Super Bowl LIV Preview: Kansas City Chiefs v. San Francisco 49ers

We’re just 36 hours from crowning the 100th NFL champion with the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV. The narrative has largely been framed around the coaching experience of the Chief’s Andy Reid against the youthful brilliance of Kyle Shanahan. It should be as both have earned their way to football’s summit.

However the narrative that has dominated the headlines concerning both teams on the field is how can the 49ers 2nd ranked defense stop they dynamics Chiefs offense and all world QB Patrick Mahomes??

Kelce is crucial in moving the chains in LIV.

Over the last two seasons Mahomes has thrown for 76 TDs to just 17 interceptions. With TE Travis Kelce (97 rec. 1,229 yds/ 5TDs) Sammy Watkins, Tyreek Hill, and Mecole Hardman the NFL  hasn’t seen this type of lethal speed since The Greatest Show on Turf St Louis Rams. This team can get deep on anyone.

One matchup to keep your eye on is LT Eric Fisher protecting against super rookie Nick Bosa. Each are former 1st round draft picks and had Fisher started all 16 games he might have been a Pro Bowl performer as he had been in 2018. Yet Bosa (9 sacks) Erik Armstead (10 sacks) and DeForest Buckner (7.5 sacks) have benefitted with the return of Dee Ford. They have to collapse the pocket and protect their secondary. If Mahomes can buy time he has the arm to get deep to Hill, Mecole, or Watkins on a 31 year old Richard Sherman.

Mahomes has only been sacked 17 times in the 14 games he’s started and the Niners plan to get after him. Watch for Kansas City to attack with screens early on to slow the pass rush down. Reid and OC Eric Bienemy did adjust to a 2TE alignment and run the Titans, a run heavy offense, out of their gameplan. Can they do that on the 2nd ranked 49er defense though??

However…Did you know the San Francisco 49ers outscored the Kansas City Chiefs this season 479-451?? Did you know the Kansas City Chiefs allowed fewer points than the 49ers 308-310??

Can Mostert continue his hot hand??

Over the last 5 games of the season the 49ers gave up 147 points which included 46 given up to the Saints on the road. However the defense coming in hot is Kansas City where they only gave up 32 points over the last 5 games. For all the talk of 49er DC Robert Saleh it’s Chief DC Steve Spagnuolo whose defense has jelled as the season concluded.

He put the Chiefs in goalline defense on 4th and 1in the middle of the field in the AFC Championship Game. “Spags” has lined up his defense with 4 and 5 down linemen to stop bruising NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry when he had to. Now that Pro Bowl DT Chris Jones is healthy he has a pivotal role stopping the 49er running game.

Mathieu has been putting the smack down on receivers in 2019.

All Pro and Pro Bowl S Tyrann Mathieu will be pit against 49er Pro Bowl TE Kerry Kittle. Number 85 (85 rec / 1053 yds / 5 TDs) has to have a dominant game against Mathieu and Sorenson. Don’t know if Kittle can get lose on the instinctive athletic safety. Spagnuolo had to learn the strengths of his new defense and Mathieu as his wildcard defender

Shanahan’s running game is the key to the 49ers winning it. He has taken the ball out of Jimmy G’s hands in these last two playoff games. He’s only thrown 27 passes while the offense ran 89 times and controlled the flow of both games. What is going to happen if forced out of that game plan?? Can they unhide Garoppolo??

murray.49ersThe 49ers defense in games against mobile QBs Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson, they went 3-2 in those games giving up 27, 21, 25, 26, and 20 points while allowing an average of 147.6 yards rushing in those games. The Chancellor was front and center during the Halloween contest when they let Kyler Murray run 5 times for 34 yards to keep drives alive in a 28-25 loss. Keep in mind this is with 4 games played against division rivals they knew best.

When they faced a Lamar Jackson they didn’t know… he burst for 101 yards rushing. Mahomes will keep his eyes up and buy time for Hill and Watkins to get deep. In figuring the winner of this game the best defense will win.

Kansas City will win this game as they can be stopped for half the game and explode for 24 in just a few minutes. Patrick Mahomes will bring the Lombardi back to Kansas City 38-21.

Andy Reid finally wins that elusive Super Bowl!derrick.thomas

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

Eli Manning Belongs In The Pro Football Hall of Fame

With Eli Manning calling it a career we have been inundated with sportswriters and t.v. pundits debating his Hall of Fame candidacy. Over the last 15 years we have seen the pendulum swing where weak pundits want to equate everything to just a series of stats. For those of us who know this game and it’s vast history, players also make the Pro Football Hall of Fame based on performing heroic feats.

Manning’s detractors will point to his 117-117 record and try to reduce his influence to just his Super Bowl XLII upset of the undefeated New England Patriots. “Oh he only won because of the great Giants pass rush.” is a scoff we hear when Eli and this game is brought up.

Yet before we get started let The Chancellor share with you several of his feats:

  • 1 of 5 two time Super Bowl MVPs XLII & XLVI (3 of 4 are in the PFHOF/ Brady awaits)
  • 1 of 3 QBs to win 2 conference championships on road (Elway in PFHOF/Brady awaits)
  • 1 of 2 QBs to lead game winning Super Bowl drives twice (Brady other with 4)
  • Tied with Tom Brady with 4 postseason wins over teams with 13 regular season wins.
  • Only QB in history with 2 postseason wins over teams with 15 regular season wins (07 Pats 16-0 & ’11 Packers 15-1)
  • 2nd in road /neutral site playoff wins in NFL history with 7 (Brady 1st with 9)
  • Won the Super Bowl in 2011 with the worst regular season record ever at 9-7. (broke Joe Montana’s ’88 team who went 10-6/ Montana in PFHOF)

When every other QB Manning has performed these feats next to are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame…?? Ok not yet.

Now to crush a few misnomers about Eli… Did you know when Manning led the Giants XLVI championship he won it with the lowest rated defense in Super Bowl history ranked 27th? Take a guess who passed for the most yardage in a regular season (4,933 yards) to win the Super Bowl? You guessed it Eli Manning in XLVI.

Did you notice Peyton Manning didn’t come up once in any of these feats? Most would assume his name would come up and not Eli by the way the media shaped their narratives.

Stop and think of the signature games Eli has in his back pocket. Everyone remembers the run to the Super Bowl in 2007 especially the Dallas Cowboys. Remember that group?? An emerging Tony Romo and Terrell Owens sparkled as they ran to an NFC best 13-3 record and the championship of the Eastern Division. Then in a frigid Lambeau Field took down the 13-3 Green Bay in Brett Favre’s last game as a Packer. Don’t forget he returned to win a 2nd in Lambeau when he gunned down Aaron Rodgers 37-20 in the 2011 NFC Divisional.

Keep in mind he is the only QB in history with 2 playoff wins on the road at Lambeau Field and the only one to beat both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre in postseason play.

We have to remember he was a 2 time Super Bowl winning quarterback although the sporting press doesn’t cover him like one. He isn’t coddled like his brother when it comes to his short comings. Think about it for a second…. Had Eli Manning thrown a 4th quarter interception to seal his team’s fate in a Super Bowl you would never have heard the end of it. Peyton did that in Super Bowl XLIV to New Orleans’ Tracy Porter.

We hardly hear of his triumph in Super Bowl XLII, he’s treated like a supporting actor to the upset itself or even David Tyree’s helmet catch. Neither of which could have taken place without Eli’s heroics. If you can remember Eli had to break free of two linemen and scrambled before throwing that famous pass to Tyree.

One of the best throws in Super Bowl history. Who knew he would upstage it with the best throw ever in XLVI?? With just 3:46 remaining and down 17-15 and at his 12 yard line, Manning facing a Cover 2 had Mario Manningham break outside CB Sterling Moore when…

Quite simply it’s a pass that shouldn’t have been thrown when it comes to football schematics. Not against Cover 2 yet if the pass was 1 yard shorter it would have been knocked away by Moore. If the pass was to the outside 1 yard Mario Manningham doesn’t get his feet in. If the pass was 1 yard over in the field of play FS Chung would have intercepted or knocked the ball down. Yet in the money time with his team losing Eli delivered this 38 yard “Rembrandt” which was the centerpiece to a game winning drive and a 21-17 win.

It was Eli’s 6th 4th quarter comeback in 2011 alone…and by the way since he did it the week before in the NFC Championship against the 49ers, Eli is the only QB in history with back to back 4th quarter comebacks to win a conference championship and Super Bowl in the same season. Yet I digress…

 

It was Eli who spotted Manningham break a cardinal rule in Cover 2, reroute the receiver to the inside and funnel him up to the safety. When he didn’t Manning took two steps toward the receiver to change the trajectory and let fly. Great great throw.

Eli finished with an 8-4 record in the playoffs and get this he was 7-2 away from home in the playoffs including the Super Bowl, for his career. Contrast that against Peyton’s 3-6 record away from home in the playoffs, which includes a 41-0 devastating loss to the New York Jets. Understand Eli doesn’t have a lopsided postseason loss to that degree on his resume’.

No one even comes close to his road post season record. He’s quiet and tremendously unassuming off the field. Yet it’s at this moment your mind has to change when it comes to Hall of Fame worthiness. You’d think that the coddling the media gave his brother would have rubbed off on him. That it hasn’t gave him a thicker skin and stronger resolve. One exhibited time after time in 2 tremendous playoff runs.

He’s had other moments like when he came within 45 yards of the all time NFL record of 554 yards passing in 2012. Remember that? Yes he threw for an NFL record 245 yards 25 points in the 4th quarter to beat the Bucs 41-34 in week 2. Manning threw for 510 yards in another come from behind win.

For his career he completed 4,895 of 8,119 for 57,023 yards 366 TDs and 244 interceptions. His performance was that of a great “B” student yet when the money was on the line he delivered “A+” material.

With his total of 27 4th quarter come from behind wins Eli has more than Hall of Famers Jim Kelly, Joe Montana, Warren Moon, & Dan Fouts. Only one short of Brett Favre Yet you don’t think he belongs??

Then many of you want to call Tom Brady the greatest quarterback ever for winning 6 Super Bowls…well .. What do you call Eli who holds a winning record against him 3-2, twice beating Brady in Super Bowls?? For good measure is the only starting QB to beat him twice in the same season in 2011. What do you call Eli?? Not elite Tiki Barber… you call him a Hall of Famer!

For induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame I present Eli Manning!

The Chancellor’s other pieces written advocating players Hall of Fame candidacy:

Kevin Greene (written Mar 2, 2011 / enshrined 2016)

Robert Brazile (written Mar 2, 2011/ enshrined 2018)

Jerry Kramer (written July 26, 2011 / enshrined 2018)

Ken Stabler (written July 12, 2015 / enshrined 2016)

Terrell Davis (written July 5, 2011 / enshrined 2017)

Randy Moss (written Aug 2, 2011/ enshrined 2018)

Cris Carter (written Dec 2, 2011/ enshrined 2013)

Andre Reed (written Aug 11, 2013 / enshrined 2014)

Edgerrin James (written Jan 19, 2013/ induction year 2020)

 

2019 NFC Championship Preview: Green Bay Packers vs. San Francisco 49ers

There is a tremendous amount of shared history between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. Of course there is a tremendous amount of history dating back to the Bill Walsh coaching tree bearing fruit with Mike Holmgren heading to win in Lambeau to Steve Mariucci leaving Green Bay and coahing by the bay. Well this generation has Packers Head Coach Matt Lafleur having coached with Kyle Shanahan over the last 8 years.

Both Coaches are making their 1st appearance in a championship game and there are several questions:

  • Which coach will abandon the run first?
  • Which coach has self scouted their tendencies and know when and how to break them?

All year long the 49ers have boasted one of if not the best front 7 in all of football. With the return of Kwon Alexander, last week San Fran returned to the emotion & speed they played with earlier in the season.

Dee Ford has come back from injury and with NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa (9 sacks) and Arik Armstead (10 sacks) have their complete package of pass rushers to get after Aaron Rodgers.

The unsung hero on the defense this year in The Chancellor’s eyes is Fred Warner. He’s made several splash plays this year (118 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 int & 3 forced fumbles) has become the Novorro Bowman of this incarnation of a Niner championship defense. Warner & Alexander will eat up the intermediate throws if the Packers can’t establish the run. Which is the key to this game…

Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Jones runs during the first half of an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

The Packers have to take the ball out of Aaron Rodgers’ hand and feed Aaron Jones. They can’t get impatient and sit in shotgun and throw the football 30 plus times or they’re traveling back to Lambeau a loser. Surprisingly this is a weakness on an otherwise rugged #2 ranked defense. San Fran ranks 17th against the run but will LaFleur stay with it long enough??

In the last 5 games Green Bay has rushed the football more than 30 times, including 3 in the last 5 games. Even in last week’s playoff game when the run didn’t produce splash plays, they kept feeding Jones the football. His 21 carries for 62 yards allowed them to keep the ball out of Russell Wilson’s hands just enough in a 28-23 win. However on the road it’s real easy for a young coach to try to show his genius and throw the football more than he should.

The problem is the 3 headed monster in San Francisco with Tevin Coleman (544 yds) Raheem Mostert (772 yds) & Matt Breida (623 yds) has shown the penchaant to stay with the run. Last week they ran it 43 times and wore Minnesota down. Green Bay is 18th in defense 23rd against the run and tied for 24th allowing 4.7 yards per carry.

To win this game Green Bay needs to force several turnovers to steal the momentum. One of the problems is they haven’t forced any opponent with a winning record into just 2 in any game this season. In fact they haven’t forced more than 2 since they saw Mitch Trubisky (3) on December 15. Can they force Jimmy G into turning it over?? He has the most interceptions thrown of all QBs in the playoffs.

However we can’t bank on that… San Francisco wins 38-17 and make the trek to Miami for Super Bowl LIV.

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

2019 AFC Championship Preview: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans

Here we are on the day to find out who will make their way to Miami and Super Bowl LIV. Its the best week of football as the two cities that host the conference championships have the hardcore rank and file fans that have cheered their teams all season. So it has a more visceral emotional feeling than an antiseptic corporate Super Bowl crowd.

The raw emotion that is felt comes from the home team either moving on to the Super Bowl or finality of the season is over.

One week after a historic comeback in their 51-31 win over Houston, Mahomes is in a rare position. This is his 2nd straight AFC Championship Game at home and with a victory he’s off to be the face of the NFL with a Super Bowl appearance. With a loss and he becomes this generation’s Dan Fouts. Who had several great years but had his legacy derailed with huge home losses in ’79 playoffs & an AFC Championship loss in 1980.

Mahomes is on pace to break Kurt Warner’s record for most yards in his 1st four playoff games and will have to carry the Chiefs today. In this game he has to come out and land haymakers early and establish a 14-0 or 14-3 lead to knock Tennessee from the gameplan of turning and handing the football off to bruising Derrick Henry. They cannot come out with jitters as they did last week with 4 drops in their 1st four possessions. This included a couple drops by All World TE Travis Kelce.

If they do Kansas City’s glass jaw can totally be exposed in their defense. Yes the Chiefs have improved defensively this year with a ranking of 16th where they were 31st last year. However a closer look and they are 28th in yards allowed per carry with 4.9 yards per crack.

That doesn’t bode well when Derrick Henry is on a historic playoff run. First the 182 yards in knocking off the #1 defense and defending champion Patriots. Then the 195 yards on 30 carries trampling the 4th ranked Ravens in a 28-12 win. That doesn’t bode well. It isn’t the yards as much as it’s Henry and this offensive line imposing their will on a front 7. On a group giving up nearly 5 yards per carrry? Yikes!

Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill have to make the huge plays as they did last week. Come on… they scored on 8 straight possessions which is an NFL playoff record. Kelce made up for his early drops with 10 rec 134 yards and a playoff record 3TDs. He as to be the guy as cold neutralizes speed and Hill won’t be that effective. One or two big splash plays maybe but Kelce has to move the chains.

To The Chancellor of Football this is a replay of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens run to the title. They changed their quarterback mid year (Trent Dilfer/Ryan Tannehill) who had been shipped from a prior team whose city is hosting that year’s Super Bowl (Tampa/Miami). In 2000 the game that announced this was a hot team powering their way to the Super Bowl Baltimore powered through a physical Titan team on the road. This time Henry and Tennessee gut punched the Ravens in Baltimore’s house.

The last 3 games between these teams the Titans have won including two playoff games with one a 22-21 wildcard win in Arrowhead. No Mahomes wasn’t on the tear that he is now but styles make fights.

In an upset the Tennessee Titans win this game in a 27-17 win playing keep away. This is the NFL’s 100th season and we’re going to back to it’s roots. Titans going to Super Bowl LIV!

Thanks for reading and please share the article.