Divisional Round Recap
Saints at Seahawks:
Battling the wind, rain, and earthquakes whenever the Seahawks scored is a tough battle. What’s even tougher is trying to win after failing to score the first 3 quarters is dang near impossible. Jimmy Graham had 0 catches (if you don’t count the garbage time reception). I would say the Seahawks played a solid game. Nothing flashy, but a lot of running and taking advantage of points where necessary. Russell Wilson was 9-18 with 103 yards. This won’t cut it against the Broncos, but could against the 49ers. The Saints still had a shot at it until Colston decided that the guy 7 yards ahead of him was considered a “lateral.” I won’t harp on him too much, but why not step out of bounds with 8 seconds left on the 36 yard line. You get another shot to get 10 yards and could have a 25 yard throw to tie the game! I guess the play was drawn up and practiced during the week (meaning the Saints thought they would be down or lose the game), would have been crazy if it had worked.
Colts at Patriots:
I have DVR’d 3 playoff games in my entire life. Talk about agonizing to wait, not check your phone, not glimpse at TV’s, that’s dedication! I actually remember all 3 games vividly (Vick winning at Lambeau in 2003, Vikings losing at Lambeau last year, and this game). This was the 1 game I was super excited about, which turned out to be a bit of a runaway game. Andrew Luck threw 4 INT’s which never helps. That crazy play when the Patriots were punting: The long snapper should be on the PED testing program, he snapped the ball 45 yards backwards, leading to a Safety. It was close until the 4th quarter when the Patriots started pulling away. Where did their power rush game come from?!?! 45 runs! 4 rushing TD’s, and 0 from Brady! LaGarrette Blount had a crazy 166 yds and 4 TD’s. They say rushing and defense is key for the playoffs, and the Patriots owned both of those categories. Questionable strategy for Pagano, why punt on 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter when you’re already down by 21? That’s your last chance to try to make a comeback.
49ers at Panthers:
May not have been the most exciting game, but this is playoff football to a T! The 49ers D was incredibly staunch this game, holding the Panthers within the 5 yard line twice. I actually hated the call to go for it on 4th and 1 (Cam QB sneak) when they were down 6-0, I was telling my whole family that they should go for points, it was the 1st quarter and the 49ers had already stopped them on a run on 3rd down. You can basically credit Michael Crabtree for this win, not that he had good stats at all (3 catches, 26 yds), but he freed up Anquan Boldin to face their #2 cornerback, and he exploded for 136 yards. Carolina got up 10-6 at one point, but the 49ers scored the next 17 points to take the game.
Chargers at Broncos:
We had to listen to this game on the radio unfortunately. At least the first 3 quarters weren’t terribly exciting. The Chargers pick at the end of the 1st half in the endzone was a huge play, but they couldn’t score on offense until the 4th quarter. They actually made quite a game of it when they decided to actually throw to Keenan Allen, and got an onside kick. Final drive of the game for Denver, Manning wanted to make sure Rivers didn’t get the ball back. HUGE play on 3rd and 17 with 3 minutes left, to convert to a wide open Thomas on the sidelines. The Broncos went conservative, running against the Ravens last year (and Patriots this year), and lost both games. It’s definitely a risk to throw and stop the clock, but that won them the game.
For the Record:
FMQB was 2-2 last week. Two of my crazy upsets didn’t come true (Colts and Saints), but I picked the 49ers to win 24-10. Way off, they won 23-10…
Quote of the Week:
“What’s weighing on my mind is how soon I can get a Bud Light in my mouth. That’s priority number one.” Peyton Manning
Quote of the Week #2:
Phillip Rivers is jumping up and down, clapping his hands, and gyrating, anything to get the center to snap the ball!” Radio announcer during a delay of game
Quote of the Week #44:
“Omaha” Peyton Manning, who apparently said it 44 times on Sunday while at the line of scrimmage. Omaha Steaks initially reached out to him and offered an endorsement deal to Manning (since he’s yelling out half their company name in front of millions of people). It has since changed to having 5 Omaha based companies teaming up to donate $500 to charity everytime he says “Omaha”
Stat of the Week:
Peyton Manning just broke a 3 game losing streak in the playoffs
Stat of the Week #2:
Tom Brady has won 10 of 14 matchups with Peyton Manning, including 2 of 3 in the postseason.
Stat of the Week #3:
In his young career, Russell Wilson is 16-1 at home
Stat of the Week #4:
The Colts turned the ball over a league low 14 times in 16 games. But in the postseason, they turned it over 8 times in only 2 games
Stat of the Week #5:
The Chargers had 5 penalties on Sunday for Neutral Zone infractions
Stat of the Week #6:
Both the 49ers and Patriots will be competing in their 3rd straight Championship game on Sunday. Neither team has won the Super Bowl in that span.
Stat of the Week #7:
Both the Saints and Chargers kicked successful onside kicks when the opponent was expecting them. I spoke about it in Week 16, but from Week 14-16, teams were 100%, and once again we had 2 successful kicks. As reference again, in 2012 the league was 13% as a whole on onside tries.
Reader thought of the Week:
Peyton Manning is only starting QB left that was NOT drafted by a baseball team! (Did anybody else even know that Tom Brady was drafted, because I didn’t).
ALL YEAR I complained about the matchups this season. It seemed there were weeks where only 1 contest was worth watching, and many of the Monday Night games that looked good in August ended up being terrible matchups. Well, the NFL sure made up for that by having probably the 2 most ideal matchups they could have wanted at the beginning of the playoffs. As FFMQB keeps harping on, she (and the league) is worried about a Super Bowl in a cold weather environment and how that may affect the game. We don’t exactly have to worry about that now that the Chargers and Saints are out. The Patriots routinely play in the cold/snow, Broncos have proved they can do it too, and it’s always raining for Seattle games. One can only have doubts about the 49ers, yet they won in Lambeau in an absolutely freezing game, so that reservation is also gone. Bottom line, I am pretty happy about the final 4 teams. It’s the 4 power teams that entered the playoffs, really no surprises with the outcome.
Super Bowl Potential:
I talked about it last year, but a mobile QB has never won a Super Bowl. The cool thing about this year is that no matter what, we will have a Hall of Fame pocket passer vs. a young, mobile QB. We will also have a top offense vs. a top defense, which is always fun to see what happens if you put “an unstoppable force vs. an immovable object.” It’s medieval, like firing the strongest cannon in the world into the strongest wall in the world, which one wins?
Broncos vs. Seahawks: Everybody’s pick since about Week 3, I think it would be fun to see it actually happen. Plus it has been rare to see both #1 seeds make it recently.
Broncos vs. 49ers: Would also be a cool matchup, pretty sure I would root for the Broncos to see Peyton win one last ring, but it would be tough to see the 49ers lose a second Super Bowl in a row.
Patriots vs. Seahawks: I think this is the only matchup I would be disappointed to see. As a Rams fan, these are my 2 most hated teams, with the Seahawks manhandling the Rams for a decade, and the Patriots stealing the Super Bowl away from us in 2001. But I think it would prove to be an exciting game.
Patriots vs. 49ers: Does anybody remember that crazy Sunday Night Football game from last year? San Francisco got up 31-3 before the Patriots went on a run to Tie the game! Then the 49ers who couldn’t do anything in the 2nd half scored a long TD on one play to re-take the lead and win the game. This could be just as exciting of a contest.
Patriots vs. Broncos
That Sunday Night game earlier in the year (in New England) was one of the more exciting games of the season. The Broncos went up 24-0 by halftime, and looked like they were running away with it. The Broncos took their foot off the pedal and had a string of 3 and outs while the Patriots started scoring on every drive. The game went into OT, and actually came close to being a tie before a muffed punt situation gave the Patriots the ball in easy FG range. I expect more of the same excitement in this game, you couldn’t ask for more in this matchup! Manning vs. Brady, Welder vs. Patriots, heck, Good vs. Evil…Typically the highest scoring offenses in history hasn’t won the big game, so will see if the Broncos can change that. The winning team will be the team that has the ball last. As a testament to the Patriots getting here again, they don’t have their top 5 receivers from last year (Gronkowski, Hernandez, Woodhead, Welker, or Lloyd). I’m not sure the Broncos can survive the power rush game they put on the Colts, and running it 45 times. But nevertheless, I’m going with the Broncos to win the game 40-34 in OT, Welker with the game winning TD catch on the opening drive.
49ers vs Seahawks
We are at rematch #3 for this game too, and once again you can’t ask for more out of this matchup! You have Wilson vs. Kaepernick, two young, up and coming, mobile QB’s with good arms. Then there’s Seahawks Defense vs. 49ers D, both tough to break through. Harbaugh vs. Carroll, who had run ins when both coached in the PAC 10. Finally, it’s simply Seahawks vs. 49ers. Their fans hate the other team (haven’t heard of any billboards or skywriting for this game though), and it has truly become one of the better rivalries in football at the moment. Both teams won their contests at home, but I think this week will be different. Russell Wilson has been struggling the past few weeks, in fact throwing under 200 yards in 4 of his last 5 games. The main difference maker in this game will be Michael Crabtree. Could be similar to the Panthers game, where he doesn’t have great stats but opens up Anquan Boldin for more. Crabtree didn’t play in the first meeting in Seattle, and Boldin had to fend off Richard Sherman the entire game. So I’m going upset on this game, 49ers 17-16 on a last second kick. Props to Jim Harbaugh, became the first coach to take his team to the Championship game 3 times in his first 3 seasons. That’s unheard of!
NFL Fashion Note:
Maybe a 49ers vs. Patriots Super Bowl would be ideal for the fashion world. It would be a matchup between Bill Belichick’s hoodie vs. Jim Harbaugh’s $8 khakis from Wal Mart! Harbaugh’s wife made a public plea for him to ditch the cheap pants, which was an amusing story this week.
Nearing the End of an Era:
We are living in the golden age of offense, and quarterbacks. But we are getting very close to the career end of 3 of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. It hit me when I heard that Peyton Manning was having a physical to determine his playing future, and I noticed that Manning is 37, Tom Brady is 36, and Drew Brees is 35. That’s 5 Super Bowl rings among them (could very well be 6 in two weeks). They have #1, 2, and 3 most TD passes in a season, and also 1, 2, and 3 on the yardage mark in a season. They also have 6 (about to be 7) MVPs between them. The league showed this year that there is a massive lack of QB talent in the bottom 16 or so teams, and we could lose 3 elite hall of fame QB’s in the next couple years. Enjoy it while it lasts fans.
Cowboys aren’t God’s team now!
For a laugh, check out this video of a Pastor who is a 49ers fan. Before everybody goes too nuts, it ended up being a joke, but very funny!
I’m pretty sure I’ve become tainted as a football fan. After being a hardcore NFL fan for the last 12 years, it’s still sometimes tough to get really into or excited about games. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of crazy plays and games. I also think I found the cure, or should I say curse. I’m not going to lie, having money on both the Colts and Packers gave this season a whole new element to me. Actually, it might just be because the Rams have been so awful the past decade that it was fun to root for a team…Anywho, long story short, FFMQB went to Vegas for work and I now have money on the 49ers to win the Super Bowl! Not quite the $500 payout, but like betting on a bit of a longshot.