Tag Archives: 2014 nfl playoffs

Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 17

Top 5

1. QB Geno Smith 20/25 for 358 yards, 3 TDs, Fmb, 158.3 QBR vs. MIA

2. WR Eric Decker 10 receptions for 221 yards, TD vs. MIA

3. RB Lamar Miller 19 carries for 178 yards, TD vs. NYJ

4. WR Michael Floyd 8 receptions for 153 yards, 2 TDs vs. SF

5. RB Frank Gore 25 carries for 144 yards vs. ARI

Worst of the Worst

1. Peyton Manning caused a lot of people to lose in the fantasy playoffs, including me. His last few games have been truly dreadful, so dreadful that I would not be surprised if the Broncos are upset in the playoffs. Here are some stats to think about:

In Dec: 77/121 for 990 yards, 63.6% completion, 3 TDs, 6 INTs, 76.8 QBR.

In losses: 127/204 for 1,441 yards, 62.3% completion, 7 TDs, 9 INTs, 76.4 QBR.

There is a strong correlation between those two stat lines. Just something to think about if you decide to bet on the Broncos.

2. Bucs drop 20-7 halftime lead vs. NO, grab number one pick in draft

3. QB Drew Brees 24/38 for 281 yards, TD, 3 INTs, 61.4 QBR vs. TB

4. QB Philip Rivers 20/34 for 291 yards, 2 INTs, 7 sacks, Fmb, 62.3 QBR

5. Eagles block Giants punt, Giants return for 73-yard TD, called back for holding

To conclude the NFL regular season, here’s the top five performers from each of the main stat categories.

Passing

1. Drew Brees, NO: 4,952

1. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT: 4,952

3. Andrew Luck, IND: 4,761

4. Peyton Manning, DEN: 4,727

5. Matt Ryan, ATL: 4,694

Rushing

1. DeMarco Murray, DAL: 1,845

2. Le’Veon Bell, PIT: 1,361

3. LeSean McCoy, PHI: 1,319

4. Marshawn Lynch, SEA: 1,306

5. Justin Forsett, BAL: 1,266

Receiving

1. Antonio Brown, PIT: 1,698

2. Demaryius Thomas, DEN: 1,619

3. Julio Jones, ATL: 1,593

4. Jordy Nelson, GB: 1,519

5. Emmanuel Sanders, DEN: 1,404

Tackles

1. Luke Kuechly, CAR: 153

2. DeAndre Levy, DET: 151

3. Lavonte David, TB: 146

4. Curtis Lofton, NO: 145

5. Paul Worrilow, ATL: 143

Sacks

1. Justin Houston, KC: 22.0

2. J.J. Watt, HOU: 20.5

3. Elvis Dumervil, BAL: 17.0

4. Connor Barwin, PHI: 14.5

4. Mario Williams, BUF: 14.5

Interceptions

1. Glover Quin, DET: 7

2. Tashaun Gipson, CLE: 6

3. Harrison Smith, MIN: 5

3. Brent Grimes, MIA: 5

3. Bruce Carter, DAL: 5

Next, how my division previews matched up with this season’s results. Some were on point (Broncos 12-4, Dolphins 8-8, Colts 11-5, Rams 6-10) and some, I don’t know what I was thinking (Titans 6-10, Bears 10-6, Redskins 8-8, Buccaneers 9-7).

AFC North            AFC West              AFC East              AFC South

4 Bengals 10-6    1 Broncos 12-4      3 Patriots 10-6   2 Colts 11-5

6 Steelers 8-8     Chiefs 8-8              5 Dolphins 8-8    Titans 6-10

Ravens 8-8          Chargers 8-8         Jets 6-10              Texans 5-11

Browns 5-1          Raiders 5-11          Bills 5-11               Jaguars 4-12

NFC North           NFC West              NFC East              NFC South

3 Packers 11-5     1 Seahawks 13-3   4 Eagles 8-8       2 Saints 11-5

5 Bears 10-6        6 49ers 10-6         Redskins 8-8   Buccaneers 9-7

Lions 6-10           Cardinals 7-9        Cowboys 5-11     Falcons 7-9

Vikings 4-12        Rams 6-10             Giants 3-13        Panthers 6-10

Here’s what they were:

AFC North            AFC West                AFC East             AFC South

3 Steelers 11-5     2 Broncos 12-4      1 Patriots 12-4     4 Colts 11-5

5 Bengals 10-5-1     Chiefs 9-7            Bills 9-7                Texans 9-7

6 Ravens 10-6         Chargers 9-7        Dolphins 8-8       Jaguars 3-13

Browns 7-9              Raiders 3-13        Jets 4-12               Titans 2-14

NFC North           NFC West                 NFC East             NFC South

2 Packers 12-4     1 Seahawks 12-4     3 Cowboys 12-4   4 Panthers 7-8-1

6 Lions 11-5          5 Cardinals 11-5      Eagles 10-6           Saints 7-9

Vikings 7-9           49ers 8-8                 Giants 6-10            Falcons 6-10

Redskins 4-12      Rams 6-10               Redskins 4-12       Bucs 2-14

Finally, my predictions for the wild-card round.

5 Cardinals (11-5) @ 4 (7-8-1) Panthers

The Arizona Cardinals, despite their injury-riddled quarterback position, managed a 11-5 record. Since Palmer’s season-ending injury in week 10, the team went 3-4, including 0-2 under third-stringer Ryan Lindley. The Cardinals have not scored 20 points since losing Palmer and their rushing attack has dwindled after losing running back Andre Ellington. Their secondary, which highlights Antonio Cromartie and Patrick Peterson, has been awful, allowing 260 yards in the air (29th).

On the other side, Ron Rivera saved his job. After losing six consecutive games and dropping to 3-8-1, the Panthers won their final four games to clinch the NFC South title. Cam Newton’s inconsistency as well the Panthers lack of depth at receiver plagued the team about as much as I thought it would and it’s important to note the last four wins came against struggling teams.

Despite the Cardinals lackluster aerial coverage, the Panthers weak receiving core that relies far too heavily on rookie Kelvin Benjamin and tight end Greg Olsen most likely won’t be able to take advantage. It’s the Panthers 7th-best rushing attack versus the Cardinals 13th-ranked defensive front. I’m simply not willing to put my faith in Cam Newton and I think Arians will coach his team to victory.

6 Ravens (10-6) @ 3 Steelers (11-5)

The Ravens have not been themselves as of late and nearly missed the wild-card spot. The Steelers, on the other hand, truly dazzled. Ben Roethlisberger had the best statistcal year of his career, Antonio Brown led the league in receptions and total receiving yards and Le’Veon Bell turned the Steelers rushing attack into a real threat after being towards the bottom last year. However, Le’Veon Bell injured his knee in the team’s season finale and will miss today’s game. Despite that, Flacco’s poor play in December and Justin Forsett’s apparent disappearance make me believe the Steelers will pull out the win.

5 Bengals (10-5-1) @ 4 Colts (11-5)

If I’ve learned anything from this NFL season, it is that coordinators, not coaches, are more responsible for on-field performance.

Last year, Cincinnati was third in total yards allowed, behind only Seattle and Carolina and fifth against the pass (209.0), the run (96.5) and points allowed per game (19.1).

This year, the Bengals were 22nd in yards allowed, 20th against the pass (243.0) and the rush (116.3) and 12th in points allowed (21.5).

Keep in mind that the Bengals added a lot of depth this past offseason and it leaves you scratching your head. What happened?

Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer left, that’s what happened. Zimmer was the key to the Bengals defense and with him gone, they struggled mightily. Guess who was ahead of the Bengals in nearly every defensive stat category? Zimmer’s Vikings, who struggled against the run (25th) but outpaced the Bengals against the pass (7th) and in total yards (14th) and points (11th). The Bengals just aren’t the same team and if it wasn’t for the emergence of LSU rookie Jeremy Hill, the Bengals would not have made the playoffs, even with an easy schedule.

The Colts, my preseason Super Bowl pick, had the record I predicted but struggled in December, including a disastrous defeat against the Cowboys. The running game is still ineffective and I don’t think it’s because of the personnel. The Colts are just not a running team and never have been. Edgerrin James was the last overachieving running back they had, a decade ago. Getting Trent Richardson for a first-rounder was a bargain, but you have to put him in a system where he has a chance to succeed.

Andrew Luck hasn’t been himself of late, but the entire Bengals team hasn’t been themselves all year. Also considering A.J. Green’s doubtful status for Sunday’s contest and that the Bengals have never won a road playoff game, I’m feeling Luck-y.

6 Lions (11-5) @ 3 Cowboys (12-4)

I hate the Dallas Cowboys. With that said, bravo guys.

Easily the biggest surprise of the season, at least for me, the Dallas Cowboys went from having one of the worst defenses in NFL history ever to a middle-of-the-road group that was 15th in points allowed (22.0). Plagued by injuries up to this year, not only did DeMarco Murray play the full season, he set some records. He eclipsed the 100-yard mark 12 times and scored at least once in 11 games! A truly incredible year, especially considering he faced the NFC West, rushing for triple digits in three of the four contests. A dominant running back is exactly what the Cowboys needed because Romo can’t shoulder the offense every game and that showed this year. Aikman had Emmitt and Romo needed someone. Too bad it took forever for Jerry Jones to find one.

The Lions under Jim Caldwell, a former coordinator, became a new team this year as their defensive line of first-round picks finally played to expectation and became the best rushing defense in the league. Their mediocre secondary is sustainable due to the constant pressure on the quarterback. Their rushing game is falling apart as the Lions are seeing Reggie Bush become a non-factor in the NFL. Bush had 76 carries this year. Stafford had more than half that (43). Joique Bell has taken over the starting role and has shown promise but a better offensive line is required if this team is to be balanced. The Lions’ December play was also questionable. After throttling the Buccaneers, the Lions squeaked past the Vikings with a two-point win and beat the Bears by 6. The defense allowed only 14 points in both match-ups and yet they still barely won. The offense has to show up now because the defense can’t play much better than it’s playing now.

This is the game to watch this week and as much as I hate the Cowboys, they’re the more balanced team. I’ll be rooting for them to choke in crunch time though.

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2014-2015 NFL Preview: Playoff Picks

First off, if you haven’t gotten a chance to read my division previews, here were my predictions.

AFC North               AFC West               AFC East               AFC South

4 Bengals 10-6        1 Broncos 12-4      3 Patriots 10-6     2 Colts 11-5

6 Steelers 8-8          Chiefs 8-8              5 Dolphins 8-8     Titans 6-10

Ravens 8-8               Chargers 8-8         Jets 6-10               Texans 5-11

Browns 5-11              Raiders 5-11          Bills 5-11                Jaguars 4-12

 

NFC North               NFC West               NFC East               NFC South

3 Packers 11-5         1 Seahawks 13-3    4 Eagles 8-8          2 New Orleans Saints 11-5

5 Bears 10-6            6 49ers 10-6           Redskins 8-8         Tampa Bay Buccaneers 9-7

Lions 6-10               Cardinals 7-9          Cowboys 5-11        Falcons 7-9

Vikings 4-12            Rams 6-10               Giants 3-13           Panthers 6-10

 

Wild Card Round:

4 Bengals vs. 5 Dolphins

The Bengals defense is arguably the best in the AFC which will prove to be a tough match-up for Tannehill and his sub par offensive line. The Dolphins running game was terrible last year and I’m not sure how much of a difference Knowshon Moreno will be able to make. The Dolphins defense is pretty good but I think they’ll struggle to contain A.J. Green and keep their eye on Giovanni Bernard at the same time. It’ll be a low-scoring game, which means you pick defense, and the Bengals have the better one hands down. I’d watch out for the Dolphins though. They have potential.

3 Patriots vs. 6 Steelers

I love my Steelers but this is a tough one. Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and Big Ben are all great players but it’s hard to see them bettering the Patriots. The Patriots might be thin on receivers and runningback but their defense is top-notch and probably the only one that can be argued to be better than the Bengals. There are so many big names on this defense from Ninkovich, Chandler Jones, Jerod Mayo, and Dont’a Hightower to Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Devin McCourty. Defensively, the Steelers can’t match up with a battered Polamalu, declining Ike Taylor and young Lawrence Timmons. Unless the Steelers manage to play their best game of the season on the day they play the Patriots, I got to go with Tom Brady’s Pats.

4 Eagles vs. 5 Bears

This one is a serious toss-up because neither team has a very good defense and both are offensive-minded. I’ll take Cutler over Foles this year, but McCoy over Forte, leaving me to debate the receiving cores, which isn’t much of a debate at all. Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Martellus Bennett vs. Jeremy Maclin, Riley Cooper and Zach Ertz. Do I have to answer that? Taking that into consideration, the Bears also have some veteran linebackers and two of the best corners in Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, so I got to take the Bears in an upset.

3 Packers vs. 6 49ers

This match-up has come to the board in two of my last three playoff predictions. Both times I took the 49ers. Both times I was right. The Packers have a great offensive scheme with Rodgers, Lacy, Nelson and Cobb, there’s no doubting that. However, if you watched the Thursday night game between the Packers and Seahawks, it was disgusting. The Seahawks dominated in every facet. McCarthy couldn’t get Lacy into a groove and after the first half, Rodgers lost sync with his targets. I was reminded how bad the Packers defense is. They were really bad. QB Russell Wilson didn’t have to make any big plays. He just had to throw it to the open receiver seven yards down the field and let them run through the open field again…and again….and again. I don’t know who the defensive coordinator is for the Packers and I don’t feel like looking it up right now, but he’s terrible and so’s this defense. The 49ers have bigger chinks in the armor than before but they have all the offensive weapons they need to dismantle this one-layer defense.

Divisional Round:

1 Broncos vs. 4 Bengals

This is super tough. As I said earlier, the Bengals have arguably the best AFC defense. The Broncos have the best offense in the league. Peyton Manning’s better than Dalton, but I’ll take the Bengals backfield, leaving us with Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker vs. A.J. Green. Not very fair is it? What really pisses me off is that the Bengals are one step away from being the best. If only they would draft a receiver in the first round. Until they do, I got to take the Broncos in a close one.

2 Colts vs. 3 Patriots

The Colts got the two-seed because of a weak schedule and an even weaker division but that doesn’t mean they should be underestimated. Andrew Luck’s limited his mistakes and Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton are fantastic. The defense receives a lot of hate it doesn’t deserve because stats say they’re a top ten defense. Trent Richardson needs to prove he can produce when it matters. Tom Brady has been to the playoffs many times before but I think this Colts team can do it. I’m not as high on Stevan Ridley as I used to be and the receiving core for Brady is going to end up being the deciding factor in this one and I don’t think they’re up to the task. The Patriots D will be rock-hard, but Andrew Luck will find the will and the luck to win.

1 Seahawks vs. 5 Bears

The Seahawks defense is record-setting. The Bears offense could be record-setting. It depends on if Jay Cutler decides to play this year. If the offensive line can provide Forte the alleys they provided him last year, the Bears could pull the upset. The Seahawks defense is fantastic but the offense is weak. As great as they were on Thursday against Green Bay, that was Green Bay. When they are truly tested, how will the Seahawks offense fair? Against the Saints in last year’s divisional round, QB Russell Wilson threw for just 103 yards. All the offense was Marshawn Lynch and while he’s one of the best runningbacks in the league, he’s still only one man and one man can only do so much. See Adrian Peterson. With all that said, I think the Bears will come up short but reveal the Seahawks may not be as perfect as we think.

2 Saints vs. 6 49ers

The Saints defense is thousands of times better than it used to be, which is why the Saints should be able to grab the two-seed this year. However, the running game and receiving depth are problems and those are even bigger problems when your team can get too comfortable being offense-based. The 49ers have one of the best aerial squads in the league and if Colin Kaepernick can be a middle-of-the-road quarterback, this team should find tons of success. Frank Gore is still trucking as is this offensive line and the defense has some bruises and injuries to deal with but I think they will find a way to overcome them whereas the Saints will collapse when they can’t get the ball to Jimmy Graham. Relying too much on one man will do that to you as you advance in the playoffs and I think that’s what will happen here.

Conference Round:

1 Broncos vs. 2 Colts

The Broncos put everything they had into making a Super Bowl team. Veteran defensemen were brought in to replace youthful inexperience. The price tag wasn’t a question and that’s because the end of Peyton Manning career’s coming to a close. He’s probably got two years left, maybe three. Based off last year’s performance, he might be able to go even longer but I think deep down he might be tired. Moving on, I complained that the Bengals, had they had another aerial threat, would have made it here over the Broncos. You know who has more than one aerial threat? The Colts. Do you know who has a top ten defense? The Colts. Do you know who’s lucky? Andrew Luck. You know who’s going to win? The Colts in probably the best game of the year.

1 Seahawks vs. 6 49ers

The Seahawks offense worries me but Kaepernick’s indecision, rookie mistakes, and the defense’s wound wrappings worry me more. With the 12th man at their side, the Seahawks overpower the older version of themselves and assert themselves once again as the NFC’s best.

Super Bowl XLIX

2 Colts vs. 1 Seahawks

Taking the Colts over the Broncos is a gutsy call. The Broncos could easily see themselves in a rematch with Seattle but I hate picking rematches because very rarely do they happen. Luck will be tested more than he’s ever been tested before. If Trent Richardson gets stuck in the mud, he’ll have to face the Seahawk secondary a lot. He’ll have to be precise and overly cautious but not so cautious that he fails to act when he should. That balance of composure and controlled action must be found. I know reading that I’m even contemplating picking the Colts over the Seahawks is lunacy, but keep in mind a couple of things. This is the same team that beat the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos in five weeks. This team doesn’t quit. If you watched last year’s Super Bowl, you know the Broncos quit on themselves. They got beat down and they stayed down in front of millions of onlookers who had waited all year to see this game. The Colts don’t quit. They were losing by 28 points in the third quarter of last year’s playoff game with Kansas City and they came back and won when no one believed it was possible, including me. Luck, as a leader, showed some real heart, some dedicated passion and an unbending resolve and in turn, so did his team. This is what I think we’ll see on Super Bowl Sunday. The Seahawks will jump ahead early. Luck will rally the troops, deliver a speech that we all in the audience wish we could hear, and he will make us believe in young underdogs again. He will tear down the era of Peyton and become the Colts’ Aaron Rodgers. No one could replicate Brett Favre, said everyone. Everyone but Aaron Rodgers. Any Luck doubters will, if not like Luck, at least respect him by the end of this game if it goes the way I visualize.

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