Sunday, February 2, 2020

Super Bowl LIV Aftermath

Chiefs win Super Bowl LIV, 31-20


We turn now to live footage of the Kansas City Chiefs:


That must mean something great happened! All right, let's turn to live footage of the San Francisco 49ers:

Oh dear.

The 2019-20 NFL season has concluded with the Kansas City Chiefs emerging victorious over the San Francisco 49ers, 31-20! This Super Bowl was a massive improvement over last year's lifeless debacle between the Patriots and the Rams. The game was action-packed and tense all the way to the end.

The first half was a relatively balanced affair with each team trading touchdowns and field goals, entering halftime tied at 10-10. The 49ers rushing attack was a potent threat, as expected, and the Chiefs offense kept pace under the leadership of Patrick Mahomes.

In the third quarter, the momentum shifted entirely towards the 49ers. Mahomes threw two ugly interceptions, the first eventually being converted into a 49ers touchdown. The Chiefs were in tatters, and the 49ers, up 20-10, seemed likely to emerge victorious in the Super Bowl for the first time in twenty-five years. Right? It's not like anything could possibly go wrong when the 49ers head coach, Kyle Shanahan, was the primary architect of the 28-3 debacle during Super Bowl LI. Right? Right?


The 49ers forgot that Patrick Mahomes has spearheaded comebacks throughout these playoffs; why should the Super Bowl be any exception? The Chiefs launched into overdrive in the fourth quarter and never looked back. Touchdown after touchdown after touchdown. Twenty-one unanswered points. The 49ers tried to respond.

Keyword: tried. But without success. It took all of one quarter for the 49ers to implode and doom the city of San Francisco to another year without a Super Bowl victory. It took all of one quarter for the Chiefs to ascend from darkness after fifty long years and bask in the light of Super Bowl victory.

The Kansas City Chiefs are your Super Bowl LIV champions!

The Chiefs leaves Miami with their first Super Bowl win in fifty years, while the 49ers return to California empty-handed.

One drought ends, and another endures.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

2019-20 NFL Playoff Predictions (Part 4 - Super Bowl)


This is it. The last showdown. The final battle. The duel of the fates. The Super Bowl. Many battles have been won and lost this season, but the war will be won and lost in Miami. Only two teams remain, and they will face off in Miami for Super Bowl LIV: 

Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers 


Finally, a Super Bowl without New England.

The story of Super Bowl LIV is one of droughts. The Chiefs last won the Super Bowl in 1970, when they won Super Bowl IV over the Minnesota Vikings. This victory remains the Chiefs’ only Super Bowl title, having failed to reach the big game in half a century – until now.

The 49ers, meanwhile, have a drought of their own: they have five Super Bowl titles to their name, but total victory has been absent for twenty-five years. Before 2020, they last played for the Super Bowl in 2013, when they lost to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII – this was the also the first time the 49ers lost a Super Bowl game.

One drought will end while the other will endure. But who will lift the Lombardi Trophy? Let’s look at each team.

How the Chiefs reached the Super Bowl
The Chiefs finished 12-4 at second in the AFC thanks to the last-minute intervention of the Miami Dolphins. A slew of injuries plagued the Chiefs through the middle of the season, resulting in the team dropping four of their six games between Weeks 5 and 10. After that struggle, the Chiefs finished the season with a six-game winning streak and rode the momentum straight into the playoffs.

The Divisional game’s first quarter was apocalyptic for the Chiefs, and even that is an understatement. Every conceivable thing that could have gone wrong went wrong, plunging the team into a 24-0 hole against the Houston Texans. Patrick Mahomes simply shrugged, accepted the challenged, and led the Chiefs’ offense to score 41 points unanswered, demolishing the Texans 51-31.

The AFC Championship was nowhere near as bad for the Chiefs, but the team still fell behind 17-7 against the Tennessee Titans. Patrick Mahomes didn’t break a sweat and led the Chiefs’ offense again to score 28 points unanswered, toppling the Titans 35-24. The Arrowhead Curse is truly dead.

How the Chiefs can win the Super Bowl
The Chiefs have waited fifty years for this moment, and they will not let this opportunity slip away so easily. Patrick Mahomes is the key to any Chiefs victory; he is the juggernaut who shreds defenses and scores touchdown after touchdown. The offense needs to break through the 49ers’ iron wall and score touchdowns on every drive; the Chiefs must continue to build on the momentum they've developed since the second quarter of the AFC Divisional game. The more pressing question is whether the Chiefs’ defense can withstand the 49ers’ relentless attacks on the ground and in the air; the defense will face their toughest test on this day.

How the 49ers reached the Super Bowl
The 49ers finished 13-3 at first in the NFC, a remarkable rebound after a 4-12 season last year. Aside from a trio of losses in the regular season, the 49ers have dominated the NFC. When the 49ers did lose, it was never by more than one score. Through a superbly balanced offense and defense, the 49ers used their strength to overrun the Minnesota Vikings 27-10 in the Divisional round before demolishing the Green Bay Packers 37-20 in the NFC Championship. Twenty-five years of disappointment is enough for San Francisco; they want the Lombardi Trophy and tie the record for most Super Bowls – six – held by the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

How the 49ers can win the Super Bowl
The 49ers defense needs to swarm Mahomes before he can unleash his power. Neutralize Mahomes quickly and the 49ers will instantly become the favorites to win the game. Once Mahomes is off the field, the 49ers need to use every weapon at their disposal to overcome the Chiefs’ defense. The rushing attack is clearly the 49ers’ main weapon, so Raheem Mostert need only unleash the same relentless attack as he did against the Packers. Even if the rushing attack encounters issues, the 49ers can easily fall back on their passing attack. No room for errors, however; an interception or turnover could swing the momentum back in the Chiefs’ favor. The 49ers need to continue their dominant play if they hope to win in Miami.

FINAL PREDICTION


This will be a high-scoring affair, a stark contrast from last year’s insomnia-curing Super Bowl LIII. The 49ers’ combined attacks from the ground and the air will overwhelm the Chiefs’ defense, but Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense will unleash every attack possible to prevent this game from becoming a lopsided affair. This will truly be a ferocious battle, and only one will survive.

And it will be San Francisco.

49ers win, 49-45

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

2019-20 NFL playoff predictions (Part 3 - Championship)


Welcome to part 3 of my 2019-20 NFL playoff predictions! Two for four on the Divisional games, correctly predicting the victories by the 49ers and the Chiefs but not the Titans and (damn it) the Packers.

And then, there were only four. Each wants to play in the Super Bowl, but only two shall make the journey to Hard Rock Stadium. Here are the four potential match-ups for Super Bowl LIV in Miami:

Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Francisco 49ers
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Green Bay Packers
Tennessee Titans vs. San Francisco 49ers
Tennessee Titans vs. Green Bay Packers

But which match-up will it be?

Let’s find out.  

AFC

#2 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #6 Tennessee Titans
The Chiefs are heavily favored to win to the AFC Championship over the Titans. Also recall that the Patriots were heavily favored to win the Wild Card match over the Titans, and that the Ravens were heavily favored to win the Divisional match over the Titans.

Forget the odds. The Titans have stared down insurmountable odds all these playoffs and have defied them every time. Tom Brady wanted to repeat as Super Bowl champion. Instead, he threw a game-ending pick six and lost in the first round at home to the sixth-seed Titans. Likewise, Lamar Jackson wanted to extinguish all opposition en route to his Super Bowl coronation. Instead, Jackson ended another season with a one-and-done playoff performance, this time to the Titans.

The Chiefs are clearly a formidable squad, as proven during their rout of the Houston Texans in the Divisional game. It takes incredible talent like Patrick Mahomes to rally from a 21-0 deficit to win 51-31. The Chiefs do not want a repeat of last season, when they lost the AFC Championship at home. At full strength, the Chiefs are an unstoppable force. But the Titans are the immovable object.

This will truly be a battle to the end, but the Titans will score another shocking upset and become only the third sixth-seed team ever to reach the Super Bowl.

Prediction: Titans win, 28-24.

Result: Chiefs win, 35-24.

Comments after the game:

The Chiefs finally found a way to defuse the Titans' WMD known as Derrick Henry.

The Titans ran out of steam today, unable to solve Patrick Mahomes and the relentless Chiefs offense. The game started strong for the Titans, opening up with a 17-7 lead, but the Chiefs' offense roared to life and never looked back.

The Chiefs advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in fifty years!

***

NFC

#1 San Francisco 49ers vs. #2 Green Bay Packers
It’s a duel of the top two seeds for the NFC Championship. These two teams met in Week 12 during the regular season with lopsided results – the 49ers won 37-8.

The 49ers are healthy and firing on all cylinders; the 49ers’ balanced attack has worked wonders all season, regularly posting twenty-plus, thirty-plus, forty-plus, and even fifty-plus points on the board en route to victory. All the 49ers’ losses have been close affairs, though their last defeat to the Falcons was the ugliest. Still, the 49ers at full strength are a dominant force and easily the favorites to win the NFC Championship.

The Packers, meanwhile, haven’t lost since that crushing loss to the 49ers but the Packers have been winning either close affairs in ugly fashion or winning big over non-playoff teams. The Packers need an answer to the lethal weapon of Jimmy Garoppolo and George Kittle or another blowout is in the works.

Against a full-strength 49ers squad, the Packers haven’t much hope. Expect another rout.

Prediction: 49ers win, 35-14.

Result: 49ers win, 37-20.

Comments after the game:

We turn now to live footage of the Green Bay Packers:


A rout, as expected.

The Packers were obliterated in the first half, unable to respond to the 49ers' relentless offense. A second half rebound fell well short, and the Packers fall victim once again to the 49ers in a lopsided defeat.

The 49ers' ground attack was unstoppable; Raheem Mostert carved through the Packers' defense with ease and ran for four touchdowns. Jimmy Garoppolo passed only eight times all game; why pass when the ground attack is embarrassing the opposition?

The 49ers advance to the Super Bowl for the first time in seven years!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

2019-20 NFL playoff predictions (Part 2 - Divisional)

Welcome to part 2 of my 2019-20 NFL playoff predictions! Two for four on my Wild Card predictions - who would have thought that two legends of the game, Tom Brady and Drew Brees, would bow out of the playoffs in the first round?

Let's see what the Divisional games will deliver.

AFC

#1 Baltimore Ravens vs. #6 Tennessee Titans
There's a buzzsaw in the AFC, and it's called the Baltimore Ravens. After a sluggish start to the season, the Ravens have obliterated all opposition, posting twenty-plus, thirty-plus, forty-plus, even fifty-plus points on the board. The Ravens by far have the deadliest offense on the league with 531 points scored, and they are easily the top Super Bowl contender in the playoffs.

That said, even the most impressive records guarantee nothing. Just ask the New England Patriots or the Carolina Panthers.

The Tennessee Titans are fresh off stunning the reigning Super Bowl champions, and they are eager to unleash another shocking upset. Do the Titans have what it takes? If the Ravens can't stop the Titans' weapon of mass destruction called Derrick Henry, another upset could be in the works.

An upset is unlikely, but don't count the Titans out.

Prediction: Ravens win, 35-28.

Result: Titans win, 28-12.

Comments after the game:


Unbelievable.

Unbelievable.

First the Patriots fall, and now the Ravens - both to a sixth-seeded Titans squad! But lest we forget, this Titans squad's weapon of mass destruction was unleashed without mercy tonight. Chemical weapons, biological weapons, and even nuclear weapons are nothing compared to Derrick Henry. Henry even threw a touchdown on a trick play! The Titans are now the most red-hot team in the AFC; the Texans and the Chiefs are watching the aftermath of this game with unease. Home field advantage means nothing when your opponent is the Tennessee Titans.

The Ravens, meanwhile, capped off an incredible season with an abysmal rout. Lamar Jackson could only wield so much magic before it all burned out. The Ravens turned the ball over on downs four times, threw two interceptions, and fumbled and lost the ball once. And that doesn't even include all the dropped passes by the Ravens. A Super Bowl contender no more.

The Titans advance to the AFC Championship!

***

#2 Kansas City Chiefs vs. #4 Houston Texans
The Kansas City Chiefs avoided the Wild Card round thanks to the Miami Dolphins, so Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the squad are well rested for a Divisional home battle, but perhaps not against the opponent they expected. The Chiefs wanted revenge for last year's AFC championship loss against the Patriots, but the Titans denied the Chiefs their revenge. Instead, the Chiefs will have to settle for DeShaun Watson and the Houston Texans. The last time these two teams met in the playoffs was four years ago, when the Chiefs embarrassed the Texans 30-0 in the Wild Card round.

The Chiefs enter the playoffs on a six-game winning streak that dates back to Week 11. The Chiefs have the momentum heading into this contest, but the Texans have momentum as well, roaring back from a 16-0 deficit against the Buffalo Bills to win 22-19 in OT.

One other problem: the Arrowhead Curse. True, the Chiefs won at home last season in the Divisional round, but then promptly lost the AFC Championship at home.

Still, the Arrowhead Curse shouldn't be a problem this time.

Prediction: Chiefs win, 34-24.

Result: Chiefs win, 51-31.

Comments after the game:


I expected a Chiefs victory.

I did not expect a victory achieved like that.

The Chiefs were an extraordinary train wreck in the first quarter, surrendering twenty-one points off huge mistakes. For that first quarter, it seemed the Texans would replicate the Titans' magic and oust another top AFC team.

Nope.

The Chiefs exploded into a cannonball on fire in the second quarter and never looked back, scoring fifty-one points after that disastrous first fifteen minutes of play. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense never lost a beat, demolishing the Texans' defense with extreme prejudice.

The Texans, meanwhile, forgot that you need to play sixty minutes, not just fifteen. Another year, another playoff journey ends in disaster for the Texans.

The AFC path to the Super Bowl will go through Kansas City - again!

NFC

#1 San Francisco 49ers vs. #6 Minnesota Vikings
The San Francisco 49ers may be the number one seed, but they're not taking this upcoming game lightly. The Minnesota Vikings completed the unthinkable: they defeated the New Orleans Saints, a 13-3 Super Bowl contender, on the Saints' home field. All bets are off now.

The 49ers enjoyed a hugely successful season after spending much of the 2010s in the basement of the NFC West. They are clearly the NFC's top Super Bowl contender - could a rematch with the Ravens be in the works?

But that is a future problem. The current problem for the 49ers is the Minnesota Vikings; the Vikings already defeated one 13-3 team, so what's to stop them from taking down another?

The 49ers need an excellent performance if they want to stay off the list of playoff upsets. That said, Jimmy Garoppolo has proven himself in the regular season, and now it's time to prove himself in the playoffs.

Prediction: 49ers win, 28-21.

Result: 49ers win, 27-10.

Comments after the game:

We turn now to live footage of the Minnesota Vikings:


All that hype surrounding the Vikings' Wild Card victory over the Saints extinguished in under a week.

The Vikings were demolished today. O-line shredded, running game about as effective as running into a brick wall, and non-stop three and outs. The Vikings seemed to start the game strong but then fell silent by the second half.

The 49ers had an excellent performance today; there was a moment of concern after an ugly interception thrown by Jimmy Garoppolo, but the 49ers never broke down.

The NFC path to the Super Bowl will go through San Francisco!

***

#2 Green Bay Packers vs. #5 Seattle Seahawks
If an upset happens in the Divisional round, this is probably where it will happen. The Seahawks have many key injuries and they beat an even more injured Philadelphia Eagles squad in the Wild Card. That said, the Seahawks have Wilson, Metcalf, Lockett, and Lynch (BEAST MODE). The Seahawks need a perfect effort by the offense; the defense is already on shaky ground and being held together with duct tape.

The Packers enter the playoffs on a five-game winning streak, but aside from a win over the Vikings, none of those teams made the playoffs. Sounds like a similar story to the Eagles: enter the playoffs on a winning streak with a large asterisk next to it.

The Seahawks should emerge victorious if all goes as planned.

Prediction: Seahawks win, 24-20.

Result: Packers win, 28-23.

Comments after the game: