Thursday, January 16, 2014

2013 NFL Conference Championship Previews

SF at SEA (-3.5)

The Seattle Seahawks will beat the San Francisco 49ers and the game will come down to 4 players and dessert.

Colin Kaepernick’s security blanket, Anquan Boldin will not get free releases against the Seahawks defense and he won’t be able to consistently beat man coverage as Boldin normally makes his hay finding the soft spot in the zone. With Sherman locking up Michael Crabtree it’s going to come down to Vernon Davis and Kaepernick’s legs. While that will move the ball and extend drives, that will not put up the touchdown’s needed to win.

Conversely, nearly the same argument could be made for the Seahawks offense; it’s going to come down to two, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch.  Advantage Seahawks on this one, because when Wilson rolls out on the edge, he looks to pass first, run second.  This not only moves the ball and extends drives, but sets up the big play to Doug Baldwin or Golden Tate.

Jim Harbaugh wants his ‘cake and he wants it now,’ but all Pete Carroll is serving up is the ‘old fruit salad’ in the 12th man 'froggy voice.’

NE at DEN (-5)

Spotting Tom Brady and Bill Belichick 5 points on the road seems like 2 or 3 points too many.  From 2000-2004 Peyton Manning was 1 and 7 against the Patriots, but since 2005 Peyton Manning is 5-4. However, he has lost his last 3, including earlier this year in overtime – by 3 points.  What’s alarming in that trend is that Manning has still put in work. In his last three losses to the Patriots he has amassed 883 passing yards, 9 touchdowns and 4 int’s for a near per game average of 300 yards and 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.  So we now know that even if Peyton plays well, he’s not set up to overcome the Belichick-Manning mystique.

So what do the Patriots do to gain an edge and insure their odds of winning?  The same thing they’ve done the last two games without mercy; run the ball. In New England’s last two games they have ran the ball 89 times vs. attempting only 49 passes.  The ability to run the ball and not only control the clock, while keeping Peyton off the field will be critical to the Patriots success.  I’m sure Belichick will take away Welker, but that still leaves Julius Thomas, Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas.

Even if the Broncos are able to put up points, the loss of top 10 corner Chris Harris will put Denver in a tough spot trying to stop Danny Amendola and all-purpose yards wonder, Julian Edelman; both of whom I suspect will have big games while Wes Welker watches from across the field.

Should this be a pick’em, I think I’d pick the Broncos at home. However, the 5 points have alerted my 5 senses, and recent history suggests that when you see, hear, taste, touch or smell when picking Peyton vs. Belichick; the money goes to Bill and the 5 points are gravy.