Super Bowl Recap

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WOW. I think that’s the best way to summarize the Patriots’ 28-24 comeback victory over the Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Sunday evening. Just wow.

This Super Bowl will definitely be remembered, but for a number of different reasons. The most notable may be the decision to throw the ball when the Seahawks were within 5 yards of the end

Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick (above, left to right) won their fourth Super Bowl together.

Tom Brady and coach Bill Belichick (above, left to right) won their fourth Super Bowl together.

zone with 20 seconds on the clock and a timeout in hand. The result of the play was an interception that clinched the Super Bowl title for New England.

This play call will be the most second guessed call in NFL history, and is something that coach Pete Carroll and QB Russell Wilson are going to be haunted by for a very long time. I have to believe that the Seahawks thought they could catch the Patriots’ defense off guard by calling the pass in an obvious running situation, but the risk of throwing that interception in that situation would have been too much of a risk for my taste. However, the most questionable part of this move is that Seattle has arguably the best running back in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch, but they decided to take the ball out of his hands when it was the biggest moment. That decision could be regretted for a long time.

For the Patriots, this could be the beginning of another dynasty. The team’s core is relatively young, and the defense is the best that New England has ever had. QB Tom Brady is entering his final years, but gives the Patriots a window of opportunity for about the next 3 years. Overall, this fourth Super Bowl victory essentially cements Brady and coach Bill Belichick’s legacy as the greatest coach-QB duo in NFL history, and they still have time to add onto their records.

On the other side, the Seahawks are still one of the best teams in the NFL and should have a great shot at making a deep run in the postseason next year. However, with a Super Bowl loss often comes much change, and Seattle is already losing coordinator Darrell Bevell, as he becomes the Atlanta Falcons next head coach. Its possible that Lynch doesn’t return to the team next season, as it has been rumored that he could possibly retire or move onto another team who is ready to deal with his antics. Another challenge Seattle will face is resigning many of its major players, such as CB Byron Maxwell, who is an unrestricted free agent. The team will also look to resign QB Russell Wilson and S Earl Thomas, who are entering the final seasons in their contracts. Of course, the future is always more hazy after a loss, but the Seahawks’ future is still bright.

It has been another unpredictable and entertaining NFL season, capped off by the grand finale this evening! Now, it’s time for baseball season, am I right?

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Super Bowl Prediction

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After a month of exciting NFL Playoff action, the Super Bowl is finally upon us. A mere five days away, the teams are putting the final touches on their game plans, and trying to get mentally prepared for what may be the biggest game of their lives.

This year’s match up gives us the defending champion Seattle Seahawks against the veteran-laden New England Patriots. Both teams are extremely experienced in postseason play, and I wouldn’t Patriots vs. Seahawks Super Bowlexpect the pressure of the moment to get to anyone on either team. That being said, I do believe this has the potential to be one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory. These teams are very equal, and have different strengths and weaknesses that will make the game extremely close and entertaining throughout.

Seattle

What can you say about the Seahawks? They are the defending Super Bowl champions, and have hit their stride at the exact right time. They come into this game off a dramatic OT victory against the Green Bay Packers, despite injuries that slowed defensive stars S Earl Thomas and CB Richard Sherman. Both players will be ready to go for the big game of course, and they will need to be on their A-Game against Patriot’s QB Tom Brady.

On offense, Seattle’s strength is running the football. RB Marshawn Lynch ranked 4th in the NFL with 1306 yards on the ground, while QB Russell Wilson led all quarterbacks with 849 rushing yards. If the Patriots can stop Seattle’s running game, they will have a much better chance to win because they will force the Seahawks to win the game through the air.

Despite winning with a long TD pass last game, the Seahawks passing game isn’t exactly stellar. Yes, Russell Wilson is an amazing decision maker and his mobility allows him to extend plays and give his receivers more time to get open down the field. However, the receivers Wilson is throwing to aren’t exactly the best playmakers in football. The core is lead by WRs Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, who combined for only 4 TDs in the regular season. Yet, Wilson has a way of making his receivers better, and their powerful running game keeps opposing defenses on their toes, allowing the play action passing game to develop nicely for the Seahawks.

The defensive side of the ball is Seattle’s strength. Their secondary is the best in football, they have one of the best linebackers in Bobby Wagner, and a strong defensive line. Wagner matches up well with Patriots’ TE Rob Gronkowski, who is their best receiver. As was the case with most of their opponents this season, Seattle matches up well defensively against New England, leaving the Patriots’ lone hopes to be stopping Seattle’s running game and having Tom Brady produce a heroic performance through the air.

New England

The Patriots are the definition of consistency. Coach Bill Belichick and Brady have combined for the most playoff victories in NFL history, and have been a fixture in the playoffs for over a decade. New England is riding high after destroying the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game, sporting a strong running game and defense on the way to victory.

New England can come at you different ways offensively. On the ground, they have a power running attack, led by RB LeGarrette Blount, who has really surged in the playoffs each of the past two seasons. However, New England’s real strength may be through the passing game, in which future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady is still able to move the ball all over the field. His best targets are Gronkowski and WR Brandon LaFell, who is having a career season after signing with New England this past off season. Overall, they are better offensive group than the Seahawks because they can do more in the passing game.

On the defensive side of the ball, Belichick is coaching the best group he’s ever had. The secondary is led by CBs Darrelle Revis and former Seahawk, Brandon Browner. The team also features solid linebackers that will be pivotal in stopping the run, such as Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower. They will face their toughest test on the ground this season on Sunday night.

If Seattle wins…

This is the beginning of a dynasty. They would be back-to-back champions with one of the youngest

Russell Wilson (above) eludes New England defenders in a previous matchup.

Russell Wilson (above) eludes New England defenders in a previous matchup.

and talented rosters in the NFL. It would only be a matter of time until contract prices and salary cap casualties would break the team up, but they could possibly still have a two-year window with this current group to really be competitive. Of course, they have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Russell Wilson, who will become one of the highest paid players no matter whether he wins or loses. Wilson would become an immediate favorite to become one of the greatest players ever, especially after capturing two titles in his first three seasons. Coach Pete Carroll would also enter the conversation for one of the best coaches ever, as he would become one of the only men to win multiple championships at both the professional and NCAA level.

On the other hand, Tom Brady and Belichick would combine to become 3-3 in Super Bowls, which I think would significantly tarnish their legacy. Yes, they have been the model of consistency in the NFL, but they weren’t always able to finish the job consistently. Despite that, they would still be considered one of the best duos in history.

If New England wins…

Brady and Belichick become the greatest QB-Coach duo of all-time, and will probably be untouched in that category forever. 4 Super Bowl victories would be hard for any other duo to match. Yet, unlike the Seahawks, this wouldn’t be the beginning of a dynasty for New England. In fact, this victory would probably be the beginning of the end to the Tom Brady era. Players such as Revis and Browner would greatly benefit from a Super Bowl victory in free agency, which would make it harder for the Patriots to extend their contracts, and keep this core group together. Plus, Brady and Belichick and other veterans would become another year older, and the Patriots are a much older team than the Seahawks would be.

For the Seahawks, losing wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Obviously, Wilson and many of the players are still very young, meaning that their window of opportunity would still be open. Also, losing the Super Bowl could hurt players like CB Byron Maxwell in free agency, which would possibly enable Seattle to re-sign him for next season.

PREDICTION

Seattle beats New England, 28-24

This should be one of those memorable games that comes down to the final drive. I expect that Seattle’s defense is able to keep Brady at bay, while the Patriots aren’t as successful at containing Russell Wilson’s ability to extend plays. I figure that the Super Bowl will come down to one of those memorable last drives in which Wilson makes a big play to seal the victory for his team.

Make sure to tune into FOX at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday for the Super Bowl!

NFL Season – 1/4 Way Mark

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It’s hard to believe, but the NFL regular season is already 25% complete. This is an opportune time to take a look at the standings, and see where the teams stand.

AFC East

T-1. Buffalo Bills (2-2)

T-1. Miami Dolphins (2-2)

T-1. New England Patriots (2-2)

4. New York Jets (1-3)

For now, this division is tight, but I honestly can’t expect it to stay that way for long. The Patriots are coming off of a beat-down they took Monday night against Kansas City, and I expect that they will perform much better this Sunday. That being said, the rest of the division looks awful. It’s painfully obvious that Jets QB Geno Smith is not fit to lead any NFL team, the Bills look confused on Sundays, and the Dolphins are dealing with injuries and an ever-inconsistent QB Ryan Tannehill. I’d say that my prediction of the Patriots coming out on top should stick.

AFC North

1. Cincinnati Bengals (3-0)

2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1)

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2)

4. Cleveland Browns (1-2)

The Bengals are one of the least talked about undefeated teams that I can remember in recent history, and coach Marvin

The Bengals (above) are undefeated so far this season

The Bengals (above) are undefeated so far this season

Lewis is showing that he’s one of the NFL’s longest tenured head coaches because he’s a model of consistency. Baltimore is also surprising me, and don’t seemed to be phased one bit by the Ray Rice saga. It’s also looking like WR Steve Smith might be the pickup of the off season, as he has totaled 429 yds. and 3 TDs thus far. On the other hand, things are looking bad in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are rattled by injuries, and are coming off a crushing defeat against the Bucs, one of the NFL’s worst teams. It will be interesting to see if they can rebound and compete in this tough division. As usual, the Browns are by themselves, at the bottom of the standings. It’s unfair to criticize them after just three games, but they will go up against much better competition the rest of the way.

AFC South

1. Houston Texans (3-1)

2. Indianapolis Colts (2-2)

3. Tennessee Titans (1-3)

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4)

A surprise to me, and a possible bust to my predictions, the Houston Texans are the early frontrunner in this division. DE J.J. Watt should be an early-MVP candidate, after scoring multiple offensive TDs this season, on top of his outstanding defensive work. The Colts have had a couple of tough early games, but QB Andrew Luck is having an MVP-caliber season as well. I expect these teams to head in separate directions, with the Colts reeling off some wins, and the Texans slowing down their winning pace. As far as the lower half of the division, both the Titans and Jaguars are performing as expected, and both should earn Top 5 picks in the NFL Draft.

AFC West

1. San Diego Chargers (3-1)

2. Denver Broncos (2-1)

3. Kansas City Chiefs (2-2)

4. Oakland Raiders (0-4)

To me, this is the most interesting division in the NFL right now. The Chargers are legitimate contenders, as they beat the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks earlier this season. QB Philip Rivers has shown that San Diego isn’t intimidated by competing with division rival Denver, and it should make for an interesting race down the stretch. The Broncos appear to be a better defensive team this season, and QB Peyton Manning should be able to lead this team back to the playoffs one way or another. The wild card of this division is the Kansas City Chiefs. Who, or what is this team? One week, they struggle, the next, they blow out QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on MNF. I can see the Chiefs contending for a Wild Card spot come playoff time. Finally, the Oakland Raiders are currently the frontrunner for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft. This brings up an interesting potential storyline; will the Raiders draft Florida State QB Jameis Winston in the upcoming draft, despite recently fired coach Dennis Allen selecting QB Derek Carr in this past draft? Yes, the Raiders can already look forward to next season, as wins should be hard to come by for this group.

NFC East

T-1. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1)

T-1. Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

3. New York Giants (2-2)

4. Washington Redskins (1-3)

It’s not a surprise to me, but the Philadelphia Eagles hold the division’s top spot with the Dallas Cowboys. While the two don’t face each other until later in the season, it will be interesting to see how they match up against similar foes that they shall play down the stretch. A team that could catch fire and make an interesting run would be the New York Giants, who looked like a different team against the Redskins on TNF. If QB Eli Manning can grasp the new offense, and take pressure off the defense, the Giants could make some noise in the NFC. On the other hand, the Redskins should start focusing on the off season, where it will be time to decide between QB Robert Griffin III or Kirk Cousins. That will be the biggest storyline in D.C. this season.

NFC North

1. Detroit Lions (3-1)

T-2. Green Bay Packers (2-2)

T-2. Chicago Bears (2-2)

T-2. Minnesota Vikings (2-2)

Despite this being one of the closer races thus far, I think it’s pretty clear cut and visible who the true competitors of the division are. Even though Detroit has started hot, they have shown that they can be inconsistent in the past, and this can still be evidenced in QB Matt Stafford‘s play. This should be cause for concern, especially after QB Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to victory this past weekend, and looked fantastic doing it. Green Bay is still the class of this division. The Bears have the potential to make a run at the playoffs, but injuries and a weak defense will have them struggling to keep up. Even though Minnesota has kept up thus far, I can’t expect it to keep up. QB Teddy Bridgewater was injured this past week, and is still a rookie in the NFL playing without his best weapon in RB Adrian Peterson. The Vikings should be in contention for a Top 10 pick in the NFL Draft when the year is through.

NFC South

T-1. Atlanta Falcons (2-2)

T-1. Carolina Panthers (2-2)

T-3. New Orleans Saints (1-3)

T-3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3)

The biggest disappointment in the NFL this season has to be the New Orleans Saints. Many experts were predicting the Saints to win the Super Bowl, but the team currently has the NFL’s worst defense, and QB Drew Brees has looked unspectacular thus far. Meanwhile, Atlanta is showing that they aren’t a bad team when they are healthy, but still have holes on defense. Carolina still has a strong defense, but QB Cam Newton is going to struggle without targets at the wide receiver position, and that began to show against the Ravens this past week. The most predictable part of the NFC South is the Buccaneers, who despite a big comeback win against Pittsburgh on Sunday, are in last and should expect to stay there and compete for a Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft as well.

NFC West

1. Arizona Cardinals (3-0)

2. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)

3. San Francisco 49ers (2-2)

4. St. Louis Rams (1-2)

The Arizona Cardinals (above) have outperformed expectations thus far.

The Arizona Cardinals (above) have outperformed expectations thus far.

The surprise in the NFL season has to be the Arizona Cardinals, who are undefeated, and have been led to two wins by backup QB Drew Stanton. Boasting the NFL’s top defense thus far, the Cardinals have only allowed 45 points through 3 games. Seattle is a close second, and is coming off a big OT win versus Denver and a relaxing bye week. These two teams may be the class of the division, as the normally dominant 49ers have struggled thus far. San Francisco will need to hope that the return of LB NaVorro Bowman and a healthy TE Vernon Davis is the key to the team’s success. Another season will be spent in the cellar for the Rams, who lost QB Sam Bradford to a season-ending injury, and have suffered the effects of an under-performing defense.


Overall, my predictions look fairly accurate at the 25% mark of the season. We’ll check back in at the 50% mark to see what teams really show their true colors as the season progresses!

 

Super Bowl Prediction

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One can’t predict the whole NFL season without talking about the pulse-pounding conclusion, otherwise known as the Super Bowl!

SUPER BOWL

Green Bay Packers vs. New England Patriots

This would be quite an entertaining match up, as two elite QBs, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, facing off. It would basically

The Super Bowl will be held in Arizona in 2015.

The Super Bowl will be held in Arizona in 2015.

come down to which defense could make more stops. On the surface, both teams look matched pretty evenly offensively, running a similar style offense. Both QBs operate primarily from the pocket, and let their group of talented receivers make plays after they catch the ball. Each team has a set of running backs that bring different running styles to the table. However, the Patriots have one advantage, and that is TE Rob Gronkowski. If he is healthy, Gronk can provide an X-Factor as an almost uncover-able receiver that could give the Packers’ linebackers fits all day.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots made some significant upgrades in CBs Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. This, along with players returning from injury, such as DT Vince Wilfork and LB Jerod Mayo, should lead to New England having a very stout defense. However, the Packers defense will often be their weakness this season, as their secondary remains questionable.

All in all, I think New England is too locked and loaded not to get it together, and bring home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Prediction: 35-24, Patriots

AFC Predictions

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It’s the first Sunday of the NFL Season and the first slate of games is over….

But there’s still time for some season-long AFC Predictions!

AFC East

  1. New England Patriots 11-5
  2. Miami Dolphins 9-7
  3. New York Jets 4-12
  4. Buffalo Bills 4-12

AFCYet again, I look for the New England Patriots to continue their stranglehold on this division and walk away with the AFC East crown for another season. However, the teams behind them are steadily improving, such as the Miami Dolphins, who I expect to be battling for a playoff spot. The Jets and Bills struggles’ will most likely come from their inexperience at the quarterback position.

 

AFC North

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5
  2. Cincinnati Bengals 10-6
  3. Baltimore Ravens 8-8
  4. Cleveland Browns 5-11

These are where my predictions vary from most. I believe the Steelers will have what it takes to rise to the top of the division this year, while most believe the Bengals will continue their run of division titles. A season of failure will have coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers very hungry for a postseason berth, and they seem primed to make a run. That being said, I still believe Cincinnati will be a playoff team, with Baltimore still struggling to get its footing after its Super Bowl. The Browns will struggle, as usual, eventually leading them to bring in QB Johnny Manziel, who will make some highlight reel plays that will give Cleveland fans hope for the future.

AFC South

  1. Indianapolis Colts 11-5
  2. Houston Texans 6-10
  3. Tennessee Titans 5-11
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

This is currently the weakest division in the NFL. The Colts should absolutely run away with this division, but that being said, I can see their weak secondary giving them a few bumps and tough losses along the way. All of the other teams in the division are in their rebuilding, and are in different stages of installing their personnel and team plans. Believe it or not, I think that the Texans are the closest to contention, and should rebound with 4 more wins than last season. The Titans and Jaguars will essentially tread water, and continue to gain experience for their young rosters in hopes of competing in the future.

AFC West

  1. Denver Broncos 13-3
  2. San Diego Chargers 10-6
  3. Kansas City Chiefs 7-9
  4. Oakland Raiders 3-13

Surprise, surprise, QB Peyton Manning will lead his team back to the playoffs… AGAIN. However, I don’t think he’ll be alone, as the much improved Chargers should be able to separate themselves from the Chiefs and Raiders. Injuries and free agent losses will really take a toll on Kansas City, and I fully expect them to take a step back this season. On the other hand, I think the Raiders will take some steps in the right direction while developing rookie QB Derek Carr. Expect the Raiders to be competitive in some surprising games, but ultimately be a team building for the future.

PLAYOFFS

Wild Card Round

Chargers vs. Colts –> 28-24, Colts

Steelers vs. Bengals –> 24-21, Steelers

QB Andrew Luck is a rising star in this league, and has some experience in the playoffs. I fully expect that to serve him well, and to beat the Chargers at home. On the other hand, I can see QB Ben Roethlisberger taking Pittsburgh on the road, and squeaking out a victory against the Bengals.

Divisional Round

Steelers vs. Broncos –> 30-24, Broncos

Colts vs. Patriots –> 35-30, Patriots

Denver will enjoy their week off, and come back to tear up the Pittsburgh secondary, and secure their spot in the AFC Championship game. For the Colts, I believe their season will come to an end, once again, at the hands of QB Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Isn’t Luck’s career starting eerily similar to P. Manning’s in the way that he struggles against the Patriots in the playoffs? Either way, I believe it comes down to a repeat of last year’ AFC Championship.

NFC Championship Game

Patriots vs. Broncos –> 35-24, Patriots

I know that the Broncos got much better on the defensive side of the ball, but so did the Patriots. I couldn’t see coach Bill Belichick getting back to this game and scenario and letting him slip by again. I fully expect New England to make the necessary adjustments, and make their way back to the Super Bowl.