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Five Thoughts on Super Bowl 50

| February 8th, 2016

The game will be dissected all across the board for weeks. Here are just a few quick thoughts.

  • I don’t think I’ll ever forget the image of Cam Newton refusing to go all-in to recover his own fumble. The biggest and strongest quarterback in the league came up small in a massive moment.
  • Has any defensive player ever finished a season better than Von Miller? His AFC title game and Super Bowl were historic.
  • The Gary Kubiak / John Fox debate that jumped on the internet last night makes no sense. The debate people should be having is Wade Phillips / John Fox. I can end that debate now. Wade is one of the greatest defensive coaches in league history. Fox builds great defenses.
  • I don’t want to see Peyton Manning play football anymore. When Denver ran the ball on that late third down I just felt bad. Primarily because it was the smart call.
  • Usually you can’t label a team’s loss this simply but I will make an exception for Carolina. The moment got to them. They seemed to make every mistake. They’re young enough to rebound and get back there but they should show up with real offensive tackles next time.

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Super Bowl 50 Game Prediction

| February 5th, 2016

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Three questions for this game.

#1. I have no doubt Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware will get to Cam Newton. But what happens when they get there? Newton ain’t Tom Brady. He’s more likely to throw Miller to the ground than be sacked by him.

#2. What happens if the Panthers offense struggles early? This is a team that hasn’t faced adversity a lot this season and certainly hasn’t faced a defense of this caliber. If Carolina doesn’t score on their first couple drives, do we see Cam Newton force things?

#3. One of the untold stories of the AFC title game was how many receivers Peyton Manning missed for big plays down the field. But the biggest stat of this game may be Manning’s interception total. Can he avoid the big mistake, especially in the middle of the field? If he does, the Broncos defense will keep the game close.

Carolina Panthers 24, Denver Broncos 20

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131 Comments

Super Bowl Fifty Gambling Prop Guide

| February 4th, 2016

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These odds are courtesy of the great Jimmy Shapiro, who emails the world weekly with various odds.

BET 1: JOHN FOX

How many times will “John Fox” be said during the Broadcast?

Over     1          (-140, 5/7)

Under   1          (EVEN, 1/1)

(Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)

This seems like it might happen regularly during the broadcast but really why would it? Once the game begins, unless Fox is visible in the crowd, why would the announcers think to mention him? I’ll take the UNDER and feel safe with no worse than a push.

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BET 2: RETIREMENT

Will Peyton Manning announce his retirement in the postgame interview?

Yes      +500  (5/1)

No        -1000 (1/10)

You’re getting 5 to 1 odds on him doing it so you have to take YES. If the Broncos win and Peyton Manning is speaking to Jim Nantz on the stage in a sea of confetti, can’t you see him dropping a reference or two to his “last game”? I can. Don’t load up here but it’s worth the gamble.

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BET 3: SUPERMAN

How many times will Cam Newton do the Open Shirt Superman motion during the game?

Over     2.5        (EVEN, 1/1)

Under   2.5        (-140, 5/7)

 (Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)

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Across the Middle with Andrew Dannehy (Featuring a Q & A With Jeff Risdon)

| February 3rd, 2016

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• The fact that John Fox had a large say in drafting the roster and that he and his staff were responsible for developing the defensive talent on the Broncos should make you feel good. A lot has been written about them signing free agents from the Broncos, but they’re just as likely to try to draft the next Danny Trevathan, Brandon Marshall or Malik Jackson.

• The one thing to take from the playoffs as it pertains to the Bears is they just need more great players. Look at the big plays that have been made throughout the playoffs, they’ve typically come from each team’s best player. The Bears don’t have those guys. Getting them is the first step. The next step is getting them to play their best on the big stage.

• It’s too early to get overly excited about what the Bears “need” when it comes to the draft. A lot will change between now and then. As of this time last year, you wouldn’t have guessed the Bears would be taking Kevin White with the seventh pick with the duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Hell, you maybe didn’t even know who Kevin White was.

• Draft hype is too crazy right now. Noah Spence went from being a fringe first-round pick at best to being mocked in the top 10. He’s a talented player but he was going against a bunch of untalented offensive tackles at the Senior Bowl. That doesn’t tell us anything.

After the jump is a Q&A I did with Jeff Risdon. Risdon is an NFL and NFL Draft Writer at RealGM, an analyst for Draft Breakdown, works on air at ESPN 961 and is the editor for SideLionReport. He spent last week in Mobile for the Senior Bowl. He’s also Lions fan, but at least he’s not a Packers fan.

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Three Things the Bears Can Learn From the Carolina Panthers

| February 2nd, 2016

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DON’T TRADE GREAT PLAYERS BECAUSE THEY DON’T “FIT”

NFL coaches all think what they do is special. They’re wrong. Football is not a complicated game and winning, by and large, still comes down to which team has the better players.

Greg Olsen is a great player. Anybody with eyes knew he was beginning the process of becoming a great player in Chicago. And trading him away because he didn’t fit the system of an offensive coordinator was asinine then and is even more asinine now. If a coach can’t maximize the ability of a great player then the coach isn’t worth keeping around.

You ESPECIALLY don’t trade players for coordinator fits because coordinators are always a good season away from leaving your organization. Players can only leave if you let them (or if they hate you).

BE PATIENT

Who didn’t look at the Panthers receiving corps at the start of the season, following the injury to Kelvin Benjamin, and expect their offense to struggle?

The answer is Panthers GM Dave Gettleman.

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Three Things the Bears Can Learn From the Denver Broncos

| February 1st, 2016

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GET TO THE QUARTERBACK

Wrote extensively about this earlier in the week so no reason to repeat. Here is a passage from that short piece:

And pass rush, despite what people will have you believe, is not necessarily a quantifiable statistic. Sacks are great but pressuring a quarterback into a poorly timed throw can often be far better. Sustained pressure throughout a game is a recipe for success but intense pressure in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, is a recipe for championships.

Pass rushers, much like quarterbacks, must raise their games in the pivotal moments.

The postseason is a collection of pivotal moments. The Super Bowl is a hundred of them.

MORE THAN ONE WAY TO PLAY QB POSITION

There is an inane phrase repeated, many times in Chicago, about a quarterback being a “guy that can win you the Super Bowl”. Let’s take a look at Peyton Manning’s 2015. He completed less than 60% of his passes in a league where you could complete 60% of your passes. His touchdown-interception ratio of 9-17 will be the worst such differential attached to a Super Bowl starting quarterback in history. He has the mobility of Stonehenge. And, let’s not forget, he seems completely unable to throw the ball outside the numbers or down the field. 2015’s version of Peyton Manning checks none of the boxes for a “guy that can win you the Super Bowl.”

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Around the North with Andrew Dannehy: Green Bay

| January 29th, 2016

GREEN BAY PACKERS

It’s going to take more than the return of Jordy Nelson to cure what ails the Packers.

The fact they played the Cardinals close led to a lot of confusion about what kind of team they were. But in their last four games, the Cards beat the Packers twice and were blown out by the Panthers and Seahawks. The Packers finished 5-7 and were a Hail Mary away from going 4-8. They were blown out by Denver, Carolina and Arizona. They just aren’t that good of a team and I’m not sure if they can recover.

Nelson was underrated. Now he’s teetering on being overrated. He’s 31 years old and coming off of a major knee injury. He’s good. He’s not Calvin Johnson.

The truth is this. Despite some miracles, Aaron Rodgers didn’t play very well.

We’ve all heard the rumors that Rodgers doesn’t like coach Mike McCarthy. He wasn’t happy when McCarthy took the playcalling over again, demoting his buddy Tom Clements and limiting his ability to audible. Rodgers took shots at McCarthy weekly and it was largely unnoticed.

But it isn’t just Rodgers who doesn’t seem to be getting along with his boss. It was reported a few weeks ago that McCarthy is “fed up” with General Manager Ted Thompson not going after free agents.

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Around the North with Andrew Dannehy: Minnesota

| January 28th, 2016

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The following is part two of a three part wrap-up of the division from DBB contributor Andrew Dannehy.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

The common theme with the Vikings is they’re an up-and-coming team but that could be more perception than reality.

The Vikings remind me a lot of the team they had almost a decade ago when they won the NFC North with a 10-6 record. Adrian Peterson was great and their defense was really good, but they didn’t have a quarterback and without a quarterback it’s hard to see them staying on top for long.

The 2008 team upgraded with Brett Favre, which was enough to win them the NFC North again and make them Super Bowl contenders, but I don’t see such an upgrade available to them this time around and they don’t seem to know they have a problem.

Teddy Bridgewater doesn’t make a lot of crippling mistakes. But he also can’t consistently make plays down the field. Will he improve? It’s certainly not a guarantee. Coming out of the draft, he was billed as a “finished product” and didn’t make a noticeable improvement from his rookie season to his second year. If he’s Alex Smith, that’s fine. But quarterbacks like Alex Smith don’t win championships.  Moving indoors next year should help hide his arm limitations.

Bridgewater is not their only issue.

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Around The North with Andrew Dannehy: Detroit

| January 27th, 2016

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There was a changing of the guard in the NFC North this season, with the Vikings overtaking the Packers, but the future of the division remains in question. The following is part one of a three part wrap-up of the division.

DETROIT LIONS

The Lions 2015 season was considered a disappointment but it really shouldn’t have been. When they went 11-5 in 2014, they won close games at an unsustainable rate and lost their best player in free agency before this season (Suh). They finished 2015 with a 7-9 record – right around where they should’ve been.

They had to keep Jim Caldwell. It isn’t just that the Lions were one desperation heave from finishing 7-1. The Lions might have been the best team in the division over the final eight games. They finished 6-2 with a point differential of plus-54, both best in the division.

The issue was they didn’t hire their new GM (Bob Quinn from the Pats) until late and the head coach candidates were winding down. Even if they fired Caldwell and replaced him, the new coach would have a challenge filling out his staff. Keeping Caldwell was the only logical choice, but it could hurt them in 2016.

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