Posts Tagged ‘ Arizona Cardinals ’

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

NFL: Wild Card Weekend Preview

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After all the hype and build-up, the playoffs are finally here. This weekend sees the first knockout round, with the wild card fixtures between the divisional winners with the third and fourth best records and the two non-divisional winners with the best records within both the respective conferences. Some classic bouts are afoot, with teams knowing they are just three wins away from a Super Bowl appearance. With everything to play for and everyone on even footing, we look ahead to the wild card round, and where games will be won and lost.

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

The first playoff game of 2015 will be hosted by the team with the worst season record to qualify, as the Carolina Panthers play host courtesy of winning the NFC South. The Panthers look worthy champions though, putting in some confident performances and big wins over their four game winning streak that closed the year out. Cam Newton (and Derek Anderson, when required) has looked composed under center, completing over 60% of his passes in his final three appearances, throwing five touchdown passes against just one pick. He was also only sacked twice, which is a testament to his speed considering the patchwork offensive line ahead of him. With limited options in the passing game, those numbers are not to be sniffed at. He also rushed for an average of 98 yards per game over that stretch, and it is no surprise that a return to the running game, with the Panthers star backs fit once again, coincided with their improving form. Jonathan Stewart rushed for over 800 yards this year, despite only starting eight times over the course of the season. If the Panthers  defense, which is ranked eleventh against the pass and sixteenth against the run, can shut down some third string options for their opponents, then they could easily become the second team to make the playoffs with a losing record and still win a playoff game. Continue reading

NFL: Dramatic Final Day As Steelers And Packers Playoff Bound

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The 2014 NFL regular season is now done. We know who the twelve playoff sides are, as well as who is on the clock first for the 2015 draft (think very carefully, Tampa Bay Buccaneers). It was a tumultuous final day of the season, with every side playing and the teams jockeying for position in the playoffs changing constantly. The wild card round of the playoffs begins next Saturday, but for now let’s go back and examine the action on the final day of the regular season.

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers (20-30)

The Green Bay Packers continue to prove unstoppable at home, securing the NFC North title and a first-round bye in the playoffs with the win here. It was not without tension, as Aaron Rodgers left the field injured while still managing to throw a touchdown pass in the first half. In his time off the field, Calvin Johnson brought in two touchdowns to tie the game, and leave the Packers fans on the edges of their seats. Rodgers re-emerged on the second drive of the second half, and proceeded to pick apart the opposition defense. Green Bay displayed the offensive cohesion and precision that their divisional rivals could only dream of, and Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and a huge effort on the ground from Eddie Lacy was enough to win out. The defense made big plays at crucial times, in particular recovering a fumble on the next play after suffering a blocked field goal attempt of their own, which was a huge momentum swing. They also forced Matt Stafford into an intentional grounding penalty that became a safety and two crucial points, earning their team and quarterback a much needed week off. Continue reading

NFL: The Race To The Playoffs

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The final chances to impress for the best and brightest in the NFL in 2014 is here. Yes, we enter the final week of the regular season, with a handful of teams still in the shakeup to make the post-season. Division titles and wild card slots are still very much up for grabs. Beyond that, coaches and players at less successful organisations want to go away leaving their organisations with a good taste in their mouths, to hopefully ensure they return in 2015. With so much to play for, let’s look ahead to week 17.

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

The NFC North is on the line in this one, as is home field advantage in the playoffs, for at least one playoff game. The Green Bay Packers have lost control over the first overall seed in the NFC, but if they can beat their divisional rivals here then they still could nab it. Green Bay are a very different team at home, overwhelming all comers with Aaron Rodgers seemingly impervious to mistakes. They suffered a bad case of the drops in their recent loss in Buffalo, but overall Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have given Rodgers the varying dependable targets he needs, with no one apparently capable of shutting both down on one day. The defense has been good, if not great, with a lot of the mid-season shuffling around, including moving Clay Matthews into middle linebacker, making the unit good enough to not get beaten. With Aaron Rodgers around, that’s all you need. Continue reading

NFL: Broncos Falter As Patriots And Seahawks Seek Top Seeds

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Week sixteen of the NFL regular season is now behind us, and we have a good idea of how the playoffs are shaping up. Many of the floundering hopefuls and wannabes have been put out of the race now, failing to last pace with the true contenders. This was a weekend of big moves for many, with several clinching playoff berths over the weekend. Big plays and big stops were in abundant supply with seasons on the line, and there is plenty to look back fondly on. Let’s review the action here.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals (35-6)

A top-of-the-table clash between NFC West powerhouses that will both be playing post-season football descended into a blowout quite early on here. The Seattle Seahawks had a dominant road win here, claiming the top seeding in the NFC conference standings in the process. The Seahawks were taking on a team ravaged by injuries, but to hold a playoff side to six points on their home turf is a phenomenal effort. The Legion of Boom is back in full force, but the offense was equally as impressive, with Marshawn Lynch running all over a top run defense, while Russell Wilson knitted offensive series’ together with some fine play from under center. Luke Willson emerged as a big target at tight end, gaining 139 yards and two touchdowns to effectively end the game. With Paul Richardson and Doug Baldwin making big plays too, the offense is getting coherent. If the Seahawks beat the St Louis Rams in the season finale, they will claim the NFC’s top seed. It seems a long time ago now that Seattle appeared to be in mid-season crisis mode. Continue reading

NFL: Crucial Penultimate Fixtures For Playoff Chasers

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We have reached the penultimate round of fixtures in the NFL season. This has been a season of big winners and bad losers, with few sides hovering around 7-7 mark. That will ensure some teams will miss the post-season, despite boasting significant winning records and great seasons. With five divisions left to be decided, as well as all four wild-card spots still up for grabs, the onus is on all contenders to win out and make sure they aren’t the most pitied team in football. Let’s look ahead to the week sixteen action.

Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals still take up top spot in the NFC West, despite the unfathomable number of star players of theirs who have gone down injured. The expectation is that, surely, this Cardinals team’s indefatigable spirit will finally be overcome now that even backup quarterback Drew Stanton is out. With Ryan Lindley not exactly a sure-fire winner, and a ferocious defense licking their lips waiting to face him, the Cardinals are expected to bow gracefully out of the top spot and settle for their wild-card place. But that is not the style of Bruce Arians’ side. Sure, there 12-6 win over the St Louis Rams wasn’t pretty, but they ground out the win. Todd Bowles’ defense keeps generating success on the blitz, and they have found a breakout running back in Kerwynn Williams, who has added 175 yards in the last two weeks. Put up similar numbers here, and Arizona will be right there. Easier said than done, however. Continue reading

NFL: Seahawks And Steelers Gaining Momentum

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We have nought but three weeks left in the regular season, following the tumultuous end to week fourteen. Many teams suffered heartbreaking losses that put the playoffs beyond them, while several teams shot themselves in the foot when it mattered most. With so much still to play for in the last three weeks, we’ll analyse where those in the hunt went right and wrong with our recap of all the best week fourteen action from the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia Eagles (24-14)

Another strong showing from the previously ailing Seattle Seahawks. The Super Bowl champs are now in the middle of a three game winning streak, getting hot at just the right time. The defense is playing lights out football, and they really shut down this high tempo offense, with Mark Sanchez finishing with less than one hundred yards passing, and only getting the ball to four receivers. They pressed hard at the line of scrimmage, and gave no separation to Jeremy Maclin and company. One of the touchdowns they gave up was the result of a short field off a muffed punt, so this could easily have been a bigger score. Russell Wilson is orchestrating the offense magnificently, and beat the defense through the air when they went all out to shut down Marshawn Lynch. Nobody wants to play Seattle right now. Continue reading