Tag Archives: Seattle Seahawks

The Ave Podcast – The NFL Playoffs + Obama’s Farewell

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee. Episode 15: The NFL Playoffs + Obama’s Farewell

Happy New Year everyone! Today on the first episode of The Ave Podcast for 2017, I break down the NFL’s Divisional Playoff round with my friend and football fanatic Roger Callender, as we comb through each playoff game this week. Also, we discuss Barack Obama’s last days in office as President of the United States. We discuss his farewell speech, the impact he had, and the future of America in the hands of Donald T. Trump.

*** Thanks for tuning in, and don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and the blog below. Also, the podcast is available for download. *** 

The Ave Podcast with Cal Cee // Episode 15


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Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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Four Down Journey: Super Bowl Questions

Welcome to the Four Down Journey where Peyton Manning attempts to win the Lombardi trophy in his brother’s backyard; where Russell Wilson looks to become the second black QB to win a Super Bowl; where we don’t overanalyze the Richard Sherman topic; and where we support Marshawn Lynch because…well, he’s just ’bout that action.

Today we look to answer the Super Bowl questions from a different perspective.

File:Super Bowl XLVIII logo.png

What is the most important matchup for Super Bowl XLVIII?

I know you might be expecting me to say Peyton Manning versus Richard Sherman and the Seahawks secondary, & while I do think that it’s a very important factor of the game, it’s not the most important factor. This game, much like a lot of football games will come down to who will win in the trenches. In this case, it will be Seattle’s Defensive line led by Cliff Avril & Michael Bennett vs. Denver’s Offensive line led by Scarborough’s own Orlando Franklin. Seattle’s defensive levels has been flirting with some of the legendary defences that we’ve ever seen in the NFL, which we haven’t seen since the Ray Lewis led Baltimore Ravens team from 2000. However, the Broncos’ O-Line has kept Peyton Manning upright & clean all season. Peyton’s the best at picking teams apart, it doesn’t matter what kind of secondary is across the line from him…..as long as he has the time to throw. Much like Brady in this regard, you have to create a pass rush from the line in order to speed up his clock. If you blitz him, he will kill you. Send a secondary to blitz, he’ll find the open receiver before you’ll have the chance to hit him. Bennett & Avril did a great job in the NFC championship collapsing the pocket & getting Colin Kaepernick to turn the ball over 3 times in the 4th quarter. They will have to win that matchup in order to get real pressure on Manning. If not, it could be a long day for Seattle overall.

One rumor I’ve been hearing about is that they have signed DE Steve Lattimer to help them deal with Manning last week, but found out that it may not be a good idea to keep him after they told him he would be starting in New York…..

…..okay, maybe this didn’t happen. I’ll try to lay off the PED jokes. I won’t promise though.

Will there be a scandal that overshadows the Super Bowl?

In other words, will there be anything like the Eugene Robinson story or someone mentally snapping like Barrett Robbins on Saturday night? Hard to say. If you remember, Robinson (the starting free safety for the Atlanta Falcons) the night before Super Bowl 33, was arrested for picking up a prostitute who was posing as an undercover cop…..with his wife sleeping at the hotel. To make matters worse, he picked up the Bart Starr Award that same evening from the Athletes in Action Christian group for his community work & his high moral character. You couldn’t make this up. Of course John Elway picked on him immediately resulting in an 80-yard TD to Rod Smith that went sailing right over Robinson’s head, attributing to a 34-17 loss for the Falcons.

With Robbins (who was the Pro Bowl starting Center for the Oakland Raiders), he had a mental breakdown after not taking his depression medication and was so far gone that he reportedly told his wife he was in Tijuana partying & drinking, thinking the Raiders already won the Super Bowl. Losing your Pro-Bowl player hours before the game? Well, I think you know what happened next.

Being that we live in the social media culture right now, it would be extremely dumb to act foolish the night before the big game, but as we all know, athletes will do the dumbest things regardless on who has a smartphone around them. Although both teams are stationed in New Jersey for the week, Manhattan & Brooklyn and the whole “City That Never Sleeps” elements are literally across the Hudson. While I don’t think a scandal will happen this weekend, these crazy type of situations happen much more than you think. Don’t think these are the only two situations where drama unfolded behind the scenes during Super Bowl week, most teams just do a great job at keeping it under wraps. If something does happen though, it’s guaranteed to shut down Twitter.

Why does Marshawn Lynch have the problem?

Think about it. You are a person that doesn’t like to really speak to the media or grant much interviews; yet because of the NFL’s rules, you have to get microphones shoved in your face Super Bowl Tuesday & Wednesday to answer questions like, “Have you ever made it rain at a strip club?” & “What colored skittles taste the best?”. I understand part of an athletes job is to speak with the media, especially during the biggest event of the year, but to force someone to the tune of $100K for not speaking with reporters? Doesn’t he have the right to not speak if he doesn’t want to? He showed you all season that he doesn’t want to speak to the media, even taking the $50K fine at the end of the season. So now as a reporter, you’re mad that he doesn’t say much to you guys during a media scrum? He even said he’s only there so he doesn’t get fined.

There are so, so many players that you can interview with interesting stories on both teams, just pick one. Knowshon Moreno has a very good story about his life & upbringing. So does Demaryius Thomas whose mother & grandmother were running the streets like Avon Barksdale & Stringer Bell growing up, & are watching Sunday’s Super Bowl from prison. But the biggest story so far this week is about trying to interview a person that doesn’t want to be spoken with. Seems like a complete waste of time to me, & I don’t blame Lynch for it either. With that said, his interview with Deion Sanders on Media Day was one of the greatest third-person/hood talk moments I’ve seen in a long time. I’ll at least thank him for that.

Craziest player background story this week?

Doesn’t Demaryuis Thomas have to win this in a landslide? His Mother AND Grandmother are serving prison sentences for moving cocaine like Tony Montana! His grandmother is serving double life in jail. Double LIFE!!! If he ever says that he wasn’t supposed to be in this position in his life right now, you need to believe it.

Who’s the most underrated players playing on Sunday?

Denver RB Knowshon Moreno. He’s had an unexpected great season (I’m sure all of his fantasy owners can attest to this) as the lead back for the Broncos. The one weak part of Seattle’s defence — IF you want to call any part of their defence weak — is that with the right RB & scheme, you can run the football on them. The Rams, Saints, even the Bucanneers had some success running the ball against them this season. With all the offensive weapons that the Broncos have (which includes Montee Ball sharing the rock in the second half of games lately), it could possibly leave some lanes open for him to get to. I’ll go as far as to say he could be my dark horse for the Super Bowl MVP if the Broncos win.

Seattle WR Percy Harvin. Seattle’s secret weapon. No one on Denver knows what he’s going to do. Neither does Seattle. Neither does Harvin. He only played 39 snaps all season in between getting concussed & rehabbing from hip surgery. Now he’ll be unleashed in the Super Bowl. With that said, in the Divisional playoff game against the Saints, you can see the impact he had on the few plays that he did touch the ball, & the fact that the Saints defence keyed in on him whenever he did get on the field. He is a big-play guy that you have to account for. Most likely, he won’t be on the field for the majority of the snaps, but having him in their offense adds a new wrinkle that could cause problems for the Broncos…..if he doesn’t get decapitated by an injury before the Super Bowl intros are over.

Is everyone okay with Richard Sherman now?

While I won’t rehash the whole Sherman narrative (as it’s been beaten to death in the last two weeks), it is kinda shameful that social media raked him through the coals for loudly saying that he was the best at his position. I disagreed more with him running up to Michael Crabtree, and slapping his butt right after the game-ending INT to say, “Nice game.” That was more of an asshole-ish move than anything he said to Erin Andrews. Also, I don’t like the fact that he didn’t cream his ankles in that Nike commercial. Everything else I’m pretty much okay with. They’re two rival teams that hate each other, you’re not going to get the most complimentary things said out of a player’s mouth about the other team minutes after the game is over. Let’s move on!

Why is there a Super Bowl in the Tri-State Area?

There’s a term for this reason, it’s called “Get money“. Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL deciding to host one of the world’s biggest sporting event in such a major market. I mean, I get it. It’s a smart move, outside of Hollywood, all of the biggest talk shows & major TV networks have their offices in New York which leads to endless free promotion for the brand to the non-football public. Times Square has been turned into Super Bowl Blvd, and the overall intrigue of having a game in the New York area will have even more people than ever before watching it, specifically those who may not normally watch. However, the Super Bowl should never be played in a cold weather city unless it’s in a dome. You never want winter elements affecting the biggest game of the year. If it happens to be a blizzard, what then? Unlike the CFL, you have warm weather climate cities to avoid this. This game could have been played in Miami, San Diego, Houston, or in domed NFL cities such as Atlanta or Indianapolis. Shit, this game could have even been played in Pasedena, CA where the Rose Bowl resides, or Los Angeles (we’ll get to that one in a bit). With the amount of pressure on the players’ shoulders, trying to stay warm should not be another factor to be added to it. I’m hoping the game isn’t affected by the weather & thus far, the reports are the weather shouldn’t be too cold or windy. Having the Super Bowl in the Tri-State area may have benefitted the NFL in a lot of ways, but it doesn’t benefit the players who actually have to play on the field in the Meadowlands.

Who’s winning the Super Bowl?

As a 49ers fan — & I will try to say this without my stomach bubbling — I have to give respect to the Seahawks. The last two years they have shown themselves as a true force in the NFL, they have great players on both sides of the ball, they have a great coaching staff, & most importantly, I hate the fact that they are in the same division as my 49ers. It bothers me because they pretty much mirror each other in talent & depth, with their youth they’ll be around for a long time. And because of this rivalry, I can’t enjoy watching them play as much as I would like because their success directly impacts us. They had a phenomenal year, they were consistently the best team in the NFC, & they deserve to be at the Super Bowl this year……just so they can see Peyton Manning hoist his second Super Bowl trophy.

I’m not saying this with bias either, I really do feel like it is Manning’s time. After the season he’s had, all the accolades, the records broken, the 5th MVP trophy he’ll collect tonight, the stars are all set up for him to get it done. He hasn’t faced anything like the defence he will see across the line, but he is faced with some of the best weapons around him on offense that you can possibly have. The Broncos defense has been playing a lot better these last few weeks as well, led by Terrence “Pot Roast” Knighton, and I’m not confident that Seattle will be able to keep up with the Broncos is they score more than 20 points. Denver has enough to get the job done in what I hope will be a great game. They have to, for my sanity. Please.

Final Score: Broncos 31, Seattle 23

Sideline Notes

Back to Los Angeles for a minute. Someone in Los Angeles bought 60 acres of land. 60 acres! Should that be a big deal? I think so, and here’s why. The person who bought that plot of land is, Stan Kroenke. He owns multiple teams, like the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche for starters.  One of the other teams he owns is the St. Louis Rams. Guess what? The lease they have with Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis expires after next season. Could they be returning home? Hmmm….. The more the NFL revs up its hype-marketing machine so the whole world can know about the Super Bowl & leaking some of the Super Bowl commercials to drive up the anticipation, just know it’s hoping to also drive you away from stories like Dwight Harrison. A great read about his fight for his NFL pension. Sad really…….. Macklemore feels bad apparently that he beat out Kendrick Lamar for best hip hop album. Not bad enough to give it to Kendrick or to even unclaim it and channel his inner Garth Brooks. With that said, I won’t knock Macklemore & Ryan Lewis because I did not listen to all but one song off of their album The Heist, so I can’t judge. But seeing them in every major category including a performance where they were going to perform their song “Same Love” on same sex marriages and relationships (which included marrying 33 couples at the same time during their performance), I knew no one in those hip hop categories stood a chance that night. Not Kendrick, not Drake, not Hov, not anyone. Biggie & Tupac would have lost last Sunday too. History was going to be made that night, not that there’s anything wrong with that…… “Lay back, kick back……mind my bidness, stay in my own lane….. Game time though, I’ll be thurr”…….. Looks like Andrew Wiggins is slowly starting to pick it. It will be interesting to see if he can raise his level of play as it gets closer to the tournament. If so, he may still be the #1 pick overall in June that everyone expected him to grab coming into the season…… I don’t even know what to say about Kevin Durant, other than the fact that he’s the MVP of the NBA. So far. It’s really between him and LeBron who’s trying to become the 1st player in history to win 5 MVPs in 6 years. The problem for LeBron: No one has won three straight MVPs since Larry Bird did it in 1986. Either because of voter fatigue or another playing simply rising to the cream of the crop, it doesn’t happen anymore. With Durant keeping Oklahoma City atop the standings of the Western Conference without Westbrook, it doesn’t look good right now for LeBron to achieve this goal…… “That’s huge……Beast Mode…..loves…….and appreciate that. Yes Lord.”

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

Follow me on Twitter or email me at southshoreave@gmail.com

Safe and happy times for all at your Super Bowl parties and events tomorrow night. Just remember, if you’re drinking, no driving.

Four Down Journey: #ChampionshipSunday

Welcome to the Four Down Journey where we pick up the shattered pieces of Cam Newton’s heart, where we wonder what happened to Jimmy Graham’s manhood against Seattle, where we wonder if anyone will stop to hit this Blount, & most importantly, where we quickly break down the AFC and NFC championship games coming Sunday night.

Before we get into the Downs, we have to double back and discuss what exactly happened to New Orleans TE Jimmy Graham. Graham — he of the 16 TDs, the All-Pro accolades, the goal post dunking, & the general beasting of defences everywhere this season — went missing vs. Seattle last Saturday night. About two hours before the game, he had to be separated from Seahawks players for trash talking & messing with his pregame routine. I’m sure every Saints fan saw this & said, “Yup, Graham’s gonna kill ’em! Let’s go right now! F*** Da Seahawks!!!” Most footballs fans watching this clip assumed it was on & we were going to get a great back & forth game……but then the Saints went out & scored zero points in the first half. Graham ended the game with one catch for 8 yards total (which he only got on the last drive).

Beyond the stats though, it was the way he got manhandled throughout that was disappointing. He was getting bumped off of routes, guys were popping him right off the line of scrimmage, & what’s worse, he wasn’t fighting for his space. The only thing he did with any consistency was complain to the refs. It was like watching your friend challenge the bully to an after school fight, only to see him get crammed into his locker afterwards by said bully. Unfortunately this actually happened to a friend of mine in high school. His only response after getting stuffed in his locker was to say he’s gonna work out through the summer & come back with his “football friends” to take him on again. It reminded me of those “When I grow up” milk commercials from back in the day. Yeah, still makes me sad when I think about it. Anyway, let’s get into it….

FIRST DOWN: Old School vs New School

These two conference championship games feature the best four teams in the league this year & more importantly, the four teams that everyone wanted to see. Also as important, these next few weeks could possibly determine going forward what the future of the QB position might look like in the NFL. In the AFC, we have the classic pocket QBs in Patriots Tom Brady & Broncos Peyton Manning whose style has proven over and over again to be successful. Both Brady & Manning have set numerous records, collected every accolade and award imaginable between them, & they have won Super Bowls. In the NFC, 49er QB Colin Kaepernick & Seahawk QB Russell Wilson best represent what was long supposed to be a threat to the standard QB style, but never was. Both of these players though have shown that they can command the pocket, make every throw accurately from there, while still making elite-level plays with their legs. They are everything that we wanted Michael Vick to be. Whoever comes out of this game in Seattle will be representing the future at the Super Bowl.

As Deion Sanders mentioned last Sunday on the NFL Network, this might affect the way NFL GM approach this year’s draft when looking for a QB. In pro sports, championship teams create copycats, and football is no different. If by chance, Kaepernick or Wilson is holding up the Lombardi trophy in a few weeks, GMs may start targeting the Johnny Manziels of these upcoming drafts to develop because they will see that you can win the big game with this style. NFL QBs can barely be touched now, so imagine accurate running QBs & the damage they can really do. Steve Young came the closest as a duel threat QB in terms of winning the big games, & Aaron Rodgers has the legs to move out of the pocket to make plays himself in today’s game, but none of these guys have the wheels Kaepernick & Wilson have. Looking at the youth on both Seattle & San Fran’s rosters, they won’t be going away anytime soon. It will be very intriguing to see if these two QBs — as well as Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton — can change the QB standards for the long haul.

SECOND DOWN: The Greatness of Bellicheck

Bill Bellichek has won 3 Super Bowls and is considered to be one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. When he goes into the Hall of Fame someday, they need to mention this season on his plaque. No one thought this team would be one game away from the Super Bowl halfway through the season. Think about it. Their best WR they had in the last 6 years will be catching passes across the field from them today. One of their two elite TEs (Rob Gronkowski) will be rehabbing from yet another season-ending injury, while the other TE (Aaron Hernandez) is too busy doing P90X workouts in his 8×6 cell. They also lost Vince Wilfork and Jerrod Mayo to season-ending injuries, Danny Amendola missed his usual chunk of games due to injuries (which at this point might be written up in his contract to do so), Shane Vereen missed about 9 games, & then the fumbling issues of their leading rusher Stevan Ridley regressed to the point that it’s rumored that the Pats made him hold a football at all times like Omar Epps had to in The Program. It’s understood that they play in a horrible division where they racked up easy wins, but they only went 4-2 against the AFC East. How the hell did this team go 12-4 with a 1st round bye???

Bellichek made the term, “Next Man Up” ring loudly in New England. They have replaced the weapons they lost by turning Julian Edleman into a 100-catch receiver, plugged in players like WRs Aaron Dobson and rookie Kembrell Thompkins wherever he could, Shane Vereen became their main RB catching passes out of the backfield, he’s tightened up the defense immensely, but one of the biggest weapons he help create is turn LaGarrette Blount loose. Blount, who was almost cut by this team at the beginning of the season has been on fire the last few weeks. In his last two games he’s run for 345 yards & 6 TDs. He looks slimmer than he did in his Tampa bay days, but still carried the same power. He has taken the torch from Ridley at this point of the reason to lead this new Patriot power rushing attack who destroyed the Colts D last week for 234 yards & 6 TDs. Why is it that good teams can turn players who were washed up into diamonds on their roster? Is it the foundation of professionalism? The winning mentality? Being within 6 degrees of separation from Gisele Bundchen? Whatever it is, the fact that Bellichek always finds a way to get the very best out of his players was never more true this season, and if they get past the Broncos on Sunday, it will be the most unlikely Super Bowl appearance since the 2001 season when they beat the St. Louis Rams.

THIRD DOWN: The New Rivalry

Let’s get this out of the way right now. The Niners – Seahawks rivalry has officially bumped out the Ravens – Steelers as the best rivalry in the NFL. Forgot about the players for a second, not even the coaches like each other very much, & this is going back to their USC-Stanford days. When Pete Carroll’s USC teams was tearing up the college ranks, it was Jim Harbaugh who came with his Stanford team & wasn’t afraid to punch USC back in the mouth to help end their dominant run of the Pac-10 Conference. It eventually led to the whole “What’s your deal?” beef in the postgame handshake after Stanford blew out USC in a 2009 game. After that season, Carroll left for Seattle. The year after that Harbaugh joins the 49ers & just like that, they’re both in the same division again. So you can see right from then that it would only be a matter of time until the Seahawks & Niners were going to take on that animosity too.

Ironically enough, both teams are built similarly. Both are built around smash-mouth run games, devastating defenses, young dual-threat QBs, & all overseen by head coaches that their players will die for. Since both of these teams have been in the NFC West together in 2011, San Fran leads the series 4-2. However, the home team has won each game in the last two years. Since last year’s Super Bowl, they been making moves & trades with each other in mind. They both knew they were going to be the best teams in the NFC, so they both began loading up on weapons highlighted by the Percy Harvin & Alquan Boldin moves within days of each other. The way those teams play each other is like chaos. Players get pummeled across the middle, guys getting carried off the field, & these are only the regular season games. With the Super Bowl at stake, they may want to clear our a wing at Tacoma General Hospital just in case. Which reminds me….

FOURTH DOWN: Who is heading to Super Bowl 48 in New York City?

AFC – New England vs. Denver

The way this season has been laid out for Peyton Manning, it has all the markings of a destiny-type run. He has a record breaking season for offense both individually and as a team. The team finished with homefield advantage again & this time will use that advantage in the conference title game. He’ll more than likely wrap up his 5th MVP in two weeks & has been by far the best player in the NFL all season. With his age & the fact that he’s had those four neck surgeries, he’s probably seeing that the end is near. Shit, he even said so himself. He can even get the chance to play the Super Bowl where his brother Eli calls home, & win one in his building like Eli did to him two years ago. The main obstacle outside of Brady & Bellichek of course is his own defence. They’ve been able to hide under the explosive offence this year, but they haven’t been the same to me since they lost Elvis Dumervil during the free agency faxing fiasco. Now they’ve lost their top CB Chris Harris on top of losing Von Miller a few weeks ago, I wonder if that will be too much rope for the Patriots to grab onto. With that said, I think the Broncos will barely survive & hop on that flight to New York in two weeks.

Final Score: Broncos 34, Patriots 32

NFC – San Francisco vs Seattle

Wow, this one is hard to decide. I should be thinking the Niners will have this one in the bag, but even I can’t completely dismiss the ass kickings the Seahawks put down on them during their last two visits to Seattle. As much as it pains me to say it……..I love Seattle’s defense, I honestly do. I’ve long been a fan of their secondary led by Richard Sherman because the size they possess is abnormal from what you would normally see from the average NFL corner or safety. Also, the Niners have had a hard time during the last three years controlling MarShawn Lynch in Seattle. He has been a problem for San Fran, he’s had either a TD or 100 yards rushing in the last 5 games vs. the 49ers according to Jamey Eisenberg from CBSsports.com. Needless to say he’s the weapon that has to be neutralized. Unlike the last two times in Seattle, I think they can and they will. The Niners are the hottest team in football right now, they have all their weapons back on both sides of the ball, & are clicking on all cylinders. It’s the most anticipated game of the year, we all know how much both teams despise each other. In fact, I’m going by my friend Julian’s house (the die-hard Seahawks fan I mention a few weeks ago) to watch tonight’s game, & I’m seriously considering sneaking a tire iron in my winter jacket lining just in case things get a little too rowdy for my liking (you never know what may happen in enemy territory). Everything’s lining up to be the best game of the year, but in the end, I think San Fran’s winning streak continues. Barely.

Final Score: 49ers 30, Seattle 26

Sideline Notes

I see the Cleveland Browns have yet to sign a head coach, with potential candidates having backed out of interviews. Yup, sounds about right. After they let go of a coach after one season in what was supposed to be a rebuilding period, would you trust them??….. After last night, I’m not 100% sure that I can watch Greg Oden play much live games right now. I can’t believe he’s 25 years old because he runs like he’s 55. Looking at him running around last night, I kept cringing every time he jumped in the air, hoping he wouldn’t shatter his bones from the waist down. It’s like I was the parent who watched their 2 year old running around the house with a vase in their hands. Every step they take is potentially devastating. I’m not 100% sure this is going to end well with the Heat, but I seriously hope I’m wrong…… Paul George’s dunk last night was sweet, but still doesn’t hold a candle to Vince Carter’s dunk from back in the day…… speaking of the Pacers, I never thought I’d see the day that I would be saying that Lance Stephenson is an All Star, but here we are. It’s not even because he’s in the East either. He’s been playing extremely well all season, his confidence is through the roof, & his swagger is hovering at the maximum RPMs. If this was the 90s, he would have gotten elbowed in the face by now. It’s true and you know it. BUT he deserves to be and will be in New Orleans during the all star break….. Finally, this may sound weird coming from a Sports Blog, but I’ve always have and will continue to dislike the amount of NBA games they have on Martin Luther King holiday. It should be a time for celebration to honour the one of the greatest men to walk the planet, and in a lot of ways, we do. But when you have ten games starting from the top of the afternoon all the way to the end of the night, it can kind of distract you from paying true homage to Mr. King. It would be nice if they would cut down on the games and have them at night only, but I know the NBA would never do that. I’m not sure where this tradition started, but it should be reduced.

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

Follow me on Twitter or email me at southshoreave@gmail.com

Four Down Journey: NFL Divisional Playoffs

Welcome to another edition of the Four Down Journey where we look forward to seeing the Luck-Brady matchup, where Peyton Manning tries to prove that he can win as much rings as his younger brother, where three of the best linebackers in the NFL meet up in Charlotte, and where New Orleans hopes that something like this doesn’t happen to them again in Seattle.

As we get closer to the Super Bowl in New York, you have to wonder just how good the actual Super Bowl will be if there’s a blizzard. If the weather on Feb 2nd is as disasterous as it has been across the East coast the last two weeks, the NFL might regret playing this game outdoors in a place that isn’t 85 degrees and balmy. You also have to ask will the skill & talent be affected by trying to adjust to the elements. How good will a receiver run his route when he’s trucking through a foot of snow? I can’t imagine playing in weather this cold, especially after reading an excerpt from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback post about the effects that former Chargers QB Dan Fouts has gone through since playing in the coldest game in NFL History 32 years ago….

“When it gets cold, Fouts feels pain in both feet and both hands from the middle of the hand to the fingertips—and has since Jan. 10, 1982, the day of the AFC Championship Game in Cincinnati between the Chargers and Bengals that was played in wind-chill that reached minus-59 degrees. The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote about this the other day, and Chris Mortensen reported on it Saturday morning. I spoke to Fouts Friday. “Nothing you can do about it,” he said on the phone. “It’s history. You just had to play in the game, and you had no idea this would come of it. The biggest problem, really, was there were no gloves for quarterbacks in those days. Kenny Anderson and I didn’t have the luxury that day that the guys today have.”

Wow. I guess it’s worth the sacrifice….but is it???? It may look great & I may enjoy it as much as I enjoyed watching the Lions – Eagles game back in Week 15, but having a blizzard for example affecting the Super Bowl is much different than having it affect a regular season game with so much at stake. Anyway, continue to bundle up people (for those that are still freezing through this ridiculous cold snap) & let’s get into it….

FIRST DOWN: New Orleans vs. Seattle

To say that the last two times New Orleans had to play in Seattle did not go so well is an understatement. Three years ago, an 11-5 Saints wild card team had to go up to Seattle to face a 7-9 Seahawk team who had the right to host a playoff game as the winner of the shittiest division in league history at the time. With the 12th man in full swing, they ended up losing the game after Marshawn Lynch beasted through the whole team on his legendary drive that might still have Tracy Porter quivering every time he hears the words “Stiff Arm”. The next time they came to Seattle was in Week 13, when they got smashed 34 -7 & was dominated in all facets of the game, making Drew Brees look like J.P. Losman. Can the third time be the time they finally get over the hump?

This is not as crazy as you may think. New Orleans in the Payton/Brees era has proven that they are a reputable team & organization (as long as you ignore “Bountygate”) & will come to Seattle with a different game plan. Last week vs. Philadelphia, they showed off a running game gaining 186 yards. Mark Ingram, who until last week, was playing like his name was James Ingram had 97 yards rushing! If there’s one area where you can have some success against the Seahawks defence this season, it’s against the run. It will help Brees a lot as he will have a difficult time throwing against Richard Sherman and the best secondary unit in the NFL, so if they can open up some running lanes, it gives them a great chance to beat them. The key to this game will be Russell Wilson vs the Saints Defence. They may have looked like garbage their last time in Seattle, but New Orleans has the 4th rated D in the league, & they held Marshawn Lynch to only 45 yards rushing. The last few weeks, Wilson & their offense hasn’t been playing as good since that Week 13 game, & with 2 weeks of rest, they better hope rust doesn’t set into their game. They will be getting Percy Harvin back which is another weapon but I’m not entirely sure how much of a factor that will have considering he’s basically missed all season recovering with hip surgery.

In the end, as much as I’m tempted to take the Saints who I believe will come out playing much differently than they did the last time these teams played, and as much as I believe that some rust can affect the way you start off a football game at times coming off that 1st round bye……. I believe the NFC Championship game will be played in the Northwest. Whatever jitters and rustiness the Seahawks will have, the 12th man will shake that out by pregame warmups. Contrary to what some people may think, this game will be a lot closer than you think it will be.

Final Score: Seahawks 28, Saints 24

SECOND DOWN: Indianapolis vs. New England

First things first, we have to give a hand to the Colts and how they came back to win that game vs. Kansas City. Last week, I wrote that the game between those two teams will be the most boring out of the four games & I largely ignored the game & went to sleep during the 1st quarter. Of course, I woke up & was not only stunned to see the Chiefs score 38 points by the 3rd quarter (w/no Jamaal Charles), but to see them beating the Colts at the time by 24 points. SMH. To watch Luck bring his team back from that major deficit tells me he’s still the best of the new young QBs that’s out there right now. Now mind you, he shouldn’t have been down by so much to make that comeback their last option in the first place (which included Luck’s 3 INTs). However, one thing’s for sure, he is surely comfortable when he’s playing and the pressure is on.

Since the start of his rookie year last season, the man is 18-2 in games decided by a touchdown or less. EIGHTEEN AND TWO!! I had to triple check that stat when I first saw it. This guys doesn’t stop until the whistle is over, & he’s doing this without Reggie Wayne, and with mostly castoffs & underachievers. He’s helped to turn T.Y Hilton into a rising stud, with Donald Brown as his #1 runner out of the backfield, and with an O-Line that got him sacked 32 times this season. Yet, he’s still keeps coming.

Funny enough, across the field, he’s going up against Tom Brady who’s pretty good himself in that category. He & Bill Bellichek have also proven over the course of the last 12 years that they come as consistently as your monthly hydro bill. Both of them probably smirked when watching that game, then spent the next day completely breaking down the tape until they exposed every weak spot the Colts have. Even though the Pats have lost some major weapons on offense this season, they still put together a 12-4 record, got a 1st round bye & made Shane Vereen and Julian Edleman really relevant on this team. I do think that all their losses since last season will come back to haunt them eventually. You can’t lose stars like Gronk, Wes Welker, “Bishop” Hernandez, Steven Ridley’s ability to hold onto any object that are in his hands, take the hits they have on defense and expect to still win a Super Bowl. That time is coming, no question about it. Whichever team knocks them off though, it just won’t be the Colts.

Final Score: Patriots 38, Colts 23

THIRD DOWN: San Francisco vs. Carolina

**Disclaimer: I am a San Francisco 49er fan & have been since the mid 80s. I will try to be as unbiased as possible. Operative word: Try.**

Last week vs. Green Bay, before and during the game I was feeling a lot like French Montana, & in the end I was right. As much as I respect Aaron Rodgers, that’s how much respect I lacked for Green Bay’s defense overall. So I knew the 49ers would find a way to win the game in the Frozen Tundra that is Lambeau Field. Now this game vs. the Panthers in Charlotte? I’m worried ’bout sumthin/***** I’m worried ’bout sumthin’ . Heading to this game, the biggest worries for San Fran will be the Panthers D led by potential defensive POY LB Luke Kuechly, DE Charles Johnson & Greg Hardy. They may not get as much publicity as the Seahawks or the 49ers in terms of their defense, but they are every bit as good as those units. In Week 10, they came down to San Fran & won 10 – 9, holding Colin Kaepernick to 11 of 22 for 91 yards & an INT, sacked him 6 times & specifically confused him with different looks in the second half of the game. At that point, the Panthers officially became a contender in the NFC. The fear as well going into this game is that they don’t have a problem dealing with a strong mobile quarterback in Kaepernick because they play against one every day in practice in Cam Newton.

Newton deserves every bit of the success he’s getting this season. At the end of September when they were 1-3, all of the talking heads & analysts were calling for Coach Ron Riviera to be fired and Newton to sit the bench. Since then Carolina has gone 11-1 & have arguably been the best team in the NFL. Newton has played with a confidence in the pocket that we’ve never seen from him since he’s gotten to the NFL. He’s backed by a 3-headed RB monster in DeAngelo Williams, Johnathan Stewart, & Mike Tolbert, a security blanket in TE Greg Olsen & WR Steve Smith, and still has something in the tank even if he may not be in his prime anymore. Here’s the thing going into this game that I will say: Playoff experience counts for something, & San Francisco has that in spades.

Since 2011 (including playoffs), only the New England Patriots have been to the Conference Championship and Super Bowl while still making it to the second round this season. They will have all of their weapons back on offense and defense & most importantly, they have been in many big games having proved they can win on the road to get where they need to go. Even in the Week 10 game, Crabtree was still rehabbing his achilles, Vernon Davis was concussed during the game, starting safety Eric Reid wasn’t available to play due to a concussion, it was Aldon Smith’s 1st game back from rehab, & Justin Smith was on a snap count. Now they will all be unleashed on Sunday. You can think this won’t make a difference if you want to, and that’s fine. Just know that the chances that the 49ers move on to Seattle (unless New Orleans wins & give San Fran one more game at Candlestick Park) are pretty high. It will be a close, great game, but I think that 1) Harbaugh & his staff will confuse Newton enough to be inefficient again, and 2) San Fran have more playmakers on offense to move the chains consistently and eventually get out of Charlotte with another playoff W.

Final Score: 49ers 28, Panthers 20

FOURTH DOWN: San Diego vs. Denver

Here’s what Peyton Manning has accomplished this season:

  • Guided his team to a 13 – 3 record & home field advantage throughout the playoffs;
  • Helped his team become the first 600-point team in league history (606 pts; 37.8 ppg);
  • Set NFL records for most TDs (55) & yards (5,477) by a QB in a season. Was also 2nd in passer rating with 115 QB rating (2nd highest of his career). He even ran for one TD this season too;
  • Clinched his 5th MVP of his career (two more than the 2nd most NFL MVP winner Brett Favre) by Week 8; and
  • Clinched his status as the best regular season QB in NFL history.

Here’s what Peyton Manning has going at stake going into these playoffs: With all the accolades he’s accumulated, if he does not win his 2nd Super Bowl or at least take his team to the Super Bowl in 3 weeks, we may have to start questioning where he’d be ranked alongside the all-time greats. In no way shape or form can he have 5 MVP awards, & only one ring to show for it after it’s all said & done. He doesn’t have to match Joe Montana, Terry Bradshaw, or even Tom Brady, but he has to have more than one. Has to. If his career was a painting at this moment, it would resemble the Mona Lisa….BUT it would have a faint red hand print across her chest. Still a beautiful portrait but you’re gonna notice the hand print, right? At some point, you’re going to have to ask about that, as great as he is & for everything he’s done for the game.

If he suffers another loss this weekend, his playoff record will go to 9-12 & NINE of those losses will be of the One-and-Done variety (either after a wild card game or after a playoff bye). That’s kinda hard not to look at. I’ll tell you something else, it’s quite possible this weekend that it can happen again. Their division rival San Diego, has played them well this season, with DC John Pagano historically giving Manning fits & Charger Head Coach (via Broncos OC last season) Mike McCoy having a good handle on how to go against him as well. Now last week, I thought the Chargers had no shot of winning whatsoever (Thank you Andy Dalton), but if they can keep Manning & the Broncos D off the field with how Philip Rivers has been playing & how inconsistent the Broncos D has been this year, then they’ll have a shot. Especially if they get an early lead & take the crowd out of the game, then that pressure builds. I’ll be surprised if the Broncos puts up big points vs San Diego, but I do think Manning makes it until next week to face his old Rival (Brady) one more time.

Final Score: Broncos 27, San Diego 17

Cal Cee // South Shore Ave

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