Divisional Preview: Carolina Panthers @ Seattle Seahawks

Although these are two teams that are defensive minded, the Carolina Panthers match up well with the Seattle Seahawks. Last week they were lucky to take on an Arizona team that was on a 4th string quarterback in Ryan Lindley. That will not be the case tonight.

russellwilson2Russell Wilson has been the steadying hand for the Seahawk offense for the last 3 years. Poised for another Super Bowl run, he’ protected the football. This is what you need if you are a defensive unit. Constantly punt the football and win the field position battle is the Seattle mantra. In the last 6 games Russell has had a combined 2 turnovers.

Aggressive Marshawn Lynch is ready to go “Beastmode” as he concluded the season with 1,306 yards and 13 TDs. He sets the tone for the offense just as Kam Chancellor does for the defense. You know he’s looking forward to going against Carolina LBs Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis.

Can they keep their spirit up if the Panthers 16th ranked offense can’t move the football on Seattle’s #1 defense?? If they could only score 9 at home against them, how will they now with the Seahawk defense at full strength??  The Chancellor sees a Seattle win 23-6. It will be a defensive struggle.

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Super Bowl XLVIII Preview: Denver Broncos v. Seattle Seahawks

Super Bowl XLVIII

Super Bowl XLVIII

Super Sunday is going to be a little warmer than we thought. It’s projected to be in the 40s at kickoff and we should have full dimensional football. Has there been a Super Bowl in the last 10 years that had this much anticipation before the game??One way or the other we will have history made tomorrow night. If Denver wins, Peyton Manning will the first quarterback in 54 years to win championships with two teams. If Seattle wins,  his defense will go down as one of the all time great units and the first to do so because of their back 7.

Along with Percy Harvin, Moreno is an X factor. Even more so, he is the key to a Denver win.

Along with Percy Harvin, Moreno is an X factor. Even more so, he is the key to a Denver win.

The key to the marquee match-up between Denver’s offense and Seattle’s defense is Knowshon Moreno. If he can get yardage from the outset, it will allow Manning to throw when he wants to. Not when he has to. The Broncos let it get out they may not sign him as a free agent. He may use this game as a showcase of his skill and give the Seahawks fits. Remember he is from New Jersey so watch how emotional he’ll start this game.

Marshawn Lynch is the key to Seattle winning this game.

Marshawn Lynch is the key to Seattle winning this game.

Marshawn Lynch needs to keep his string of 100 yard games going in this one. Or at least he has to keep his number of rushing attempts up.  The Seahawks have to have balance to keep their offense going. Their receiving corps can get open when Champ Bailey and Dominique Rogers Cromartie have to worry about the run. These guys sneak open and Percy Harvin gets to return kicks and get open. In big games your weaknesses are exposed and no Von Miller will show up today. A mush rush will not get to Russell Wilson. His quickness will get him outside where he can run and throw. Denver needs to blitz Wilson and force him to stay in the pocket and throw against their pedestrian secondary. They have to take that risk.

seahawks defenseNow here comes the #1 defense and if they win tonight, one that goes down in history. Not because they’re Super Bowl champions. Because they are one of the fastest and intimidating defenses dating back to the 1985 Chicago Bears & 2000 Baltimore Ravens. They aren’t ranked #1 overall because they are good in certain aspects of the game. Seattle is #1 in four defensive categories. Tops in total yards, opponents passing yards, total points given up, and total turnovers at 39. No team has done that since the 1985 Bears.

Now lets add in the fact they led the NFL in interceptions as well at 28 and what are the factors?? For one, take a look at the size of this secondary. Taylor Blitz Times Defensive Player of the Year Richard Sherman stands 6’3, Cam Chancellor is 6’3 232 lbs, and the best FS in Earl Thomas, and Byron Maxwell is 6’3 and 200 lbs at the corner makes them more physical than other secondaries. Head Coach Pete Carroll is a former defensive backfield coach and these guys are just that….well coached and fundamentally sound.

The Legion of Boom will go down in history as the best defense of the new millenium.

The Legion of Boom will go down in history as the best defense of the new millenium.

They muscle receivers at the line of scrimmage. Keep this in mind because of Manning’s 55 touchdowns 41 were from 10 yards or less. They key is to disrupt the short timing of Denver’s offense because they can’t and don’t get deep. Keep in mind the top side of this defense is the 3 Defensive End alignment they throw at opponents.

On the left side of the formation they put free agent signees Michael Bennett #72 and Cliff Avril #56 to rush the face of the passer. They use this to make the quarterback pull the ball down as the corners are pressuring receivers. Why can’t the opponent slide the line from an offensive standpoint?? End Chris Clemons, who missed last year’s playoff loss to Atlanta, is on the other side. These three combined for 22 sacks and 11 forced fumbles. Then throw in spy and delayed blitzer Bruce Irvin #51, and the Broncos haven’t seen a defense this solid, physical, and fast all year.

Peyton Manning has to best the #1 defense to get his second championship with a second team.

Peyton Manning has to best the #1 defense to get his second championship with a second team.

Peyton Manning is on the verge of history and needs one more game to solidify his legacy. Last night he was named MVP after his record setting season. So what gives when it’s time to pick the winner of Super Bowl XLVIII.

Defense wins championships doesn’t it?? When was the last time a #1 defense has lost a Super Bowl?? None we can remember. In the six times Super Bowl opponents met in the pre-season, the winner of that game is 5-1 in the big game. Of the five times the #1 ranked defense in points allowed played the #1 scoring offense, the defense has won 4 of 5 times.

For the last three years The Chancellor of Football has asked when are we going to have the marquee defensive performance that will leap up and beat the hell out of these passing teams. I think back to the ’91 Eagles beating Houston. https://taylorblitztimes.com/2011/06/10/death-becomes-of-the-run-shoot-on-a-monday-night/  We saw this in Super Bowl XXV and XXVI against our CEO’s Buffalo Bills, and the 2007 Patriots. Defenses normally aren’t out of sync but offenses can be. History has shown us this. Remember the highest scoring teams in NFL history are 0-7 in bringing home a championship. Watch for Nickel Back Walter Thurmond III #28 to make a name for himself shadowing Wes Welker. The Seahawks win tonight 34-23

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Super Bowl XLVIII : Not So Fast Media

One of the pet peeves of our CEO is a rush to sensationalize things by traditional media. One of the reasons to pull for the Seattle Seahawks is Fullback Derrick Coleman who is legally deaf. He is the subject of a touching Duracell commercial focusing on what he’s had to overcome to be an NFL player. Yet erroneously, it was reported on several outlets he is the first deaf player in NFL history.

Not so fast… Do you know who Kenny Walker is?

Kenny Walker played two years for the Denver Broncos.

Kenny Walker played two years for the Denver Broncos.

Well a little research you would have come across this defensive tackle that played for the Denver Broncos in 1991 and 1992. He was an 8th round draft pick and former All American for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. He actually needed to have his instructions on the sideline signed to him. The coach would talk and next to him was the interpreter signing away his in game adjustments.

Walker didn’t play in a Super Bowl but he did help the Broncos to the 1991 AFC Championship Game. In his rookie year as a reserve lineman, he recorded 3 sacks and was part of the defensive rotation.

Derrick Coleman

Derrick Coleman

Make no mistake about it, we’re cheering for Derrick Coleman in life and Super Bowl XLVIII. Hopefully somewhere Kenny Walker is smiling and even though he played for Denver, a part of him has to be pulling privately for Coleman to do well.

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Taylor Blitz Times NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Richard Sherman

Someone somewhere coined the axiom  “Big time players make big plays in big games.” No defensive play this year was bigger than the pass defensed by Richard Sherman that turned into the game ending interception to win the NFC Championship. It would have been easy to catch Sherman flat footed having played a majority of the game being avoided.

TBT Defensive Player of the Year: Richard Sherman

TBT Defensive Player of the Year: Richard Sherman

If you make the biggest play in the history of your team to send them to the Super Bowl, you have done something. How many times do we see a player dominate in the regular season only to disappear in the playoffs??  Yet Sherman was front and center as one of the lead players on the #1 defense in football.

One pass defense could have altered the legacies of both teams.

One pass defense could have altered the legacies of both teams.

In the most pivotal game of the season, Sherman provided the key play. Not the NFC Championship, but week 4 when the consensus was Seattle couldn’t win on the road. It was the 4th quarter when the Seahawks were losing in Houston 20-13. At the time the Texans were thought of as a Super Bowl team and on their way to a win. With just 2:51 left Sherman jumped a Matt Schaub pass and returned it 58 yards for the tying touchdown. Seattle eventually won 23-20 in overtime. The resultant confidence led the Seahawks to a 6-2 road record and NFC best 13-3 record. While the Texans didn’t win another game the rest of the season. Talk about a turning point.

The confidence building moment against Houston.

The big interception against Houston.

In 2013, Sherman talked the talk while leading the NFL with 8 interceptions, returning them for 158 yards and that significant touchdown. He also was 7th on the team in tackles with 48, defensed 17 passes and recovered 2 fumbles. The Seahawks assign him to their opponents best receiver and he answered the bell every week.

In the pivotal moment of the NFC Championship we saw a transcendent play. For an instant Colin Kaepernick thought he had Crabtree breaking free and let fly. From a fundamental standpoint he stayed inside Michael Crabtree, using the sideline as his friend, then reacted to make the play of the season.

Honorable Mention: 

Navorro Bowman pictured in last year's Super Bowl.

Navorro Bowman pictured in last year’s Super Bowl.

Navorro Bowman ILB – San Francisco 49ers: We were just a couple plays away from back to back Taylor Blitz Times Defensive Player Awards for Navorro Bowman. If Richard Sherman doesn’t turn in that play to win the NFC Championhip how does he not win it again?? As we made it to the second half of the season, many pundits were pitching the case for Luke Kuechly. However truth be told he didn’t turn anywhere near the season Bowman did out in San Francisco.

  • Bowman -180 total tackles, 5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 9 passes defensed, 2 interceptions and 1 returned for a touchdown
  • Kuechly -166 total tackles, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions ,  8 passes defensed, yet 0 forced fumbles or fumble recoveries

On top of that, was there a bigger defensive play than the interception return for a touchdown to put San Francisco into the playoffs?? Monday night against the Falcons his 89 yard pick six takes place with 1:31 to go when the 49ers needed a play. This play and his final play are the essence of the man. He stops Kearse in the 4th quarter of the NFC Championship at the two yard line. The tackle wasn’t enough, he forces and recovers a fumble although he injures himself in the process. It’s that spirit that makes him the best linebacker in the NFL. One we wish a speedy recovery from the knee injury suffered against Seattle.

Burfict has been the playmaker on Cincinnati's  top ranked defense.

Burfict has been the playmaker on Cincinnati’s top ranked defense.

Vontaze Burfict ILB – Cincinnati Bengals: Another blood thirsty linebacker who turned in one stellar season was this former Arizona St. Sun Devil. He recorded an astounding 50 more tackles than his breakout rookie season with 177 total tackles. Add to that his 3 sacks, 8 passes defensed, an interception, 1 forced fumble to accompany 2 fumble recoveries with one returned for a touchdown.

He was the trigger man on the NFL’s third best defense and has a great future ahead of him. We just need to see if he’ll be featured in the new defensive coodinator’s scheme now that Mike Zimmer is the head man in Minnesota.

These were the defenders that made the season for Taylor Blitz Times.

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NFC Championship: San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks

Well here we are again for the third time during the 2013 season, this time with a trip to Super Bowl XLVIII at stake. We named the first battle Ali v. Frazier I in week 2 of the regular season and now it’s time to get ready for The Rumble in The Jungle or Ali v Frazier III

The game NFL fans have anticipated since last year's NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs.

The game NFL fans have anticipated since last year’s NFC Divisional Round of the playoffs.

A gem of a defensive battle looms in the Pacific Northwest between two teams whose coaches hate one another from back in their college days a few years back. This game will boil down to the defense that forces the first turnover.

The George Halas Trophy.

The George Halas Trophy.

Although the Seahawks aren’t asking much from Russell Wilson, he has to play better than he did against New Orleans. He will have to make a few plays on the go while they establish the running game. The exact same thing holds true with Colin Kaepernick.

The one wild card is Anquan Boldin. He is the one player the 49ers have that can change the game. He looks to make plays when the team needs him most. Yet he has to make the most of his opportunities. There won’t be many against Seattle’s secondary.

Seattle has been our pick to win the Super Bowl since last January and nothing has changed. This is one of the finest defenses in modern football history which will take them to the Super Bowl if the offense doesn’t turn the football over. For the 49ers to win they have to force turnovers early and take the crowd out of it. However the Seahawks will run the football and play a tight game and allow the defense to play on a long field.

In the end….we have to stay the course with Seattle in a 26-16 win tonight.

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AFC Championship: New England Patriots @ Denver Broncos

We are just hours away from one of the most anticipated conference finals in the history of the National Football League. The fifteenth meeting between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Yet these two don’t take the field against one another. One of the misleading things the media continues to miss on is to just label the record of 10 wins for Brady and 4 wins for Manning.

The Lamar Hunt Trophy is awarded to the champion of the American Football Conference.

The Lamar Hunt Trophy is awarded to the champion of the American Football Conference.

The truth in these statistics are more the quarterbacks v. the opposing defensive coordinators. The reality is Bill Belichick’s defense is 10-4 vs. Peyton and that’s where the analysis of this game begins. Over the last seven games, New England has forced 14 turnovers including 4 the last time they saw Denver. What Belichick thrives on is coaching situation football. He has to come up with schemes to confuse Manning and he has a young defense that Peyton doesn’t know. Aquib Talib will figure prominently in this game.

The team that establishes the run first wins this game. Knowshon Moreno was killing the Patriots in that earlier contest. His 224 yards was more a concession than it was a focus. Belichick did this in Super Bowl XXV and XXXI against the Bills and Rams respectively. He elected to take away the Denver receivers first. Will Peyton audible to running the football like he did on the road?? This time he’s at home in the AFC Championship Game. Are you sure he will acquiesce and not try for a great passing game against Brady??

The Patriots have evolved into a running team as of late with LaGarrette Blount pounding the football. Quiet as it’s kept, the Patriots are back to the strategem that brought Brady his 3 rings. Remember Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon?? Sure there are some plays from four and five receiver looks but they have evolved back to a power running team.

So who wins this game and why?? In a high stakes game as we stated before the match-up is the coordinators vs a given offense or quarterback. Belichick’s defenses are 10-4 against Manning which includes a win just 7 weeks ago. Tom Brady and the Patriots are 7-0 against Jack Del Rio led defenses. History can be made if Manning can become the second quarterback in history, to win 2 championships since Norm Van Brocklin in 1961, with two different teams. However Brady can become the second quarterback since Johnny Unitas to win two championships a decade apart. Those latter two are what has The Chancellor of Football excited. Peyton can win a Super Bowl in Eli’s home stadium after Eli has won one in his.

The newest commodity that can be an x factor: LaGarette Blount

The newest commodity that can be an x factor: LaGarrette Blount

With the Patriots winning situation football… Did you know the Patriots have a top ten defense in points allowed?? Belichick could be headed to his 9th Super Bowl. In his history he stopped Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly at his zenith in Super Bowl XXV, soon to be Hall of Famer Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXVI, and Hall of Fame QB Joe Montana in an NFC Championship. He will come up with a scheme to make Manning nervous an out of rhythm at critical times. The Broncos will struggle tackling Blount and the Patriots will advance to the sixth Super Bowl of the Belichick/ Brady era…38-34

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