• Water Cooler: Championship Recap Plus an Early Look at Super Bowl 50


    -There were some that were saying Peyton Manning should have been benched for Brock Osweiler even before his injury was revealed. Some were saying, even in the face of Osweiler’s blatant mediocrity, that Manning should never play another down in the NFL. While some of those people may have been right at the time, some would like the opportunity now to admit that they were wrong.

    -I was wrong. Peyton certainly didn’t carry the Broncos, but in his 2 playoff games, he’s done something that I know I didn’t think was possible. After averaging nearly 2 INTs per week during the regular season, he’s thrown none this postseason, and his only charged TO is a lateral Ronnie Hillman dropped, and should have immediately fallen on just in case. They have a nasty defense, and he’s been more than willing to play to their team strength. Sometimes the hardest thing for a proud, once-great player is to realize he’s no longer great. In that realization, he’s made himself greater. Kudos to Peyton Manning.

    -And oh that nasty Bronco defense. Tom Brady has never taken a beating like he took yesterday.

    -Tom Brady’s only win over Peyton Manning in an AFC Championship came in 2003. Manning has now won the last 3 meetings when the stakes are at their highest.

    -Their reward—a Carolina team that scored 31 in a half against Seattle, then followed it up with 49 against Arizona, two teams that were ranked #3 and #4 in defensive DVOA. Denver is the clear #1. Maybe things will be different…

    -I know Cam Newton rubs many people the wrong way. Not me, I think he’s great for the sport. He’s also one of the most deserving MVPs we’ll ever see.

    -It’s easy to look at the Jake Delhomme-worthy performance of Carson Palmer, the fumble by Patrick Peterson, the drops by Larry Fitzgerald, or anything else, but while Arizona didn’t look good in either game, Carolina was simply great. Nothing was going to stop the Panthers yesterday.

    -If Carolina wins, they need to be considered alongside the other great teams of all-time.

    -Carolina has thoroughly dominated two excellent defenses. Maybe Denver will be different, but I doubt it. The problem the Broncos have is if Carolina gets out to another early lead, they don’t have the quick-strike offense to respond. You don’t come back down 3 scores by sustaining long drives. The Carolina defense has allowed nothing on the ground, and has forced 9 turnovers in 2 games after leading the league in forcing turnovers during the season. The Patriot pass rush got to Manning yesterday, especially in the 2nd half, and Carolina will do the same. Denver’s defense has a monumental task ahead of them just to keep them in the game. The best term I’ve been able to come up with to describe the Panther offense is soul-crushing. Denver is a much tougher football team than they were under John Fox, but Carolina is the toughest team in football, and a group whose sum is much greater than its parts, especially on offense.

    -He obviously does it in a much different way, but Cam Newton is the best combination passer/runner since Steve Young.

    -If Denver wins, credit will deservingly go to their defense. However, if they lose, I hope people resist the urge to lay it at the feet of Peyton Manning.

    -I just can’t see Denver sustaining drives against Carolina, leaving it up to Denver’s great defense. Carolina dominated Seattle until they let off the gas, and they destroyed the will of Arizona. Denver is tough as nails, but as soon as the Panthers jump out to an early lead, I think it gets ugly in a hurry. Super Bowl 50 is not likely to be a great game, but will serve as the coronation of a truly great team. This can change as I look into the game further, but my initial hunch has this 45-14 Carolina.

    Comments 21 Comments
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Two other things I thought about after this was published...

      -Wade Phillips is often disregarded because of his not great (but far from terrible) record as a head coach. 82-64 with 5 playoff appearances (but only 1 win) ain't all that bad. But no matter our thoughts on him as a head coach, it shouldn't deter from the fact that he is one of the best defensive coordinators in the history of the game. Don Coryell had a .572 regular season win%, which is only .008 ahead of Phillips, and also never won more than 1 playoff game in a season, finishing 3-6 in the postseason. Yet, as one of the great offensive minds in history, he's getting HOF consideration, being named a finalist the past two years. Phillips could be considered the Don Coryell of the defensive side of the ball, and when he retires, deserves at least a glancing consideration from the HOF.

      This will be his first chance at a Super Bowl since his first stint as a DC in Denver in 1989. That year, his team finished #1 in total defense, but lost in the Super Bowl to San Francisco 55-10. This year, in San Francisco, he'll be working to avoid a similar fate.


      -On the intercepted 2-point attempt with 12 seconds left, Denver should have tried to score. With an onside kick still in play, a 4 point lead would have been huge.
    1. iwatt's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Brian Williams View Post
      Two other things I thought about after this was published...

      -Wade Phillips is often disregarded because of his not great (but far from terrible) record as a head coach. 82-64 with 5 playoff appearances (but only 1 win) ain't all that bad. But no matter our thoughts on him as a head coach, it shouldn't deter from the fact that he is one of the best defensive coordinators in the history of the game. Don Coryell had a .572 regular season win%, which is only .008 ahead of Phillips, and also never won more than 1 playoff game in a season, finishing 3-6 in the postseason. Yet, as one of the great offensive minds in history, he's getting HOF consideration, being named a finalist the past two years. Phillips could be considered the Don Coryell of the defensive side of the ball, and when he retires, deserves at least a glancing consideration from the HOF.
      Wade also has the coolest twitter handles: @sonofbum
    1. Brian Williams's Avatar
      Pretty interesting behind the scenes look at the FOX production of the NFC Championship.

      http://mmqb.si.com/mmqb/2016/01/26/n...-behind-scenes
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Today is the birthday for our fearless leader. So, let's wish Cris a good one.

      I know this because I noted it once when I saw it because it is also the birthday of my mother-in-law. It is also the birthday for my wife's best friend.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      I like when things I complain about get resolutions:

      http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/27/news...ges/index.html
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      I like when things I complain about get resolutions:

      http://money.cnn.com/2016/01/27/news...ges/index.html
      You da man, Rich!
    1. Nancy's Avatar
      Huge pep rally uptown yesterday. I didn't go because I am not insane. This is about as excited as Charlotte gets, y'all.

    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      What Biggie mentioned a couple months ago about Megatron is now becoming public knowledge. Shefty now reporting that Calvin Johnson will, in fact, retire.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      What Biggie mentioned a couple months ago about Megatron is now becoming public knowledge. Shefty now reporting that Calvin Johnson will, in fact, retire.
      What Schefter is reporting (unless something new has come out this morning) is that CJ told friends and family 2015 would be his last season. He told the team late in the year and they asked him to take some time after the season.

      I think Megatron is going to retire. I - nor any of the talikng/tweeting heads - know nothing.

      There is also this thought: could agent Buss Cook be angling to get CJ traded to a team less likely to ask him to take a pay cut?

      The lions' new GM, Bob Quinn, came from New England. I always said it was gonna suck watching Megatron in a Patriots uniform...
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      I saw some proof that ESPN didn't do a ton of prep for the Pro Bowl (I know, I know, hey, I got a new TV and wanted to see sports on it).

      Anyway, Gruden mentioned that Amari Cooper was the first wide receiver from Oakland to make the Pro Bowl in a long time. So, I got curious and looked up the Raiders here: http://www.pro-football-reference.co...i/all-pros.htm. If you look at the bottom of the list, you see that Jerry Rice was an All-Pro in 2002 for the Raiders. Of course, Cooper was playing for...... TEAM RICE! Was that fact metioned? Nope. No way Andy would have missed that one. I also have no idea why it bothered me so much.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      If a well-written yet passionate article about Calvin Johnson and the inconvenient reality that is his inevitable retirement (this year or next), check out Chris Lemieux over at SB Nation's Pride of Detroit blog.
    1. Bengals1181's Avatar
      well, Andy's not having a good day:

      http://www.cbspressexpress.com/cbs-s.../view?id=44509


      NBC to air 5 Thursday Night games next year.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      well, Andy's not having a good day:

      http://www.cbspressexpress.com/cbs-s.../view?id=44509


      NBC to air 5 Thursday Night games next year.
      What? Andy {loves} short weeks. He has sent me sonnets, long-form poems and impressionist paintings about this love. He even wrote a haiku about them once.
    1. Rich Gapinski's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Sullivan View Post
      If a well-written yet passionate article about Calvin Johnson and the inconvenient reality that is his inevitable retirement (this year or next), check out Chris Lemieux over at SB Nation's Pride of Detroit blog.
      Really liked that one. Thanks for that. A bit jealous that I didn't write it first.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      Really liked that one. Thanks for that. A bit jealous that I didn't write it first.
      So was I. That article does as good a job capturing Lions fandom as any I have read.
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Rich Gapinski View Post
      I saw some proof that ESPN didn't do a ton of prep for the Pro Bowl (I know, I know, hey, I got a new TV and wanted to see sports on it).

      Anyway, Gruden mentioned that Amari Cooper was the first wide receiver from Oakland to make the Pro Bowl in a long time. So, I got curious and looked up the Raiders here: http://www.pro-football-reference.co...i/all-pros.htm. If you look at the bottom of the list, you see that Jerry Rice was an All-Pro in 2002 for the Raiders. Of course, Cooper was playing for...... TEAM RICE! Was that fact metioned? Nope. No way Andy would have missed that one. I also have no idea why it bothered me so much.
      And there was nothing else on your TV worth watching besides the pro bowl?
    1. hobbes27's Avatar
      Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
      well, Andy's not having a good day:

      http://www.cbspressexpress.com/cbs-s.../view?id=44509


      NBC to air 5 Thursday Night games next year.
      Wow, 2 more crappy Thursday Night games to avoid.

      My condolences to Andy if he and the crew end up doing 2 games in one week.
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      The Browns are supposedly going to cut Johnny Football come the start of the new league year (March).

      http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/14...nt-source-says
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      I remember nothing of this, but it appears Peyton Manning once harassed a Tennessee trainer.

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/article...source=twitter
    1. Patrick Sullivan's Avatar
      A fascinating read about the NFL's inner workings by a guy who is not a full-time sportswriter:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/07/ma...smtyp=cur&_r=0

      This article touches on a wide range of issues. Prominent amongst them is the concept of "Protecting the Shield". While the piece's primary focus is the NFL, its commish and its ownership, the author left room for some former-player anecdotes including this one from Nate Jackson:

      ‘‘To me, the Shield was my loss of identity within a system,’’ Jackson said. ‘‘It was the suggestion that it was not about me. I was prepared to die to make a play. But the reason football is so dangerous is that the men making the decisions are not the ones getting hit.’’