Seattle Ready to Put Green Bay on Ice

The Seahawks want to prove that defense wins championships

The Seahawks want to prove that defense still wins championships

By Connor O’Halloran

It’s Championship Game weekend and the NFC match-up has all the ingredients you could ask for as an NFL fan. Seattle and its #1 ranked defense will host Green Bay’s #1 ranked offense. it’s a rematch of the Week 1 contest that ended up as a 36-16 win for Seattle. Many things have changed since then, so let’s take a look at the keys to the game and predict who should come out on top.

What’s changed since Week 1? On Seattle’s side, not much at all. The Legion of Boom is better than ever and Russell Wilson keeps making big plays when his team needs him the most. The only weakness in their game is the fact that they don’t have a wide receiver or tight end who “scares” opposing defenses.

Green Bay has changed for the better. Eddie Lacy has hit his stride and has been averaging almost 100 yard per game on the ground since Week 12. Lacy was not existent in Week 1 where he only had 12 carries for 34 yards and left the game early with a concussion.

Rookie wide receiver Devante Adams has emerged as a legitimate #3 option in the passing game which will help since Seattle does not have much depth in their secondary. All these positive changes are great for Green Bay but their team MVP and likely NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers won’t be playing at full strength as he continues to be bothered with a calf injury he suffered in Week 17.

While Rodgers and the Packers made enough plays to win on Sunday, Seattle’s defense has made a habit of completely shutting down the best offenses the NFL has to offer. Rodgers made some great plays against the Cowboys but he never really escaped from the pocket and made a big play down the field that he seems to make every other week. Given Rodgers health and Green Bay’s sub-par defense, I don’t see this game being close.

Green Bay will hopefully keep things close in the first half, but if Seattle can establish a run game, Russell Wilson will be able to make big plays with his arm and legs on play action passes and if Green Bay has even one turnover, things could get ugly. Even with Rodgers being fully healthy I still think Seattle would win this game by a touchdown but without Rodgers being able to extend plays with his legs, I see Seattle looking to repeat against either the Colts on Patriots on February 1st.

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Sense of Competition Returns to Pro Bowl

This one stayed close until the end

This one stayed close until the end

The last few years the legitimacy of the Pro Bowl has been diminishing, so much so that a couple years ago NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell threatened to scrap the game entirely.

This year the NFL exercised a new Pro Bowl format that made the game a huge hit with the players and the fans. The new fantasy-style draft for the Pro Bowl allowed alumni captains Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders to draft their teams regardless of the players’ division, or team.

The game was phenomenal in the stand point that all parties took it seriously. The participants mentioned it was fun to beat people you are usually lined up next to, and many also mentioned that they did not want to let their respective alumni captains down with a loss.

The game had amazing defense, fantastic athletic highlights that featured touchdowns, and overall a sense of competitiveness that has been unprecedented in past Pro Bowls.

The defense was the true shining points of the game. Between the elite defensive lines and stifling secondaries there was a total of eight turnovers and nine sacks.  

Potential defensive player of the year JJ Watt could not be contained as he had a sack and two pass deflections. His presence called for a double team allowing Gerald McCoy and Greg Hardy to lay the lumber on the opposing quarterbacks.

The contest was so competitive that the game was decided in the last minute of play with a short pass from Kansas City’s Alex Smith to Dallas’s Demarco Murray, who was able to zip around and through defenders into the end zone.

Now since it is the Pro Bowl, Jerry Rice thought why not go for the two-point conversion for the 22-21 advantage? Carolina Panther Mike Tolbert was able to barrel his way in to score and bring Rice’s squad home with a victory.

Seahawks, 49ers Ready to Rumble in Seattle

There is no lost love between these division rivals

There is no lost love between these division rivals

There is NO love lost between the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawaks as these two heated division rivals prepare for battle in this weekend’s NFC Championship Game. Sure, Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh used to be the gold standard for vitriol and pure hatred in the NFL, but you’d be kidding yourself if you didn’t think the Seahawks and 49ers is the best (and ugliest) rivalry in the NFL. These two teams are so similar in style and quality, that whomever makes it out alive, will have unquestionably earned their ticket to the Super Bowl.

Who has the edge?

Although Seattle has only played one playoff game to San Francisco’s two, it’s still clear that the 49ers have been the stronger team for the last month or so. They finished the regular season with six consecutive victories and then impressed on the road in the first two rounds of the playoffs on the road against Green Bay and Carolina. While Seattle earned the right to have a first-round bye and two home games in the postseason, there’s no denying they’ve been skittish of late. They lost to Arizona in Week 16 at home, even though Carson Palmer through 4 INT’s. And last week against New Orleans, the Seahawks defense shut down Drew Brees and company for most of the game, only for the Saints to have a chance to tie late in the 4th quarter.

Given that fact, we still know the narrative surrounding Russell Wilson’s bunch at Century Link Field – they’re tough to beat. It’s loud, hostile, and apart from that dud against the Cardinals, Seattle is lights out when they play at home. Furthermore, they have owned the 49ers the past few seasons when they play with the help of the 12th man. Earlier this season in Seattle (Week 2), the Seahawks annihilated Colin Kaepernick’s bunch 29-3, despite Wilson only completing 8 passes. Much of that had to do with Kaepernick’s 3 INT’s, but it was equally due to Seattle establishing their dominant run game and defense early and often.

And it will be Marshawn Lynch and the best secondary in the NFL that the Seahawks will have to rely upon to beat the monster the 49ers have become. A lot has been made of Wilson’s inability to put the team on his back recently, relegated to the dreaded “game manager.” While there is credence to Wilson’s struggles, that isn’t to say he won’t come out and play like one of the best QB’s in the league and vault the Seahawks into the Super Bowl. He may have to, given how equally matched the two defenses are.

This matchup may come down to which quarterback makes more plays in the end. If the defenses and running games essentially cancel each other out, will it be Wilson or Kaepernick that steps up in the big moment? It could be argued that Wilson’s job will be slightly tougher; his weapons aren’t as explosive as Kaepernick’s. And Percy Harvin has officially been ruled out with a concussion after finally making it back last week against New Orleans.

Can Wilson do what he did in last year’s divisional round playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons? Seattle looked down and out for most of the game, but Wilson led the Seahawks as they stormed back to take the lead with under two minutes, only to have Matt Ryan and his offense squeak out a late field goal to advance. If Wilson elevates his play above game manager-level, Seattle will be tough to beat.

However, we don’t really know if he’s capable of that right now. His confidence looks shaken, and the 49ers bring a rugged attitude and the best linebackers in the game to Seattle.

This game is going to be an absolute war. These two teams genuinely hate each other, and they had a knock-down, drag-out cage match in Week 14 at Candlestick that ended in a 19-17 victory for the 49ers. I give the slight edge to San Francisco. They are playing with a great confidence about them, and they might be one of the only teams that can still play their own game in front of Seattle’s crowd. Look for Kaepernick to make a play with his legs late in the 4th quarter that will propel his team to its second straight Super Bowl.

Wild-Card Weekend – Colts vs. Chiefs

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This Colts team only seems to play well at home in the dome

Wild-Card weekend is here and it’s one of the best weekends of the NFL season. Football fans get to sleep in and watch football all day Saturday and Sunday.  Let’s take a look at some of the key factors and who has the edge in the Chiefs at Colts match-up.

Chiefs Year in Review

Both the Colts and the Chiefs have had their ups and downs this year.  The Chiefs were the last undefeated team in the NFL as they raced off to a surprising 9 – 0 start. They were led by Jamaal Charls and their stellar defense early in the year but they came down to earth after they got hit with the injury bug and played a few quality opponents.  After their impressive 9 – 0 start, the Chiefs finished the year 2 – 5 in their last seven games including a 23 – 7 loss at home to the Colts in Week 16.

Colts Year in Review

The Colts have had probably the most up and down season of any playoff team. The Colts seem to play up or down to their competition beating arguably the best three teams in the NFL (Denver, Seattle and San Francisco) but losing at home to Miami and St. Louis.

Many experts gave the Colts a slim chance to make a run in the playoffs once Reggie Wayne was lost for the year but the Colts have finished the year strong surrendering just 20 points combined in their last three games.

Who has the edge?

All signs point towards Indy winning this game.  No matter what way you slice it, Indy appears to have the edge.  For starters, they are playing at home. When two teams are evenly matched, odds strongly suggest taking the home team.  At full strength these teams are evenly matched but the Chiefs are far from playing at full strength with Tamba Hali (questionable, knee) and Justin Houston (probable, elbow) nowhere near 100 percent.

With the Chiefs two best pass rushers likely being ineffective, it could be a long day for the Chiefs secondary that relies heavily on man coverage. The Chiefs have also struggled stopping the run all year and with injuries and match-ups considered, the Colts offense has an edge over the Chiefs defense.

When looking at the Chiefs offense against the Colts defense, there is only one thing to discuss and that’s whether or not the Colts can slow down Jamaal Charls.  The Chiefs don’t take deep shots down the field and they don’t have any offensive weapons to speak of not named Jamaal Charls.  Charls led the Chiefs in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He might need back surgery after carrying the Chiefs offense on his back the entire season.

If the Colts can somewhat slow down Charls and  get an early lead, they can let their pass rushers get to work and force Alex Smith to beat them with his arm on the road in a hostile environment.  With only one weapon to prepare for, the Colds defense should have the edge over the Chiefs offense.

It should be a great game but with Indy playing their last game of the year at Lucas Oil Stadium, it will be hard for the Chiefs to overcome Indy’s electric crowd and deny Andrew Luck of his first playoff win. If the Colts can eliminate turnovers on offense and create a few on defense, they will likely be taking on the Patriots or Broncos next weekend.

 

 

Wild-Card Weekend – Colts vs. Chiefs

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This Colts team only seems to play well at home in the dome

Wild-Card weekend is here and it’s one of the best weekends of the NFL season. Football fans get to sleep in and watch football all day Saturday and Sunday.  Let’s take a look at some of the key factors and who has the edge in the Chiefs at Colts match-up.

Chiefs Year in Review

Both the Colts and the Chiefs have had their ups and downs this year.  The Chiefs were the last undefeated team in the NFL as they raced off to a surprising 9 – 0 start. They were led by Jamaal Charls and their stellar defense early in the year but they came down to earth after they got hit with the injury bug and played a few quality opponents.  After their impressive 9 – 0 start, the Chiefs finished the year 2 – 5 in their last seven games including a 23 – 7 loss at home to the Colts in Week 16.

Colts Year in Review

The Colts have had probably the most up and down season of any playoff team. The Colts seem to play up or down to their competition beating arguably the best three teams in the NFL (Denver, Seattle and San Francisco) but losing at home to Miami and St. Louis.

Many experts gave the Colts a slim chance to make a run in the playoffs once Reggie Wayne was lost for the year but the Colts have finished the year strong surrendering just 20 points combined in their last three games.

Who has the edge?

All signs point towards Indy winning this game.  No matter what way you slice it, Indy appears to have the edge.  For starters, they are playing at home. When two teams are evenly matched, odds strongly suggest taking the home team.  At full strength these teams are evenly matched but the Chiefs are far from playing at full strength with Tamba Hali (questionable, knee) and Justin Houston (probable, elbow) nowhere near 100 percent.

With the Chiefs two best pass rushers likely being ineffective, it could be a long day for the Chiefs secondary that relies heavily on man coverage. The Chiefs have also struggled stopping the run all year and with injuries and match-ups considered, the Colts offense has an edge over the Chiefs defense.

When looking at the Chiefs offense against the Colts defense, there is only one thing to discuss and that’s whether or not the Colts can slow down Jamaal Charls.  The Chiefs don’t take deep shots down the field and they don’t have any offensive weapons to speak of not named Jamaal Charls.  Charls led the Chiefs in rushing attempts, rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He might need back surgery after carrying the Chiefs offense on his back the entire season.

If the Colts can somewhat slow down Charls and  get an early lead, they can let their pass rushers get to work and force Alex Smith to beat them with his arm on the road in a hostile environment.  With only one weapon to prepare for, the Colds defense should have the edge over the Chiefs offense.

It should be a great game but with Indy playing their last game of the year at Lucas Oil Stadium, it will be hard for the Chiefs to overcome Indy’s electric crowd and deny Andrew Luck of his first playoff win. If the Colts can eliminate turnovers on offense and create a few on defense, they will likely be taking on the Patriots or Broncos next weekend.

 

 

NFL Week 7 Buzzer Beater from the Man Cave

The Sporting Guy dishes out last minute performance and injury advice heading into Week 7 across the National Football League. There are several matchup concerns surrounding several key players including Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Jacobs and Colin Kaepernick.

NFL Week 7 Buzzer Beater from the Man Cave

The Sporting Guy dishes out last minute performance and injury advice heading into Week 7 across the National Football League. There are several matchup concerns surrounding several key players including Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Jacobs and Colin Kaepernick.

NFL Week 2 Buzzer Beater from the Man Cave

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NFL information pulsing out of the Fantasy Buzzer Man Cave

The Sporting Guy dishes out last minute performance and injury fantasy concerns heading into Week 2 across the National Football League. There are injury questions surrounding several key players including Roddy White and Larry Fitzgerald.

NFL Slaps $100,000 Fine on Lions Ndamukong Suh

The league has run out of patience with Ndamukong Suh

League runs out of patience with Ndamukong Suh

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh got leveled by the NFL with a $100,000 fine for acting the fool again and again. The league hit Suh with the tremendous fine not so much for his low block against Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan, but for a pattern of behavior that makes the NFL look bad.

Ray Anderson, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, made it clear that a major punishment was on the way for a player that continuously puts himself in these situations.

Suh won’t be suspended for his latest transgression, but he’s clearly on notice that the league is fed up with him. The NFL popped Suh with a $30,000 fine last season for kicking Texans quarterback Matt Schaub in the family jewels and he was suspended for two games in 2011 for stomping on a Green Bay player.

Following the Sunday’s win over the Vikings, Suh said that he and Sullivan had spoken briefly, and that he had no intention of hitting Sullivan at the knees during the play.

“By any means, I’m not going for his knees,” Suh said after the game. “He knows that. We had a great conversation running out at halftime. And he understood. My aim was his waist, to cut him off.”

 

Antonio Smith Suspended for Helmet Smacking

The NFL fined and suspended Houston Texans defensive end Antonio Smith after going buck wild on Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Richie Incognito. Smith is banned for the final two preseason games and for week 1 when his team faces the San Diego Chargers.

During last Saturday’s preseason game against Miami, Smith ripped off Incognito’s helmet and smacked him in the face with it after the play was over. The NFL must having been feeling very generous to only suspend Smith for one regular season game. Smith will appeal the suspension but is unlikely to win his battle.

This is not the first time these two players have gotten into trouble when facing each other. Smith was fined $11,000 last season for kicking Incognito during their week 1 matchup.

Word around the league is that, even though it is unforgivable to swing a helmet at another player, Incognito isn’t exactly the victim in all these instances. He is known around the league as a dirty player and gets under the skin of his opponent.

When asked about the latest situation Incognito replied “Football is an intense game, it is played with a lot of of passion. “