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Posts Tagged ‘ Carolina Panthers ’

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

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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

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: Cardinals And Saints Make Big Moves

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Week eight of this topsy turvy NFL season is now confined to the record books. It was a crazy week, where the Atlanta Falcons did their best to steal the show in the London game, before being pegged back late by the Detroit Lions. The Dallas Cowboys choked badly on Monday Night Football, losing to that division’s whipping boys. And the New York Jets quarterback pair combined for a whopping six turnovers between them, sending them spiralling towards the fight for the no.1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. Yet there was so much more action, so let’s recap it here.

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals (20-24)

The Arizona Cardinals pulled out yet another big win here. Carson Palmer obliterated the secondary, with big help from Larry Fitzgeral (160 yards and a touchdown) and John Brown (119 yards and a touchdown). The run game was unspectacular, with Andre Ellington notching one big run, but losing a fumble and not finding too many big holes. Still, he did enough to open things up for Palmer, who duly took advantage. The Cardinals won the fourth quarter 10-3, which was the difference in the end. Winning the fourth has been a very good habit Bruce Arians team have gotten into. It’s hard to totally shut down Chip Kelly’s offense, but Jeremy Maclin’s big day will be a worry for the Cardinals. Continue reading

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