Tag Archives: championship round

2017 Season: Championship Sunday Preview

We have reached the penultimate week of the NFL season (unless you are counting the Pro Bowl, of course).  This means the end of the road for two Super Bowl hopefuls and also a dream come true for two winners.  The major story-line is, of course, that three of the four remaining teams have never won a Super Bowl and then we have the Patriots who are gunning for their sixth.  Who will win this weekend?  Here are my picks.

Sunday, January 21st, 3:05 e.t.

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars (12-6) @ #1 New England Patriots (14-3)

Everybody thought this was going to be the Steelers/Patriots rematch but the Jags went and threw a wrench in that plan by defeating Pittsburgh on the road for the second time this year.  They did it with some timely play from their defense and a good offense shouldered, primarily, by Leonard Fournette.  They are going to need a whole lot more of that if they hope to take the Patriots down this Sunday.  The Pats’ offense was on the field for far too long against the Titans and were really able to do what they wanted by tiring Tennessee out.  Jacksonville will need to generate pressure in order to have a chance.  If New England can protect Tom Brady then I have confidence that he can move the ball even against this Jaguars’ defense.  I think that the Jags will give the Patriots a game but in the end Tom Brady will be too much for their “D” to slow down.

New England 27, Jacksonville 20

Sunday, January 21st, 6:40 e.t.

#2 Minnesota Vikings (14-3) @ #1 Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)

This is the championship game that nobody thought they’d see, but let’s be honest, it does pit the two best teams in the conference by record.  The Vikings pulled off a miracle win with a 61 yard touchdown as time expired to defeat the Saints.  That is probably good news for the Eagles because I would not have liked their chances going against New Orleans with another veteran quarterback.  As crazy and heart-pounding as the Vikings’ finish was, Philly had one of their own stopping the Falcons four times with about a minute left in the game inside of the 10 yard line.  Philadelphia has a great defense at home and that is going to be what brings this team to the Super Bowl.  Nick Foles was able to convert some third and longs last week and that was encouraging after he couldn’t do that at all in his three previous games.  This is going to be a close defensive battle and I think that the Eagles will be able to generate enough pass rush on Case Keenum to make a difference in this contest.

Philadelphia 16, Minnesota 13

2014 Season: Championship Round Predictions

We are down to the final four (if you will).  Two of the AFC’s best will square off in Foxboro while the two best teams in the NFC will throw down in Seattle.  On paper, many would think that this week could produce two blowouts as the Patriots and Seahawks should be favored to win each of their match-ups handily, but this is the NFL, and strange things can and always do happen.  So maybe we will have two classics that will never be forgotten.  One can only hope.  Anyways, here is how I see these two games playing out.

Last Week: 3-1

Sunday, January 18th, 3:05 e.t.

Green Bay Packers (12-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (12-4)

The Seattle Seahawks have been on fire as of late and it doesn’t look like there is any team in the entire league that can stand up to them when they are playing at the top of their game.  However, last week the Panthers proved they could play with the ‘Hawks.  They were able to find some success running the ball, and that is something that Green Bay may be able to do with the combination of Eddie Lacy and James Starks.  Everything about the Packers’ running game is better than Carolina’s: their offensive line is better and the backs in the system are of a higher calibur.  However, a normally mobile Aaron Rodgers will be contained in the pocket as his calf strain will handicap him once again.  Therefore, he will be forced to pick apart the Seattle defense using eye manipulation and pin-point throws.  If any QB can do this, it is #12 in green and gold.  However, the real question is: can anybody do this to the Seahawks?  Methinks no.  So, even though I picked the Packers to win the Superbowl five months ago, I have to pick against them here.  Seattle will be a formidable opponent.

Seattle 28, Green Bay 17

Sunday, January 18th, 6:40 e.t.

Indianapolis Colts (11-5) @ New England Patriots (12-4)

What Indianapolis did last week in Denver was impressive, but to be honest I think that game had more to do with what the Broncos could not do rather than what the Colts could do.  Andrew Luck made some nice throws, but also made a couple of bonehead decisions and was victimized by interceptions twice.  If Indy is to pull the upset here, they will have to avoid making those mistakes and run the ball much better than they have been.  I don’t think the Indianapolis defense is good enough to win a game in Foxboro against Tom Brady’s Patriots.  So, once again, the visiting team’s success has to live with what their offense can do.  Meanwhile, the Pats rebounded nicely last week after their defense got picked clean in the first half by Joe Flacco.  They shifted from a lot of zone looks to man-to-man in the second half and it worked.  T.Y. Hilton will likely become a whisper in this game as Bill Belichick makes it a point to cancel out the opposing team’s #1 option.  So fellows like Coby Fleener, Donte Moncrief, Daniel Herron, and Dwayne Allen will have to step up with Reggie Wayne battling a triceps injury.  To be honest, I don’t think they have enough horses to run with Tom Brady when he is playing at an elite level, which he is now.  Patriots should win.

New England 34, Indianapolis 24

Feel free to leave a comment stating what you think will happen in this weekend’s games!

NFC Championship: Seattle Seahawks 23, San Francisco 49ers 17- Post Game Thoughts

The Seahawks gut out a nice win en route to the franchises second ever Super Bowl via a 23-17 win over their division rivals in the 49ers.  To start, the Seattle defense did a great job in this game (save a couple of big Colin Kapernick runs).  They forced three turnovers and held the Niners to 3/11 on third down in this game (27%).  Against the running backs, they were great.  The ‘Hawks only allowed a total of 31 yards on 17 carries to that skill position.  Obviously Kapernick was able to shred them with his legs (130 yards on 11 carries), however it did not matter since he was not as effective with his arm.  Part of the reason why he struggled to throw the ball for a majority of this game was because the Seahawks did a good job at taking away Vernon Davis and forcing him out of the pocket on third down.  Pressure was something that showed up on tape but not in the stats (since Kap was only sacked twice in the whole game).  San Fran was never really able to mount a solid drive; their scoring opportunities often came after one big play.  They only scored one touchdown in the second half as well, and then the Seahawks rattled off 13 straight points and were able to come up with the big pick at the end of the game to seal the deal.  Marshawn Lynch had a nice game, running for 109 yards and a touchdown.  However, most of those yards came during the second half and a lot of them came on one play of 40 yards (which just so happened to land him in the end zone).  That said, all of those yards count and he was a big reason why Seattle is going to the Super Bowl.  I didn’t think Russell Wilson was that great, although he did make a couple of nice plays in the game.  If nothing else, he didn’t do anything to hurt the team’s chances at victory, and that is all you can ask for from a quarterback on a deep and talented team like this bunch.  Now these 53 men will be tested as they take on the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl for the Lombardi trophy.  That should be an outstanding game as it is a great and unique match-up of two totally different teams.

AFC Championship- Denver Broncos 26, New England Patriots 16- Post Game Thoughts

The Denver Broncos continue their remarkable season with an impressive victory at home over the New England Patriots.  Peyton Manning was, in a word, phenomenal.  He completed 32 of his 43 passes for exactly 400 yards with a pair of touchdowns.  Those 32 completions tied him for the most in a championship game as well, just another record that he has his fingerprints on this season.  The Patriots were unable to get their ground game going in the first half and then were forced to throw the ball late in the game.  Also, their defense could not stop the Broncos.  Other than their first drive (which ended in a punt) and their final drive (which ended with a Manning kneel down), Denver scored on all of their possessions.  They were held to four field goals, but it didn’t matter because their defense did a great job at getting off the field early on in order to help the team build a sizable lead.  Also, Aqib Talib left the game in the second quarter with a knee and rib injury and once he did, Demaryius Thomas had a field day.  Alfonzo Dennard struggled to cover him (as did Logan Ryan, when asked to do so) and the safeties were out of position at times and he tore the New England secondary up to the tune of 134 yards with a touchdown.  Simply put, the Pats’ defense and running game was not good enough to help them hang with the Broncos, and thus they lost the game.  Now the folks from the Mile High City have the chance to cap a great season with a win in the Super Bowl.  If they are able to get it done in East Rutherford on February 2nd, you could say that this was one of the most impressive seasons for any team in NFL history.  To do this, though, they will have to go through the Seahawks, which is no easy task.

2013 Season: Championship Round Predictions

We have reached the final four and there really is not much argument here: the teams remaining are the cream of the crop in the NFL.  We have the Denver Broncos, who have absolutely lit it up this season, the New England Patriots, who keep on doing their winning thin despite their multiple losses this season, and the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, who have been churning out flashy offense to go along with their stingy and physical defenses.  Championship Sunday will truly be a sight to see and I cannot wait to see how these games play out.  Continue reading for my predictions regarding each of these two tantalizing contests.

Sunday, January 19th, 3:00 e.t.

New England Patriots (13-4) @ Denver Broncos (14-3)

Of course, we can’t talk Patriots/Broncos without bringing up the penultimate quarterback rivalry that goes along with it: Brady vs. Manning.  This will be the fifteenth time that these two fine players have matched wits and it is the first time the two will do so in the Championship game since 2006.  However, there is going to be way more going on in this game other than the quarterback play.  For example, the Patriots running game has begun to blossom out of nowhere and I expect to see it in full force this Sunday.  The easiest way to defeat a high scoring team like the Broncos is, again, to hold the ball and not allow them to score.  The easiest way to dominate the time of possession is by converting on third downs and the easiest way to convert on third downs is by staying out of unfavorable 3rd and 8+ situations.  That is why you can expect New England to pound the ball early on; they will do so to stay on schedule.  Tom Brady will look for Shane Vereen out of the backfield on third down as well as Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman in the middle of the field.  If the Pats can dink and dunk their way down the field in this game, they will have it made.  How do the Broncos stop this?  Well, they will need to prevent them from gaining momentum on the ground.  Last week against San Diego, the Denver front-seven did a masterful job at shutting down the Chargers’ running game (one that has been very strong over the past month) and I can see them doing it again this Sunday.  Even though he has popped a couple of big ones, LeGarrette Blount isn’t anybody who is going to scare you with a home run ball on every down.  As long as the D-linemen stay in their gaps, they should be able to slow the Patriots running game down.  When that happens it will be up to #12 to carry his team.  Unfortunately I think the lack of explosive receivers will hinder their ability to keep up with a Peyton Manning led offense and we will see Denver take this one.  It also doesn’t hurt that they will be playing at home.  This should be a good game and an intriguing quarterback duel, but at the end of the day I am hedging my bets towards Peyton and the Denver offense to get the job done.

Denver 34, New England 28

Sunday, January 19th, 6:30 e.t.

San Francisco 49ers (14-4) @ Seattle Seahawks (14-3)

What we will have here is, perhaps, the most intense championship games that the league has seen in years.  It pits two hated NFC West rivals and two teams that are built similarly from the ground up.  Each has a strong running game and a heck of a defense with an exciting young quarterback who can make a few “wow” plays per game.  Add to this the fact that it will be played in front of a rowdy Seattle crowd, a group that prides itself in being the loudest supporters of their team in the world, and you have the ultimate setting for an epic clash.  San Fran is coming in hot, having won their last eight straight.  They have also won their last four road games and come into the Emerald City riding a huge wave of momentum.  This offense is moving the ball very well and the defense is continuing to show an ample amount of toughness and stinginess to go with it.  For them, they will meet the NFL’s best home team in the Seahawks.  Seattle is almost unbeatable at home and they have slaughtered the Niners the last two times they have made the trip up north.  However, I think things will go a bit differently this time and here is why: the ‘Hawks have not shown me much (as of late) on offense.  Russell Wilson has looked quite ordinary at times and the rest of the team has looked out of sync.  Had it not been for a nice outing from Marshawn Lynch last week, Seattle may not even be in this game this week.  Wilson is going to have to do way better than 9/18 for 103 yards against the 49ers.  He is also going to have to do a better job completing his underneath routes with great accuracy (this is something he struggled with against New Orleans).  Even though Lynch has had some nice games in recent history against San Fran, you cannot count on him to do it again this week.  Vic Fangio’s defense has too much pride and can absolutely wreck a game if they are strong, and after seeing them play the way they did last week against Carolina (especially near the goal line and in the second half), there is no doubt in my mind that these guys are the team to beat.  Simply put, I have a lot of confidence in the 49ers defense as well as their offense whereas I only have confidence in Seattles’ defense.  This should be a physical and hard-nosed football game, but in the end I see San Francisco walking away with the “W”.  They are the hottest team in the league right now and I find it hard to pick against them.

San Francisco 21, Seattle 20

Championship Sunday should be a fun ride and you can expect that I will be back at the conclusion of these games to give you my thoughts.  I think we will all witness two very good games between the four best teams in football, and that is really what this sport is all about.  I cannot think of four more deserving teams to slug it out this weekend to see who wins a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII.  Enjoy the action and make sure to check back for more NFL breakdowns!

My Projected Super Bowl XLVIII Match-up

San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos