The Panthers Season Ends to the 49ers

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[Game Book]

For a while, it looked like a the Panthers were going to pull off the unlikeliest of wins. In the end, the 49ers immense talent overpowered the inexperienced Panthers.

Newton made the throw of his life to Steve Smith to put the Panthers ahead on a touchdown pass. Shortly after that, he hit Greg Olsen for 35 yards and it looked like the 49ers were on the ropes.

But the Panthers didn’t capitalize. They were inside the five yard line a few times and failed to get touchdowns. I knew that would haunt them against the 49ers. Few times in my life have I been more sure about the outcome of a sporting contest. I felt comfortable before the game betting as much as my mortgage on the 49ers winning the game. I couldn’t believe the Panthers were favored at kickoff.

Colin Kaepernick was very solid in getting his fourth career playoff win in his third season.

It’s going to be a long offseason for Carolina. It was a fun year.

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It’s Sunday

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It’s Conference Championship Sunday. Patriots – Broncos in a match-up that will probably represent the final time between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in an AFC Title Game.

The NFC game is the big one I can’t wait for. Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers travel to Seattle to try and solve the Qwest Field riddle in the NFC Title Game.

Divisional Playoff Sunday: The Biggest Game of Cam Newton’s Life

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This is really it – Cam Newton is in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs.

I have never liked a player more in NFL history. He’s my favorite. This is the biggest Sunday of his life coming after a week in which I have heard literally no one say they trust the Carolina Panthers to get by the San Francisco 49ers. Heck, even I don’t trust the Panthers today.

I have never wanted a win so bad for a group of guys or a player. It is the win that eluded those Browns teams I loved so much from 1999-2003. This is the chance to get a legacy-defining win. To play on national television and allow the casual fan a chance to get to know that you’re a household name. To me; Carolina feels like they just have too many small names to get this done.

Please Carolina. Please Cam. When that sun sets today, be the team that is still alive and headed to Seattle with house money in the back pocket. I am not ready to stop watching Cam Newton and Carolina this year yet along with the other players who have helped define 2013 (Greg Hardy, Olsen, Ginn, Smith, Kuechly,

Seahawks get past Saints

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They’re wrapping up in Seattle and the Seahawks are about to be 2-1 in the Russell Wilson era in the playoffs. Marshawn Lynch just rumbled in from 31 yards out to set the score to 23-8 Seattle.

It’s been a messy, sloppy ballgame. With intermittent rain falling, Russell Wilson is 9 of 18 for 103 yards passing. He hit one big throw on the last drive to kind of seal the game, a 24-yarder down the sideline to Doug Baldwin.

The Saints have the ball back and are driving – with 1:08 left in the game. It’s going to be curtains, it’s just a matter of whether or not Seattle covers.

Divisional Playoff Saturday

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Today is the last Saturday football of the season. It’s the last weekend in which there is more than two games. It’s a very rainy day across the nation, with rain falling in Seattle on the pregame show and wind and rain expected at Foxboro tonight for my Colts.

Tomorrow features a masterpiece game in Charlotte – but we’ll worry about tomorrow when it comes.

For today, it’s all about the Colts. I’ve got my #12 A. Luck (Irsay-speak here) jersey on right now and I’m just waiting out the Saturday night game.

Here are my picks for tonight:

New Orleans (+8.5) at Seattle

Seahawks 24, New Orleans 16
I think the Seattle defense will put on an outstanding performance and the weather conditions can only help their style of game at home in the Pacific Northwest. It’s going to be a test for Drew Brees and the Saints to win a physical-style game against the NFC’s most physical team on the road. But I don’t think it’s going to be a double-digit blowout. Overall, I’m excited to see an efficient start from the young star Russell Wilson in his home playoff debut.

Indianapolis at New England (-7.5)

Patriots 31, Colts 20
I think it will be an ugly game with plenty of mistakes on both sides. My hope for my Colts is that they’re so young they don’t realize how big the moment is. I can’t get out of my head the ugly 59-24 loss that happened last season at Foxboro. Then again, I remember the Patriots blowing out the Jets only to have this round in the playoffs go the other way with the Jets going in to Foxboro and knocking out the Patriots. Things happen. You never know. I hope Andrew Luck can play a clean game; if he can do that, the Colts will have a shot. But I still see Luck making too many poor throws.

The Colts Wildcard Comeback vs. Chiefs

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[Game book]

[NFL.com] [Deadspin] [Indianapolis Star] [Deadspin (2)] [PFT] [Andrew Luck Highlights] [KC Star] [KSK] [Blue Stampede] [ESPN NFL Nation]

In Indianapolis, the day after the second biggest comeback in NFL history; the organization is comparing Andrew Luck to Michael Jordan.

This was it – this was the game of the season and the dramatic theater showcase on a Saturday night that you remember forever. As I kept telling my wife (long after I had peeled off my #12 Colts jersey and the Colts dug into a 38-10 hole) “if they Colts find a way to pull this off, it will be replayed forever as one of the classic NFL Films games that we watch all the time from yesteryear”. And still today if I’m awake late at night and flip on ESPN or NFL Network, there’s a replay of the 1993 Houston/Buffalo game from the Wildcard playoffs. Ironically, I learned yesterday that the game played later that day in ’93 was between the Eagles and Saints.

It’s hard to keep track of things from drive to drive in a game with so many huge moments. The Chiefs went down and scored with a great drive to open the game, but the drive immediately following that was one of the best I’ve ever seen for Andrew Luck. He was perfect on the drive and made a throw to T.Y. Hilton for a touchdown to tie the game, again one of the better throws I had ever seen Luck make. But I needed to hang on for the rest of this masterful performance. A game that has me wanting so badly to get a DVR to DVD recorder so I can forever have possession of this one. This will go down as the game that really built Andrew Luck’s legend. And to be honest I think it’s hard to say where the journey could end after a game like this takes place for a team. I think this team feels like they can overcome anything now.

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Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes in this game (Hilton, Brown, Fleener, Hilton again), but the play that may have defined destiny was the Donald Brown carry that ended up being a fumble off the helmet of a Chiefs player, hit off Samson Satele, and ended up in Luck’s hands just in time for him to leap into the end zone and make the score 41-38.

By that point, it just felt like the Colts were going to win the game. The Chiefs added a field goal. On the fourth play of the next drive, Luck unleashed the fearless line drive deep pass that beat both men at the back half of the Chiefs defense and won the Colts the game. It was a touchdown to T.Y. Hilton that gave them the lead for good, 45-44. It is a play that will be replayed for years to come when this game is talked about. It was beautiful.

Luck and the Colts gave us all a lasting memory and beautiful theater on an early frigid Saturday evening in January. By the end of the game I had my jersey back on, and I learned that sometimes the Colts will lose; but they should never be doubted and as long as Luck is under center they should never be counted out of a game no matter what chess pieces he’s missing in the form of offensive weapons.