The Dr of the NFL’s Fearless Forecast

AFC Championship Game-New England @ Denver
Is there some sort of immutable law that states that if, in the pre-season, you pick a team to go to the Super Bowl, that you are not allowed to pick against them in the championship game? If so, I’m in a difficult spot. Before the year began, my prognostication was a Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl, more on Seattle shortly, but I’m leaning against Brady and company today. Here’s why. Too much is being made about last week when New England ran over Indianapolis. As we pointed out, Indy couldn’t stop the run all year, so let’s make LeGarrett Blount out to be Jim Brown just yet. The Broncos run defense has been stout all year [ranked 7th in NFL] and they will provide much more resistance than the Colts did. Look for Brady to come out throwing in this game vs. a porous Broncos secondary that just lost its’ best corner in Chris Harris and is without their best pass rusher in Von Miller. I fully expect the Pats to consistently move the ball and Brady to amass at least 350 yards passing.
Bill Bellichick has a conundrum in this match up vs. Peyton, if he stacks his chips to stop Denver’s running game, Manning will devour his secondary, and if he stays in a cover 2 to prevent the big play, Peyton will audible into a run and Knowshon Moreno and company will run up and down the field on a terrible Patriot run defense [ranked 30th in NFL]. People forget that because the Colts couldn’t take advantage of it because they were a poor running team, Denver will.
In what promises to be a high scoring shootout, TD’s over FG’s will be the difference. Which team will convert in the Red Zone? Peyton completed 72% of his Red Zone passes and threw 37 red zone TD’s with zero INT’s during the regular season, look for that trend to continue. In addition, New England will be playing a road playoff game for the first time in 7 years. The Patriots are 1-5 vs. the spread in their last 6 road contests, and are 0-5 vs the number in their last 5 games played on glass. Broncos advance to the Super Bowl.
Denver 37 New England 30.

NFC Championship Game-San Francisco @ Seattle
I’ve been going back and forth on this one all week. Seattle’s been the best team all year but the 49ers are red hot and playing better right now. Home field is huge in this one but the 49ers front 7 vs. Seattle’s erratic O-line can quiet things down. Russell Wilson concerns me, he’s not played well the last 4 or 5 games and he’ll be without Percy Harvin. But Colin Kaepernick has been awful in both games he’s played in this building.
As good as Seattle’s defense is, you can run it occasionally on them. The 49ers ran for 163 yards in week 14 win against Seattle, can Gore and company repeat this on the road? This is the key to the game, if Gore is producing, the 49ers can sneak out with a win, if not, Seattle will pressure Kaepernick, contain his rushing lanes, and force him into mistakes. Much has been made of the 49ers resurgence on offense since the return of Michael Crabtree, but Richard Sherman will effectively eliminate him and Vernon Davis will have his hands full with Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas who are the best Safety tandem in the league.
I think San Francisco must get off to a healthy start to take the crowd out of it, otherwise things could snowball. Kaepernick completes just 54% of his passes when he’s trailing. Their offense is built for long drives, not short ones. This is why Gore is the key to the game, by establishing the run and sending a physical message, it could set the 49ers up for the upset. We all know that Seattle is near invincible at home but San Francisco is better equipped than any other team to pull this off.
So who wins? In a game that promises to be a tight, low scoring affair, I think it’s Seattle’s year. I trust Russell Wilson more in this spot not to make a critical error than I do Kaepernick. If both teams struggle to run it, which I expect, it gets to which QB will avoid the big mistake. No defense is better than Seattle’s at stopping the opposing QB, with the combination of pass rush and coverage ability. Look for Seattle’s secondary to get the best of Kaepernick and with the homefield to back them, Seattle returns to the Super Bowl.
Seattle 19 San Francisco 13

NFL HARD KNOCKS

Sep 17, 2012 -- 5:38pm

{general observations from 14 non-stop hours of football viewing on Sunday}

 

Rams over Redskins: Shame on you Josh Morgan for throwing the football at a Ram defender and costing your team 15 crucial yards and the potential tying field goal in the waning moments. Totally selfish.

Note to Mike Shanahan, stop using RG III on those designed runs, he’s taking too many hits and won’t last.

Eagles over Ravens: Philly is living with angels, they’re 2-0 both victories by 1 point, despite turning the ball over 9 times! This can’t continue. Tough loss for the Ratbirds, who now must beat an angry Patriots team to avoid a 1-2 start.

Note to Andy Reid, continue to run the ball more and pass less, Michael Vick ‘s health is on borrowed time. Vick is being hit on nearly every dropback, he won’t last if this keeps up.

Giants over Bucs: Lost in Greg Schiano’s low rent bush league end of game fiasco, is that Eli Manning threw for an x-box like 510 yards!!!  He did it versus a Bucs defense that gave up only 10 points to the Panthers the week before. Leadership is demonstrated by refusing to lose and drop to 0-2, as Eli rallied his troops.

Note to Greg Schiano, who is doing a good job with Tampa, his team is over achieving considering his talent level, however no matter what the NFL is saying publicly, they were not happy with the victory formation shenanigans. It wouldn’t surprise me if Schiano got a call today from the Commish telling him to knock it off. Bad job coach, completely amateurish.

Panthers over Saints: Steve Spagnuolo had better get something figured out with that defense, they allowed 40 to the Skins and 35 to the Panthers. At 0-2 as Yogi used to say,” it’s getting late early”

Like the read option with Cam Newton, tough to stop the run, plus it brings the safety into the box and singles up the wr’s. Brandon LaFell and Louis Murphy developing into nice compliments to Steve Smith.

Cardinals over Patriots: The happiest man in the stadium when Stephen Gostkowski honked the 42 yard game winning fg ? Ryan Williams, the Arizona runningback, who moments earlier, handed the game to the Pats by doing the unthinkable, fumbling as the Cards were trying to run clock. Don’t look now, Arizona is 2-0 and going back to last year the Cards have won 9 of the last 11.

All good things come to an end. The loss snapped the Patriots record in home openers, they were 10-0. The loss of TE Aaron Hernandez, for what appears to be a high ankle sprain, is very concerning for New England.

Seattle over Dallas: The question was how would Dallas react to prosperity after defeating the Giants on the road to kickoff the season. The answer is terribly. The Pokes were non competitive in Seattle. Marshawn Lynch ran all over them. Just when you think Dallas has turned the corner and become legit, they lay a stink bomb like Sunday

Question for Jason Garrett: Should Jason Whitten be playing? He seems tentative, dropping 3 passes, perhaps he’s still worried about his lacerated spleen, I would be.

I like Russell Wilson, first I always pull for short guys, and he does a good job extending plays. Now he must learn that when you scramble it should be to buy time for his receivers , not to immediately become a runner.

 

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