Archive for the ‘ American Football ’ Category

Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots Win After Wild Finish

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Super Bowl XLIX was a tremendous game of football, one of the great NFL finales in recent years. Here is our review of all the action:

The Patriots came out with a clear game plan in mind. Offensively, they probed and prodded at the weak spots in the Seattle defense. Using Shane Vereen lined up out wide and Rob Gronkowski or Julian Edelman to clear the middle of the field with darting drives, New England created room in the middle of the field to feed the likes of Danny Amendola, who had four catches for 44 yards by half time. The Patriots were executing well on quick passes and long, precise drives, taking the Seattle defensive line out of the equation by having Tom Brady throw the ball extremely quickly. Continue reading

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Super Bowl XLIX: Superpowers Collide As Patriots Meet Seahawks

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Super Bowl XLIX is finally upon us, with the Seattle Seahawks set to take on the New England Patriots on Sunday night in the University of Phoenix stadium.

In so many ways, this feels like a clash of the old masters against the new breed, but Seattle are the reigning Super Bowl champions, so they cannot be dismissed lightly. Vegas has made them favourites for this game, and given how few Super Bowl champions have even made it back to the playoffs the following season, the phenomenal effort put in by the Seahawks needs to be acknowledged. This is no ordinary team, and considering they have tied their best players down to long term contracts, we could well be seeing them at this time of year for the foreseeable future. Continue reading

NFL: Super Sunday Sends Patriots and Seahawks to the Super Bowl

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So there we have it, the line up for Super Bowl XLIX is set, with the Seattle Seahawks due to take on the New England Patriots on February 1st in the University of Phoenix stadium. After two very interesting (and very different) Conference Championship games were played out on Sunday, there is a truly fascinating clash of superpowers in the Super Bowl, but we should take a few minutes first to reflect back upon a truly stunning Championship Sunday.

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks (22-28)

That was arguably the most stunning comeback in the history of American Football. The Seattle Seahawks were down 16-0 at half time, down by 12 points with four minutes to play, had suffered severe injuries to two defensive stars who remained on the field, had turned the ball over five times and had only scored off the back of a fake field goal touchdown pass. And they won the game. In fact, thanks to Russell Wilson’s Hail Mary that Luke Wilson came down with on a two point conversion, they led by three points with just seconds remaining. In getting to that point, Seattle got their old groove going. Marshawn Lynch ran like an unstoppable machine in the second half of a monster day when he notched 157 yards on the ground, 26 through the air and probably still left a play or two behind him. Russell Wilson shook off his worst ever NFL performance of four interceptions to show composure and great quick decision making to open up running options. And the defensive front battered Eddie Lacy into the backfield twice when he tried to run out the clock. They won on special teams with a recovered onside kick to go along with the fake field goal, and they simply went from zero to a hundred when the game was (if only in their minds) still on the line, and emerged victorious. Continue reading

NFL: Packers And Seahawks Face Off On Championship Sunday

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We are down to the final four now in the race to the Super Bowl, with only three games left for the year. The AFC and NFC Championship games take place on Sunday and, with only the cream of the crop left, we can be sure of two top games coming up. With players and coaches knowing they are just sixty minutes of football away from the promised land of the Super Bowl, everything will be laid on the line come Sunday. Let’s look ahead to two of the most hotly contested matches of the year.

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks are now in a situation they are very familiar with, having been the host for the NFC Championship game last season. On that occasion, they overcame divisional rivals in the San Francisco Forty-Niners, who pushed them harder than any team on the Seahawks run to the Super Bowl. The Seahawks will be prepared for a frenetic bout against Aaron Rodgers and his troops. The game will be a classic encounter of strength versus strength, as the Seattle Seahawks and their immense defense prepare to face arguably the best quarterback and wide receiver pair the NFL has to offer. The ‘Hawks defense has went from good to unbelievable down the stretch, with the return of previously injured players like Bobby Wagner and Kam Chancellor returning to harden the core of this defense. The Seahawks gave up just under 16 points per game and 267 yards of offense per game in the regular season, and if they can replicate those numbers on Sunday they will be advancing to their second successive Super Bowl appearance. Facing a game but physically limited quarterback, the Seahawks will surely attack Rodgers early and try to unsettle him, with his mobility severely limited by a calf injury. If they can shut down the run game and force Rodgers to bob and weave in the pocket, they will create opportunities to put him on the ground. Offensively, the Seahawks will fancy their chances of exposing that defense, with Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson and Robert Turbin likely getting a large number of carries against a unit not renowned for stuffing the run. With Wilson throwing the ball better than ever in recent weeks, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse will likely get opportunities off of play-action, although Paul Richardson’s absence will be felt. Continue reading

NFL: Colts Stun Broncos In Divisional Round

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The NFL’s divisional round is arguably the greatest weekend in all of sports on an annual basis. The eight teams left standing by this point are undoubtedly the best the NFL has to offer, and they played out four fantastic encounters over this past weekend. Eight became four after some tremendous clashes that simply whizzed by and, before we begin hyping Championship weekend, we should take some time to review all the action from another classic divisional round in the NFL.

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (31-35)

The New England Patriots had to dig deep into their bag of tricks to pull out the win here, being given a wild ride by the wild card team. The Patriots ran for the grand total of 14 yards on Saturday, as the dominant defensive front refused to give them any ground. Tom Brady was then forced into fifty passing attempts, completing 33 of those for 367 yards and three touchdowns, but also a costly (if inevitable, given the number of throws) pick that led to a touchdown drive to swing momentum away from New England. The Pats were down 14 points on two separate occasions, but were able to exploit a weak secondary to come out with the win, albeit via a Julian Edelman touchdown pass and some interesting offensive line formations with players declaring themselves ineligible at the last second, which caused infinite confusion for the defense. The Patriots were able to exploit the middle for huge gains, with Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, the forgotten man in this offense who caught Edelman’s touchdown pass, making huge gains. Every yard was needed, as the defense gave up their most points since the blowout to the Kansas City Chiefs in week four. Still, they advance onto the AFC Championship game with home field advantage, and must be feeling pretty good now. Continue reading

NFL: Packers And Cowboys Square Off In Exciting Divisional Round

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We have arrived at the divisional round of the playoffs, with the final four in each division playing for a chance to advance to the conference decider. The four best teams in the NFL return to the fray this weekend, having had bye weeks for the wild card round. We can expect the standard of football to go through the roof this weekend then, with the Super Bowl hovering in the background. This is the time of year when the best players come to the fore when they are most needed.  Let’s look ahead to a mouth-watering weekend in the NFL.

Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots

The New England Patriots ascended to the comfortable surroundings atop the AFC Conference, ensuring them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Bill Belichick’s team are one of the most formidable home sides in all of football, going 7-1 at Foxboro this season, with the only loss coming in week seventeen against the Buffalo Bills when top seeding had already been guaranteed. The Patriots underwent some early season struggles as the offensive line was unsettled and Rob Gronkowski was hurt, but since a mauling by the Kansas City Chiefs in week four, Tom Brady has led his team to a 10-2 record. With the protection now settled and steady and Gronkowski re-establishing himself as one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL, the Patriots have become a completely different beast. For the first time in a number of years, Brady is backed by a stellar defense, which could be the difference maker if they are to return to the Super Bowl. With Chandler Jones, Rob Ninkovich, Jamie Collins and Darrell Revis all making significant contributions, the Patriots can stake a claim to being the most balanced team in either conference. That pass protection will be tested this weekend, and an ability to run the ball early could make the Patriots difficult to topple. Continue reading

NFL: Wild Card Weekend Sees Cowboys And Ravens On Top

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We are officially in the heat of the playoff battle and the race to Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona now, with the first weekend of knockout football completed. Football is so much quicker come playoff time, with everyone knowing they are just one mistake away from being one-and-done. With eight teams battling it out for the right to just survive one more week in the Super Bowl race, there were four fascinating tussles played out over the weekend, and we will review the action for you here.

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (16-27)

The Carolina Panthers progress with a dominant home win here, getting back to the form and style of play that got them to the post-season last year. Jonathan Stewart was the standout offensive player, taking 24 carries for 123 yards and a touchdown against one of the league’s best run defenses. Stewart has breathed new life into the Panthers run game since returning from injury, and he gives Carolina a chance of being successful going forward. But to win another playoff game, Cam Newton will have to be a lot more accurate when throwing. Newton was high, wide and late on a number of throws that should have been relatively routine. With the Panthers on the road to the Seattle Seahawks and the Legion of Boom in the divisional round, there will be no room for error. The defense shut down a shoddy offense that was devoid of talent at quarterback and in the backfield, but tougher tests lie ahead for this Panthers team. Continue reading