2014 AFC Pedictions

Under normal circumstances Taylor Blitz Times would have these published before the season starts. However this has been a different off-season where more focus was on historical articles. Although we’re 1 week into the new season, we still haven’t seen a sample size large enough to alter The Chancellor of Football’s picks.

2014 AFC Champions will be the Denver Broncos

2014 AFC Champions will be the Denver Broncos

AFC North Champs: Cincinnati Bengals

AFC East Champs: New England Patriots

AFC South Champs: Indianapolis Colts

AFC West Champs: Denver Broncos

Wildcards: Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens

The representative to make it to Glendale, AZ and Super Bowl XLIX will be the Denver Broncos. They will narrowly defeat the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game they should win at home.

Ware will make Von Miller a better player as well.

Ware will make Von Miller a better player as well.

Lets face facts, not many trust Bengals QB Andy Dalton but he will take a big step up this year and win his first playoff game. He won’t have the moxie to take on not only Peyton Manning but what should be one of the AFC’s best defenses. The signing of DeMarcus Ware, TJ Ward, and Aquib Talib give the Broncos a defensive swagger they haven’t had before.

More importantly none of these players have won a championship which only adds to the overall hunger of the team. The Broncos won’t score anywhere near last year’s 606 point performance. They won’t have to as they will become more balanced.

The player that is growing on The Chancellor the most is Andrew Luck.

The player that is growing on The Chancellor the most is Andrew Luck.

Right behind these two teams will be the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. Was there anyone more impressive than Andrew Luck in week 1 of the NFL season?? The fight he brought the Colts back with was infectious. He made his entire team believe they could come back and they were playing without DE/LB Robert Mathis. The Colts gained more from that 31-24 loss in Denver than teams that won in the first week.

The Patriots will bounce back from week 1 but will they feel the effects of trading away G Logan Mankins the rest of the season?? Brady and the offense was under attack in their 2nd half loss to the Dolphins. They gained less than 100 yards as Miami pulled away. Bill Belichick will right the ship and they should win the AFC East with at least 11 wins.

The Bengals and Colts look like the two that will play in the 2015 AFC Championship Game however we have to get through 2014 first. The Broncos will look to take a more battle hardened team to Glendale than the one they took to New York last year. Will Denver win Super Bowl XLIX??

 

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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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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AFC Divisional Playoff: San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos

The last game of the National Football League’s divisional round of the playoffs. All week long we have heard two camps: The pundits who always say Peyton Manning can do no wrong. In the other the question is being raised on the legitimacy of his legacy having lost so many times in the playoffs in his first game. Did you know that Joe Montana only lost four times in the playoffs in his first game?? Peyton has double that with 8. How is Manning being called the greatest ever quarterback again?? Yet I digress…

Phillip River's team has beaten Manning led teams twice in the playoffs in the past.

Phillip River’s team has beaten Manning led teams twice in the playoffs in the past.

One amazing aspect is if you go back to the beginning of the 2012 season, it was up in the air how the Manning tenure in Denver was going to go. They were 2-3 when they were down 24-0 to the San Diego Chargers. Phillip Rivers was having his customary good game when the wheels came off. Denver roared back to win 35-24. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201210150sdg.htm The Broncos went on to win the final 11 games of the season while San Diego lost 7 of their last 11. They even lost their coach as Norv Turner was fired.

So the Chargers brought in the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator when they made Mike McCoy their head coach. You don’t think he brought information with him to Southern Cal playbook information?? You don’t think that Chargers defense doesn’t know Bronco tendencies and formations?

The Chargers quite frankly shouldn’t be here. They struggled against a Chiefs team that was playing mostly back-ups. Yet here they are playing with house money. They ran the football 40 times in the upset of Cincinnati and now they get to rematch and close the circle against Manning and the Broncos. Did you know that Phillip Rivers is 6-2 v Denver?? The key to San Diego winning at Invesco Field is to run the football like that with Ryan Matthews again. Without Von Miller and Kevin Vickerson, the Bronco defense is missing a lot of firepower v the pass and the run.

Ryan Matthews is the key to this football game.

Ryan Matthews is the key to this football game.

For the Broncos they have to run the ball 40 times themselves and take the ball out of Manning’s hands a little. Remember Super Bowl XXXVII when Jon Gruden taught the Buccaneers every tendency of his former quarterback and team in Rich Gannon and the Raiders?? Turned out great for the Bucs in that Super Bowl triumph. We think the same thing is going to happen here. Remember the Chargers are riding a 5 game winning streak. In an upset the Chargers win 30-24.

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The Chancellor’s Take on Peyton Manning

The old NFL logo

The old NFL logo

When it comes to NFL football no one has watched more games and studied the game more than The Chancellor of Football. It has always been the great escape for me to study the players, analyze games, dissect teams and playing styles of different eras. I can think back to the early 80’s when someone was watching “The Cosby Show” in the other room, I had a ton of paper out drawing up the “46 defense” and studying Bears games I recorded over in mine.

If I didn’t have a football video game going, I was outside playing it with friends. All  the while my mind was studying the nuances of the game. Then the study migrated to understanding the dynamics of coaches, the sociological aspects of football, the psyche of players, and the psychological make up of a team. What made the player tick…and why certain players received the coverage they did.

One of the real reasons I have been such a harsh Peyton Manning critic is the Alpha or Beta quarterback argument. He’s proven to be an alpha quarterback obviously but I wasn’t going to give him a pass because he was Archie’s son the way the mainstream media did.  I have never been a media darling type. I abhor it. The reason I gravitated to sports and football in general from the beginning was the exploits the athletes made were earned on the field of endeavor. Not what someone made up for them like a Hollywood movie or covered favorably when others are tortured by media types for the same short comings. Take a look at this comment from Facebook earlier when I described Matt Schaub in yesterday’s article. The Beta Quarterback.

“To come off this list you have to start winning the big games. I knew Schaub would regress for one simple reason. He NEVER beat the bully on his block. The Indianapolis Colts own him and even retooled on the run. He NEVER bested the Colts in significant games while Peyton Manning was there and now a whole new regime is in place and he still hasn’t grown. Pundits started to pick the Texans as a possible Super Bowl team because of other talent on the squad. Truth is…he’s a beta qb until he proves it beating good teams like Joe Flacco did last year. Only one way past the bully…you have to kick his ass…. If you don’t, you remain in this twilight.”

Peyton Manning with his college coach Phil Fulmer.

Peyton Manning with his college coach Phil Fulmer.

Think back to Peyton Manning’s inability to beat Florida when he was at Tennessee. The Chancellor of Football watched “the next big thing” all throughout his college career. I still have the highlights recorded when he and Jay Graham powered past Eddie George, Terry Glenn and the 4th ranked Buckeyes in the Outback Bowl in 1996…yet I digress

The fundamental flaw to NEVER take down your bully on your block goes with you psychologically for a lifetime. That bully is just substituted later by other people. i.e. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Yet in his coverage the mainstream media wanted to “make” him a champion before he became one.

What got his career launched is he played with 3 Hall of Fame talents that didn’t get the credit for it. Marshall Faulk, Edgerrin James, and Marvin Harrison. Faulk, who in 1998 nearly had the same stats as he did when the St Louis Rams won it all in 1999. He had 1319 yards to go with 86 receptions and 908 more yards and 10 TDs. Sure a baby faced rookie Manning showed promise, but he threw a rookie record 28 interceptions. Yet you didn’t hear of that through the mainstream media. However Kurt Warner in 1999, who had never started in the NFL won the Super Bowl the following season with Faulk.

Marshll had been relieved of duty when the Colts traded him to the Rams to so they could draft Edgerrin James. In 1999, James became the first rookie to lead the NFL in  rushing in nearly 20 years. In fact he joined Jim Brown, Earl Campell, and Eric Dickerson as the only runners to lead the league in rushing in their first two seasons. That is dating back to 1957. Yet all the coverage went to Manning as though Edgerrin wasn’t even there. James is one of only 3 running backs (Barry Sanders & Eric Dickerson) to have 4 seasons of over 1,500 yards rushing yet when we suggest he’s a Hall of Fame player, some scoff at the notion. Why?? All the coverage was on Peyton Manning and the mainstream media NEVER fed this information to the football masses. Never. He also went on to a Super Bowl without Manning with Kurt Warner ironically in Arizona 2008.

Then you have the quiet Marvin Harrison. Although the end of his career was somewhat shrouded with the backdrop of a gang related shooting death. This performer is the current record holder for receptions in an NFL season with 143 in 2002, and caught 1,102 passes for 14,580 yards and 128 touchdowns during his career. Just about the same as new Hall of Fame enshrinee Cris Carter, and finally we’re hearing about his Pro Football Hall of Fame candidacy. This was a #1 draft pick and All America talent at Syracuse catching passes from Donovan McNabb. Yet here is another that rarely received coverage because Manning was the national media’s end all be all when it came to covering the Indianapolis Colts.

The biggest issue is how the media chose to cover him as they thought he would be and not cover him fairly for how he performed. His first forays into the playoffs were underwhelming to say the least. In ’99 when they were the 2nd seed, they only managed 13 at home in a loss to the Titans. Three years later came the worst playoff loss of this millenia in a 41-0 loss to the New York Jets in the Meadowlands. Ironically the site of this year’s Super Bowl. They only gained 167 yards total in that game which was nearly a record low performance. Yet you never heard of these performances or the fact he has a record 11 playoff losses. Why?? Too much jock sniffing by the national media. Guys who wished they were Peyton Manning instead of just covering him.

One of the reasons you're seeing a record breaking season for Manning started here. The 2003 AFC Championship Game.

One of the reasons you’re seeing a record breaking season for Manning started here. The 2003 AFC Championship Game.

Keep in mind he was favored in Super Bowl XLIV and fell behind the New Orleans Saints. Marching for the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter he threw the pick six to Tracy Porter to seal the Colts fate. What would the media have said had that been Eli Manning?? Tony Romo?? Jay Cutler?? They would have buried him like he was Rex Grossman. You have to keep in mind the NFL offices pay attention to media coverage. We saw how much sway media had when the Colts lost the 2003 AFC Championship 24-14 to Brady’s Patriots.

The immediate coverage was on how the Patriots held their receivers and stretched the 5 yard “chuck zone” further downfield. Complaints from the Colts were all over ESPN and dominated the airwaves leading into Super Bowl XXXVIII between the Patriots and Panthers. Ironically they set a Super Bowl record with both quarterbacks throwing for more than 300 yards for the first time in history.

That off-season the NFL stated they were going to reinforce that rule just because of the complaints from Manning and the Colts. No one was able to touch his receivers without a flag and ironically this was the season he broke Marino’s touchdown record of 48. Funny, he couldn’t come within 16 touchdowns of it in his 6 previous seasons.

Is Manning a Hall of Fame??? Absolutely

Is Manning a Hall of Famer??? Absolutely

The coddling of Manning and the favorable officiating is why the Broncos receivers are able to run pass interference routes at their leisure. Whenever you hear these announcers say “pick” its a form of offensive pass interference. Ironically the league hasn’t had a knee jerk reaction to reinforce those rules. So the record book has shattered from this.

The real problem here is it cheapens the record book and cheapens the league as a whole. Just like the Jordan rules ruined the NBA for purists, the same thing is happening in the NFL. What you’re doing is turning the sport into a television show. One where his games are officiated differently than other teams to manufacture a successful environment. Don’t tell me it’s a quarterback driven league when there are just as many who tune in for a stout defense or a record breaking runner. Then you hear the corporate types, who are wholly responsible for this, talk about ratings. Listen, in 1986 the Chicago Bears won Super Bowl XX in front of 120 million viewers. At the time on American television, the top 20 watched shows were 18 Super Bowls, the MASH finale, and Roots. The ratings have always been there, so come off that excuse.

Where Peyton Manning was / is concerned he’s given a pass for his flaws and celebrated for what he has done right as though it’s never been done before. Is he really better than Joe Montana when it comes to pre-snap reads?? He’s a better gun slinger than Dan Fouts?? A better deep ball than Terry Bradshaw or Johnny Unitas?? Is he better than Joe Montana at any aspect of quarterbacking?? I know he wasn’t better than Dan Marino in his prime. Yet you hear these pundits wax philosophical as though there is no footage of the 77 years of the NFL before his arrival.

Well here at Taylor Blitz Times, we do have tons of footage of all the greats. No, Manning isn’t the first who handled pre-snap adjustments. Audibles have been a part of the league for greater than 50 years.  The one description I love is how he plays with what scouts call “nervous feet”, which was to a quarterbacks detriment. All of a sudden pundits helped change that to a positive attribute.  Go figure.  He is a Hall of Fame player but keep it in perspective from a historical sense. Everything happening today isn’t the greatest ever seen and make sure you cover players fairly for what they do. After all it is a sport, right??

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Styles Make Great Fights: Kansas City Chiefs v. Denver Broncos Week 11

Now the rest of the sporting press has come to recognize what Taylor Blitz Times readers already knew. The Kansas City Chiefs were going to be a force in the 2013 campaign as we predicted they would win the AFC West. Well, not so fast. Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to go into Invesco Field and stop Peyton Manning’s 8-1 Denver Broncos. However the Chiefs come in as the NFL’s last unbeaten team and a perfect 9-0 record.

Tamba Hali has 9 sacks in the Chiefs 9 games. Did you know that is only good enough for second on the team??

Tamba Hali has 9 sacks in the Chiefs 9 games. Did you know that is only good enough for second on the team??

The obvious match-up pits the #1 offense of the Broncos with the Chiefs 9th ranked defense. In all 9 games Kansas City hasn’t given up more than 17 points in any game this season. They lead the league with 36 sacks, twenty between Justin Houston (11) and Tamba Hali (9) alone. The Chiefs are also 6th against the pass having intercepted 12 passes and giving up the 3rd fewest passing touchdowns with 9.

Hosting this big time match-up is the NFL’s “point a minute” offense. Peyton Manning has 33 touchdowns in only nine games. Thirty three?? Yikes… The Broncos have scored 371 points so far this season. How significant is that? Last year’s Super Bowl champion Ravens scored 398 the entire season. You were staring at one of history’s finest scoring teams. With five of their last seven being played outside in colder weather, their scoring should slow some.

Moreno has had a big 2013 and may need to be a bigger factor down the stretch.

Moreno has had a big 2013 and may need to be a bigger factor down the stretch.

The real question comes when the Broncos two backup tackles have to line up and take on Hali and Justin Houston. Will they decide to run the ball with Knowshon Moreno (521 yds / 8TDs) to keep the defense honest?? The Chiefs are only 19th against the run and Nose Tackle Dontari Poe (36 tackles /4.5 sack /3 passes defensed) is on the short list of defensive linemen up for Taylor Blitz Times Defensive Player of the Year. Will Denver stay committed enough to the run??

They have to get the ball out of Manning’s hands quick with the Chiefs rush coming at them. Kansas City needs to press the Denver receivers and forcing Manning (nursing a high ankle sprain) to hold onto the football for close to 2 seconds before the ball can be thrown. If they do all of these things, the Chiefs have a big chance to win this game.

To win this game, the Chiefs have to rope them into a defensive slugfest and possess the football. Right now the best the Chiefs can do is a low scoring affair won 20-17 or 17-14. If manning can get to 20 first, the game is over and Kansas City will have to wait for the rubber match in two weeks. Alex Smith can’t turn the football over and the line needs to open holes for Jamaal Charles (726 yards / 6 TDs) and a big play is needed from Dexter McCluster.

Funny how folks shape their arguments huh?? Last year when The Chancellor of Football said the Denver Broncos ran out to a 13-3 record and won the AFC West, they hadn’t played anybody. The rest of the AFC West was mired in a 17 game losing streak. Now Bronco supporters are saying the same thing about Kansas City and they might be right. Yet did you know Denver hasn’t beat a team with a winning record in 2013?? That’s right they were beaten in Indianapolis and are 0-1 against a team with a winning record. They were 1-3 last year against playoff teams.

Let’s face facts…. Peyton Manning and the Denver offense could be off for 50 minutes, then poof score 28 and are well ahead in a rout. The Chiefs coming out party is one where they have to play a grind it out game for all 60 minutes. Possess the football and run it at Denver and keep Manning off the field.

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