football

“Sports!”

BY CAILIN BURKE

Sports are my thing. If you know me, you know talking about sports is one of my all-time favorite conversation topics. I’ll debate, I’ll make predictions, I’ll gush over my favorite team — so on days like today, ~ The Super Bowl ~ I am even more pumped than usual… until I go on social media and see people hating on sports. I get it. Sports are not in everyone’s set of interests. You see people get all riled up and intense about their team, a big play, or a bad ref call, and you’re like, “Who cares?!” I totally understand that. But for me, sports is my hobby and passion, and it really brings a lot of fun and good memories.

I recently had a conversation with my sister and boyfriend asking, “Why does everyone make fun of sports?,” saying things like, “Oooh sports!” Or when talking about the game, someone always has to chime in, “Sports!” I know it’s often used to show that they have no knowledge in the topic – but we don’t use the same mentality when talking about other’s interests. I enjoy music – but don’t know everything about it. I don’t walk into my friend’s conversations about musicians and their stylistic comparisons and go, “Ooh music.” There are so many hobbies that people are obsessed with like fishing or chess or hiking. These interests require some knowledge to talk about, but no one is dumbing down the hobby or showing their blatant disinterest in it when someone else brings it up. We don’t see social media posts like, “Haha those hikers – not into that. Who cares. I’m just here for the trail mix, not the hike.”

Again, being disinterested in sports is fine! God gives people different ways to find enjoyment here on earth. However, sports is mine – so bragging about how you’re not into it, isn’t the most fun to constantly read. If you were passionate about something, you wouldn’t want to see everyone mocking it on social media. So yes, enjoy your food, your commercials and halftime – but still give some love to football fans just out here trying to enjoy their game day.

Game Day: Two Looks

BY CAILIN BURKE

It’s GIANTS game day! Tara and I decided to each choose a different take on game day apparel in honor of tonight’s matchup. Since it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and you can see every team incorporating pink into their uniforms, I went that route too. I threw on one of my favorite Giants hats, which is the actual Breast Cancer Awareness hat worn by the team a few years ago! Since my other red, white, and blue team apparel didn’t match well with the hat, I just kept the rest of the look sporty with a black shirt, pink and blue flannel, and an infinity scarf to add a bit more pink into my look. I also wore a Giants bracelet that’s made with actual materials from a football!

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Tara wore the classic Giants colors and sported her favorite raglan tee. She also wore her Polo Ralph Lauren sneaks that happened to match perfectly. Now that we’ve got our Giants apparel on, we can’t wait for tonight’s game!

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Who Is In the Super Bowl? … And Doug Baldwin’s Post-Game Rant

BY CAILIN BURKE

As most experts (and my family and I) predicted, the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots will be competing in Super Bowl XLIX. To get here, we had to go through one game which had viewers on the edge of their seats and one that was much less thrilling.

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The NFC Championship between the Seahawks and Green Bay Packers was a closer game than anticipated, as it came down to overtime. Even though the odds were highly in the Seahawks favor, it was their mistakes on offense and multitude of penalties that gave Green Bay a chance. With Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson throwing four interceptions, Green Bay failed to make the most out of these uncharacteristic mistakes. Between the five Seattle turnovers in the game (one first quarter fumble on a Doug Baldwin return), Green Bay was only able to score 6 points on the possession changes, and 22 points total. Although it was one of Wilson’s worst career games, it was Green Bay’s lack of capitalization on Seattle’s many errors that resulted in their loss.

Jermaine Kearse game-winning touchdown. Courtesy of AP / Jeff Chiu

Jermaine Kearse game-winning touchdown. Courtesy of AP / Jeff Chiu

If you want the short version of this game, Green Bay had a 16-point lead at halftime mainly due to Seattle mistakes. Seattle came back in the second half, getting within 5 points of the Packers with a score of 19-14 and a little more than 2 minutes left in the game. The Seahawks then successfully attempted an onside kick which allowed repossession of the ball. With this possession, they scored and made the game 22-19 in their favor. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers responded, making it quickly down the field and gaining enough yardage to allow Mason Crosby to make the game-tieing field goal. On to overtime, the Seahawks won the coin toss, and in their first overtime possession (and in only a little over 3 minutes), Wilson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse to win the game. Final score: 28-22.

Courtesy of AP / Elaine Thompson

Courtesy of AP / Elaine Thompson

In typical Seahawk fashion, they ended their game with some shouting. It came from Doug Baldwin this time who had a lot to say about the team’s “doubters.” Starting the season at 3-3, Baldwin yelled, “Everyone counted us out.” Baldwin’s post-game rant definitely followed in the footsteps of Richard Sherman. I mean, hey, the 12th man sure likes to shout too. Although they may have been doubted in the beginning, the Seahawks were the heavy favorites in this game. Just look at the NFL expert picks.

Courtesy of Cincy Jungle

Courtesy of Cincy Jungle

As for the Patriots vs. the Indianapolis Colts, this game went quite the opposite and wasn’t determined in a dramatic, anxiety-inducing way. The final score was 45-7, Patriots. A game recap would probably bore you, so basically all there is to know is Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount had a great game with 3 rushing touchdowns, while Brady threw 3 touchdowns, and Julian Edelman had 98 receiving yards. Maybe the most noteworthy fact of this game is that Brady is now onto his sixth Super Bowl as starting quarterback, a NFL record. This game also allowed him to surpass Peyton Manning’s record for most post-season passing yards.

Courtesy of USA Today

Courtesy of USA Today

With two weeks until the Super Bowl, the Seahawks are going to make sure they fix their issues and won’t be making those mistakes again. I think they’ve got this, but truth be told, I wish a different team would win. Just not the Patriots, sorry I’m a Giants fan.

Sunday Funday Outfit

BY TARA BURKE

I just love Sundays. Cailin and I start the day by going to church, which always puts me in a good mood and I was even more happy this Sunday because football is back! I typically like to dress up a little for church, but never anything too fancy. I ended up wearing this navy collared and floral patterned vintage dress. I finished off the look with a blue skinny belt and my trusty oxford shoes. The collar on this dress gives it some polish, which I think works well with the loose silhouette. This outfit would’ve been perfect for enjoying the rest of the day going to outdoor markets or sitting in a park, but I changed into loungewear the second I got home and plopped myself on the couch to watch a full day of football. Well, maybe next time I’ll get use out of this dress for a full Sunday Funday!

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What to Know Before the Super Bowl

BY CAILIN BURKE

If you haven’t been keeping up with football all season, here are some things you should know before watching the big game on Sunday.

1) A major part of the game is going to focus on the legacy of Peyton ManningSeveral key things make this game huge for Manning. For one, if the Broncos win, Manning will be the first quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl for two different teams. (In 2006, he led the Indianapolis Colts to a 16-14 win over the Chicago Bears.) This is also Manning’s second season back after having neck surgery, which many thought would put an end to his career. Of course he proved them all wrong. Now at 37 years old, despite surgery and being let go by the Colts, he has the perfect chance to make a final statement about his career. Although there is speculation that he will retire if he wins, in interviews he has said he’d like to continue playing football. Either way, a win in this game would ensure his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

2) Richard Sherman will also be at the forefront of the game. As most of us have seen Sherman’s interview after the NFC Championship, all eyes will be on him this Sunday. As a cornerback, his job is to cover receivers in the back field, and for the Super Bowl he’ll most likely be matched up in man-to-man coverage with Broncos star wide-receiver Demaryius Thomas. Make sure to watch for the two of them going head to head during the game.

3) The Broncos have the #1 offense in the NFL while the Seahawks have the #1 defense. This is a pretty even match up and most experts are 50-50 in their predictions of this year’s Super Bowl Champion. According to the spread in Las Vegas, the Broncos are predicted to win by 2.5 but I’ve seen other betting websites predicting the Seahawks to win. Basically, it will be a close game.

4) The Seahawks have never won a Super Bowl title. Although the Seahawks have been in the Super Bowl one time in 2006, they have never won, losing 21-10 to the Pittsburgh Steelers that year. They have a fairly young team and only one team member, receiver Ricardo Lockette, has ever experienced a Super Bowl. The Broncos, on the other hand, have made it to the big game six times, winning two of them.

5) Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is only in his second year in the NFL. As such, he is still known as a NFL rookie. During his first season with the Seahawks, he led them to the Divisional round of he 2012 Playoffs where they lost to the Atlanta Falcons 30-28. If the Seahawks were to win this Sunday, the MVP may not be Wilson, and would likely go to running back Marshawn Lynch instead. However if the Broncos win, the MVP will 100% be Peyton Manning.

6) You should know about the 12th manThis is what the Seahawks fans are known as. In football, there are a maximum of 11 men allowed on the field for each team at one time. Fans are known as the 12th man, because they are a part of the game as well. The Seahawks really value their fans and will always reference the 12th man because their fans have helped them win through their support and loud cheering. (Their stadium is the loudest in the NFL.) Often, you will see Seahawks fans wearing jerseys with a number 12 on the back of them in reference to this.

These are definitely some basic facts you should know before watching tomorrow’s game and if you watch pregame as well, you should hear a lot more about the background of many players and the teams. Whether you’re a die hard #18 fan, a proclaimed 12th man, or none of the above, this year’s Super Bowl is sure to be an exciting one.

 

Sport Parody Twitters You Should Follow

BY CAILIN BURKE

Since the Super Bowl is coming up, I thought what better time than to share some of my favorite sport parody Twitter accounts. They all will most likely be tweeting throughout the duration of the game, so if you want a few laughs while you watch, you should definitely follow some of them.

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1) @PeytonsHead- My personal favorite! Essentially the Twitter is from the viewpoint of Peyton Manning’s head and since the Broncos are in the Super Bowl, his tweets during the big game should be even better! He always has a lot to say about other sports and current events, so this account is a great follow no matter what time of year. My favorite part about this Twitter is the profile picture of Peyton’s face with his forehead all red. If you see Peyton ever take his helmet off during a game, his forehead is always red, so the Twitter’s accuracy is pretty hilarious. I also love when he tweets #TextsFromEli where the tweet shows a “conversation” between the two of them. Basically, if you like Peyton Manning this Twitter is a must-follow.

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2) @NFL_Memes– They post several memes a day that are funnier than most I’ve seen on other pages. If a team loses, they’ll be sure to make a meme mocking them, and if a team wins, they come up with great memes for that too. I expect a lot of funny Peyton Manning and Richard Sherman memes during and after the Super Bowl. This meme of Peyton and Eli is one of my favorites right now:

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3) @EvilMikeTomlin– Based off of the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, this Twitter is mostly all-things football, but pokes fun at some other sports and current events as well. He tweets frequently each day, so during the Super Bowl I’m sure there will be a tweet for every minute of it! As for the username, he is pretty evil if you’re a Patriots or an NBA fan since he hates both, but I think his tweets are pretty hilarious.

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4) @TheFakeESPN– They cover almost every popular sport and aside from funny tweets, they are known for writing humorous headlines too. They’ll frequently post headlines that were created by themselves or submitted by other Twitter users and attach a link with a photo or video. What’s cool about this page is that they’re pretending to be a real sports news source but their tweets and “news stories” are all just a mockery.

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5) @ShermanRants– Since Richard Sherman is still one of the top two athletes being talked about up until the Super Bowl, what better Twitter to follow? This account just started after his well-known NFC Championship post-game interview, and although I don’t know if there will be any tweets after the Super Bowl, I’ll definitely read some of Sherman’s “rants” up until the game. Every tweet posted is in all caps to emphasize his yelling, so that fact is pretty funny in itself.

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If you want to check out other well-known sport parody accounts there’s also: @TomBradysEgo, @FakeSportsCentr, @CaptTouchback, @NotBillWalton, @OnionSports, @FauxJohnMadden, @FunSkipBayless, and tons of others for specific athletes/coaches/reporters. Definitely check out some of these Twitters especially on Super Bowl day, since there will be a lot of funny comments worth retweeting.

Plan a Winning Super Bowl Party

BY CAILIN BURKE

T-minus one week until the Super Bowl and if you’re planning on hosting a Super Bowl party, there’s a lot you have to do before kickoff!

First, you have to decide who’s coming. For me, I generally stick with family because I know they’ll understand that I rather watch the game intently and not speak. In my Sports Media class the other day, we were talking about Super Bowl parties and how they generally involve friends trying to talk to you, ask you what’s happening, or who you think is going to win during the middle of something important.

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Courtesy of emotiongifs.com

In the Super Bowl, even commercials are important so there’s not much time to talk! If you own two TVs, a good solution is to have one area where the intense watchers can see every second of the game, and another area where the people that want to socialize can watch.

Now… how should you decorate?  Some people like it simple, but for those of you who want football decorations everywhere, you can get plenty of cool items to make your party stand out.

If you’re not a fan of either of the teams go for some decorations with the Super Bowl XLVIII logo on them. I love these balloons from Party City, but the balloon bouquet is definitely my favorite! Party City in general has a lot of great Super Bowl decorations so you can check them all out here.

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You can get NFL tablecloths, football shaped confetti, banners, or basically anything shaped like a football. If you want to save money, dollar stores often have football party supplies and Dollar Tree in particular has a football shaped chip and dip tray. If you want to spend a few more dollars though, you can get one at Party City too that’s a little fancier.

Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 21.25.08 Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 21.26.02I’m also a fan of themed dinnerware and there are a ton of football paper plates and cups at dollar stores, party stores, and even some sports merchandise stores. The coolest thing I saw were these football shaped napkins:

Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 21.45.20If one of your teams is in the Super Bowl, you can have even more fun with the decorations and supplies for your party! Again, balloons are great for any party, especially tied to the back of each chair, or placed in the corners of your house with balloon weights. Whether you’re a Broncos or Seahawks fan, these helmet shaped balloons from birthdaydirect.com are awesome!

Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 21.55.07 Screen Shot 2014-01-25 at 22.05.20Broncos and Seahawks fans would also both love these Party City “bottle jerseys” to spruce up any drink and represent your team. ‘Cause what’s better than you and your drink both wearing a jersey, right?

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Next, we can’t forget the food. You can go the classic route of store/restaurant bought pizza and wings, nachos, or chips and dip, but you can also try something a little different. You could cook up something yourself or to make it easier on you, give your guests a “serve yourself” option. With frozen yogurt and ice cream toppings bars becoming more popular, why not make a Super Bowl toppings bar! Whether your guests top their nachos with whatever they want from beans to jalapeños, or choose their own pizza toppings, this will definitely make your party more fun! As for dessert, I love this idea from domesticfits.com… Football chocolate covered strawberries!

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Another simple, but fun dessert you could have at your party, is a frosting decoration station for brownies and/or cookies. Your guests can design whatever they want on their desserts whether they choose to draw their team’s logo or Richard Sherman’s screaming face. There are so many options, everyone will have something cool to show, and you can even make a contest out of it.

Speaking of contests… if your Super Bowl party is going to be more social and interactive, why not add some party games?  You don’t need anything too fancy, but this inflatable ring toss game is a funny way to pass time if there’s a free moment during the game (you know… if a black out or anything else happened like that). If there are going to be any kids at your party, I’ve also seen football shaped pinatas which would keep them entertained for at least a part of the game.

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Last, but not least, what are you going to wear to this party of yours? If you own any Broncos or Seahawks apparel, definitely throw that on, but if not, there are ways you can root for a team without buying a $30 shirt. When the NY Giants were in the Super Bowl in 2011, my whole family bought the NFC Championship shirts and wore those, but we also got Giants face tattoos. If you’re rooting for a particular team, buy a $4 pack of tattoos, throw a few on, and you’re all set!

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You could also get team eyeblacks or draw a #18 on your face if you’re a Peyton Manning fan. If you’re not into either team, wear the apparel you own from your favorite team in spite of it. Not going to lie, I definitely wore a Giants shirt during last year’s Super Bowl and will probably wear my Peyton Manning Colts jersey this year. Whatever sporty clothes you have in your closet would probably do fine, but if you want to really represent, there’s nothing better to wear than an AFC or NFC Championship shirt or a team jersey.

As for those of you who want to just focus on the game and not deal with all of this party craziness? There’s no way you can go wrong with a room full of cheering family and friends, surrounded by a ton of delicious food.

Reaction to Richard Sherman’s Post-Game Rant

BY CAILIN BURKE

If you watched the NFC Championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, you probably aren’t really thinking about what happened during the game, but instead what happened after it. If you haven’t heard from the massive outpouring of comments on social media, during a post-game interview, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman yelled, “I’m the best corner in the game. When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that is the result you are going to get. Don’t you ever talk about me.” After reporter Erin Andrews asked, “Who was talking about you?,” he continued to shout, “Crabtree. Don’t you open your mouth about the best, or I’m going to shut it for you real quick.” If you want to see the interview in all it’s craziness, it’s below!


 Obviously people reacted to what he said in a variety of ways. In my opinion, he should have remained professional and let his final game clinching play do the talking for him. Also, in his interview he could’ve said something to make the Seahawks franchise look good, by thanking the fans for their support or commenting on the team’s efforts as a whole. Here’s how current and former NFL athletes reacted to the interview:

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Some tweets showed support for Sherman in what he said, with most of the tweets mentioning that he was passionate, football should involve trash talk, or he was just pumped up and his great play is what ultimately mattered. Others called him “classless” and “dumb,” said they lost respect for him, or pledged to root for the Broncos in spite of him.

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After all of this, here was Michael Crabtree’s response:

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This was what Richard Sherman had to say:

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Now the more important question at hand is what Will Blackmon brought up, “What provoked this?”

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Well, Crabtree was recently asked by reporters if he thought Sherman was the best corner in the game, and he responded saying, “No, I don’t think so.” Okay… so that was what Sherman was referring to amidst his shouting! However here’s what I find funny. Sherman’s tweet says, “A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of a sheep.” If Sherman wasn’t personally offended by what Crabtree said in his interview, than he wouldn’t have defended himself in that manner. He’s going to the Super Bowl after all, so ultimately he got the better end of the deal anyway. Clearly his reaction tonight showed he was in fact concerned with Crabtree’s opinion.

As for the other tweets I’ve read tonight, I have to say that the whole “Sherman being dumb thing” has no merit. He graduated second in his high school class with a 4.2 GPA and had a 3.9 GPA while at Stanford. He also scored a 1400 on his SATs. Not so “dumb” after all. So yes, maybe his comment was unsportsmanlike, disrespectful, and frankly a little terrifiying/hilarious, but I would criticize his judgment in making that comment rather than his lack of intellect. As a final thought, although Sherman is talented at his position, we should look at some stats to back up his statement. (See the stats here: http://wp.advancednflstats.com/defenderstats.php?pos=CB, and here: https://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2013/01/31/signature-stats-ypcs-cornerbacks/)

And here’s the final verdict:

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No, Richard Sherman, you’re not the number one corner in the game. You’re number six. Now please don’t be offended by this and come screaming at me too.

Signs You’re Having Fantasy Football Withdrawal

BY CAILIN BURKE

Unfortunately for myself and the other fantasy players out there, Sundays are no longer the same. Yes, we still have football for a little while longer, but you’re without your fantasy team! Here are ten signs that you’re suffering from fantasy football withdrawal:

1) You try to find a new fantasy sport to play… and it doesn’t feel the same. If you like watching baseball or basketball you would think you’d like fantasy baseball or fantasy basketball too. Yeah, not always the case. I love baseball just as much as football and I tried playing fantasy baseball last year. Nope, not as fun.

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2) You watch or re-watch episodes of FX’s The League. If you haven’t watched The League you need to watch all four seasons immediately. It’s basically a show about the league we all secretly wish we were in. With NFL guest stars, tons of trash talk, very inappropriate jokes, and relatable fantasy ups-and-downs, watching it will get you through the off-season just fine.

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3)
You’re already thinking about team names for next year.
Of course once the season’s over you think of all of these great names. Where were the good puns when you needed them?

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4) You’re also prematurely thinking of who you want in next year’s draft. Or if you’re in a keeper league you’re currently psychoanalyzing who you should keep. Instead of just watching the playoffs to see who wins, you’re also simultaneously looking for next year’s fantasy prospects. Keenan Allen, anyone?

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5) You’re already trying to decide who gets kicked out of the league, who stays, and if you want anyone new. You need a lot of time to figure out who gets the boot, so you’ve taken it upon yourself to start thinking now. Do you really still want those random people in your league that don’t really care?

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6) You are still shouting at the TV for your fantasy players in the playoffs. Out of habit I caught myself screaming for Demaryius Thomas the other day and then shortly thereafter remembered fantasy is over and his touchdowns no longer give me any points. Ugh.

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7) You can’t get yourself to delete your fantasy football app. I can’t do it and I don’t know why. I probably should though since it’s useless for another 7 months. Wait… SEVEN WHOLE MONTHS!?!? Yeah, that’s a long time. How will we all survive?

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8) You look back at your previous week scores and reflect on some of the bad last minute tweaks you made. Yes, a lot of us have Kevin MacArthur syndrome where we keep changing our lineup and over-think everything. Sometimes you look back and just want to cry when you see that crucial week you lost. Especially when someone on your bench had a monster game and could’ve given you the W.

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9) The trash talk isn’t over. If you won your league, you’re still gloating. If not, you keep saying “just wait and see next year,” “watch out for me next year,” or some form of that sentence. Gotta love those high hopes.

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10) You still talk about fantasy to anyone who will listen. You find ways to bring up fantasy whether it’s on your Twitter or to your family who are SO annoyed you’re continuing to talk about it.

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No matter if you won or miserably lost your league this year, you know you’ll always love it. It’s just the off-season all of us hate.

GIFs courtesy of: http://missjnicole.tumblr.com, http://sheriffmac.tumblr.com, http://jamandstuff.tumblr.com/, somethinginexpressible.tumblr.com

 

Why I Think This Year’s Super Bowl Will Be Seahawks vs. Broncos

BY CAILIN BURKE

With the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos both being the top seeds in their respected conferences, saying Super Bowl XLVIII would be a Wilson vs. Manning  game, may not be the greatest surprise, or the classic underdog story we all love. As predictable as this is, these two teams face to face would make a more memorable Super Bowl in the end. The non-football watcher, would probably say, “The 49ers were just in the Super Bowl last year, let’s see someone different.” Same goes for the Patriots. Tom Brady already has multiple Super Bowl victories so it’d be a little more exciting to see someone else hoisting up the Lombardi trophy. Personal bias aside, I do actually have some facts to back up my prediction. It’s not my inner Giants fan rooting for Eli’s big bro and not wanting the Patriots, a Giant’s rival to be in it. The season’s stats so far show the Broncos and Seahawks have the better teams and should therefore make it to the Super Bowl.

Let’s look at the Broncos vs. Patriots first.

Courtesy of Football Schedule, http://www.flickr.com/photos/footballschedule/10032607193/

Courtesy of Football Schedule

Rushing Game: The Patriots mainly give touches to LeGarrette Blount and Steven Ridley who both finished the season with 7 touchdowns, with 772 yards for Blount and 773 yards for Ridley on the ground. With Blount’s 166 yard game and 4 touchdowns (the Patriot record for rushing touchdowns in one game) against the Colts in their 43-22 win this weekend, he’ll get the majority of the ground work for Sunday’s game.

As for the Broncos, with running back Knowshon Moreno getting the brunt of the work with  occasional touches by Wisconsin rookie Montee Ball, both have the power to make significant plays. With 1,120 yards for Moreno in the regular and post seasons, his consistency this season will add to the big plays Manning is sure to make.

The consensus?: The Patriots will take the edge on rushing yards with Blount and Ridley’s  combined efforts.

Courtesy of Football Schedule, http://www.flickr.com/photos/footballschedule/8000570540/
Courtesy of Football Schedule

Passing Game: Tom Brady has two major targets in Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, while Peyton Manning has Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas. Manning’s options all land within the top 44 NFL players for total receiving yards on the season. The Patriots no longer have Gronkowski due to his ACL and MCL injury in Week 14, and with two less dependable receivers than the Broncos, that may be the game changer.

Basically, the less viable targets, the less passing yards. Plus, it’s Peyton Manning we’re talking about. With the most passing yards in the NFL this season and his 115.1 QB rating, it’d be a safe bet to say he’s going to have yet another huge game on the passing front.

Consensus: Broncos take the passing game with Manning and his many targets.

Defense: The Patriots defense essentially sealed the win in their divisional game against the Colts. With three sacks on quarterback Andrew Luck and four interceptions (two of them by Pats cornerback Alfonzo Dennard), the Patriots defense led by Jamie Collins will have even more confidence going into this weekend’s game.

However with Bronco’s cornerback Chris Harris Jr. out with a torn ACL after last weekend’s win against the Chargers, they’ll need to find a replacement to fill his large shoes. Head coach John Fox hasn’t made a decision yet, but I’ll bet that Champ Bailey will be in the cornerback position for the majority of the game. He won’t be at his 100% best because of his left foot injury that has been continuously giving him trouble, but will be a decent replacement.

Consensus: The Patriots defense will be strong, forcing at least one turnover and breaking through the Bronco’s offensive line to get to Manning. The Broncos offense, however, will keep them in check and ultimately diminish the Patriots defensive efforts. Broncos have this one.

Special Teams: I’ll keep this one short. The Bronco’s Trindon Holliday is likely to give Peyton Manning and company consistently good field position. Ideally for the Broncos, he may even return a punt for a touchdown as well.

Consensus: The Broncos special teams will help ensure a Denver win.

Aside from these predictions, what is sure is that it will be a very close game. Yes, the Patriots defense has been playing better than usual as seen by their recent win, and the Broncos have some injuries plaguing their defense, but Peyton has all four of his receivers healthy. Manning and these four will make all the difference.

Now for the Seahawks vs. 49ers.

Courtesy of Football Schedule, http://www.flickr.com/photos/footballschedule/8379859732/

Courtesy of Football Schedule

Rushing Game: Marshawn Lynch will dominate the field as usual. With 1,403 yards in the regular and post season combined, he’ll probably add more than a hundred yards to that number this Sunday.

Although Frank Gore will most likely give the 49ers a touchdown or two, he won’t be able to keep up with the 100+ yard game Lynch is going to have. I predict he won’t break over the 100 yard mark at all.

Consensus: The rushing game with the help of Lynch will help ensure another victory for Seattle.

Passing Game: Although Russell Wilson had a disappointing divisional round and beat the New Orleans Saints thanks to the Seahawk’s rushing game, we should see a better week from him. Golden Tate will get the majority of Wilson’s completions, but Doug Baldwin will also be there making several key catches. I don’t expect an amazing, extraordinary game from Wilson, but just enough to win the game.

Courtesy of Football Schedule, http://www.flickr.com/photos/footballschedule/8408998716/

Courtesy of Football Schedule

The 49ers have Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, both who are bound to make several big catches and get into the end zone. Crabtree will be there to make a few solid catches as well in crucial 3rd down situations. Kaepernick, on the other hand, has had less than stellar games versus the Seahawks this season with 15 completions on his 29 attempts in their Week 14 meeting. However this time around, we should see him make some big plays in the air and on the ground, possibly getting into the end zone himself.

Consensus: The 49ers win this category as I see Boldin and Davis collecting more receiving yards than Tate and Baldwin of the Seahawks.

Defense: This category gets a bit more difficult to predict since we’ll be seeing two of the NFL’s best defenses going face to face. I’ll keep it simple and give the edge to the Seahawks as their regular season defensive stats speak loudly enough. (Number 1 in the NFL for: Average of points allowed per game, average yards allowed, average passing yards allowed, turnovers, and interceptions)

Consensus: The Seahawks will force several turnovers with their defense consisting of cornerback Richard Sherman and star safety Earl Thomas.

Special Teams: The Seahawks have had a consistently excellent special teams unit. With kicker Steven Hauscka’s 94.3% field goal completion rate, their special teams should positively impact the outcome of the game.

In the Seahawks and 49ers last meeting, San Francisco’s Phil Dawson kicked a field goal to win the game, and he will again prove useful in tacking on 3 extra points here and there to keep the 49ers in it.

Consensus: Special teams will both make beneficial contributions but the Seahawks should make a few more field goals to keep the win safely in their grasp.

With the almost deafening noise volume at the Seahawk’s CenturyLink field, the 49ers will have to try their best to keep their sanity, but ultimately will fall short if only by a few points.

Okay yes, I personally want a Seahawks vs. Broncos Super Bowl, but with the Bronco’s offense under the helm of Peyton Manning, and the Seahawk’s having the number one defense in the NFL, it is more than likely to end up that way.