Monday, January 20, 2014

So near and yet no nearer...

The Seattle Seahawks played a good game, especially their offensive line and defensive... well... almost everything. But in the end, I think it was poor second-half decision-making by Colin (and not the 12th man) that made the difference in this one. As good as he was in the first half, he was just about that bad in the second. And although a classy Colin readily accepted his part in this loss, there was plenty of blame to go around: 
  • Boldin’s two drive-killing drops; 
  • Poor third-down play; 
  • An almost complete lack of a conventional running game; 
  • An occasional inability to contain Wilson or to cover who he eventually threw to; 
  • Stopping Lynch in the second half as well as they did in the first half; 
  • etc. 
These issues notwithstanding, and arguably absent those three turnovers, Niners win. Colin’s going to be great; he’s just still learning how to get there. 

As for blown calls, maybe they made some difference. The no-call on Bowman’s obvious fumble recovery comes to mind, but SF recovered another fumble on the next play. The bad personal foul call on Whitner’s first-quarter hit to a receiver’s shoulder (and not his head) probably kept a drive alive that should have otherwise died. But regardless of the part the refs might have played, the Niners didn’t have all their parts working when they needed them, SF has never been a great come-from-behind team, and last time I checked, none of the refs was on either team’s roster.

Going forward, I do hope Iupati and Bowman are able to come back, for their own sakes. Maybe the Seahawk’s cornerback Sherman, who I’ve enjoyed watching heretofore, can get back to behaving like Richard and not like Dick, regardless of how large a small-d-dick he perceived Michael Crabtree to be in the moment. Someone just has to be the bigger person, and nothing is cheesier than someone telling you how great he or she is. Mohammed Ali was able to pull it off: Sherman isn’t. Although I can’t blame him for going off talking to Erin Andrews (her voice is enough to send me screaming from a room), he need only look to his QB for how to stay classy, win or lose.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cautious prediction, for the record....

In the last two seasons, the San Francisco 49ers have had the Green Bay Packers' number, beating them handily twice in regular season play and once in the playoffs. But for some statistically anomalous reason, 12-4 SF is visiting 8-7-1 GB in this weekend's wild-card play-off game. 

The Packers are NFC North leaders, sure, but their anemic record (did I mention 8-7-1?) is nowhere near the Niners' record, especially with one of those 12 SF wins being the season-opener win against GB, who are division champs, but in, perhaps, the worst division in the entire NFL. Therefore, when these facts are combined with a couple of teams having better records than Green Bay's, it could easily be argued that the Niners should be at The Stick against someone else, but here we are with a play-off game at Lambeau, so c'est la vie + QED = WTF in the NFL.

These are the playoffs, after all, and to paraphrase Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign staffer's gaff, they definitely do "shake the Etcha-Sketch" in terms of what's come before them. The cocked hat into which this wild card will also be thrown is the weather, which at game time might yield an insanity-inducing, Barbados-beckoning high of z-z-zero degrees F. That's -17.7 for all you Canadians who might tune in and a brutal "brrr" in either country. 

The frigid weather could force a turn to the ground game by both teams, and even though Aaron Rodgers has the passing advantage against the Niners' struggling secondary, throwing effectively could be difficult, at least, which might very well play to the Niners' advantage as their run defense is so stout, and the Packers' run offense is, well, not. Yes, Aaron Rodgers can run too, but the Niners pretty well hobbled him in their previous three meetings, even as The Packers could find no restraints for Colin Kaepernick's ankles in the latter two. Certainly, other teams have managed to contain Colin at times this season, but the fact remains that Dom Capers is a fairly one-dimensional Defensive Coordinator, so watch Colin, Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, and the Niners' tandem team of Will Tukuafu and Anthony Dixon get loose and make things happen on the ground this Sunday. 

Don't get me wrong, having grown up watching the Packers beat the Lions black-and-blue on black-and-white TV, I love both teams, but my affection edge is clearly in San Francisco's favor these last 25 years (and after SF's narrow loss in last year's Super Bowl, I know they'll be back even if GB prevails at home), and as the song suggests, I know where my heart is, so all this said, here's my prediction: Niners will prevail 30 to 24. I don't mind being wrong, as I do it so regularly and so well, but I wanted to post this cautious prediction, for the record, nevertheless.