks defense, who also made a couple of plays that only them and a couple of other defensive groups are capable of making. Add some “Beast Mode” to the equation and Seattle has a solid victory. At 6-1 and dominating their division, Seattle is right on track to contend with the Saints for the top spot in the conference. The Cardinals however are a different story, only a couple of games from contending for their division just a week ago. Things changed quickly for Arizona. The Cardinals sputtered on offense for the most part during last night’s game. It felt like it took them an entire quarter just to get into the Seahawks territory for the first time. That’s what happens when you don’t heavily involve Larry Fitzgerald into your offense. Arizona has a chance to turn things around with their next few opponents being not-so-great so keep your heads up Cardinals fans, the season isn’t over by any means.

I’m looking at Sunday’s games and all I can do is ask questions when i’m looking at each game. Will the Cowboys-Eagles game have each team scoring at least in the 30s? Is anyone going to pay close attention to the Rams-Panthers games aside from their own fanbases? Same goes for Bucs at Falcons. Can the Chargers have another solid game in a row when they’re in Jacksonville? Why is CBS forcing most of the country to watch Patriots at Jets instead of Bengals at Lions for the early game? So the early games do have lots of questions but the later games are actually surprisingly good. 49ers-Titans and Browns-Packers are both solid options. The Texans are in Kansas City so it’s pretty much guaranteed that the “pick-6 streak” will continue for Houston. And while the Ravens and Steelers aren’t the teams of the recent past, it’s still a rivalry so there’s the potential for a solid game.  Hey everyone, in case you didn’t know, Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis this Sunday night! Yes, you heard it here first at MoeJackson. Game of the week and quite possibly the game of the season when the Broncos visit the Colts for the night game. Could the Colts actually lose two games in a row? Who the hell cares about Jim Irsay’s comments towards Peyton Manning? How much does the Colts crowd cheer for Manning? Could be a classic.

Upset pick: Rams over the Panthers(-6.5). To be honest this has nothing to do with the Rams. It just seems that this season the Panthers aren’t capable of putting together two good games. So until that happens, i’m saying they flop because they looked so well last week.

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Taking a closer look at the wild card round: NFC

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Now it’s time to look at the better conference this round. No offense to the AFC but there’s a reason both of the NFC games were scheduled at the second game, they’re the match ups that are going to attract more viewers because they both hold potential to be classic games. Quick tangent: do fans realize that there’s a chance that the Packers and Seahawks can meet in the conference championship game? That’s pretty crazy considering what happened earlier in the season between those two teams. I’m getting a little ahead of myself but I just wanted to point that out. Let’s take a look at this side of the tournament.

Key match ups: In the Packers-Vikings game, the key to each team is pretty simple: how much can you stop the other team’s best player? Adrian Peterson is clearly the best RB in the league and Aaron Rodgers is arguably (definitely on Brady/Manning level) the best QB in the league so the defenses for each team will have their work cut out for them. This was the last game of the regular season and the Vikings won the game but this time it will be at Lambeau. It’ll be cold so who does that benefit more? Peterson breaking the record of rushing yards in a single playoff game (248) is definitely in play.

The final game this weekend will feature two rookie QBs that have been incredible for their own teams throughout the season. Redskins-Seahawks in the nation’s capital will surely have fireworks and i’m very excited for this game. These teams play a very similar style on offense. Both have an excellent running game, they take care of the football AND both RG3 and Russell Wilson are dual threat style QBs. How much will RG3’s injury hold him back? It was evident against my Cowboys that he’s not 100% but still remained somewhat effect on the ground. Can Seattle play at elite level when they’re on the road? They’re weren’t good outside of Seattle for most of the season but they did have a signature road win against the Bears in early December.

Prediction: This is a quarterback driven league and as much damage as Peterson can do, I don’t think it will be enough to overcome how good the Packers are at home. The Packers are going to throw everything at Peterson and dare Christian Ponder to carry more of the Vikings’ offense throughout the game. Would you bet on Ponder? I’m putting my money on Rodgers. Now the other game was harder for me to pick. Essentially the Redskins and Seahawks are the same team on offense with the exception of RG3 not being 100% healthy. The biggest difference is that Seattle has been playing MUCH better on defense than the Redskins have and I think that will be the determining factor in this game. I’m taking the Seahawks on the road but I think it will be a very close game filled with excitement.

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Playoff picture begins to take shape after week 13 in the NFL

Carolina Panthers v Kansas City Chiefs

Amid impossible circumstances, the Kansas City Chiefs were able to take the field and come out with a victory. There was a question of whether or not the game would even be played but coaches and players decided among themselves that it would be best to play. If only to take their minds off the tragic circumstances even for a few hours. The Chiefs handled and responded as well as anyone could ask for but as always, the show must go on. This weekend featured upsets, great rookie performances and some of the more elite teams clinching division titles along with playoffs berths. We’ll start with the rookies because Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson were the the definition of clutch when their teams needed them the most, on the road. Both rookies weren’t exactly lighting it up but they were both able to manage the game and made the plays, both executing on the last play of their respective game. Of course, last night featured RG3 and while he didn’t dazzle by his terms, Griffin did enough to take a key divisional victory to keep the Redskins playoff hopes alive.

Teams that are officially in the playoffs (Falcons, Patriots, Texans and Broncos) with the Texans being the only one that didn’t clinch their division but odds are they will clinch eventually. Although, if you look at their schedule (Pats, Colts, Vikings and Colts again) there’s an outside shot that the Texans don’t win their division. However unlikely, it’s amazing that the possibility of the Colts winning the AFC south is out there. With the surprising victory of the Steelers, the AFC north just got much more interesting and even more so because out of the three contenders, the Ravens have the toughest schedule. The NFC north is just as interesting after Bears were upset at home and gave the division lead to the Packers so anything is possible with those two teams. And of course the Redskins won last night, making the NFC east a tighter race and giving Cowboys fans like myself false hope of making the playoffs. 

I fully expect the Broncos (-10) to annihilate the Raiders on Thursday. The Broncos continue to roll and the Raiders are one of the five worst teams in league with little improvement in sight.

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