Posts Tagged ‘Gary Kubiak’

Overall: 165-101
Last Week: 2-0

Panthers @ Broncos

Last Rodeo

Like Peyton Manning, this is my last game. I cannot imagine enjoying football without Peyton Manning.

This year was already a bitter taste of what is to come. The State of Quarterbacks in the NFL is pathetic. When healthy, Manning is still in the better half of those who “play” the position. For fuck sakes, we live in a world Johnny Manziel has been handed the reigns to an NFL franchise—before they finally realized his raging alcoholism. The problem is that Peyton Manning has only been healthy for a handful of games. Even that is relative since we’re talking about a man who cannot feel his fingers.

Yet, Peyton made the necessary throws against the Patriots while the Denver defense buried Tom Brady in his own ineptitude. Don’t give me any bullshit about New England not being healthy. Brady had the necessary weapons, but he was clearly flustered and incapable of making rudimentary decisions. If the positions were reversed, everyone would have been talking about Manning. Tom Brady embarrassed himself. It’s amazing how the tables are turned when one team has the superior defense. For the duration of his early career with the Colts, Manning played with truly horrendous defenses that refused to employ anyone over 300lbs on their line until Booger McFarland. It’s just unfortunate that it took the last year of his career for Peyton to finally have an all-world defense supporting him. Let’s never forget that Manning is 3-1 against Brady in AFC Championship Games. But I guess playoff records only matter when it supports the crafted narrative propping up Tom Brady. And Tom Brady has the luxury of heaving the football to the trained polar bear the Patriots employ at TE that they’ve named Gronkowski—easily and unarguably, the most dominant player currently in the NFL.

Everyone is picking the Panthers in this Super Bowl.

The case is simply that the Carolina Panthers are a better version of the Seahawks with a superior QB in Cam Newton—the second-most dominant player currently in the NFL. Pressuring an overrated Tom Brady is one thing, but good luck tackling Cam Newton when he’s bigger than most of Denver’s defenders. Oh, and Carolina will definitely design runs for Cam too. Not only do the Broncos have to sack Cam, but they also have to stop him from just running whenever he thinks a play is broken. The Super Bowl against Seattle went to shit early for Denver. In order for the Broncos to make this a competitive matchup (unlike the NFC Championship Game against the Cardinals), Denver needs to score first and sit on an early lead like they did against New England. While most have focused on Manning, I think the offense will be good for a few scores. The Broncos need to run the ball effectively, which is troublesome considering Gary Kubiak’s insistence on involving Ronnie Hillman—who looks like an 8th grader on a field with men when he tries to run between the tackles. Denver needs C.J. Anderson to dominate carries and act like a bowling ball plowing through Carolina’s defense. With Manning throwing less than 30 times, that’s the conservative game plan the Broncos must utilize.

Defensively, Denver’s ability to keep it close relies on stopping Greg Olsen.

Rob Gronkowski mauled the smaller defenders Denver tried to hang off him. Gronk shook them aside whenever he wanted. Greg Olsen and his third leg could swing the game for the Panthers rather easily. The Broncos just don’t have anyone to glue on Olsen for the whole game. While Aqib Talib and Chris Harris should cover Carolina’s receivers on the outside, all Cam needs to do is slide around (with the threat to run) and find Olsen in the seam a few times. There’s a reason the Panthers are the heavy, prohibitive favorite. Carolina nearly ran undefeated through the season.

But I have to have hope. In his final game, is there enough magic left in Manning’s arm?

Every time Manning throws the ball—even on the fucking sidelines—Peyton noticeably grimaces like he’s being stabbed in the shoulder. It doesn’t look good. The passes aren’t pretty, but Peyton can still burn someone the caliber of Cortland Finnegan. If the Broncos treat Josh Norman like Richard Sherman (avoiding him whenever possible) and account for Luke Kuechly on every play, I can envision a scenario where Peyton might have a chance to thrive rather than merely survive.

Does the old man have enough left for this game?

Win: Denver Broncos

Overall: 163-101
Last Week: 3-1

Patriots @ Broncos

Red Forehead

Fuck Tom Brady. It’s infuriating to still see everyone credit Tom Brady when the clear difference-maker on the Patriots is Rob Gronkowski. Brady immediately regressed to mediocre when Gronk was hurt, but he’s back to being a world-beater who gets rid of the ball in less than two seconds when that monster is roaming the field. The New England Patriots trained a polar bear to catch passes. Gronkowski doesn’t need to be open to catch passes. Gronk will just maul whatever unfortunate soul is around him and grab the ball mid-air in his teeth. This isn’t Brady vs. Manning as much as it is Gronkowski vs. The World.

The Gronk’s Prayer is a thing that exists…

Our Gronk who scores in sevens,
Hollowed be thy brain.
Thy kingdom dumb.
Thy will mix rum,
On turf as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily meat spread,
And don’t forgive us our trespasses,
As we don’t forgive those who double-cover against us,
Lead us directly and repeatedly into temptation,
But deliver dat sexy body from evil.
For spikes in the endzone,
With great power, bring you glory,
Forever.
Way-men.

Rob Gronkowski is One Man Gang. There’s no question who the man is in New England. Gronk is the straw that stirs the drink—and then proceeds to pound that drink and drink everyone else’s. But I have to believe that Good finds a way. Everyone but Peyton Manning knows this is the last hurrah. How sweet it would be for Peyton to bring his record against Brady to 3-2 in the playoffs, and a shot at riding off into the sunset with a ring. A man can dream. Peyton is pulling out all the stops, he even rope-a-doped the Steelers last week by falling down (without being touched) only to get back up to throw and make the biggest play of the game. The Patriots are back at full strength while Denver is limping into the game with a still-injured Peyton Manning. In 2009, I was at the 4th and 2 Game in Indianapolis—the only NFL game I’ve ever attended. It’s not quite the same with Manning at the end of his career, but he’s the only player I’ve witnessed get in Belicheat’s head. Manning brought the Colts back from the brink, and there was no way the Patriots wanted to give him the ball in those final moments. Everyone in that stadium knew Manning was marching down the field to win that game. No question about it.

In order for the Broncos to win this game, it is going to take a similar heroic effort from Peyton Manning AND a monumental defensive stop to finish the game. Those odds aren’t great. But there’s a chance. Even if it is just for old times’ sake, I want to believe Good will triumph over Evil.

Win: Denver Broncos

Cardinals @ Panthers

The Nature Boy once said, “To Be THE Man, You’ve Gotta Beat THE Man! WOOOOO!!!!!”

WOO

The Panthers made Ric Flair (Carolina hometown boy) proud last week by beating the Seattle Seahawks. Carolina eclipsed the NFC’s Super Bowl representative from the last two years. But the Panthers aren’t alone on the mountain top yet. Arizona is coming to town as the last remaining obstacle in the Carolina Panthers’ path to the Super Bowl. Carson Palmer has been shaky since injuring his finger, and the Cardinals are lacking the depth—namely, on defense and running the ball—to finish out this final stretch. If Carolina contains David Johnson out of the backfield and puts the clamps on big plays, then Arizona is going to have a tough time hanging with the Panthers. As the best running team in this Final Four, Carolina has an advantage by being able to run the ball down anyone’s throat. Arizona has a chance because of Bruce Arians’ ballsy play-calling, but that also can backfire real quick if Carson Palmer turns the ball over. Last year, Cam Newton proved he could walk away unscathed after rolling his car. It’s going to take a lot more than a car wreck for the Cardinals to stop him today.

Win: Carolina Panthers