I'm too progressive for my own damn good!
Super Bowl prediction 2012: 49ers & Patriots. With Brady and Belichick putting themselves past Walsh and Montana.
I think we get there a week from now. The matchup I envisioned last year anyway.
Unsurprisingly, the Chargers' Ryan Mathews was hurt for the duration of yesterday's AFC Divisional game. The oft-injured Charger was only able to manage 5 carries, for 26 yards against Denver. Without a suitable running threat (Woodhead, Ronnie Brown. No) to take the place of Mathews, the Broncos, even sans Von Miller, endlessly harassed Philip Rivers.
Four tackles for loss, five registered QB hits and four sacks. And it was a lot worse than that.
The Mathews injury constricted the Chargers into a one dimensional team and it allowed the Broncos to keep San Diego taciturn for the first 47 minutes of the game, and by then, even Keenan Allen's heroics weren't enough to bring San Diego back. Too late.
Denver's going to face one of the NFL's best running games in next week's AFC Championship. This will likely be their downfall against New England. Yes, New England is one of the league's best rushing offenses. That's the whole point of this post as you wonder how they've won without Gronkowski.
The Broncos were tied for 7th in the league allowing just 3,9 yard per rush during the regular season. They also faced the 8th fewest rushing attempts in the league because of the enormous deficits their opponent's needed to overcome on a weekly basis.
The Patriots are going to try and bludgeon the Broncos front seven, and I think it's going work. Pull a defender up...and leave Brady to find one on one? OK.
New England ran the ball for a sound 4.4 per rush during the regular season.
You saw the 234 they steam rolled Indianapolis for on Saturday night, which was their high for the year. But the last quarter of the season wasn't far behind.
Jets (best rush defense in the league) 54
Over the final four regular season games, it was an average of 125. That's up to 147 if you count the tally in the win against the Colts.
Denver's rush defense is closer to those other team's than it is the Jet's, and the Patriots will ruthelssly bash away at it until they've broken them to head to the Meadowlands.
More on SF to soon...