Penultimate Pigskin Party Preview

A couple very interesting games are on the docket today.

In the AFC, you have the 17th meeting of Peyton Manning (5 wins) and Tom Brady (11 wins). The last 10 years, the rivalry is 5-5, and their playoff matchups are 2-2. The caveat being Manning has won the last 2. Likely the last hurrah for Manning as a relevant QB, but you never know. Brady marches on through the AFC East yet again as he coasts his way to another deep playoff run. He looks to have a couple more seasons left in his arm.

Denver would seem to have the advantage due to its punishing defense, and Manning is having a fair-to-middling season, but he’s a lot like Aaron Rodgers. Able to pull himself together as the situations become dire. Still and all, betting against Brady this late in the season would be a fool’s bet.

New England 30 – Denver 24

The NFC is featuring 2 teams that each have a Super Bowl loss to their credit. The Panthers of course are an expansion team that came to life in 1995 and reached the Super Bowl in their 9th season, only to lose Super Bowl XXXVIII to the Patriots and a young Tom Brady 32-29 in one of the better Super Bowls in recent memory.  AZ on the other hand has been around since 1920, and haven’t won a championship of any kind since 1947. They however were 34 seconds away from a victory in Super Bowl XLVIII over the Steelers in yet another exciting Super Bowl. They lost only for a fantastic catch by Santonio Holmes in the back of the end zone. A big part of that Pittsburgh win came at the hands of a 100 yard pick 6 by LB James Harrison as time ran out in the 1st half. A 14 point swing to close the half as all AZ needed to do was get him out of bounds, and couldn’t.

Today? Most of this game depends on Carson Palmer. He played pretty badly last week, and they couldn’t put away a mediocre Green Bay team. One that was only in the game for Aaron Rodgers’ strength of will. Palmer threw a completely awful pick in the end zone, and short-armed another throw for a pick. He played like he didn’t want to make mistakes, and failed. If he can settle down and shred the questionable panther secondary, they can roll up some points. Cam Newton showed he can shred defenses with the best of them, but their problem is getting and blowing leads. If Carolina can run, I think they take AZ pretty handily. I think they do, and Carolina wins a high-scoring affair.

Carolina 37 – AZ 28

 

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The Bloodletting Continues

In a move that shocked no one, Eric Mangenius was just fired as DC. Not surprising seeing as they tried to hire Mike Vrabel a couple days ago.

And in more earthshaking news, the Niners hired Curtis Modkins (yes, THAT Curtis Modkins) to be their new OC. He was the Lions RB coach previously. Modkins actually did get results as he was promoted to address the shitty run game last year, and got five 100 yard games out of Ameer Abdullah. Kelly says he’s looking for different schemes to utilize in his running attack. Interesting in the fact that Kelly is a zone blocking guy, and Modkins is a straight-ahead power blocking guy. Here’s Chip:

“I’m really looking for diversity, someone that comes from another system so that we can continue to add and make what we do better … I really want to bring some people in that have some different viewpoints, have some different ideas and have done it differently. Then we, collectively, as a group, come together and (do) what’s the best based on the personnel we have for us to be successful offensively.”

Chip will be calling the plays anyway, so there you go.

They also hired Derius Swinton as their new special teams coach. He of the Bears, For someone who’s been called a casual racist, he’s hiring black guys as his coaches.

DC? Who knows? Most candidates are already scooped up, so I wonder who this will be. Per my moles inside the building, in-house candidate Jason Tarver, who coached the outside linebackers last year, is being considered for DC, as is Ravens linebackers coach Don (Wink) Martindale.

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Changing of the Guard

I suppose I should wait until after the Chipper presser, but what the hell. The 49ers are in the midst of the regime change being brought about by the hiring of Chip Kelly. Reportedly gone are offensive coordinator Geep Chryst, quarterbacks coach Steve Logan, receivers coaches Adam Henry and Ronald Curry, secondary coach Tim Lewis, defensive line coach Scott Brown, defensive assistants Ejiro Evero and Aubrayo Franklin, and offensive assistants T.C. McCartney and Joe Scola. Not too surprising about the offensive coaches.

On the defense, Eric Mangenius is still here, but his time likely can be counted in hours as Chip is interviewing Texas assistant coach Mike Vrabel, long-time New England NFL linebacker, and acolyte of Bill Belichick, a close friend of ol’ Chip as well. Makes more sense than one of Belichick’s mortal enemies in Eric Mangini, he of the spy-gate whistle-blowing controversy.

Beyond that, we may get a sense of which quarterback on our roster will be the go-to guy. I certainly feel that Colin brings a lot more to the table than Gabbert, and as I said earlier, this could be a sticking point with the front office and the coach, but you’d thin this came up in the interview. but with these guys, you never know.

Kaepernick and Kelly met on Monday to talk things over, and I suppose we’ll hear something about what they talked about later today, but in Chip’s words, he’s looking for is ‘repetitive accuracy.’ the knock on both our quarterbacks could very well BE repetitive accuracy. Both had some success with short shit, but both struggled (last year anyway) with deeper balls.

Thing is though, when the 49ers had a strong line, CK played a lot better. the line did improve somewhat by the end of the season last year, but the run game was flat (being down to 4th string guys might have something to do with that), but not enough to turn Gabbert into anything more than Alex Smith 1.5.

Greg Cosell had this to say.

I COULD EASILY SEE GABBERT BEING MORE EFFECTIVE IN CHIP’S OFFENSE THAN KAEPERNICK. NOW ONE OF THE PROBLEMS THAT CHIP HAS HAD IN THE NFL IS HE LIKES TO GET FIVE (PASS CATCHERS) OUT, WHICH INCREASES THE PRESSURE ON YOUR QUARTERBACK. AND THAT’S NOT GABBERT’S STRENGTH. AND YOU NEED A REALLY GOOD O-LINE, WHICH HE DID NOT HAVE IN PHILLY AND WHICH HE CERTAINLY DOES NOT HAVE IN SAN FRANCISCO AS WE SPEAK RIGHT NOW.

Sounds like bullshit to me. Greggie didn’t really say anything there. I go back to the fact that Kaepernick ran an offense similar to Chip’s at UNR very well, and has had major success in the NFL already. He was banged up last year, having had knee, thumb, and shoulder surgery this offseason. All this talk of Harbaugh masking Colin’s deficiencies is a load of shit. A porous line makes any QB look like Jerry Lewis out there. See Russell Wilson in the first half of the Carolina game for a recent example.
Chip Kelly even explored trading for kaepernick last spring, so he obviously thinks the guy has something to offer. I guess we’ll know more in a couple hours.
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Another Wild Wooly Weekend of Football

Tom Brady has yet again rolled his way into the AFC Championship, alongside Peyton Manning, who represent the AFC in the Super Bowl for the 9th time in the last 13 years. Throw in Big Ben, and you have 12 of the last 13 AFC QBs.

  • Brady has 5
  • Manning has 4
  • Ben has 3

Yeah, that’s 12, but one of either Brady or Manning will represent this year for lucky 13. That is flat nuts. The outlier of course is Joe Flacco. Urk.

  • Anyhow, KC lost a fumble and lost their game. KC once again was waylaid by injuries.
  • Green Bay Hail Maryed themselves into overtime, yet fell to AZ on 2 completions to Larry Fitzgerald. Unreal. GB has a shitty team that is beat-up as well but they nearly won through the force of Aaron Rodgers inability to give up.
  • Pittsburgh got out-FGed by Denver, and their game turned on a late fumble by Fitzgerald Toussaint. Kind of a blehhh game.
  • And in a thrilling game of two halfs, Carolina beat Seattle 31-0 in the 1st half, and Seattle beat Carolina 24-0 in the 2nd half. Nutso game that was nearly the biggest collapse since the 32 point Houston collapse vs Buffalo back in 1993.

Next week?

I think AZ gets beat, and Brady holds his spell over Peyton Manning. The rivalry stands at 10-4 Brady; 8-2 in the regular season, and 2-2 in the playoffs. Curious though is that Manning has won the last 2 meetings, once with Denver Jan 2014, and once with Indy Jan 2007. Brady hasn’t beaten Manning in the playoffs since January of 2005.

Odd, that. But I still think Brady wins.

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Playoff Phantasmagorica (Part II)

This weekend we have another football extravaganza. It gets much more interesting with the recent catastrophes put behind us. Cincinnati may not be moving on, but Vontaze Burfict left his imprint on the Steelers by laying out Big Ben, Antonio Brown, and Le’Veon Bell. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s FG kicker Blair Walsh visited the 1st grades that sent him letters of support after his miss. I wonder what their parents would have told him.

But I digress.

Saturday, Jan. 16

AFC Div. Game 1: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots, 1:35 p.m., CBS
NFC Div. Game 1: Arizona Cardinals vs. Green Bay Packers, 5:15 p.m., NBC

Sunday, Jan. 17

NFC Div. Round Game 2: Carolina Panthers vs. Seattle Seahawks, 10:05 a.m., FOX
AFC Div. Round Game 2:
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Denver Broncos, 1:40 p.m., CBS

KC and NE. This is yet another shot for Young Sir Alex to put his stamp on another playoff run. He famously bootlegged his way to an epic win over the Saints, and score 41 points only to lose to the Colts a couple years ago. Would love to see Alex Squeak this one out.

KC 35 – NE 31

Cards and Packers? This will likely be the biggest snoozer as AZ crushes Aaron Rodgers and Co. Green Bay has been shakey all year, and this one is no different. AZ at home will not be denied.

AZ 41 – GB 17

Sunday’s fare includes Carolina vs Seattle. This one looks like the best matchup of the weekend. Seattle is on fire, but dodged a huge bullet in Minnesota last week. They likely come out very focussed. I think Carolina finally gets past someone in a low-scoring affair.

Carolina 20 – Sea 16

Pittsburgh and Denver? This one is a quandary. Pittsburgh is banged-up and battered after their epic confrontation in Cincy last week. Denver is coming off the triumphant return of Peyton Manning handing off the ball a few times to seal their last win, so this one is iffy depending on Big Ben’s status. I find it hard to think he’ll miss this. Another low scoring one though.

Pitts  21 – Denver 16

What do you guys think?

 

 

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Our New Head Coach, Chip Kelly!(?)!

Aaaaak! In a very revolting turn of events, the 49ers have hired Chip K-K-Kelly as our head coach. Sure, I give him a hard time for being percieved as a racist coach who got rid of a bunch of black guys on his team. Those facts are out there for alL to see. What his reasoning was behind all those curious moves in Philly now become front and center with the 49ers. His trade of LeSean McCoy for the eventual signing of DeMarco Murray proved to be an unmitigated disaster. Nick Foles for Sam Bradford yielded little as well. After being traded, CB Brandon Boykin said Kelly was ‘uncomfortable’ around the grown men of his culture. LeSean McCoy of course started this by saying Kelly was “getting rid of all the good black players” from the Eagles.

Be that as it may, I ruminated a couple weeks ago that it would be mildly interesting to see how a Colin Kaepernick/Chip Kelly offense would work. Seeing as Kelly didn’t have the kind of QB in Philly that he wanted in Sam Bradford or Nick Foles, he now has two guys at his disposal who could conceivably run his high-speed offense. I never in my wildest nightmares thought this would come to pass, but here we are.

Frankly, I’d love to see Kappy in the driver’s seat of this, but I’m pretty sure Baalke has other ideas about giving money to a guy who got benched/injured (pick your order) last season. Gabby may be able to pull it off, but he showed his limitations last year as well. And given the underlying tendencies of our newly minted head coach, does Kappy even stand a chance to stay?

Beyond that, since Kelly has a recent track record of demanding more and more control of the roster (he may not have called himself the GM, but he was solely responsible for the personnel decisions in Philly after all), is THAT Jed’s intent? To position Kelly as the instrument of Trent Baalke’s demise? Hey, anything’s possible in this cown show.

Strange Days have found us.

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A Stadium, a Stadium, My Kingdom for a Stadium . . . or a Goddamn Coach!

The NFL voted yesterday 30-2 to allow the St Louis Rams the right to move back to LA for the 2016 season. This has been tried and retried for the 20 years since the NFL left LA in the 90s. The San Diego Chargers also get a one-year option to try the stadium. They have til a year from Friday (Jan 15, 2017) to exercise their option. Should they refuse, then the Raiders get the one-year option, lasting til Jan 15, 2018. I guess then the option reverts back to SD. The Rams? They were moved twice by the peripatetic Georgia Frontiere, the wife of Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom, who died under suspicious circumstances in 1979 (he and Natalie Wood are sharing stories in the Great Beyond I’m sure). She moved the team from the LA Coliseum to Anaheim in 1980, and then to St Louis in 1995. I’m sure St Louis fans are pissed off, as well they should be, and there was the usual infighting amongst the city politicos about rebuilding/refurbishing the stadium, ranked as 7th worst in the NFL recently. Owner Stan Kroenke famously purchased 60 acres of land next to the defunct Hollywood Park race track a couple years ago, and poof, the team is on the move.

And therein lies the rub. Mark Davis, son of re-un-dead Al Davis, scourge of the Pete Rozelle, and the NFL in general, is picking up the battle cry to move to LA. Something that he has been trying to do while the City of Oakland hems and haws and forms committee after committee regarding stadiums for both their football team and baseball team. All the while knowing their basketball team is likely leaving as well.

Baffling to me is the fan indifference in Oakland at the hands of their owner, who for all intents and purposes is taking a giant steaming shit on their heads. Yes, there was jubilation as Davis rescinded his request to move yesterday. But, this is a stop-gap move. As seen in the ruling, Prince Valiant still has the option next year. And it’s not like this hasn’t happened before. The Raiders spent 13 seasons in LA (1982-1994), winning their last Super Bowl there in 1983.

So why are the fans pretty much leaving him alone? Denial? Short memories? I have no idea. Jed (tweets-no-more) York, who is the favorite whipping boy for local team ownership, did what no one else could, and that was to get a publicly-funded stadium built in the Bay Area. Granted, it’s not in SF, and it looks like a 10 year old’s erector set design, but the 49ers are still here (well, 37 miles from here), but that is sure a hell of a lot closer than the 400 miles that will separate the Oakland fans from their team. I guess the Raiders are hoping for the Stadium Fairy to poop out a stadium on top of the old one. It really isn’t that bad a site (well, don’t leave the premises on foot) and, without the Warriors using the Arena anymore, they can add more parking.

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