Jan 022013
 

Seahawks - RedskinsThe Seattle Seahawks can take solace in the fact that the road to the Lombardi Trophy for the past two Super bowl winners—Green Bay and New York—came less a home game for either team. Thankfully, for the rest of the NFC playoff field, the unfriendly confines of CenturyLink Field will remain out of play this post season barring a Vikings-Seahawks matchup. In 2012, Seattle defeated only one team—the Chicago Bears—with a winning record on the road. Nonetheless, other than their opponent, no team heads into the post season hotter. While Washington has won its last 7 starts, Seattle has put together wins in 7 of 8 games during a stretch that has seen them give up more than 17 points only once and score 58, 50, and 42 points in succession.

For Washington, they can look no further than the Seahawks themselves for a prime example of how a home game wild card weekend can prove to be a tremendous advantage against a team that may either match or exceed them in virtually all aspects of the game. While home cooking has not correlated to championship success in recent seasons, it did help a 7-9 Seattle team upend the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints that traveled to Seattle sporting an 11-5 record in 2010. This game is more evenly matched than that game was. Washington, the only playoff team in either conference with 3 home losses, has reversed their early season home misfortunes by winning their last 4 home games—all virtual must win occurrences.

The Keys for Seattle
Seattle’s defense relies heavily on strict gap assignment football—they will need to stay disciplined to stop the league’s number one rushing attack. Assuming they are able to contain Alfred Morris and a physically limited Robert Griffin III, Washington will attempt to exploit man coverage from the Seattle secondary. CB Brandon Browner is back from suspension and Richard Sherman had his overturned. Additionally, Safety’s Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas have been adept at stopping both the run and pass all season. Colin Kaepernick and Cam Newton, the top two running QB’s to face Seattle this season, collectively scored 25 points against Seattle. Limiting the cutback lanes for Alfred Morris and Griffin and winning the one-on-one battles against the Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon, and Leonard Hankerson will be paramount factors if Seattle is to win on the road.

Washington’s three interceptions against Dallas in their division title clinching performance in Week 17 were more story of Tony Romo’s ineptitude than Washington’s prowess. Offensively, Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle rushing attack has allowed Russell Wilson to exploit the opposition all season long with the play action and to compensate for a lack of talent amongst Seahawk receivers. This will have to continue for Seattle to move on to the divisional round. Washington gave up 281.9 yards per game through the air this season which is more indicative of who they are as a defense than the three pick performance and the 18 points they held Dallas to.

The Keys for Washington
Washington held opponents to 96 yards per game rushing throughout the season. In order to win they must limit a Seattle rushing attack that averaged 161 yards per game and limit the ability of Russell Wilson to feed off the play action. While Washington’s secondary is weak, Seattle’s Achilles heel is its lack of talent at WR—limiting Seattle’s running game and taking away the play action should ground the Seattle passing attack and compensate for Washington’s inadequacy in the secondary.

Offensively, Alfred Morris will need to continue on the course of success he has been on. The rookie rushed for 1613 yards and, more importantly, he came up with a 200 yard 3 touchdown performance in Week 17 with Griffin’s ground game being limited due to injury. If Morris’ cutback game can exploit the league’s 10th ranked rushing defense—and the condition of RG III’s knee improves, the Redskins will be better equipped to deal with the Seattle blitz and physical nature of their pass defense.

The Outcome
The two quarterbacks would easily be the Rookie of the Year in virtually any season had they not come out in the same year. The feature backs are separated by 23 yards on the season. The hot streak that both teams are on is equally incredible and all things point to this game being a pick ‘em type affair. In such cases it’s easy to side with the home team. However, there is one area where these teams are not at least close to even: The Seattle defense is better, particularly against the pass, and has fared well against moving quarterbacks. Seattle 28 – Washington 20

Update: Please note this article was first published with an incorrect note that Seattle was 10-5-1. This has since been corrected.

Dec 202012
 

christmas-treeMy goodness, Widows. We are nearing the end of the road on this year’s regular NFL season. I am sure that your fan is eagerly awaiting the most exciting day of the year. The day that fills a football fan’s home with sounds of cheer and delightful smells of food from the kitchen. The day when friends and families gather to celebrate that which is truly important…FOOTBALL! Oh, wait…did you think that I meant Christmas? Sorry, Widows. I meant the Superbowl.

Just so all of you know that I have not been truly converted from Widow to Fan, I turn to one of my tried and not-so-true methods of choosing my teams for this week. Quarterbacks. In particular, which one that I would rather see in my stocking this year if Santa were giving me a cute Quarterback for Christmas. To be short, sweet and to the point so that I can get back to wrapping presents and baking cookies- I appreciate the ability to see nice looking young men when I watch the games and if you can’t be grateful during the holiday season, when can you?

This week, due to the way the holiday falls, we have no Monday night game. In fact, no more Monday night football until next fall. (pausing for any shouts of joy…). Instead we have a Saturday matchup between the Falcons and the Lions. I find Matt Ryan more aesthetically pleasing, so I choose a Falcons win.

Here’s the rest. Happy Holidays to all three of my readers!

Week 16 Widow’s Picks

Falcons over Lions (see above)

Packers over Titans (Locker is cute. Rodgers is cuter)

Panthers over Raiders (I love a Cam Newton smile)

Dolphins over Bills (Ryan Tannehill…and his wife is gorgeous too)

Bengals over Steelers (I usually don’t go for red heads like Andy Dalton, but I can’t wrap my head around finding Ben Roethlisberger the slightest bit attractive and I certainly don’t want to wake up Christmas day and find him under my tree.)

Patriots over Jaguars (Probably not a surprise, but I NEED Tom to come through for me this week and show us that is a far more than a pretty face.)

Colts over Chiefs (Two nice looking quarterbacks, chosen by likelihood of actual winner)

Cowboys over Saints (Tony Romo over Drew Brees)

Redskins over Eagles (I am a big RG III fan)

Buccaneers over Rams (Freeman over Bradford)

Ravens over Giants (I don’t find Eli attractive. At all.)

Texans over Vikings (Matt Schaub over Christian Ponder. I just prefer his looks)

Browns over Broncos (Sorry Manning…See comment above re: Eli…)

Cardinals over Bears (I like the Cardinals’ new guy)

Seahawks over 49ers (Tough call. Colin Kaepernik is a cutie. In the end, I opted for less ink.)

Chargers over Jets (I had to change this one 6 times during the season due to the Jets quarterback crisis.)

Dec 192012
 

Chris HarrisOf course no one can stay at the top of our Power Rankings for more than a couple of weeks, so the Patriots have given way to a new #1 this week. This week’s Power Rankings capture our thoughts on each team in five words or less, so here we go. Thanks to our contributors for some wonderfully smarmy commentary. We welcome our readers to offer some smarmy comments as well.

Week 15 Power Rankings

1. Denver Broncos (11-3, W9, +1) – Tebow got them this far…

2. San Francisco 49ers (10-3-1, W2, +1) – Pure power football

3. New England Patriots (10-4, L1, -2) – Turnovers + Short Field = Loss

4. Atlanta Falcons (12-2, W1, +1) – Who cares until the playoffs?

5. Houston Texans (12-2, W1, -1) – How good is this team?

6. Green Bay Packers (10-4, W3, +1) – QB = Good, Kicker=Bad

7. Seattle Seahawks (9-5, W3, +3) – Fake punt!?!

8. New York Giants (8-6, L1, -2) – Better turn it on quick

9. Indianapolis Colts (9-5, L1, -1) – Who would have thunk?

10. Washington Redskins (8-6, W5, +2) – RG III + Cousins = Great Draft

11. Cincinnati Bengals (8-6, W1, +2) – Best of Bad Division

12. Baltimore Ravens (9-5, L3, -3) – Injuries + Flacco = Fading Fast

13. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7, L2, -2) – Their history won’t save them

14. Dallas Cowboys (8-6, W3, +2) – Such a tease…

15. Minnesota Vikings, (8-6, W2, +2) – Is Adrian Peterson the MVP?

16. Chicago Bears (8-6, L3, -1) – Now I’m free… free falling…

17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8, L4, -3) – Go back to creamsicle unis!

18. New Orleans Saints (6-8, W1, +1) – Sean Payton is getting paid

19. St. Louis Rams (6-7-1, L1, -1) – Silence of the Lambs

20. Cleveland Browns (5-9, L1, +1) – Fire. Pat. Shurmer. Now.

21. Miami Dolphins (6-8, W1, +3) – 2nd best in AFC East

22. New York Jets (6-8, L1, -2) – Just. End. The. Season.

23. San Diego Chargers (5-9, L1, U) – Underachievers week after week

24. Carolina Panthers (5-9, W2, +2) – Cam does good commercials

25. Buffalo Bills (5-9, L2, -3) – They have good wings

26. Detroit Lions (4-10, L6, -1) – Megatron > Suh

27. Tennessee Titans (5-9, W1, U) – Uniforms and play both ugly

28. Arizona Cardinals (5-9, W1, +3) – 1 Team, 3 Bum QBs

29. Philadelphia Eagles (4-10, L1, -1) – Dream Team playing out string

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-12, L3, -1) – Ready to forfeit this Sunday

31. Oakland Raiders (4-10, W1, +1) – They beat the Chiefs!

32. Kansas City Chiefs (2-12, L2, -2) – They lost to the Raiders!

Week 15 Recap

 Posted by
Dec 182012
 

Brandon CarrWhat did Week 15 teach us? For starters, it taught us that the AFC North is a mess and the Bengals might be the best team in the division. We also learned that the Redskins can function pretty well even without RG III, that Seattle’s offense may need to be taken seriously, and that the New York Jets are in fact what we thought they were. Finally, we learned that the Patriots can make mistakes just like everyone else, and that a New England – San Francisco re-match in the Super Bowl just might be a hell of a game.

Here is our Week 15 recap.

Week 14 Recap

 Posted by
Dec 102012
 

Week 14 offered us some amazing individual performances while also managing to make the playoff picture a bit murkier. The AFC division winners are all but set, as is the fifth seed, but the sixth seed became more competitive when both the Steelers and the Bengals lost on Sunday. In the NFL, Atlanta blew an opportunity to wrap up a first round bye, while the NFL wildcard race become more ferocious, and the NFC East is promising a pitched battle in the season’s final few weeks.

Here is our Week 14 recap:

Nov 282012
 

There’s a shake up at the top of the Power Rankings this week, as our contributors seem to have had enough of the narrow victories coming from both the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans. Yes, they keep winning, but the victories themselves raise questions as to whether either team will survive the divisional round of the playoffs.

Our new Number One? It’s the New England Patriots, who have now won five straight and seem to be pulling away from the pack as we hit the home stretch of the regular season. The Patriots’ consecutive beat downs of both the Colts and Jets (teams that they should beat down), have us believing that the team is starting to peak at exactly the right time. The bigger question is whether the Patriots can sustain that into February, and tough home tests against both the Texans and the 49ers in the next three weeks will help us gauge whether or not they really deserve the top spot. The 49ers come in second this week, and might have come in first, save for the uncertainty surrounding Jim Harbaugh’s creation of a quarterback controversy in the City by the Bay. We like Colin Kaepernick and think the offense is more dynamic with him on the field, but Alex Smith has done nothing but win in his last 26 contests (20-5-1). So exactly why is Kaepernick starting? Having him start in the post-season would be an invitation to destruction as top teams begin to scheme on how to beat the developing star. The team’s consistency has improved of late, but playing quarterback games doesn’t seem like a recipe for success.

Here are our Week 12 rankings:

1. New England Patriots (8-3, +3, W5) – The Patriots are still fighting for a first round bye, but seem poised to make another of their late season runs; will it net Super Bowl success this time around?

2. San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1, U, W2) – Kaepernick is the future, but why isn’t Smith the present?

3. Houston Texans (10-1, -2, W5) – Will Gary Kubiak be sending Jim Schwartz a pack of red hankies for Christmas?

4. Atlanta Falcons (10-1, -1, W2) – OK, we’re pretty sure they’ll score more than two points in the playoffs, but why are they feeling like a one and done team?

5. New York Giants (7-4, +3, W1) – Is it that time of the year again?

6. Baltimore Ravens (9-2, -1, W4) – Will gifts like last Sunday keep happening, or is this team’s luck about to run out?

7. Denver Broncos (8-3, U, W6) – Is Peyton Manning simply changing where he has great regular seasons, only to flame out in the playoffs?

8. Chicago Bears (8-3, +1, W1) – Nice win against the Vikings, but are we the only ones waiting for this team to collapse?

9. Green Bay Packers (7-4, -3, L1) – And if the Bears collapse, can the Packers catch them?

10. Indianapolis Colts (7-4, +5, W1) – They responded well to a blowout loss, now can they take control of a playoff spot?

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5, +1, L1) – With a tough loss out of the way, can they bounce back like Indy and nudge the Seahawks out of the way for a playoff spot?

12. Cincinnati Bengals (6-5, +4, W3) – They are making noise now, but can they beat the Steelers and Ravens in Weeks 16 and 17, when things really matter?

13. Seattle Seahakws (6-5, -2, L1) – Are they ever going to win again outside of Seattle?

14. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5, -4, L2) – Do they really have any chance without a healthy Ben?

15. New Orleans Saints (5-6, -2, L1) – Is the offensive line really as bad as the defense, or did it just look that way?

16. Minnesota Vikings (6-5, -2, L1) – They really were just pretending this year, weren’t they?

17. Washington Redskins (5-6, +3, W2) – Have the Redskins finally left the NFC East basement for good?

18. Dallas Cowboys (5-6, -1, L1) – If the Cowboys got diagnosed for collective Schizophrenia, would the medication get the team in trouble for using performance enhancing drugs?

19. Detroit Lions (4-7, -1, L3) – Are the Lions victims of bad luck, or are they their own worst enemies?

20. St. Louis Rams (4-6-1, +4, W1) – Will that tie cost the Rams a shot at a wildcard?

21. Buffalo Bills (4-7, +1, L1) – Is Chan Gailey preventing the offense from performing better?

22. Miami Dolphins (5-6, +3, W1) – Will the Patriots crush the Fins wildcard hopes this weekend?

23. Arizona Cardinals (4-7, -4, L7) – Is this team only a quarterback away, or do seven straight losses signify a much deeper problem?

24. Cleveland Browns (3-8, +3, W1) – Did the Browns just cost themselves a top five draft pick?

25. Tennessee Titans (4-7, -2, L1) – Do you think Peyton knew this was coming when he decided to play in Denver?

26. San Diego Chargers (4-7, -5, L3) – 4th and 29? Seriously? Exactly why does Norv Turner still have a job?

27. New York Jets (4-7, -1, L1) – Between the “butt fumble” and refusal to make personnel changes, why do Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez still have jobs?

28. Carolina Panthers (3-8, +1, W1) – Is Cam Newton really handling adversity well, or do things just always look better after a win?

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-9, +1, W1) – How eager do you think Shahid Khan is to start cleaning house?

30. Philadelphia Eagles (3-8, -2, L7) – Exactly why does Andy Reid still have a job?

31. Oakland Raiders (3-8, U, L4) – Did Al Davis’ will require that the Raiders keep playing the way they did when he was alive?

32. Kansas City Chiefs (1-10, U, L8) – Exactly why do Romeo Crennel and Scott Pioli still have jobs?

Nov 052012
 

Week 9 saw the Atlanta Falcons tip the Dallas Cowboys and bring their record to 8-0. Although the Falcons are unlikely to run the table, they have a very favorable chance at a first round bye and hold a one game advantage for home field throughout the NFC playoffs. Charles Tillman alone is keeping the Chicago Bears in striking distance, though he had plenty of help from his teammates in their blowout of the Tennessee Titans.

Here is your Week 9 recap:

  • Norv Turner keeps his job for another week as the Chargers roll over the Chiefs 31-13 behind a solid defensive effort and a good night from Philip Rivers
  • Broncos edge Bengals 31-23 as Peyton Manning rallies with three touchdown passes; Eric Decker has 8 catches for 99 yards and two touchdowns
  • Ravens beat Browns 25-15 behind Ray Rice’s 98 yards in a game that the Browns lost as much as the Ravens won; the game spoils a 105 yard rushing effort by Trent Richardson
  • Packers on right track and Cardinals on wrong one as Green Bay pounds Arizona 31-17; Rodgers under 50% completion rate, but still puts up four touchdown passes
  • Texans dismantle Bills 21-9 in the return on Mario Williams; Arian Foster runs for 111 yards and a score
  • Andrew Luck sets rookie passing record with 433 yards in Colts’ 23-20 win over the Dolphins; Donnie Avery and TY Hilton both tally more than 100 receiving yards in the win
  • Lions impressive in second straight game as they rout the Jaguars 31-14; Mikel Leshoure runs for three touchdowns in the second quarter as the Lions find a running game
  • The Bears crush the Titans 51-20 as Charles Tillman forces four fumbles, Brian Urlacher grabs a pick six and Jay Cutler connects with Brandon Marshall for three touchdowns
  • Panthers sack RG3 four times as Carolina beats a sloppy Washington team 21-13; Cam Newton and DeAngelo Williams stay classy in win (not)
  •  Doug Martin rushes for franchise record 251 yards as Buccaneers hold off the Raiders 42-32; Carson Palmer (414 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT) schizophrenic in loss
  • Seahawks power past Vikings 30-20 as Marshawn Lynch rushes for 124 yards and Russell Wilson throws three touchdown passes; Adrian Peterson rushes for 182 yards and two touchdowns in defeat
  • Steelers rally to edge Giants 24-20; Isaac Redman runs for 147 yards and a touchdown and Eli Manning has a woeful passing day
  • Falcons beat Cowboys 19-13 to stay perfect; Michael Turner rushes for 102 yards and a score and Matt Bryant connects on four field goals in the win
  • still to come: Eagles @ Saints
Oct 082012
 

Week Five saw a record setting performance by Drew Brees and the renewal of the Tom Brady – Peyton Manning rivalry, as well as upset wins by the Rams, Colts, and Dolphins. The Bills gave up 45 points to the 49ers on Sunday, meaning their defense has surrendered 97 points in just two games.  On the otjher side of the extreme, no touchdowns were scored in the Ravens-Chiefs battle, while the Seahawks’ defense’ suffocated Cam Newton and the Panthers.

Here are your Week Five Results:

 

Oct 032012
 

It is a breath of fresh air that this week we find ourselves talking about the play on the field, rather than the poor officiating. The early season upsets, for the most part, are starting to wear off as we begin to get a handle on who the power players are that will be fighting for post-season spots. Sure there are some surprises (such as Minnesota and Arizona), but we also have the normal constants in the NFL universe battling for supremacy.

Here are our Week Four Power Rankings:

1. Houston Texans (4-0, +1) – The Texans grab the top spot after a blowout win over the Titans

2. Atlanta Falcons (4-0, -1) – The Falcons slip to #2 after needing a last minute comeback to overcome the Panthers, but Matt Ryan and the Falcons are for real

3. San Francisco 49ers (3-1, +3) – They made the Jets look hideous on Sunday, though to be fair the Jets were already doing a good job of that themselves

4. Baltimore Ravens (3-1, U) – Two close wins over the Patriots and Browns have the Ravens battling the Bengals for control of the AFC North; Flacco not looking elite, but may be looking good enough

5. Arizona Cardinals (4-0, -2) – Yes, they are still undefeated, but they struggled against a poor Dolphins team

6. New England Patriots (2-2, +1) – They won by 24 points and still gave Bill Belichick plenty to scream about this week

7. Philadelphia Eagles (3-1, +4) – The Eagles have scored six touchdowns in four games; this castle is built on sand

8. New York Giants (2-2, -3) – To be honest, Eli did enough to steal a win from the Eagles; he needs to talk to his receivers about hugging cornerbacks downfield

9. Green Bay Packers (2-2, -1) – The Packers defense can thank Garrett Hartley for pulling them out of the fire

10. Chicago Bears (3-1, +3) – What do you know… the good Jay Cutler showed up this week

11. Cincinnati Bengals (3-1, -1) – Dalton, Green, and an improving defense are off to a fast start; could be a two team race with the Ravens

12. Minnesota Vikings (3-1, +7) – Vikes can thank a meltdown by the Lions’ special teams, but the truth is this team looks better than many people thought it would

13. Denver Broncos (2-2, +4) – Manning looks great against the Raiders; will their defense be able to stop the Patriots?

14. San Diego Chargers (3-1, +6) – Rivers looks better, and defense forces six turnovers to help Chargers rebound from blowout loss in Week Three

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (1-2, -1) – Early bye week helps team get healthy in time for the Eagles to invade

16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2, -4) – The Ghost Rat says that the Dallas Cowboys will never win a Super Bowl with Tony Romo at the helm; of course his performance against the Bears doesn’t exactly make this prediction look like a stretch

17. Washington Redskins (2-2, +4) – Redskins look they will play a lot of close games this year; they may or may not make the playoffs but will be the team no one wants to play

18. Seattle Seahawks (2-2, -9) – Similar to the Redskins; an 8-8 bound team that can surprise people

19. St. Louis Rams (2-2, +4) – We don’t think the winning will continue at this pace, but the Rams are no longer at the bottom of the pyramid

20. Buffalo Bills (2-2, -5) – There’s a new book out; “How to go from upstart to roadkill in 30 minutes“, by the Buffalo Bills

21. Detroit Lions (1-3, -3) – They get a bye this week, but the losing may not be over

22. Carolina Panthers (1-3, +4) – A game effort against the Falcons, and Cam seems to be waking his team up; beating the Seahawks would be a good step in the right direction

23. New York Jets (2-2, -7) – Why is Mark Sanchez a starting quarterback in the National Football League? Anyone? Bueller?

24. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-3, -2) – Freeman is playing well, but they need a rushing attack

25. Miami Dolphins (1-3, +3) – They almost pulled off the upset against the Cardinals, but starting Tannehill over Moore dooms this to be another lost year for the Fins

26. Indianapolis Colts (1-2, +5) – We wish you a speedy recovery, Chuck Pagano

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3, -2) – They looked awful against the Bengals; destined to be at the bottom of our rankings this season

28. New Orleans Saints (0-4, +2) – Bad teams find a way to lose games; New Orleans is a bad team

29. Oakland Raiders (1-3, -5) – They just teased us a little with that win over the Steelers…

30. Tennessee Titans (1-3, -3) – Back to Matt Hasselbeck for now, but it won’t matter

31. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3. -2) – By all accounts Romeo Crennel is a great person and a good coach; but none of it seems to be helping the hapless Chiefs

32. Cleveland Browns (0-4, U) – When Jimmy Haslam is approved as the new owner later this month, look for the heads to start rolling quickly

Sep 162012
 

So what are the highlights in Week Two? The Giants came from way down to beat the upset-minded Buccaneers, while to cardinals pulled off the real deal against the Patriots. The Jets’ offense crash-landed against the Steelers, while Joe Flacco (pictured) took out his pacifier just long enough to whine after the Eagles tipped the Ravens. The Browns and Raiders lost again (what else is new?) and the Seahawks ripped the Cowboys at home. So much for thinking all of their (‘Boys) problems were cured. Finally, the Saints fell to 0-2. Well, at least there’s no hangover from Bountygate.

In total, here are the results from Week Two:

Still to come: Denver-Atlanta