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Posts Tagged ‘ NFL Playoffs ’

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: 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

Seahawks Thump Broncos To Claim First Super Bowl

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There are a number of simplistic clichés that could be trotted out in an attempt to rationalize the result of Super Bowls. “Defense wins championships” is the most common one that comes to mind, and one that has been uttered many times in the hours after this game. But it is too simplistic a way to try and explain the result of any championship decider, as great as the all-encompassing mantra seems. In the case of Super Bowl XLVIII, it doesn’t even begin to tell the story.

It all started to go wrong for Denver at the coin toss. As Joe Namath and his extraordinarily lavish coat flipped the coin and the Seahawks correctly guessed tails, they decided to defer receiving the ball until the second half, which is the current thinking in NFL circles. Yet when Seattle registered the opening score of the game on the very first play, it was through no great effort of their own. As center Manny Ramirez geared up to snap the ball, Peyton Manning approached the line to change the play call, while the nervous energy flowed through his center. He flung the ball high, which would have been awkward for Manning to take had he been expecting it. Given that he wasn’t, he had no chance with it. The Broncos defenders rushed back to the end zone, covering the ball and giving up a safety. They were fortunate it wasn’t a touchdown. Continue reading

NFL: Seahawks And Broncos Battle For Super Bowl XLVIII Success

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Welcome to the greatest sporting spectacle on Earth. The Super Bowl is the annual main event of the NFL, a glitzy and glamorous affair with huge hype, much analysis and a farcically long half-time show (this year featuring Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers). At some point, a game will also break out. And this one should be a cracking encounter, with Peyton Manning bringing his outstanding Denver Broncos offense to meet the Seattle Seahawks and their top ranked defence. Here, we look ahead to the game and preview some of the factors that could decide the game.

Denver Broncos versus Seattle Seahawks (kick-off Sunday, 23:30)

The bookies have had a tough time trying to decide who the actual favourite is for this game, which sounds about right as both teams are very strong in their own right. While Denver have blown away many opponents as Peyton Manning has broken all sorts of passing records during the season, Seattle arrives with a power house of a defense that is capable of matching up with and taking on the Broncos strong receiver corps, with their own tough-talking gang of defensive backs known as the “Legion of Boom”. This is the clash where both teams strengths will meet, and if either side can gain an advantage in this area it would make it a very tough game for the other to win. Continue reading

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