Tag Archives: San Diego Chargers

Predictions and Previews for the Divisional Round games on Sunday

By: Jon

 

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers:

1:05 PM

Courtesy of ESPN
Courtesy of ESPN

In a rematch of their week 10 matchup, the 49ers will attempt to reach their third straight NFC Championship Game. In the week 10 game, it was a hard hitting low scoring contest and the Panthers were able to win the game 10-9 in San Francisco. In the contest, the Panthers totally shut down the 49ers offense and allowed only 151 yards throughout the entire game. The Panthers were able  to contain Colin Kaepernick, who accumulated 107 yards, 91 passing and 16 rushing. The Panthers were able to disrupt the 49ers offense by creating a great pass rush and put a lot of pressure on Kaepernick. The Panthers forced Kaepernick into 6 sacks and an interception. Along with containing Colin, Frank Gore recorded only 80 yards on the ground and did not record a single touchdown. On offense, the Panthers played their normal style, good defense, running game, and timely passing from Cam Newton. Although Newton did not have a good game, 184 total yards, he led the Panthers offense and did not force his defense into bad situations. Along with Newton, the Panthers accounted for over 100 yards on the ground and the only touchdown in the game. However, it is likely that this game will be different than their week 10 matchup. Although Steve Smith is likely to play, he will be hampered by his PCL injury, which stopped him from playing the last few weeks contests. While the Panthers’ receiving core will be slowed, the 49ers will have Michael Crabtree back for this game. Crabtree is Kaepernick’s favorite receiver and gives Colin more confidence when he throws the ball. Last week, Kaepernick threw for 227 yards, including 125 yards to Crabtree, through the cold, weather, and Packers’ tough secondary. Along with Kaepernick’s passing, his rushing came alive last week, which drastically changed the complexion of the game. Although he did not score a touchdown, he accounted for 98 yards. Similar to last season’s playoffs, Colin’s ability to run the ball and adapt to defenses create a huge problem for opposing defenses. Opposing defenses and coordinators must prepare for his ability to run and throw, which has seen to be nearly impossible. Two of the 49ers top three receivers, Davis and Boldin, were horrible during the week 10 game, but has been known to play well in the postseason, especially Boldin. The 49ers will look to establish the run, but their passing attack should enable them to drive the ball down the field. The combination of the three wide receivers/tight end and Kaepernick’s scrambling ability will be too much for the Panthers’ stout defense to handle. The Panthers are a young squad and it is unknown if they can succeed with pressure. This will be Newton’s first playoff game and many are wondering how he will react with the pressure and the great defense of the 49ers. The Panthers need to run the ball for over 125 yards and two touchdowns, if they are going to score enough points to win. Over the last few games, the Panthers’ receivers have been unable to separate from opposing corners in the secondary. Without Smith at full force, the Panthers will be predominately a run first offense. The Packers with a great passing and rushing game were unable to frequently score against the talented 49ers defense. The 49ers will be playing Aldon Smith in this game. Smith is one of the five best pass rushers in the game because he is a freak and offensive lineman cannot stop his speed and power. The Panthers need to control the ball, play great defense, contain Colin, apply pressure, and create a few pickoffs. While the Panthers should be able to stop Frank Gore because of their great linebackers, it will be interesting to see if Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis can stop Colin from running out of the pocket.

Prediction: 49ers win 21-17

 

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos:

4:40 PM

Courtesy of ESPN
Courtesy of ESPN

In the third game between these two AFC West rivals, the winner will be able to play in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts or the Patriots. In the two previous match ups, the teams have split with the road teams winning in both games. In their previous week 15 contest, the Chargers were able to head into Mile High and win against the Broncos, which was their best game of the season. In the game, the Chargers were able to make the Broncos one dimensional since the Broncos were unable to run effectively. On 11 touches, the Broncos’ running backs ran for 18 yards, 1.6 yards per rush. Along with a poor rushing game, the Chargers’ defense was able to hold Manning to 289 yards and intercepted him in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, while the Broncos were driving to score. Although the Chargers were ranked fourth in passing yards per game, Rivers threw for only 166 yards and two interception, but zero interceptions. The star of the game was Ryan Mathews, who could not be stopped throughout the game. Mathews rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown, his best game of the season. Along with Mathews, Keenan Allen scored two touchdowns in the second quarter, which gave them the lead. While the Chargers were able to stop Manning once in week 15, it is unlikely that they will be able to contain the best regular season quarterback of all time. Manning is on a mission and is desperate to win his second Super Bowl Championship of his career. In the first matchup, Manning threw for 330 yards, 4 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Along with Manning’s success, the Broncos were able to form a resemblance of a running game, 84 yards on the ground. Although it is unlikely Manning will have the same success as the first matchup since he does not post the same numbers in the cold or playoffs, he is great and will return Wes Welker from a concussion. Although Welker is not a big play receiver, he is one of the best possession receivers in the league and allows Manning continue drives with clutch receptions. The underneath threat of Welker gives Thomas and Decker more freedom to make big plays in the passing game. As witness with the Patriots, Welker is a reliable pass catcher in the playoffs. Although Manning will have extraordinary amounts of pressure, he should put up impressive numbers, since the Chargers do not have a great defense, although they are hot. During the game, it is likely that the game will be above freezing and without major weather problems. Manning will be determined to win after the devastating loss to the Ravens in last year’s playoff game. The biggest question mark in the game will be Mathews ability to even play or play through injuries. If Mathews does not play, the game will be no contest since Rivers does not have enough weapons to beat the Broncos alone. Rivers should be able to play well because he has been good during his past playoff games and has resurrected himself this season. Although the Chargers are believed to be the team of destiny, it is unlikely their magical ride will continue past this week. Although the game will be close, the Broncos should be able to win because they have the better quarterback, more talent, and the home field advantage.

Prediction: Broncos win 27-21

 

 

Pics and Stats from ESPN

Predictions and Preview for NFL Wild Card Playoff Round

By: Jon

 

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts:

Courtesy of ESPN
Courtesy of ESPN

4:35 PM Saturday

Two weeks ago, the Colts and Chiefs played in Kansas City and the Colts came out victorious in a low scoring game. The Colts were able to control the game and comfortably won the game 23-7 on the road. The Colts dominated the game after the Chief’s first drive of the game. The two teams are heading in opposite directions. The Colts are playing their best football of the season, especially on the defensive side of the ball, while the Chiefs are playing horribly. Outside of their win against the Raiders, the Chiefs have won once in the last 8 games and have lost two straight games. Kansas City was great during the beginning of the season because they ran the ball effectively, did not turnover the ball, and played great defense. However, the team has not played great defense since the injuries of Houston and Hali, their two best pass rushers. Without an effective pass rush, the Chiefs’ defense has been vulnerable and has allowed more than 20 points per game. Their porous defense has forced Smith to throw the ball more often and force more passes into tight windows. Besides for the offensive clinic against the Raiders and the late explosion against the Redskins, the Chiefs do not play well in high scoring games and have lost three of the last five games when they score more than 24 points. While the Chiefs have tried to become more dynamic because of their poor defense, the Colts are playing better defense and have simplified the offense. The Colts have won their last three games and have allowed a combined 20 points in those games. Although the Colts lost their best offensive weapon in Reggie Wayne, they have run the ball more effectively and have become more efficient in the passing game. Also, players, like D’Rick Rogers and Greg Whalen, have risen from the bench and have produced for the team. The Colts will be benefited by playing at home on the turf and in front of their home crowd. The Colts are 6-2 at home and use the speed of the turf to play better defense. At home, they have beaten the Broncos and the Seahawks. The speed of the turf improves the Colts pass rush, especially Robert Mathis, and allows their speedy linebackers and secondary to track down opposing running backs. In this game, the Colts should be the favorite. They are playing better, at home, and have the better quarterback. Although Smith is older than Luck, he has only one more playoff appearance and does not have the skill or leadership like Luck. The game should be close, but Luck has been great in close games this season. The Colts will be looking to stop the run, which will make Smith pass the ball more frequently. Unless Charles is able to beat 7 or 8 men box, the Chiefs will have difficult scoring against the athletic and feisty Colts defense. The game should come down to the last few minutes, but Luck should be able to pull out a big win and garner his first playoff victory in his career.

Prediction: Colts win 24-20

 

New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles:

8:10 PM Saturday

Courtesy of ESPN
Courtesy of ESPN

The Saints will attempt to win their first road game in their franchise’s history when they head to the City of Brotherly Love to play the Eagles. Although the Saints have been one of the most dominant teams since the addition of Drew Brees, the Saints do not play well on the road, especially in the cold. All five of the Saints’ losses have been on the road this season. The three Saints’ wins on the road have been by a combined 14 points against the lowly Bucs, Bears, and Falcons, neither team is above 500. Also, the Bears’ game was the only contest that was not in a warm weathered climate or in a dome The Saints have trouble on the road because they are built for the fast turf field and the controlled climate in the Superdome. Although the Saints do not play well or have the team set for the cold weather, they are extremely dangerous and have Drew Brees, who always gives them a chance in a game. The Saints have lost two of their last three because the offensive line has not played well. The Saints are forced to start a rookie left tackle, who should be abused and over matched against Trent Cole and Mychael Kendricks. The key for the Saints will be Jimmy Graham. Last week, the Eagles could not stop Dallas’ tight end, Jason Witten, who is not on the same tier as Jimmy Graham. If Graham can explode and Brees’ limits the amount of turnovers, the Saints will have a chance in Philly. While the Saints play poorly on the road, the Eagles have played well at home, winning their last four games. The Eagles have been extremely fortunate this season that Nick Foles has put forth one of the best statistical seasons in NFL history. Although Foles has been great because he does not turnover the football, he is given a lot of help from Shady McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Riley Cooper, the talented tight ends, and the stable offensive line. The Eagles running game has been the best in football because McCoy has been great this season and they cannot crowd the line with the skill of Nick Foles. Although the players have been playing well, Chip Kelly deserves a lot of credit for turning around the third worst team in football, last season. His offenses has been constructed because of the speed and talent. He has given McCoy the opportunity to run and catch the ball out of the backfield, which has made him the best non-quarterback in the NFL. Along with the offense’s success, the defense has improved throughout the season. Although the defense allows plenty of yards, they have adopted the “bend don’t break” philosophy and have been great in the red zone. As seen from their last 7 games, the Eagles hold teams to field goals and frequently cause turnovers, which has been a formula that wins championships. The Eagles should be able to force a few turnovers this weekend because Brees does not have the same accuracy in cold weather games and the ball is harder to grip, which causes more fumbles. The Eagles have been on fire of late and should be able to continue their winning ways against the Saints. The Saints will have trouble scoring because of the cold and the deficiencies on the offensive line. While the Saints have improved at stopping the pass under Rob Ryan, the Eagles are a great running team and should rely on McCoy, Brown, and Foles to lead them to a win in Kelly’s first playoff game.

Prediction: Eagles win 31-27

 

San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals:

1:00 PM Sunday

Courtesy of ESPN
Courtesy of ESPN

In another rematch, the Chargers will be heading into Cincinnati in hopes of extending their season. Although the Chargers should probably not be in the playoffs, they are a dangerous team and played very well toward the end of the season. The Chargers are a dangerous team in the playoffs because Phillip Rivers is playing like a top quarterback again under Ken Whisenhunt. Phillip Rivers has decreased his number of interceptions and has increased his completion percentage, touchdowns, and yardage. Rivers has been aided by the emergence of rookie Keenan Allen and Ryan Matthews. Matthews has added a running game that San Diego has not seen since Tomlinson. Allen has filled the void left by Vincent Jackson when he went to Tampa two seasons ago and recorded over 1000 yards. The Chargers have Woodhead and Gates, who are great situational receivers and provide safety blankets for Rivers. The Chargers have won 4 of their lat 5 games, but the one loss came to the Cincinnati Bengals in sunny, warm San Diego. However, this game will not be played in the sun or the warmth. The temperature is going to start at 37, but is intended to drop to 1 with a 100% chance of rain in the forecast. The rain, snow, and cold could affect Rivers’ ability to throw the ball against the stout Bengals defense. The Bengals’ defense is ranked 5th in both yards per game against the rush and the pass. The Chargers were unable to master the Bengals’ defense in week 13 and scored only 10 points. The Bengals were able to pick off Rivers and force two fumbles in the contest. The Chargers may turn the ball over again because the poor weather is conducive to slippery hands and off target passes. Along with the Chargers’ offense, the Bengals’ offense will be negatively affected by the weather as well. The Bengals have the 8th best passing attack in the league because Dalton has dramatically improved and AJ Green is one of the three best wide receivers in the league. In the past two playoff match ups against the Texans, Green did very little, which dramatically decreased their ability to score and move the ball. Unlike the Texans, the Chargers do not have the shut down secondary or the pass rush to stop quarterbacks from succeeding. The Chargers are currently 29th against the pass. Like their week 13 matchup, Green and Dalton should connect for 100 yards and at least one touchdown. If the Bengals can establish their ground game and account for over 150 yards, like week 13, the Chargers will have a difficult time scoring enough points against the Bengals’ stingy defense. Also, the running game in the snow will allow the Bengals to throw less frequently and not risk turnovers. The Bengals’ defense and the weather should be able to hold down the Chargers’ potent offense, while doing enough on offense to get their first playoff win in Marvin Lewis’ tenure.

Prediction: Bengals win 24-17

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers:

4:40 PM Sunday

Courtesy of ESPN
Courtesy of ESPN

The fans going to the game should wear their gloves, a hat, a scarf, a coat, and about eight more layers of clothes. The weather Green Bay is set to be around 0 degrees at the start of the game and go toward -18 as the sun drops and game ends. However, the weather does not include the wind chill, which should make the fans even happier. The TV companies that want to black out the game because of poor attendance should go out and sit in the stands before condemning the fans. Like 2 of the other three match ups, the Packers played the 49ers in week one in San Francisco. Although it was a long time ago, the 49ers won and won in the previous playoffs, which should give them confidence against the Packers. Although the Packers are playing at home and are more “used” to the cold, if one can be used to the weather, the cold probably benefits the 49ers and their ground and pound style of play. However, the Packers should be happy that they made the playoffs after losing Aaron Rodgers for seven games during the middle of the season. In normal situations and weather, the Packers would want to throw the ball about 35 times because their wide receiver core is one of the best in the league and not many teams can  limit Rodgers’ skills. Although the Packers will always have a chance with Rodgers, they need Eddie Lacy to play effectively, if they are going to challenge the 49ers. Currently, Lacy is listed questionable, but the Packers needs him because he bruises the opposing defense and adds an extra element to the Packers’ offense. Aaron Rodgers will probably have trouble with the accuracy because it is very difficult to handle the ball when it is cold, let alone -18 cold. Even if Rodgers wears a glove, it will affect his accuracy and ability to drive down the field. While the Packers’ offense should be fine, the defense will be challenged against the 49ers offense. The Packers defense currently ranks 24th and 25th respectively in passing and rushing yards allowed. Although the 49ers have what many believed was one of the ten best quarterbacks in the league before the season, the 49ers rank 30th in passing yards, but 3rd in rushing yards. Although the 49ers have not achieved much from their quarterback, the team is incredibly hot. They have won 6 straight and 11 of their last 13 games, which bodes well for their playoff future. The key to 49ers is their ability to play great defense and run the ball, which can translate into any weather. The 49ers rank 7th in passing yards and 4th in running yards allowed this season because they have great linebackers, Bowman and Willis, and their secondary is very good. The 49ers, like the previous two games, should be able to control the pace of the game and time of possession with their running game. Although Kapernick has not been great this season, two of his best games of his career has been in his last two games against the Packers. However, the cold will probably stop Kapernick from running wild, but his strong arm should allow him to throw through the cold and possible snow. Without Clay Matthews providing a pass rush and assisting against the run, they will not be able to stop the improving 49ers offense. The Packers will need to cause turnovers, like their 2010-11 title run, in order to keep the 49ers off the field and give more touches to their All-Pro quarterback. Although the last two match ups have been high scoring, the weather should disrupt the offense and make it a low scoring game.

Prediction: 49ers win 24-23

 

pics and stats from ESPN.com

A Sleeping Giant: An Analysis of the New York Giants’ Season

By: Josh M.

A city of lights, action, cheers, and now… boos. MetLife Stadium had hosted the losing-ist team in football: The New York Giants. This year’s Super Bowl is set to take place in MetLife Stadium and the Giant’s endeavor was to be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. However, as the season started and progressed, that ambition suddenly diminished.

Fumbles, interceptions, and a foreboding 0-6 record. The Giants had not been 0-3 since 1996! Eli Manning and the Giants, a two-time winning Super Bowl team within a four year period, had faced a struggle never seen before in the organization. They had gone the first 6 games without a single win.

QB Eli Manning has had one of the worst statictical seasons in his ten year career Courtesy of USA Today
QB Eli Manning has had one of the worst statistical seasons in his ten year career
Courtesy of USA Today

The Giants’ first game was away against the Cowboys. The Cowboys had never beaten the Giants in their  $1.2 billion stadium. However, the curse was broken this game. The Cowboys had forced 6 turnovers on the Giants including 3 interceptions by Manning. The game was atrocious for the Giants; however, nobody expected such a terrible losing streak.

The Giants then went on to lost the next consecutive 5 games:

Game 2: Giants vs. Broncos- 41-23

Games 3: Giants vs. Panthers- 38-0

Game 4: Giants vs. Chiefs- 31-7

Game 5: Giants vs. Eagles- 36-21

Game 6: Giants vs. Bears- 27-21

The Giants loss to the Panthers included 3 turnovers and was considered the worst loss of the Tom Coughlin Era. Eli Manning was tackled 6 times within the first 17 minutes of the game! The Giants’ dream of playing in their home stadium for the Super Bowl was blocked by an immense obstacle… No team has ever made the playoffs after starting 0-6. The Giants had lost hope, but their division was not strong.

The Giants won their next four games. Suddenly, the Giants were back in the race for the playoffs. Although they were ugly wins, they were wins nevertheless. The games went as follows:

Game 7: Giants vs. Vikings- 23-7

Game 8- Giants vs. Eagles- 15-7

Game 9: Giants vs. Raiders- 24-20

Game 10: Giants vs. Packers- 27-13

Despite Coughlin and Manning having a very successful period ogether, this season has been a major dissapointment Courtesy of Zimbio
Despite Coughlin and Manning having a very successful period together, this season has been a major disappointment
Courtesy of Zimbio

The Giants’ game against the Packers was an upset. A true motivational boost for the Giants. Eli Manning threw for 279 yards, Victor Cruz caught for 110 yards, and the defense forced 3 turnovers. However, a close loss to the Cowboys 24-21 caused an end to the winning streak. Although, it was a deterrent in their playoff hopes, the Giants would take fate into their own hands. The next game, the Giants defeated the Redskins, their division rival, 24-17.Lastly, this weekend, the giants lost to Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers 37-14. The Giants had 3 turnovers, including 2 interceptions thrown by Manning. The Giants were down 24-0 at half time. This enormous deficit led to an inevitable loss.

Being a Giants fan, this season has been a rollercoaster. Highs and lows, ups and downs. However, it has been hard to keep faith in team. In game 15, the Giants were once again shut out. This time, it was the Seattle Seahawks, lead by QB Russell Wilson, who got the best of them. Russell Wilson threw for 206 yards compared to Eli’s weak 156 yards. Andre Brown, the running back for the Giants, only rushed for a measly 17 yards! Lastly, Eli Manning threw 5 interceptions during the game.

In Game 16 against the Lions, the Giants managed to pull out a victory to push their record to 6-9. Eli Manning threw for 256 yards, completed one touchdown pass, and only threw one interception. Furthermore, Giants’ 2011 draft pick Jerrel Jernigan had 6 receptions, one of which was a caught for a touchdown. At the end of the fourth quarter, the two teams pushed the game into overtime with the score at 20-20. The Lions received the ball first, but the giants gained possession by forcing them to punt. After a burst up the field, the Lions put a stop to the Giants’ progression by forcing a 4th down. The Giants’ Josh Brown had a clutch 45-yard field goal and won the Giants the game.

WR Jerrel Jernigan was a bright spot in an otherwise poorly played game Courtesy of Zimbio
WR Jerrel Jernigan was a bright spot in an otherwise poorly played game
Courtesy of Zimbio

In their last game of the season, The Giants played their division rival, the Washington Redskins. In my experience, this could have been the worst game of football I have ever seen. No matter who won the game, it would have been one ugly victory. The teams used the heavy downpour and cold weather as an excuse, but it did not overshadow the terrible play from both teams. In the first quarter, no team had scored. In the second quarter, the score was 10-3 Giants. With about a minute left in the first half, defensive lineman, Chris Baker, sacked Eli. During the tackle, Eli’s leg got caught under Baker’s body and he injured his ankle. After mustering enough strength to stay in the game, Eli threw an interception on the very next play! This interception led to a Washington field goal to put the score at 10-6. Eli then was carried off the field and did not play for the rest of the game. He was replaced by backup Curtis Painter. At the end of the first half with 2 seconds left on the clock, Jerrel Jernigan ran for a touchdown to put the Giants ahead 17-6. He had 6 receptions, had one touchdown, and caught for 90 yards. In my opinion, he was the MVP of the game. In the fourth quarter, Josh Brown kicked a 38-yard field goal for 20-6 lead. On the last play of the season, Trumaine McBride of the Giants intercepted a pass from backup QB for Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins. The game had ended and the Giants had won with a final score of 20-6. The Redskins lost their final game of the season on an 8 game losing streak. During the game, the teams amassed 7 turnovers, 0-5 in Red Zone attempts, and 16 sacks including 4 by defensive end Justin Tuck.

Eli’s first and last passes of the year both went for interceptions! Also, he threw only 18 touchdowns. Along with that, he threw 27 interceptions during the year including at least one interception every game of the season. The year before, he threw 15 interceptions and 26 TD passes. It seems as if the numbers had switched. This terrible season may lead to the loss of free agents like WR Hakeem Nicks and DE Justin Tuck. In conclusion, the Giants were believed to win the NFC East at the beginning of the season; however, the Eagles were ultimately the division leader.

Being a Giants fan, this season has been a rollercoaster. It was hard to keep faith in my team. Remember, this is the same team that has one the Super Bowl twice in the last few years. Moreover, next year looks like one that needs rebuilding. Tom Coughlin, the league’s oldest coach, and Eli Manning, the starting QB for over almost 10 years, have been under close watch. This year has been an anomaly for Big Blue, but with the 2014 NFL draft consisting of some very good players at all positions, their hopes may still be high for next season.