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From the Press Box: Conference Championships

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From the Press Box: Conference Championships

We've only got three more games left in the  2013 NFL season, but this weekend should be a good way to launch ourselves into the Super Bowl hype over the next two weeks.

These four teams were probably the four best teams this season. You can make arguments for a few teams here and there (Carolina, for example) but really these three probably are the strongest and not just because they're still standing.

As with last week, I broke down all four teams' weakness at Bleacher Report, but we'll take a look at both games here as well.

Also, as a heads up, I will be in Mobile at the Senior Bowl again this year so next week will see the beginnings of our draft coverage here at CHTV. I'll also have my initial top 10 rankings at my own site later today or tomorrow as I begin to do some more thorough tape work as well.

Anyway, back to the weekend's excitement.



San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

This is the less hyped of the two games, but it may be the more interesting one, once you drill down into it.

Two of the best defenses in the NFL, with two of the best young quarterbacks, two fantastic wide receivers and two sets of tremendous wide receivers.

Wait a second, back up.

Seattle doesn't have much in the wide receiver department—especially if Percy Harvin is out, a strong possibility considering he was still in the NFL concussion protocol process on Friday. Golden Tate is a fine receiver but it's going to be far easier for the 49ers to cover Tate and the other warm bodies in the offense than for the Seahawks to cover Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin—something the Carolina Panthers found out to their dismay last week.

Yes, the Seahawks secondary is several orders of magnitude better than the Panthers secondary is, but it's still a lot to cover. On top of it, you have to worry about Frank Gore running the ball or, failing all of the above, what quarterback Colin Kaepernick can do as well.

This, to me, seems as if it will be the difference in the game. Can the Seahawks cover the three receivers? Further, can they get pressure on Kaepernick on a consistent basis?

Against Carolina, Kaepernick was sacked just once, and though the Panthers registered six QB hits, most of those were when the quarterback was running.

For the Niners, it's about stopping Marshawn Lynch on offense.  Russell Wilson is very good, but he just doesn't have the weapons that. The Seahawks should try to run the ball and control the clock but the downside is, if the Niners get a significant lead Wilson will have to make some remarkable throws to middling receivers.

In the end, I smell an upset coming. A close game, yes, but one which falls San Francisco's way.


New England Patriots at Denver Broncos



Now that we have our "it's legal in Colorado" joke out of the way, let's talk football.

Neither of these defenses is anything to write home about. Losing Chris Harris is a huge setback for the Broncos.  They're going to struggle even against the so-so receivers the Patriots field. When Quentin Jammer took over in the third quarter, he was terrible.

Jammer was blown up by rookie Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal both on the outside and in the slot.

He's going to have a heck of a time even with Edelman and Amendola. Moving another defensive back into the spot isn't a great solution as Champ Bailey, Kayvon Webster and Tony Carter are all shaky substitutes as well.

For the Broncos, the key will be Shaun Phillips and the defensive front hitting Tom Brady early and often. We've seen Brady struggle when he is hit repeatedly in the pocket and Phillips can definitely deliver a hit. The offensive line for the Patriots has played really well the last few games, but the Broncos will have to find a way.

As will the Patriots defense, because they face the No. 1 offense in the NFL. Peyton Manning is having a season for the ages and Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are a potent trio. Tight end Julius Thomas can produce a big play, while Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball are a tough backfield tandem.

The Patriots defense ranked No. 26 overall—No. 18 versus the pass and No. 30 against the run. You can bet Bill Belichick will have a few new wrinkles to try and throw Manning off his game, but the Broncos should be able to move the ball on this defense.

Their best bet is actually the plan San Diego couldn't pull off last week—run the ball. LaGarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley accounted for all of the touchdowns the Patriots had against the Indianapolis Colts last week. It won't go that way this week—Denver is a much better run defense (No. 7 in the regular season)—but they should work as hard as they can to grind down that defensive front with rough runs.

In the end, I don't expect it will be enough and this game should go according to script: Manning gets the ball with two minutes left and drives down the field for a win.

San Francisco versus Denver? As much as any combination of these four teams would work, that one doesn't sound half bad.


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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

The TKstinator's picture

I think Manning will throw for about 400 yards and Denver will beat NE.

I think Wilson will fumble on the first play leading to a SF FG.

Stroh's picture

Hey your prophetic! Wilson DID fumble on his 1st snap. And Kaep went over 100 yds. Your the new nostradomas! :)

The TKstinator's picture

Kaepernick will probably go over 100 yards rushing early in the second quarter.

Stroh's picture

He went over 100 yds on that 58 yd run.

The TKstinator's picture

Who is Seattle's right tackle and where did he come from?
(I know the answer, I am lobbing up a softball here.)

Stroh's picture

Breno Barbre? Or is it Allen Giacomini? LOL

The TKstinator's picture

Just trying to illustrate the "patience, it takes time to develop" mantra. (Not for YOU, Stroh, but it seems like many fans don't acknowledge it.)

The TKstinator's picture

Also, Whitner and Reid have not played perfectly in this here game.

Stroh's picture

Earl Thomas just gave up the TD to Anquan Boldin. He's a scrub. Seattle should just let his sorry ass go. He couldn't start for any team in the NFL! LOL

The TKstinator's picture

And he's short, too.

Jamie's picture

Damn we shoulda beat the niners.

HUMP's picture

interesting that the four remaining teams all used free agency or trades to help solidify already excellent teams,just a flat out shame with the talent we have at so many positions,that thompson would let there be such a dispersion in talent at so many other positions on our team. i know you guys sigh aloud when i say teds got ego,but theres no logical explanation other than that. NOTICE...seattle signed cliff avril and michael bennett to 1yr 5 mil deals,which looks awfully good right now,and they already had insane pass rush before they signed them!! teds demeanor is not egotistical,but the fact he would opt for jennings and jones as suitable starters says otherwise!

Stroh's picture

When your paying your QB less than 1M that free's money to be spent on other players! Thompson did on Woodson and Pickett and it got us a SB. What about that don't you get. When Sea has to pay Wilson 20M they won't have money to sign any FA either. Or SF when they have to pay Kaeperdork for that matter. I guess we should cut that overpaid bum Rodgers so we can hope to win a SB!

HUMP's picture

denver had no problem signing welker,rodgers cromartie,shaun phillips AND....paying manning 20 mil yr in order to give it all they had in order to try win the ring!! stroh,i get the part about not paying stupid money on the nahmdis and haynesworth pieces of crap, but a 1 or 2yr reasonable deal to a guy like jon beason,daryl smith,or shaun phillips,not to mention any safety other than jennings is not gonna put our long term cap at major risk.i appreciate your loyalty to ted,but....i think your starting to see many exec's starting to question his draft and develop ONLY method.RON WOLF SAID: my biggest regret in my football life was not giving brett favre every weapon necessary to win more superbowls,and i think one day thompson may relect and say; my biggest regret was not giving aaron rodgers a respectable defense in order to maximize our chances to win more world titles

The TKstinator's picture

No matter how you slice it, you have to make the cap.

Uncle Louie's picture

What a great day in Northern California! Niner fans are awfully quiet today, how sweet it is. One down, Seattle next.

The TKstinator's picture

I have a hard time feeling any love for SF or SEA.

Harbaugh, Kaepernick, Anthony Davis, yuck.

Golden Tate, Pete Carroll, yuck.

Russel Wilson seems cool though.

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