Thursday, January 30, 2014


           DENVER BRONCOS         


The Broncos and Seahawks will go at it in Super Bowl 48 on Sunday evening in frigid New Jersey in a match up of the top offense in the NFL, which is Denver, against Seattle, which has the NFL's best defense.
The Broncos (led by Head Coach John Fox) averaged 37 points per game during the regular season, which has dipped to just 25 points per game during the playoffs.
Meanwhile, after allowing 15 points per game on defense to lead the NFL during the regular season, Seattle (led by Head Coach Pete Carroll)  has yielded a similar amount (16 points per game) during the post season.
We all know about Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and the record setting season he had in 2013, throwing for 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns.
The Broncos also boast five different players with at least 10 touchdowns scored in 2013, another league record to go with 606 points scored this year, which also established a new league record.
Manning is surrounded by a plethora of wide receivers, led by Demaryius Thomas (92 receptions for 1,430 yards and 14 touchdowns) and Eric Decker, who made 87 catches for 1,288 yards and 11 touchdowns. Throw in Wes Welker (73, 778, 10 TD) and tight end Julius Thomas (65, 788, 12 TD) and choose your weapon.
Can the Seattle defense stop that attack, much less contain it in the least bit?
You betcha!
The Seattle defense is ferocious and boasts the best pass defense in the entire league, which will try to slow down the Manning-led passing attack in the Super Bowl.
The Seahawks picked off a league high 28 passes this season, with cornerback Richard Sherman leading the way with eight interceptions. Earl Thomas had five picks as well. In comparison, Denver had 17 interceptions this season, with three players sharing the team lead with three picks each.
The Seattle offense doesn't get the attention like their much ballyhooed defense, but QB Russell Wilson put together another good season, despite struggling down the stretch as the Seahawks averaged just 19 points per game during the final four regular season games. The second year quarterback had a 101.2 QB rating while throwing for 3,357 yards and 26 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. He also rushed for 539 yards.
Seattle's passing attack doesn't quite measure up to Denver's but they do have Golden Tate (64 receptions, 898 yards and five TD) and Doug Baldwin (50, 778, five TD) leading the way along with Jermaine Kearse, who made the go-ahead touchdown against the 49ers with a 35-yard TD reception early in the fourth quarter two weeks ago. Versatile Percy Harvin is looking to be ready to go in the Super Bowl after being concussed against the Saints in the division playoffs.
The strength of the Seattle offense is the running game, which is led by Marshawn Lynch (1,257 yards, 4.2 ypc average and 12 TD), who has been at his "beast mode" best during the playoffs, which included two long scoring runs against New Orleans and another one (40 yards) in the win over San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.
Denver can also run the ball with Knowshon Moreno (1,038 yards and 10 touchdowns) and rookie Monte Ball, who gained 559 yards for a 4.7 ypc average and scored four touchdowns.
The Denver defense has also picked it up since losing to the San Diego Chargers back in Week 15 of the regular season, when they were lit up for nearly 200 yards rushing in a 27-20 home loss.
The Broncos have allowed just 16.5 points per game in the playoffs and held the Chargers and New England Patriots under 100 yards rushing in the playoff victories. They will be up against a tough test in trying to do the same against Lynch.
On special teams, both squads have break away threats on kick returns as Denver has Trindon Holliday while Doug Baldwin had a huge 69-yard kickoff return for the 'Hawks in the NFC title game.
Both teams have strong kickers as well with the Broncos' Matt Prater missing just one field goal attempt (and no PAT kicks) all season long. In addition, Prater set a new NFL record by making a 64-yard field goal in early December. Seattle's Steven Hauschka missed only two field goals during the regular season and was also perfect on extra points.

PREDICTION - Look for a close game, unless turnovers dictate the outcome, which is always a possibility, especially if the weather (it is winter time in New York/New Jersey area) goes haywire.
Peyton Manning should be his usual brilliant self, but don't expect 400-plus passing yards against the Seattle "Legion of Boom" defensive secondary.
The key will be whether or not Denver can RUN the football consistently in the game.
If they do, watch out!
The Seahawks will definitely try to establish the run and a key for them will be if QB Russell Wilson can do some damage with his legs as well as his arm. Containing Wilson will be critical for the Broncos' defense as they try to pressure him in the pocket.
Avoiding turnovers is always the key factor in the Super Bowl. This game could very well come down to a late field goal.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Kind Of Town?

Sorry, but this is NOT what Chicago is all about.
The photo below is of a billboard along the outbound lanes of the Stevenson Expressway (I-55) in Chicago, Illinois.
Having lived here my entire life, I just have to say this is NOT Chicago style folks.
Automatic weapons are depicted as American as baseball and apple pie on this billboard and that is absolute bullshit!
It has raised much controversy since it went up just two days ago and hopefully will be taken down just as quick as it went up because if this is what people want Chicago to be ... then I say Chicago is NOT my kind of town.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Broncos, Seahawks Move On To Super Bowl

Broncos QB Peyton Manning meets Tom Brady after his team's big win.
The Denver Broncos toppled the visiting New England Patriots, 26-16 on Sunday afternoon to win the AFC Championship Game while the Seattle Seahawks held on for a 23-17 home win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 400 yards and two touchdowns while the Denver defense sacked Patriots' QB Tom Brady twice and held the Patriots to just 64 yards rushing for the game.
Leading 13-3 at halftime, Denver drove right down for a touchdown to make the score 20-3 as Manning threw a three-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, who had seven receptions for 134 yards.
Denver kicked two more field goals sandwiched around two New England touchdowns as QB Tom Brady (277 yards passing in the loss) threw for a score and ran five yards for another to account for the final outcome.

The game clinching play by Seattle's Richard Sherman.
The Seattle Seahawks are going to their first Super Bowl since after the 2005 season with their win as
cornerback Richard Sherman tipped a pass intended for 49ers' WR Michael Crabtree to linebacker Malcolm Smith for the game clinching interception in the end zone.
Seattle QB Russell Wilson passed for 215 yards and threw a 35-yard TD pass to WR Jermaine Kearse to put the Seahawks ahead for good at 20-17 early in the fourth quarter to lead the offense. Meanwhile, Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch ran 40 yards for another score while going for 109 yards rushing for the game. Seattle kicker Steven  Hauschka drilled three field goals to help the win.
Each team totaled 308 yards in offense in the game as the 49ers were led by QB Colin Kaepernick with 130 yards rushing (on eleven carries) and a touchdown pass to WR Anquan Boldin that gave the 'Niners a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter.
But three turnovers, including a fumble and two interceptions thrown by Kapernick, proved to be the difference as the vaunted Seahawks' defense finished the game strong to put them into the Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

SUPER BOWL 48 - Denver vs. Seattle

Super Bowl 48 is set as the Denver Broncos will face the Seattle Seahawks in New Jersey on Sunday, February 2, 2014.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

NFL Playoffs - Conference Championship Game Previews

The NFL Conference Championship games are set in the AFC and NFC for this Sunday afternoon with the New England Patriots taking on the Denver Broncos in the AFC and the Seattle Seahawks facing the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC game.
Here is a look at the following games with the Heftyinfo predictions for each game . . . 

The Patriots stormed back from 24-0 down to win 34-31 in overtime in Foxbourough, Massachusetts back in November.
That was then and this is now.
Tom Brady and the Patriots know they can beat the Broncos, but can they do it on the road in late January?
Future Hall of Fame QBs Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
The Broncos held off the San Diego Chargers, 24-17 last weekend and will face the Pats, who blasted the Indianapolis Colts, 43-22 behind a huge rushing attack, led by the resurgent LeGarrette Blount, who scored four touchdowns and gained 166 yards in the easy win last week.
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning is 4-10 all time vs. Brady (including 1-2 in the post-season) in head-to-head match ups.
However, the Broncos showed they can run the football as well as New England as they gained 133 yards vs. the Chargers and controlled the football for over 35 minutes in the divisional round game.
If this game turns into a shoot out with Brady and Manning flinging the ball all over the field, expect Denver to win because they have way more weapons in their passing attack, including Brady's former main target Wes Welker, who caught a TD pass last weekend.
If both teams try to run the football as often as they did last week, then the edge favors New England because the tandem of Blount and Stevan Ridley has been nearly unstoppable in recent weeks. As if Brady needs any more help on offense.
There are no secrets here as both teams have faced each other this year already. The Broncos need to come out and do their thing (they set a new NFL team record by scoring 606 points this season) and let the defense do their part.
The Patriots can mix it up and Brady is one of the best ever and will not be intimidated by the crowd in the Mile High city. The key will be whether or not the Patriot defense can slow down Manning and company. If they do and it remains a back and forth game, the Patriots will win.
The call here is for a repeat of the first three quarters of the first game as Denver races out to a decent lead (not 24-0 this time) and then holds on for a win as the Pats mount a comeback in the fourth quarter but fall short, similar to what happened in last week's game when Denver beat San Diego.

Heftyinfo pick . . .   Denver 31, New England 27


The San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are two teams that simply do not like each other.
The Seahawks have had their way at home with the 49ers the past two games, winning in blowout fashion while the 49ers won a squeaker, 19-17 back in Week 14 in San Francisco.
The 49ers have been rolling, including two road wins in the playoffs. After nipping Green Bay, 23-20 in the wild card game on a last second field goal, the 49ers buried the Carolina Panthers, 23-10 as the defense sacked QB Cam Newton five times and also intercepted two passes.
Head Coaches Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll shaking hands.
The Seahawks beat the New Orleans Saints, 23-15 last week but had to hold off a late rally after a successful onside kickoff by New Orleans gave them a chance to possibly tie the game in the last 28 seconds of the game.
The Seattle defense is strong and has proven that all season long, including limiting San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick in the 29-3 win back in September. It was the worst game for the second year starter in his brief career.
On the flip side, the 49ers defense is right there with Seattle's top ranked defense and should be able to help keep this one close (unlike the game in September) as they get after Seahawks' QB Russell Wilson, who has been sub par in the last four or five games, including last weekend against New Orleans when he completed just nine passes.
However, Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch was once again in "beast mode" against the Saints last week, scoring a a pair of touchdowns to go with 140 yards on the ground. If Wilson gets back on track in this game, watch out.
Special teams should also play a role as kickers Steven Hauschka (Seattle) and Phil Dawson (San Francisco) have been solid all season long kicking clutch field goals for their team. In fact, this game could very well come down to a game wining field goal try in the closing seconds.
Look for a hard fought, hard hitting game with a turnover perhaps turning the tide either way in what figures to be a close game.
One more thing, although they do not come right out and say it, just look at the body language between head coaches Jim Harbaugh (49ers) and Seahawks head man Pete Carroll. These guys don't care for each other, which adds even more to this rivalry, because you know they would just love to stick it to each other and run the score up if they have the chance to do it.

Heftyinfo pick . . .   Seattle 20, San Francisco 17

Last Week's Record:  4-0


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

NFL Playoffs - Divisional Round Review

The AFC and NFC Championship Games are set for the coming weekend after all four favored teams won their playoff games in the Divisional Round this pat weekend.

It will be the Denver Broncos hosting the New England Patriots in the AFC while in the NFC Championship Game, the Seattle Seahawks will host the San Francisco 49ers.

                                                      AFC Divisional Round Games

LeGarrette Blount
New England Patriots 43, Indianapolis Colts 22 - New England running back LeGarrette Blount continued his amazing string of games by rushing for 166 yards on 24 carries and scored four
touchdowns to lead the Patriots to the easy home playoff win against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Patriots ran for 234 yards and Stevan Ridley (52 yards rushing) scored two running touchdowns while the New England defense intercepted Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (331 pass yards with two TD) four times.

Peyton Manning
Denver Broncos 24, San Diego Chargers 17 - The Broncos withstood a furious Chargers' fourth quarter 17-point rally to win the playoff game in Denver behind a pair of TD passes from QB Peyton Manning (230 pass yards with one interception) and a rushing score by RB Knowshon Moreno.
The Broncos avenged their only home defeat in the regular season by controlling the football for 35 minutes in the game while amassing 133 yards on the ground.
After building a 17-0 lead heading into the final quarter, the Broncos nearly blew the big lead as the Chargers scored 17 points sandwiched around the Moreno touchdown to get to within 24-17 with just under four minutes remaining. Chargers QB Philip Rivers (217 passing yards) threw for two scores, both to wide receiver Keenan Allen, in the loss.

                                                      NFC Divisional Round Games

Marshawn Lynch
Seattle Seahawks 23, New Orleans Saints 15 - The Seahawks rolled out to a 16-0 lead after three quarters and then held off the visiting Saints for the playoff win as kicker Steven Hauschka made three field goals and running back Marshawn Lynch (140 yards on 28 carries), who scored twice on runs of 15 and 31 yards to lead the way.
The Saints recovered an onside kickoff in the final minute right after a nine-yard scoring pass from QB Drew Brees (309 pass yards) to WR Marques Colston with just 26 second remaining cut the deficit to 23-15, but the Seattle defense held firm to end the game.

San Francisco 49ers 23, Carolina Panthers 10 - The 49ers got the road victory behind stellar defense (five QB sacks and two interceptions) to knock out the Carolina Panthers and advance to the NFC Championship Game for the third consecutive year.
Colin Kaepernick
San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick (196 pass yards) threw for a touchdown and also ran four yards for another score while kicker Phil Dawson made three field goals to pace the win. Carolina outgained the 49ers 325-315 in total offense, but two big goal line stands by the 49ers defense proved to be the difference. Panthers QB Cam Newton passed for 267 yards with one TD pass and two picks in the loss.

Friday, January 10, 2014

NFL Playoffs - Divisional Round Previews

The NFL Playoffs head to the Divisional Round this weekend, with the Seattle Seahawks hosting the New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers playing on the road against the Carolina Panthers in the NFC.
Meanwhile, the AFC will have the New England Patriots hosting the Indianapolis Colts and the San Diego Chargers traveling to play the Denver Broncos.

The following offers a brief look at each of the games and the Heftyinfo predictions follow . . . . .

Saturday, January 11

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks -  The Saints, led by All-Pro quarterback Drew Brees, will be looking to avenge the 34-7 blowout loss they suffered in Seattle back in early December on Monday Night Football.
The Seahawks have perhaps the best defense in the entire NFL and they held the Saints to less than 200 yards total offense in that game. However, the 'Hawks offense has struggled since that meeting, averaging 19.7 points per game in the final four games.
New Orleans ran the football very effectively last week in their playoff victory over the Philadelphia Eagles and will need to do more of the same if they want to reverse their fortunes this time around.
Look for the Seahawks to unleash running back Marshawn Lynch in this one, after he averaged 4.2 yards per carry with 1,215 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns during the regular season. QB Russell Wilson is also a very effective runer with the ball (539 rush yards, 5.6 ypc average) and had another solid season passing, with 26 TD passes and just nine interceptions.
Playing against the vaunted Seattle defense, the Saints will be hard pressed to run the ball like they did last week. Brees will have to play better this time around as well, looking to his many targets in the passing game, including his favorite, tight end Jimmy Graham, who had 16 touchdown grabs in the regular season.
Special teams could also play a role in this game as the weather may very well be a factor with rain and strong winds possible. The Saints have not been a good road team this season, going 4-5 (including playoffs) away from the Super Dome. The Seahawks were 7-1 at home.

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots - Andrew Luck and company come calling against the Patriots in Foxborough, MA after staging the second biggest comeback win in NFL Playoff history last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Patriots are well aware of this and have been one of the perennial favorites to reach the Super Bowl since the early 2000's and are favored in this game.
Patriots' QB Tom Brady did more with less on offense this year after losing several weapons from his arsenal (Wes Welker went to Denver, Aaron Hernandez went to jail and Rob Gronkowski is out for the season with knee injuries) by throwing for 25 touchdowns with just 11 picks.
New England runs the football better, averaging 129 yards per game to 109 for the Colts. Donald Brown leads the Colts' running game and scored twice last week against Kansas City.
LeGarette Blount (772 rush yards, 5.0 ypc average and seven TD) has been coming on for the Pats and forms a dangerous one-two punch with team leading rusher Stevan Ridley (773 yards, 4.3 ypc average and seven TD) to go with the passing game.
The Colts can put some points on the board, evidenced by 35 second half points last week in the big comeback 45-44 win after trailing 38-10 early in the third quarter.
New England rates the edge defensively, in spite of some key injuries that have sidelined several regulars this year. The Patriots racked up 48 QB sacks to 42 for the Colts, although (the Colts) Robert Mathis was credited with 19 sacks this season to lead the league.
As in Seattle, the weather could be a big factor on Saturday night in New England with strong winds and possible downpours of rain possible during the game. The Patriots were 8-0 at home during the regular season while the Colts went 5-3 on the road and have a 5-2 record against playoff teams.

Sunday, January 12 

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers - The last time these teams played each other in San Francisco back in Week Ten, the Panthers scratched out a 10-9 win.
Both of these teams play defense!
The 49ers ranked in the top of the NFL on defense against the run (96 yards per game) and in total yards allowed by opponents, giving up just 317 yards per game.
The Panthers were up to the task as well, allowing just 301 yards per game (87 rushing, 214 passing) and allowed an average of only 15 points per game over the final 12 regular season games, going 11-1 after a 1-3 start.
The teams really do mirror each other offensively, with running quarterbacks who can throw the ball when needed.
The 'Niners, who beat Green Bay 23-20 on the road in last week's Wild Card round, have RB Frank Gore and QB Colin Kaepernick leading the running game while wide receivers Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis present a difficult challenge for the Panthers' defense.
Carolina has QB Cam Newton (585 rushing yards and six TD in regular season) along with running backs DeAngelo Williams (team leading 843 yards rushing) and Mike Tolbert to pound the ball on the ground. Leading receivers Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell, along with tight end Greg Olsen, give Newton prime targets to throw to. Smith could be a game time decision as he has been nursing a knee injury.
Look for another "smash mouth" type game as these two teams go at it. The key will be each defense trying to contain the opposing QB from breaking outside the pocket and going off for long runs. Each is a threat to do just that, and the Green Bay Packers found that out the hard way last week against Kaepernick, who had two big runs to set up scores, including the game winning field goal as time expired.

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos -  These two AFC West division rivals split the two regular season games, with each team winning on the road. Denver won 28-20 at San Diego and the Chargers won 27-20 last month in Denver.
The Broncos not only want to avenge their only home loss during the regular season, but would also like to do away with the memory of last season's bitter Divisional Round playoff loss (at home) to the Baltimore Ravens in double overtime.
Denver QB Peyton Manning set new records with 55 touchdown passes and also passed for 5,477 yards, eclipsing Drew Brees' record by one yard.
In addition, the Broncos shattered the NFL record for scoring in a single season by racking up 606 points in the regular season. But all that means nothing if the Broncos don't win the Super Bowl this year.
The Chargers are led by QB Philip Rivers, who has enjoyed a bounce back year in the 2013 season after two straight down years by his standards.
The 'Bolt upset the Cincinnati Bengals with a 27-10 road victory last week as the defense took over and shut out the Bengals in the second half.
The Chargers have played "ball control" against Denver this season, including the win in Week 15 when they held the ball for 38 minutes to keep Manning and company off the field. They will need to do that once again if they want to win this game.
The Broncos will be without All-Pro linebacker Von Miller (knee injury) while San Diego might not have RB Ryan Mathews (ankle injury), who ran for 127 yards in Week 15 against Denver.
Both teams have solid running games with Denver gaining 117 yards per game and San Diego 123 per game. Broncos' RB Knowshon Moreno went for 1,038 yards this season to lead his team while Mathews had 1,255 yards to lead the Chargers. Teammate Danny Woodhead ran for 429 yards while also hauling in 76 passes and he scored a touchdown in the win vs. Cincy last week.
The Broncos have five players who scored at least 10 touchdowns in the record setting offense and Manning will have WR Wes Welker (73 catches, 778 yards and 10 TD) back for the game after he missed the last three regular season games due to a concussion.
Look for a high scoring game once again with these two explosive offenses. The Broncos are heavy favorites, but do not sleep on the Chargers, who have been playing lights out defensively in recent weeks. In addition, they held the Broncos to a season low 20 points and just 295 yards in total offense when they beat them last month.
The key to this game will be avoiding turnovers.
The Chargers' defense forced four last week against the Bengals and had the edge in their win over Denver as well. Manning threw just ten picks all season long while Rivers was intercepted just eleven times. Not surprisingly, they were the top two passers in the AFC this year.

The Heftyinfo picks for this weekend's playoff games . . . . .

Seattle over New Orleans
New England over Indianapolis
San Francisco over Carolina
Denver over San Diego

Last Week's Record:  2-2


Regular Season Record: 168-87-1

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

College Football Top Ten

FINAL Heftyinfo College Football Top Ten                                            

1.  Florida State  (14-0)
2.  Michigan State (13-1)
3.  Auburn  (12-2)
4.  Oklahoma  (11-2)
5.  Alabama  (11-2)
6.  Missouri  (12-2)
7.  South Carolina  (11-2)
8.  Clemson  (11-2)
9.  Ohio State  (12-2)
10. Oregon  (11-2)

Monday, January 6, 2014

NFL Playoffs - Chargers Roll; 49ers Squeak By Packers

Chargers QB Philip Rivers celebrates upset win over Bengals.
The San Diego Chargers rolled to a surprise victory in Cincinnati on Sunday, beating the Bengals 27-10 in the Wild Card round of the AFC Playoffs.
Utilizing the running game, the Chargers ran the ball 40 times for 196 yards and quarterback Philip Rivers was steady, passing for 128 yards on 12 of 16 accuracy with a touchdown pass to help lead the way.
The San Diego defense forced four turnovers (two fumbles and two interceptions), including a big play fumble recovery of a Gio Bernard fumble late in the first half in the red zone with the game tied  at 7-7 that swung the momentum back to the Chargers.
The Bengals held a 10-7 lead at halftime, but the Chargers drove down the field on their first possession of the second half and scored on a four-yard TD pass from Rivers to tight end Ladarius Green to grab a 14-10 lead.
From there, Bengals QB Andy Dalton (334 yards passing with a TD pass and two INT) imploded by fumbling the ball away and throwing two picks that stopped drives and killed any momentum the Bengals hoped to re-establish.
San Diego kicked a pair of field goals and then running back Ronnie Brown iced the game with a 58-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left in the game. Danny Woodhead also scored a touchdown for the Chargers on a five-yard TD run for an early 7-0 lead.
San Diego now faces the Denver Broncos next Sunday in the Divisional Round in Denver. The two division rivals split the two regular season meetings, with each team winning on the road.

                                                                        .  .  .  .  .  .  .

In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers squeaked one out in frozen Green Bay, beating the Packers, 23-20 on a 33-yard field goal by kicker Phil Dawson as time expired to win the Wild Card playoff game.
Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers beat the Packers in Green Bay.
San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick passed for 227 yards (with one TD pass and one INT) and also rushed for 98 yards in the win as the 'Niners gained 167 yards on the ground.
The Packers had tied the game 20-20 with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter on a 24-yard Mason Crosby field goal. From there, Kaerpernick engineered the game winning drive, including a big 11-yard run on third down for a first down to keep it going. A clutch 17-yard pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree (eight receptions for 125 yards) for another first down was involved as well.
Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers (177 yards passing) hit WR Jordy Nelson for a five-yard scoring pass to give the Packers a 7-6 lead in the second quarter. San Francisco regained the lead on a ten-yard TD run by Frank Gore, and held a 13-10 lead at the half.
A one-yard TD plunge by fullback John Kuhn early in the fourth quarter made it 17-13 for the Packers, but then Kaepernick hooked up with tight end Vernon Davis on a 28-yard scoring pass for a 20-17 lead.
It was the second straight playoff win for the 49ers against the Packers and now they will face the Carolina Panthers on the road in the Divisional Round next Sunday.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

NFL Playoffs - Colts, Saints Advance From Wild Card Round

The Indianapolis Colts did the near impossible on Saturday as they overcame a 28-point deficit to beat the visiting Kansas City Chiefs, 45-44 in the AFC Wild Card Playoff round. The win by Indy was the second biggest comeback victory in NFL playoff history.
Colts QB Andrew Luck led the huge comeback win.
Colts' quarterback Andrew Luck (443 passing yards) overcame three interceptions by throwing four touchdown passes, including the game winning 64-yard pass to wide receiver T.Y. Hilton with 4:21 remaining in the game. Hilton made 13 catches for 224 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chiefs led 38-10 early in the third quarter when Knile Davis hauled in a ten-yard scoring pass from QB Alex Smith (378 passing yards, four TD) following an interception thrown by Luck.
The teams combined for 1,049 combined total yards in the game as Indianapolis outscored Kansas City 35-13 in the second half after falling behind 31-10 at half time.
The Colts comeback began after the Chiefs took advantage of the Luck turnover as they rattled off 14 points to draw to within 38-24 with 7:32 to go in the third quarter.
Indianapolis RB Donald Brown ran ten yards for a score and then caught a three-yard pass from Luck for a score. The Chiefs made a field goal and Indy scored once more to cut the score to 41-31 near the end of the third quarter.
Perhaps the biggest break of the game occurred when the Colts fumbled near the KC goal line on their next drive, but the ball bounced off a lineman right to Andrew Luck, who plunged in from two yards out for the score to cut it to 41-38 with 10:38 left in the game.
After another Kansas City field goal, the Colts completed the comeback with the TD pass play from Luck to Hilton.

                                                               .  .  .  .  .

In the NFC, the New Orleans Saints survived in frigid Philadelphia on Saturday night for a hard fought 26-24 victory against the Eagles.
New Orleans kicker Shayne Graham, signed just a couple of weeks ago off the waiver wire, kicked the game winning 32-yard field goal as time expired to propel the Saints into next weekend's Divisional Round at Seattle. Graham made four field goals in the win.
The Eagles had taken a 24-23 lead with 4:54 remaining in the fourth quarter when Eagles QB Nick
Saints kicker Shayne Graham hits the winning kick.
Foles threw a three-yard TD pass to Zach Ertz.
The game was pretty much back and forth as the Saints overcame a 7-6 half time deficit to go up 20-7 when RB Mark Ingram (97 rushing yards) scored on a four-yard run. Earlier in the third quarter, Saints QB Drew Brees (250 yards passing with a TD pass and two INT) hooked up with WR Lance Moore on a 24-yard scoring pass to give the Saints a 13-7 lead.
LeSean McCoy scored on a one-yard run for Philly late in the third quarter to make it 20-14 heading into the final quarter.
The teams exchanged field goals prior to the TD pass by Foles to put the Eagles ahead by one point. But the Saints mounted the game winning drive that led to the field goal by Graham as time ran out.
For the game, the Saints showed good balance as they outgained the Eagles, 434-256 in total offense. New Orleans rushed for 185 yards in the game compared to just 80 yards for the Eagles, who led the NFL in rushing yards per game during the regular season.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

NFL Football - Playoffs Preview

This weekend begins the NFL Playoffs as the Wild Card round gets going on Saturday with two games and two more the following day.
The last three Super Bowl champions have been in the wild card round (Green Bay in 2010 season, New York Giants in 2011 and Baltimore last year) so one never knows quite what to expect from the teams in these games.
The following will offer a look at the four games with predictions for the outcomes. Incidentally, Heftyinfo picked the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos to face each other in Super Bowl 48, with the Seattle Seahawks winning the big game. That pick was made back in late summer just before the season opening weekend.
So, here goes nothing with the following previews and predictions for the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs.

Saturday, January 4 

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts - The Colts beat the Chiefs 23-7 just two weeks ago in Kansas City, so it stands to reason they will win this game too.
Not so fast.
The Chiefs had already locked up a playoff spot while the Colts had done likewise by Week 16, and after a fast start for the Chiefs, the Colts took the game over and rolled to the easy win.
These two teams show good balance with steady play at quarterback and solid defense, especially with the pass rush. Indianapolis had 42 QB sacks this season while KC totaled 47 sacks.
Look for a hard fought game with KC trying to establish the running game with AFC leading running back Jamaal Charles (1,287 yards with a 5.0 ypc average and a league high 19 touchdowns) posing a dual threat as he led the team with 70 catches, including seven for touchdowns. QB Alex Smith is efficient, passing for 3,313 yards with 23 TD and only seven interceptions. The leading wide receiver is Dwayne Bowe.
The Colts counter with QB Andrew Luck (3,822 yards passing with 23 TD and just nine INT) and his main target is T.Y. Hilton, who had 82 receptions with five for touchdowns. The defense is led by Robert Mathis, who had 19 QB sacks this year.

New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles - These two teams can put up some numbers on offense and are led  by quarterbacks that both enjoyed much success in 2013.
Saints QB Drew Brees (5,122 pass yards with 39 TD and 12 INT) and Eagles QB Nick Foles (2,891 pass yards with 27 TD and only two INT) were two of the better quarterbacks this season and have a wide array of weapons surrounding them on offense.
Philadelphia has a better running game, featuring league leading rusher LeSean McCoy (1,607 yards rushing with 5.1 ypc average and 11 total TD) but also has a quartet of wideouts, including DeSean Jackson, who made 82 catches and also scored nine touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Brees can throw the ball to a variety of players as well, including tight end Jimmy Graham (86 catches with 16 TD receptions) and two running backs (Daren Sproles and Pierre Thomas) who each had more than 70 receptions.
On defense, the Saints rate the edge, allowing 305 yards per game (111 rushing and 194 passing) compared to Philadelphia giving up 394 yards per game (104 rushing, 290 passing), plus the Saints get after the opposing quarterback better, registering 49 QB sacks to the Eagles 37 sacks this season.

Sunday, January 5

San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals - Just like the other AFC wild card match, the Bengals and Chargers faced each other in the regular season, with Cincinnati winning, 17-10 back in Week 13 in San Diego.
The  Bengals have great balance on offense (110 rush yards per game and 258 passing per game) and QB Andy Dalton passed for 4,296 yards with 33 TD and 20 interceptions in 2013. Meanwhile running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis (756 yards rushing and seven TD) and Gio Bernard (695 rush yards and five TD) form a solid running tandem.
The big weapon for Cincinnati is WR A.J. Green, who had 98 receptions for 1,426 yards and 11 TD grabs. Marvin Jones emerged late in the season as another prime receiver, making 51 catches, including ten for touchdowns.
The Chargers are led by All-Pro QB Philip Rivers, who had perhaps his best season (statistically) in 2013 by passing for 4,478 yards with 32 TD and just 11 interceptions, while compiling a league best 69.5 completion percentage.
Running back Ryan Mathews had his best season as a pro, going for 1,255 yards (4.4 ypc average) and scored seven touchdowns. Tight End Antonio Gates led the team with 77 receptions while RB Danny Woodhead made 76 grabs and rookie WR Keenan Allen stepped up in a big way, hauling in 71 receptions for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns.
Defensively, the Bengals have a big edge, allowing just 306 yards per game compared to 367 yards for San Diego. The Chargers allowed 259 passing yards per game while getting 35 QB sacks. Cincinnati gives up only 209 yards passing per game and 97 rushing yards per game and sacked opposing quarterbacks 43 times this season.

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers - The 49ers edged the Packers, 34-28 in San Francisco way back in Week One of the 2013 season and they also crushed the Pack last year in the playoffs, going for 323 rushing yards in the process.
San Francisco QB Colin Kaepernick passed for 3,197 yards with 21 TD and eight INT while running for 524 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Frank Gore (1,128 rushing yards with nine TD) is the top back for the 49ers while Anquan Boldin (85 catches, seven TD) and tight end Vernon Davis (52 receptions, 850 yards, 13 TD) are the main targets. A big addition has been Michael Crabtree, who made 19 receptions after coming back in early December from an off-season injury.
Green Bay managed to win the NFC North division and get the home field edge in this game by beating the Chicago Bears, 33-28 last week as QB Aaron Rodgers found WR Randall Cobb for the game winning score in the closing seconds.
Both Rodgers and Cobb missed significant time this season with injuries and will be huge factors in this playoff game.
Unlike the past few seasons, Green Bay has a running game to go with the dynamic passing game. Rookie running back Eddie Lacy (1,178 yards with a 4.1 ypc average and 11 TD) and James Starks (493 yards and 5.5 ypc average) lead the way while Rodgers will look to leading WR Jordy Nelson (85 catches, 1,314 yards and eight TD) as well as Cobb.
The defense is another story as San Francisco is among the NFL's best on this side of the ball. Green Bay's defense has been atrocious this year, giving up 372 yards per game, including 125 yards on the ground. One bright spot for the Packers has been the pass rush, as they had 44 QB sacks.
San Francisco allows just 317 yards per game (96 rushing, 221 passing) and gave up just 94 points during the six game winning streak they put together at the end of the season.

The Heftyinfo picks for the Wild Card round of the NFL Playoffs  . . .

Indianapolis over Kansas City
Philadelphia over New Orleans
Cincinnati over San Diego
San Francisco over Green Bay

Last Week's Record:  14-2


Final Lock of the Week Record: 15-2