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Friday, 16 January 2015

The Must See Matchups In The AFC-NFC Championship Games

Matchup No. 2 - Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck vs. the New England Patriots’.

For the Indianapolis Colts it feels like a tale of two seasons. During the regular season they feasted on a terrible AFC South division. The Colts were 6-0 in the division and 5-5 against everybody else. In the playoffs, The Colts have back to back convincing wins over the Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos. They seem to be playing their best football right now. But, the Patriots have dominated them in recent years. The Colts have lost their last three matchups against the Patriots by 35, 21, and 22 points. Tom Brady has shredded their defense averaging 48 points in the recent matchups against the Colts. With the AFC Championship on the line, it will be interesting to see what the Colts have in store this Sunday.

It’s clear the Colts are going to have to score early and often against the Patriots. They may need 35+ points to pull off the upset. This season, Luck has elevated his game to elite levels. He finished 1st in passing touchdowns, 3rd in passing attempts and passing yards. Luck has all the physical tools that you could want in an NFL quarterback. Tall and strong, powerful arm, accurate, and mobile. For all of his physical gifts the mental side needs to be on point against the Patriots. Luck, in his three career games against the Patriots has nine turnovers. The Colts have a chance if and only if, they can win the turnover battle. If Luck takes care of the ball the Indy offense can take off. Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton has become the go to guy on the team. Hilton’s tremendous speed, acceleration and agility make him a threat anytime he steps on the football field. Tight end Dwayne Allen will also need to have a big time performance. Despite having only 29 catches, Allen recorded 8 touchdown receptions. I expect him to be more featured in the offense, and he will need to be a factor in the red zone.

Overall, the Patriots have a pretty good defense. They ranked 9th in run defense, and 17th against the pass. New England’s defense ranked 8th in points allowed. They have a very opportunistic defense. Despite having a weak pass rush, the Patriots can force turnovers in bunches. After forcing 25 turnovers during the regular season, the Patriots forced two more last week against the Ravens. The Colts boast the #1 pass offense so all eyes will be on the Patriots secondary. Cornerback Darrelle Revis may find himself on an island against Hilton. Revis’ ability to contain and dominate his matchup will be a turning point in the outcome of the game. Free safety Devin McCourty will be another key player. As a free safety he needs to be the last line of the defense, nothing can get past him! In addition he will likely match up against Allen in the red zone. The Patriots deserve to be the favorite, but I don’t expect this to be another cakewalk. The Colts are a much better team right now, but I still wonder will it be enough? No matter what happens I expect this to be an exciting high scoring affair!

Matchup No. 1 - Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers vs. the Seattle Seahawks defense’.

I remember on NFL opening night that the Packers avoided the Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. That game plan didn’t work out well as the Packers got blown out 36-16. Now, the Packers have a 2nd chance to knock off the defending champs. The Packers run game has made major strides since that opening night. But let’s face it, the Packers go as far as Rodgers’ right arm can take them. The Seahawks have assembled a team that can beat the opposition in so many ways. Russell Wilson is 9-0 in matchups against quarterbacks that have won a Super Bowl. He can beat with you with his arm, legs and his head. Marshawn Lynch let’s his play do the talking, as he overpowers opponents week after week. The defense is chalk full of playmakers at every position. I can’t wait to see what this matchup has in store!

Everyone loves a good debate about what is better, a great offense or great defense? This week we can watch this unfold before our very own eyes. The Packers’ #1 scoring offense will face the Seahawks’ #1 scoring defense. The Packers averaged over 30 points a game during the regular season. Last week, the Packers needed a 4th quarter comeback to defeat the Cowboys 26-21.  Rodgers will be playing through an injured calf. Anytime Rodgers is on the field the Packers are a formidable opponent. Rodgers is a model of consistency. He has the ability to put 400 yards, 4 touchdowns and 30 points against anybody. Rodgers has the perfect blend of arm strength, accuracy and athleticism. He can make any pass on the field and do it with precision accuracy. He will absolutely pick a defense apart from the pocket and is very dangerous on the run. Rodgers is excellent at extending a play and throwing a dart down the field for a completion. Even on the bad calf I expect Rodgers to continue to play and play well. At his disposal he has two elite wide recievers. They are Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. This season, each receiver totaled at least 91 catches, 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns! Nelson has the size, speed and hands to dominate the opponent. Cobb uses his smaller size to his advantage. Defenders have trouble finding, staying with and tackling him. His elite quickness and agility allows him to constantly break open for Rodgers. Against most teams the Packers are a well-oiled machine, what does the Seahawks defense have in store for them?

The Seahawks are playing defense at the highest level. For the regular season they allowed less than 16 points a game. For the last seven games teams are averaging only 8 points a contest. This defense is deep, physical and nasty. The defensive line is relentless in the run game and against the pass. The linebackers are physical downhill in the run game but can also play well in open space. The secondary mixes physical man to man defense along with zone coverage. Richard Sherman has proven he is a shutdown cornerback. He can take the opponents best receiver out of the game. Sherman also is a playmaking cornerback who is excellent at picking off passes. I am also watching strong safety Kam Chancellor closely. Last week he was playing like a man possessed. He forced 11 tackles, 1 interception, 1 touchdown return and two incredible field goal block attempts! If Chancellor can play and dominate the middle of the field, the Seahawks defense is too tough to beat. He is a big hitter, so it will be interesting which receivers want to come across Chancellor’s way. In a battle for NFC supremacy, I can’t wait to see who comes out on top!


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