Hey 12’s, Welcome to Super Bowl Week!

I tried a couple times last week to write a post recapping the NFC Championship, but it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. For starters, I was riding such an emotional high going in to that game that I’ve been hungover on football for the past week. I couldn’t bring myself to care about the Pro Bowl even, focusing instead on the 2014 Royal Rumble.

However, now that I’ve had an entire week to recover from the joys of making the Super Bowl and take some time away from football, it’s now Super Bowl week and that means I need to get this going again. We’re only six days away until the biggest game the Seahawks have ever played and I’m already getting antsy.

NFC Championship Recap

To quickly recap last Sunday’s game, before it become too distant a memory, the box score displayed some very similar statistics from each team:

  • Each team had 11 offensive drives.
  • Each team gained 308 yards.
  • Seattle ran 54 offensive plays (5.3 yards per play), San Fran ran 58 (5.7 yards per play).
  • Both teams scored just three points off turnovers.
  • Both teams had eight first downs passing and one from penalties.
  • San Fran was penalized 7 times for 65 yards, Seattle was penalized 8 times for 66 yards.
  • San Fran threw 24 passes and rushed 28 times.
  • Seattle threw 25 passes and rushed 29 times.

Previewing the Broncos


The upcoming Super Bowl should be decidedly less similar for both teams offensively as Seattle comes in with the league’s 17th-best offense while Denver’s is the best in NFL history. No seriously, if you haven’t checked out the eye-popping numbers for Denver this year look at their stats. Let me highlight the records broken or tied this season and some other interesting factoids.

  • The Broncos set the NFL record with 606 points scored (37 ppg)
  • Tied an NFL record with three games scoring 50+ points during the regular season
  • Scored an record 76 touchdowns this season
  • Peyton Manning set the record for touchdown passes with 55
  • And set the record for passing yards in a season with 5,477 (342 ypg)
  • Despite throwing the ball 675 times, they still rushed for 1,879 yards as a team.
  • Five players scored double-digit touchdowns, Knowshon Moreno (10 rushing, 3 receiving), Demaryious Thomas (14 receiving), Julius Thomas (12 receiving), Eric Decker (11 receiving), Wes Welker (10 receiving).
  • Five players had 60 or more receptions
  • Eight different players caught a touchdown pass

That’s it for today; short and simple. Check back tomorrow and throughout the week when I introduce the Denver Broncos and tell you who to care about and highlight certain players to keep an eye on during the Super Bowl.

Is it Sunday yet? #GoHawks.

12 Things to Watch in NFC Championship

I’ve received some flak for thrice posting lists of “11” during the lead-up to the biggest game the Seahawks have played in Seattle since hosting the Carolina Panthers in 2005 with an XL trip to Detroit on the line. Okay, okay, yes in hindsight I should have been posting lists of 12.

To make up for that, today, you all are getting a 12-item list. I’ve already covered why the Seahawks “suck,” I’ve given you 11 fun facts and explained why I “hate” the 49ers.

But now it’s the weekend, the game is tomorrow and I know all you 12’s out there are ready to burst with excitement. To improve your viewing pleasure tomorrow, I wanted to prepare you with another list, the 12 things to watch for on Sunday. The team that excels in the most categories of these 12 will most likely win the game.

  1. Open field tackling

    Naturally, this is going to be a very physical game with the potential for a lot of big hits and gang tackles. If the Hawks want to win, they can’t afford to miss tackles in the open field. If Brandon Mebane gets into the backfield and doesn’t bring Frank Gore down immediately, that’s the not end of the world. But if LaMichael James sneaks out of the backfield and catches a screen pass, the defense has to tackle James at the first opportunity.

  2. Audibles

    With the noise level at CenturyLink, the ability for the San Fran offense and the Seahawk defense to call pre-snap audibles, and avoid pre-snap penalties, is going to be very important. Seattle’s defense is used to this noise and should know how to effectively change plays using hand signals. San Fran, on the other hand, better come up with a way to effectively change the play at the line of scrimmage or they’re SOL.

  3. Keep Contain

    Near the end of the San Fran – Green Bay game two weeks ago, Green Bay brought a corner blitz on 3rd and long and when Kaepernick pump-faked, the defender left his feet, was blocked toward the pocket, broke contain and Kaepernick escaped the pocket to his left for a first down, essentially sealing the victory. In this contest, neither team can afford to let the quarterbacks outside the pocket and defenders NEED to keep contain when they are rushing the quarterback.

  4. Third down conversions

    During the last two games against San Fran at home, the Seahawks converted 16 of 29 (55%) third downs to San Fran’s 6 of 23 (26%). On the road , Seattle has converted just 9 of 25 (36%) third downs to San Fran’s 8 of 24 (33%). It’s clear that on third downs Seattle has to convert on offense and hold on defense to win

  5. Points off turnovers

    During the regular season, the Seahawks forced a turnover on an astounding 20% of drives, were +20 in turnover differential and scored 115 points off turnovers – allowing only 33. San Fran, was only +12, scored 121 points off turnovers and allowed 37. Simply getting a turnover isn’t enough in this game, scoring after a turnover is imperative.

  6. Holding Penalties

    It’s often said that there is holding on every play. Recently it’s been said the Legion of Boom commits a penalty on every play. At the end of the day, I think flags thrown for holding in the backfield will be far more influential than flags thrown for holding in the secondary.

  7. Game Changing Plays

    Sadly, the Seahawks once again take the field without Percy Harvin, preventing one of the league’s best game-changing players from influencing the outcome of this game. Who then, on either side, will step up and make the first Big Play. I’m talking about a kick return for a touchdown, a 70-yard catch-and-run or a pick-six. Whichever team has more Big Plays wins the game.

  8. Play-action Passing

    It’s no surprise that San Fran and Seattle love to run, they rank 3-4 in the league, respectively, in rushing yards per game. Both quarterbacks are known for the read option and their abilities outside the pocket. That being said, it’s going to be important for both teams to use the run to set up the pass and there’s no better way to do that than effective play action fakes.

  9. Field Position

    The Seahawks averaged only 21.2 yards per kickoff return but 11.1 per punt return; they allowed 24 and 3.8 respectively. Meanwhile, the Niners averaged 22.7 yards and 8.9 yards per kick and punt return, allowing 24.6 and 8.3. The Seahawks need to win the field position game both offensively and defensively to win.

  10. Kicking Game

    In order to win the field position battle, the Seahawks need a strong game from punter Jon Ryan. Ryan has been one of the best in the league the past two seasons limiting return yardage and avoiding touchbacks. Meanwhile, Steven to-the-Hauschka was near-perfect this season, making 33 of 35 field goals with only one true miss. Phil Dawson made 32 of 36 but is already 6-for-6 in the postseason and kicked four field goals when these teams last met.

  11. Communication

    I separated this from audibles because it involves more than just pre-snap reads. During a game with this much on the line, regardless of fan noise, Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh are going to be taking in a lot of information from coaches, officials and players and will need to communicate well with others in order staying focused, operate within the game plan and avoid costly mental errors.

  12. 12th Man

Is it Sunday yet? #GoHawks

11 Reasons I “Hate” the 49ers on #BlueFriday

Richard Sherman was recently asked why the 49ers and Seahawks hate each other so much. His answer was rather surprising.

sherman

Maybe it’s something unique to sports, but it seems that hatred toward another group of people is acceptable in a competitive environment. I hate the Lakers. I hate the Yankees. I hate USC. I hate the 49ers. Doesn’t it seem like, more often than not, people hate good teams? Maybe I should smile every time I hear somebody say they hate the Seahawks – it could be seen as a sign of respect.

During the past couple seasons as both the Seahawks and 49ers have risen to the top of the NFL, I have heard more and more Seahawks fans say “I HATE the Niners.” Granted, I have also uttered this phrase on occasion (often followed by the word “fans”), I think it’s important to discuss why I “hate” the 49ers. If you are going to hate something, there should be a valid reason… right?

No, I’m not talking about reasons like:

  • They suck
  • They are annoying
  • They are stupid
  • Just because

I’m talking about the legitimate reasons that a Seahawks fan would feel one of the many definitions of hate. Why do I hate the 49ers? Although it could be summed up in one sentence, that’s boring, so I figured I’d expand on that with a list.

I hate the 49ers because:

  • Their fans purchased a billboard in Seattle Fife, and all additional proceeds went to charity. Resulting, weeks later, in this awesome competition.
  • They finished the season 12-4 but only lost to playoff teams: Seattle, Indianapolis, Carolina, New Orleans.
  • Since Michael Crabtree returned, they are 7-0 and currently in the midst of an 8-game winning streak.
  • Jim Harbaugh passionately supports/defends his team even if it results in 15-yard penalties.
  • Harbaugh has won at every level he’s coached. First San Diego, then Stanford and now with San Francisco.
  • Despite what their Instagram pages show, Colin Kaepernick is not the horrible guy Seattle fans want to think he is.
  • While we have the Legion of Boom and the Seawall (D-Line), but the Niners have Glen Dorsey, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Aldon Smith, Justin Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Dante Whitner on defense.
  • Frank Gore is still near the top of his game despite being 30 years old. He just rushed for 1000+ yards for the 7th time in his nine-year career.
  • Since Harbaugh took over for Mike Singletary, the Niners have won two NFC West titles in three years and made it to the NFC Championships in each of those three seasons.
  • Despite being the five-seed, San Fran beat the Packers on the road in sub-zero temps and then knocked off Carolina at home, knowing they’d have another shot to play the Seahawks in Seattle.
  • Yes, they have won five Super Bowls in franchise history and the Seahawks have only been to one Super Bowl…so far.

Bottom line: I hate the 49ers because they are so damn good and I would hope Niner fans hate the Seahawks for the same reason.

Does that mean I think they are better than the Seahawks? Hell no! But dammit, I do respect that team. Like the Seahawks, they play physical, but not dirty; they run their mouth, but also back it up. They are the Frazier to our Ali; the Randy Orton to our John Cena; the Cristiano Ronaldo to our Lionel Messi.

I could not imagine a more perfect opponent for the NFC Championship. NFL fans are in for a real treat on Sunday and it’s a good thing Monday is a holiday because I’m probably not the only one who’s going to be hungover.

Is it Sunday yet? #GoHawks.

11 Fun Facts on ‘Get Pumped Up’ Day

Hump Day is cancelled, today is Get Pumped Up Day.

Throughout my athletic career I’ve played “big games” at nearly every level. And looking back, it’s difficult to fully describe the range of emotions an athlete feels when they get pumped up for the biggest game of their season.

You know your emotions will be running wild but you can’t let them get the better of you. You are ready to explode with energy but need to control it so you don’t burn out. You are tired of waiting and eager to take the field, but you know that once you do you can’t hold anything back.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more pumped up for a sporting event than for this Sunday’s NFC Championship in Seattle. More so than any other time, this is the one game where I wish I was on that field playing for the home team.

Don’t feel the same way? Watch this video and try not to run through a brick wall once you’re done. Hell, I had trouble staying in my seat while watching this the first time.

I’ve had coworkers ask me if I’m “nervous” leading up to this game. It’s part of your standard water cooler sports conversations during the NFL season; ask an NFL fan about their team’s upcoming opponent, discussing their team’s chances of winning and then offer the typical “good luck” as you both head back to your cubicles.

I’m not so much nervous as I am extremely excited.

As a Seahawks fan, I know that our team has an opportunity to beat the “other” best team in the NFC, claim bragging rights and advance to our second Super Bowl in franchise history. As an NFL fan, you get to watch two teams that are almost statistically identical, that have fanbases who detest the other, and players and coaches who want nothing more than to shut up the opposition.

Division foes, playing for a conference championship. Is it Sunday yet?

  Pass YPG (Rank) Rush YPG(Rank)
Seattle Offense 202.3 (26) 136.8 (4)
San Francisco Offense 186.2 (30) 137.6 (3)
Seattle Defense 172 (1) 101.6 (7)
San Francisco Defense 221 (7) 95.9 (4)

11 Fun Facts

  • The Seahawks and the 49ers have played each other 30 times, never once in the playoffs, and the overall record for both teams is 15-15.
  • Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh have coached against each other nine times between college and the pros. Harbaugh holds the edge with a 6-3 record.
  • Pete Carroll’s Seahawks have won two NFC West titles in four seasons. Harbaugh’s Niners won the NFC West the other two seasons.
  • The Seahawks were the most penalized team in the league with 134 total penalties, San Fran had 111. However, the 49ers committed 49 pre-snap penalties to the Seahawks’ 46.
  • Seattle was the beneficiary of 106 penalties for 953 yards. San Francisco benefited from 107 penalties for 971 yards.
  • Frank Gore rushed for 1,128 yards on 4.1 yards per carry. Marshawn Lynch finished with 1,257 yards and 4.2 yards per carry.
  • Seattle gave up 44 sacks on Russell Wilson this year and also sacked opponents 44 times. San Fran gave up only 39 sacks on Colin Kaepernick and got to the opposing QB 38 times this year.
  • Six Seahawks have 20 or more catches and four have been targeted more than 40 times. Conversely, only three 49ers have 20 or more catches and only two have been targeted more than 40 times.
  • The Seahawk defense intercepted 28 passes, recovered 11 of 20 forced fumbles and scored three touchdowns. San Fran’s defense had 18 interceptions, recovered 11 of 13 forced fumbles and also scored three touchdowns.
  • San Fran’s kick/punt returners averaged 22.7 return yards per kickoff and 8.9 per punt. The Seahawks’ kick/punt returners had 21.2 return yards per kickoff and 11.1 per punt. Neither team had or allowed a punt or kick return touchdown.
  • Candlestick Park averaged 69,732 fans per 49er home game – 99.3 percent of it’s 70,207 person capacity. CenturyLink Field averaged 68,197 fans per Seahawk home game – 101.8 percent of its 67,000 person capacity.