January 14, 2014
The good news is that the NFL’s championship weekend is upon us and we’ve got what we wanted. Brady vs. Manning. Kaepernick vs. Wilson. The best coach in the league against the best offense in history. The best rivalry going today and the earthquake-causing 12th man. The bad news is that there is just three football games left and I’ve got to work on Sunday. I better start faking an illness today so I can get out of work on Sunday. So who will win? I couldn’t tell you that. But I do have a good idea which players could decide the games.
Colin Kaepernick is going to need someone to make a few big plays in the passing game. It could be Michael Crabtree or Vernon Davis, but I’d put my trust in Boldin. Nobody is tougher and his eight catches for 136 yards was huge against Carolina last week.
He’s won a few big games in his short career. Most of them with his legs. He’ll have to complete some big throws on Sunday and avoid the interceptions that have plagued him in Seattle for the 49ers to stay in the game. For them to win…he’ll have to make a huge third down conversion in the fourth quarter…with his legs.
Don’t expect Blount to come up with another 166 yards and four touchdowns this week. But if he can get to 100 without putting the ball on the ground, that would be a good sign for the Patriots chances.
The rookie cornerback led New England with five interceptions, but he’ll be facing the biggest challenge of his short career taking on Peyton Manning and all his weapons in Denver. Will he make a huge play or allow one?
If he is healthy, the Seahawks offense goes to another level (in theory anyway…he hasn’t been healthy all year). Will Harvin play Sunday after suffering a concussion last week? I’m guessing no. But if he can get back on the field, he could make a game-changing play.
He’s dominated the league all season. Except for the game in New England. The Broncos didn’t really try to throw in that game because of the weather and the dominance of the running game. But he’s going to have to throw for them to win this week.
Seattle’s 12th man.
The Seahawks have the best home-field advantage in the league. They outscored the 49ers 71-16 in the last two games in Seattle. The first few minutes of this game will be big for the 49ers to get some momentum going. Otherwise the crowd could take control of the game.
The Patriots haven’t been underdogs much in the last few years, but they are this week. And if New England is going to win, Brady will have to be at the top of his game. The Patriots don’t have the weapons that the Broncos do so it will be up to Brady to keep the chains moving and Peyton Manning on the sidelines. And of course, no interceptions.
The Broncos’ offense is much more dangerous with Welker on the field. He’s going to want to have a big game against his old team, especially since it was his mistake that set up the Patriots game-winning field goal earlier this season. Look for Manning to try to get Welker going early and for Welker to pick up a couple key third down conversions in the second half if Denver wins this game.