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Posts Tagged ‘ Detroit Lions ’

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

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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: Seahawks Gallant Stand

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Week twelve of the NFL season is now behind us, and the action will keep coming thick and fast, as the traditional Thanksgiving set of three games comes on Thursday. That will barely give us time to catch our breath and try figure out what happened on Sunday, with teams really jockeying hard for position.  The race is on in the AFC West and NFC East, somebody is going to feel hard done by in the AFC North and, eventually, someone will have to win the NFC South. But there are a lot of great games to come in the NFC West, so get ready for more titanic tussles to come. Let’s review the action.

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks (3-19)

This was undoubtedly a statement win for the Seattle Seahawks, who wore down their division-leading opponents by controlling the battle of field position. Only surrendering three points to a team that was previously 9-1 is a clear sign that the Seahawks are ready to rally down the stretch. It can’t have been hard to get fired up for this do-or-die battle in front of the Twelfth Man, but the Seahawks really stepped up on defense for the first time since the season opener. The defensive front got massive pressure on Drew Stanton, allowing them to play twenty of their twenty-five offensive snaps in enemy territory. That they only put up nineteen points is a slight concern, but the win was most important here. Next up- San Francisco on Thursday night. Another critical fixture. Continue reading

NFL: Cardinals Braced For Showdown With Seahawks

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We are now firmly headed down the stretch, as we enter week twelve of the NFL regular season. Several teams are just playing out the clock now, but guys on losing teams have to play for next year’s job, so expect a few more shock results this weekend. There are once again plenty of intriguing clashes between playoff hopefuls, and there are a few teams who have started to skid out of playoff contention in the last few weeks. Losing streaks need to end now, or the post-season will be gone. Let’s preview some of the upcoming action.

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks

This is the big game in the NFL this weekend. The reigning Super Bowl champions take on their divisions leaders in a must-win home game. The Seattle Seahawks are reeling, having been second best against Kansas City last weekend. They have struggled to find a coherent game plan on offense all year, while the defense has been ravaged by injuries. Important bodies have started to return, but others are now gone instead. The Seahawks defensive front, which was so boasted about on their championship run, hardly bothered Alex Smith last weekend, and didn’t come close to stopping Jamaal Charles.  If Seattle wants the chance to defend its crown in the post-season, then they simply have to take this game. But it is hard to see them pulling it off. Pete Carroll’s team need a spark. Continue reading

NFL: Patriots And Cardinals Take Giant Leap Forward

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Week eleven of the NFL season and its tumultuous twists and turns are now a matter of record in the schedules. The big shocks keep on coming, although perhaps we should have known that the giant slayers known as the St Louis Rams would serve Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos a severe blow in the seeding race. There were plenty of decisive victories that gave some top teams a little breathing room, and exposed others as pretenders to the crown. With so much wild action to look back on, we’ll start our review of the week here.

New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts (42-20)

A comprehensive win for the New England Patriots, who stormed into Lucas Oil Stadium and stomped all over the Indianapolis Colts. Jonas Gray put his hand forward as another offensive difference-maker for the Pats, running in a whopping four touchdowns to put the game away relatively early. The Patriots offensive line has come on leaps and bounds in recent weeks, and they were a formidable presence here, dominating the trenches.  Tom Brady was a little off-kilter, tossing two picks, but that New England could record a blowout win away to a top AFC rival with the veteran quarterback having a bad day is probably the scariest part of this win. The Patriots are in a fantastic position to secure home field advantage for the playoffs now. Continue reading

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