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Manning and Brady to Duel Again with Super Bowl Berth at Stake 0

Posted on January 24, 2016 by Chris Kent

It’s late January and the NFL playoffs are in high gear. While the NFC Championship Game matches upstarts from Carolina and Arizona, the AFC Championship Game has the usual combatants in New England and Denver facing off. While the NFC Championship Game features a first-ever matchup of teams, the AFC Championship Game is the second matchup of these AFC heavyweights in the last three years with the Patriots and Broncos battling at Sports Authority Field in the Mile High city of Denver. The winner punches its’ ticket to Super Bowl L.

That can only mean one thing. Another chapter to be written in the storied saga of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady dueling with playoff lore and supremacy on the line, not to mention a trip to the Super Bowl at stake. While it will more importantly be the Broncos and the Patriots competing against each other that will impact the outcome, the competitiveness of these two future hall-of-fame quarterbacks cannot be underestimated. It is also highly likely that how Brady and Manning perform will go a long ways in determining who wins. That is the way it goes when you play quarterback. Perhaps no one other position in all of sports has more responsibility and glamour tied to it.

Entering Sunday’s game, Manning and Brady have met 16 total times during their NFL careers with Brady holding an 11-5 edge. This season’s AFC Championship Game will be the fifth time they have met in the playoffs where they are 2-2. Sunday’s game also is the fourth time the two have met in the AFC Championship Game with Manning holding a 2-1 edge. Manning led the Indianapolis Colts to the 2006 AFC Championship over Brady and New England en route to his only Super Bowl victory and also beat Brady and the Patriots in the 2013 AFC Championship game in Denver. Brady’s lone win against Manning and his team in the AFC Championship Game came in the 2003 game with a 24-14 victory over the Colts en route to a win over Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Furthermore, the winner of their head-to-head playoff matchups has gone on to win that season’s Super Bowl three out of four times. The only time it did not happen was in 2013 when Manning and the Broncos won 26-16 to advance to Super Bowl XLVIII where they got routed by Seattle 43-8.

Peyton Manning can recall a lot of big games against the Patriots during his time as a Colt.

Peyton Manning can recall a lot of big games against the Patriots during his time as an Indianapolis Colt.

So what is it that has made Brady and Manning not only stand out but remain so good for so long? In a league where it is possible for a team to go from worst to first in a year within a division and turn the fortunes of their franchise around in just two or three years, it seems as though father time would of caught up with them and the core of their respective teams by now or maybe earlier in their careers. While both have showed signs of slowing down, it appears that they each still have something left in the tank.

While Manning, drafted number one overall in 1998, missed all or parts of six games due to injury in 2015, he still has immense wisdom from 18 years of experience which includes three trips to the Super Bowl. Brady, selected in the sixth round with the 199th overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft, is 4-2 in six Super Bowl appearances. Outside of the 2008 season, which he missed due to a knee injury he suffered in the season opener, Brady has been a constant presence for New England. Brady has started 223 out of 225 games he has played in during his regular season career. Furthermore, Brady has defied any kind of skill erosion with age by logging 13 seasons in which he has started all 16 regular season games, including the last seven straight. Brady continues to play at a high level and has been able to avoid injury while playing through the typical strains and sprains encountered in playing professional football.

What is more impressive about Brady is that he has played with different players at the offensive skill positions and still performed at a high caliber level for so long while attaining both individual and team success. Between 2001 and 2004, when the Patriots won three Super Bowls in a four-year span, Brady was throwing to players like wide receivers David Patten and Troy Brown while handing off to running back Antowain Smith. Brady also had a great multi-purpose player in Kevin Faulk that was a threat as a runner or a receiver and he had Jermaine Wiggins at tight end. As the decade moved on, Brady had players like Corey Dillon at running back along with Deion Branch at wide receiver. Branch was the most valuable player of Super Bowl XXXIX, won by New England. Brady also looked to tight ends Ben Watson, Christian Fauria, and Daniel Graham. Read the rest of this entry →

Online Sportsbook Picks for NFC/AFC Conference Championships 2

Posted on January 14, 2015 by Bryan Sheridan
Kam Chancellor and the Seattle Seahawks are just two wins away from repeating as Super Bowl champs.

Kam Chancellor and the Seattle Seahawks are just two wins away from repeating as Super Bowl champs.

We’re mere days from the NFL Conference Championships and you couldn’t ask for two better matchups. In the NFC, the conference’s top seeds face off in a grudge match between two teams that have battled repeatedly, and controversially, in the last few seasons. In the AFC, Tom Brady and Belichick are planning for Andrew Luck and the Colts, who are coming off a victory over Peyton Manning in what was possible his last game…ever.

According to Vegas, the home teams are clear favorites in both games. Odds at online sportsbook TopBet have the Patriots and Seahawks each favored by at least a touchdown, but there is more to these games than meets the eye.

Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks

Aaron Rodgers is hurt, but he’s still the likely regular season MVP, and he just beat the Dallas Cowboys on one leg, throwing some of his most accurate passes of the year. Don’t count this man out.

The issue for the Packers against Seattle remains their run defense. The Seahawks ran all over the Packers in Week 1, putting up 207 yards, and while the Packers have (at times) found the ability to make plays against the run, most recently causing a key DeMarco Murray fumble, they are still unlikely to stop Marshawn Lynch from clearing the century mark. The Packers will need Rodgers to outscore Lynch if they hope to book their ticket to the Super Bowl. Read the rest of this entry →

Dallas and Green Bay Continue Storied Postseason Duels 14

Posted on January 11, 2015 by Chris Kent
Bart Starr scores the winning touchdown in "The Ice Bowl" in 1967

Bart Starr scores the winning touchdown in “The Ice Bowl” on this one yard plunge into the end zone.

The Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. Need anyone say anymore? Despite that, there is plenty to talk about. Especially when the two of them meet in the NFL playoffs because memories abound. Chief among them is “The Ice Bowl” which was played on Dec. 31, 1967 at Lambeau Field. The winner was the champion of the NFL (which became the NFC) and advanced to Super Bowl II to meet the champion of the American Football League (which later became known as the AFC). This game is one of the most storied in the history of the National Football League. The postseason series resumes today when the Packers host the Cowboys in the NFC divisional playoffs.

The temperature at game time was -15 oF and the wind chill was about -48 oF. While Green Bay had the home field advantage that day, the elements were surely not friendly to either side. What edge the Packers had came from them just being used to it more during that time of the year compared to their visitors. It was so cold that attempts to heat the field backfired, transportation problems occurred, and equipment malfunctioned. Even though a tarpaulin covered the field in the days leading up to the game, it left moisture on the field which froze in a flash after the tarpaulin was removed. This created an icy surface on the field that got worse as the game wore on. The turf-heating system for the field malfunctioned and many players had difficulty starting their cars forcing them to make alternative transportation plans in order to get to the stadium on time. When the game did finally begin, referee Norm Schachter blew his whistle only to have it freeze to his lips. Upon freeing it from his lips, he ripped his skin off. The resulting blood just froze to his lips. The marching band from Wisconsin-State University LaCrosse (now The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse) could not perform their pre-game and half-time shows as their instruments froze and would not play. Several band members also got transported to area hospitals for hypothermia. This was literally a test of attrition and the limits of the human body were tested for every player, coach, official, fan, worker, and media person that day.

In the end, Green Bay won 21-17 on one of the most famous plays in NFL history. Bart Starr’s quarterback sneak from the

The bitter cold is shown hear from the fans' breath during "The Ice Bowl"

The bitter cold is shown hear from the breath of the fans cheering in the stands during “The Ice Bowl”

one-yard line on third and goal with 16 seconds left to play provided the winning score. Starr had called timeout prior to the play to discuss strategy with Green Bay coach Vince Lombardi. Knowing that the traction was difficult with the icy field, handing off to a running back or stepping back to make a throw would have been difficult. So Starr convinced Lombardi to sneak it in. In doing so, Starr followed a double team wedge block from right guard Jerry Kramer and center Ken Bowman against Dallas left defensive tackle Jethro Pugh to cross the goal line for the decisive score and a 20-17 lead. The extra point provided the final score. Dallas would down the ensuing Packers’ kickoff and could manage only two incompletions which ended the game. Jubliant Green Bay fans rushed onto the field knocking over players from both teams. It was the end to an iconic game in NFL annals.

Since then, Dallas and Green Bay have also had some lofty playoff history. For three straight seasons during the 1990’s, the Cowboys and Packers met in the playoffs. These meetings came at the height of the Cowboys dynasty period during the decade. Dallas won all three times and all three games were played at Texas Stadium in Irving, TX, the Cowboys prior home to their current plush digs at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX which opened in 2009. Behind the offensive brilliance of “the triplets” – Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin – along with a fast and aggressive defense, Dallas ended Green Bay’s season three straight years from 1993 through 1995 by a combined score of 100-53. The Cowboys beat Green Bay in the NFC divisional playoffs following the 1993 and 1994 seasons by respective scores of 27-17 and 35-9. The most memorable of those three games then came after the 1995 season when the two met for the NFC Championship. A very competitive game went back and forth into the fourth quarter before Dallas wore the Packers down en route to a 38-27 win. Smith ran 35 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns in the win which were all single game postseason career highs for him. Smith’s 35 carries and three touchdowns were also Cowboys single game playoff records which still stand as of this article. Read the rest of this entry →

NFL Playoffs Include Many Familiar Faces 6

Posted on December 29, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Led by quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray the Dallas Cowboys seem to have their best chance at making a playoff run since the days of Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman.

Led by quarterback Tony Romo and running back DeMarco Murray the Dallas Cowboys seem to have their best chance at making a playoff run since the days of Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman.

Technically the NFL trend of having at least five teams earn postseason bids after missing the playoffs the previous season held to form with the 2014 season, but there is something extremely familiar about all the teams vying to reach Super Bowl 49 (if the NFL isn’t going to use Roman Numerals for 50, I feel no obligation to use them for the upcoming game).

Six of the eight division champions for 2014 also won their division a year ago with Cincinnati yielding to Pittsburgh (though both teams are in the playoffs) and the Dallas Cowboys soaring past the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East.

Surprisingly, the longest playoff droughts to end this season belong to the Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals, who both last reached the playoffs in 2009. The Steelers and the Detroit Lions last reached the playoffs following the 2011 season.

After winning the Super Bowl following the 2012 campaign, the Baltimore Ravens missed the postseason in 2013, but are now in the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven years.

The four teams receiving a bye should be of little surprise, though in our “what have you done for me lately” society all four were written off at some point during the season.

Both the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots were sold down the river before the season had reached October, only to both rebound for 12 win seasons.

The defending champion Seattle Seahawks looked vulnerable after three early season losses and some less than inspiring offensive performances, but recovered to again win the NFC West and earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos looked powerful early, but seemed to lose some of their offensive compulsion in the final six weeks of the campaign and “limped” to a 12 win season, though that does represent the lowest victory total in Manning’s three seasons with the team.

The first weekend of playoff games should be quite interesting as each game has an interesting storyline.

The first game of the weekend will feature a team on their third quarterback traveling to face a team that finished the season with a losing record and actually had to win their last four games just to reach the postseason. The Carolina Panthers won five fewer games than in 2013, but surprisingly became the first team to repeat as NFC South champions since the division formed in 2002. Their opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, looked like a Super Bowl contender before losing their top two quarterbacks and leading rusher. Even with their third quarterback they seem to be a superior squad to the Panthers, but this will likely be a hard fought game where the home field could be enough to help Carolina pull out a win.
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One Career Ends And Another Is Born: Super Bowl XLVII Storylines 0

Posted on February 05, 2013 by Andy Larmand
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith celebrates on the field of the Superdome following Super Bowl XLVII.

Ravens receiver Torrey Smith celebrates on the field of the Superdome following Super Bowl XLVII.

The good news? Super Bowl XLVII had just about everything one could have asked for in the final professional football game for 213 days. It featured a pair of brothers facing off against each other, an icon of a generation going out on top, an energizing rookie quarterback, a jaw-dropping halftime show, an intentional safety, a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and one 33-minute power outage. Not to mention a furious comeback in the second half that fell just short of making it the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

The bad news? It’s the final football game for 213 days. It was a great one though.

As always, we have a lot to get to in the last edition of the weekly NFL storylines being that this was the final game of the 2012-13 season. I’d just like to thank God for giving me the fingers to type this with. God is so great.

Joe Flacco, Super Bowl XLVII MVP, tied the all-time record with 11 touchdown passes in a single postseason in the first Super Bowl since 2002 without either Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning. Only he and Joe Montana have ever accomplished that. All five quarterbacks to ever throw eight-plus touchdowns and no interceptions in the playoffs have won the Super Bowl. Ray Lewis is going out on top if you haven’t heard. After 12 seasons, Lewis won his second career title. It is the longest span between titles by any player in NFL history. Baltimore has won four straight against the 49ers, outscoring them 103-50. San Francisco lost its first Super Bowl in their history and Baltimore improved to 8-1 all-time as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. They also improved to 2-0 all-time in Super Bowls (won Super Bowl XXXV in 2000). When they won it all in 2000, they were the No. 4 seed as well and the last two Super Bowl champions have been the No. 4 seed in their respective conferences. The previous two meetings between these two teams featured a total of two touchdowns; this one had six.

Baltimore finished the regular season with a record of 10-6. In each of the last three seasons, the eventual Super Bowl champion finished the regular season with no better than 10 wins (Packers with 10 in 2010, Giants with nine last season). The NFC had won three straight Super Bowls before the Ravens win. The last AFC team to win a title before this was the Steelers in 2008. With 65 points being scored in the Super Bowl, the total from this postseason grew to 571, which broke the previous record of 530 set in 1995. No. 2 seeds had been 4-1 in their last five Super Bowl appearances before the 49ers’ loss. With Flacco winning MVP, six of the last seven Super Bowl MVP’s have been quarterbacks. Only Santonio Holmes in 2008 won the award as a non-quarterback. Baltimore became just the second team to ever win a championship after leading the league in penalty yards during the regular season (1974 Steelers). After 19.5 sacks in his first 13 games, Aldon Smith hasn’t recorded one since. In the Super Bowl, he had no sacks and made just two tackles. Six games are the longest he has ever gone without a sack.

No NFL team had ever even reached the Super Bowl after ranking 15th or worse in both total defense and total offense during the regular season. The Ravens were the first and they won it all. Flacco has no interceptions in his last 195 pass attempts. With a second-quarter interception of Colin Kaepernick, Ed Reed tied the all-time record with his ninth career postseason interception. Baltimore improved to 11-5 in road or neutral playoff games in their history, the best win percentage of any NFL franchise. The 49ers had 15 former first-round picks on their roster for the Super Bowl to the Ravens’ eight, but Baltimore beat them anyway. With his first-quarter TD catch, the fourth for him this postseason, Anquan Boldin tied the amount he had in the regular season. Kaepernick was able to set the record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single postseason with 264. He came up just two yards shy of tying the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback in the Super Bowl as he finished with 62, but did have the longest ever TD run by a quarterback in the big game with his 15-yarder.

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Family Reunion In New Orleans And The Rest Of The Championship Weekend Storylines 0

Posted on January 22, 2013 by Andy Larmand
Super Bowl XLVII is set. The Ravens will take on the 49ers in the Superdome.

Super Bowl XLVII is set. The Ravens will take on the 49ers in the Superdome.

The good news? The Super Bowl is now less than two weeks away. The bad? It is the last NFL game until next September. On the second-to-last meaningful weekend of football, four teams – three that were there last year – fought for the right to travel to New Orleans and play in Super Bowl XLVII.

The 49ers and the Ravens would come out on top after the Falcons couldn’t hold a big lead and the Patriots couldn’t produce a single point in the second half. What do the two winners have in common? They are coached by a pair of brothers – who will be facing off in the Super Bowl with a pair of quarterbacks who have never been there before.

It wasn’t a good day for the high seeds and home teams as both the Patriots (28-13) and Falcons (28-24) saw their respective seasons come to a close.

For the first time ever, the San Francisco 49ers have reached the Super Bowl as the conference’s No. 2 seed with a comeback from 17 down against the Falcons in Atlanta. They will be making their sixth ever appearance in the big game and are 5-0 so far. Matt Ryan threw for 396 yards while posting a 114.8 passer rating – both franchise playoff records – but his three touchdowns were accompanied by one big interception to Chris Culliver late in the game. His record fell to 34-7 in his career at home. Colin Kaepernick didn’t have nearly the game he had last week as he ran the ball just two times for a total of 21 yards and threw for 233 and a touchdown. Coming into the game, Atlanta had allowed 8.9 yards per rush to quarterbacks in 2012. Kaepernick averaged 10.5 yards on his two carries. His passer rating of 127.7 topped Ryan’s, though, as he helped San Francisco to become the first team to reach consecutive conference championship games with two different starting quarterbacks since the Redskins did it in 1986-87. This was the first time since the Falcons migrated from the NFC West in 2002 that they have fallen to the ‘Niners. They have only won two playoff games in a season once – in 1998 (the only year they made the Super Bowl).

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