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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

NFL 10 Takes Tuesday: Conference Championship

Wild on Sports
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NFL 10 Takes Tuesday
Conference Championship Edition
By Wild on Sports Analyst Billy Ball

Each week I give you my 10 takes from the weekend that was in the NFL.

1. Bill Belichick deserves coach of the year. All due respect to Bruce Arians, Joe Philbin and Chip Kelly -- they all deserve to be in the conversation, but when it comes down to it what Belichick has done is simply amazing. Lose the two best TE's in the game and one of the most dependable WR's Tom Brady has ever had, OK, lets remodel the offense. No really, lets completely change what we do. In a league that has morphed into a pass happy stats oriented  points-fest the Pats have bucked the trend and turned into a ground and pound offense. Where did LaGarrett Blount come from?  Lose half the defense, no worries, lets go grab a bunch of guys off the scrap heap and plug and chug our way to the AFC Championship game. Who would have thought losing Wilfork, Kelly, Mayo and Spikes wouldn't have an impact? The young guys are getting it done and a secondary that was the achilies heal a year ago now is picking off top tier QB's left and right. Granted, there are a lot of Belichick haters out there from the Spygate and the winning and riding Tom Brady's coattails. That can no longer be ignored and may actually get some national play if they can knock of Denver this week.

2. Marques Colston, COMMON MAN! After a big comeback and unexpected on side kick recovery Drew Brees completed a pass to Colston that would have put them around the 30 yard line with enough time left for one crack at the end zone. Instead of stepping out of bounds, Colston decided to try to extend the play by throwing the ball across the field to another receiver. Well, that throw was about 5 yards forward which is a penalty and an automatic 10 second runoff ending the game. Momentum was on their side but any hope the Saints had for a shot to extend the game ended right there and then. Know the rules and the situation! Common man!

3. Andrew Luck deserves more criticism for his playoff performance this season. As much talk as there has been about Andy Dalton, Philip Rivers and RGIII, Andrew Luck has kind of gotten a free pass. After throwing 9 INT's in the 16 game regular season, he threw 7 in his two game post-season. Granted, his teams were behind and he was trying to make plays. I get that, but there still needs to be accountability for sloppiness. He is a really good QB and has the potential to be truly great, but he is not there yet. Tom want to give a guy like Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers a pass? Sure, I have no problem with that. They have been there for a long time and have shown they can continuously get it done. But Andrew Luck has not. He might down the road, but int he mean time he has not been as successful as fellow young QB's Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, all players he was taken significantly higher than in the draft and will forever be compared to.

4. These are fitting finals match-ups. If you are a fan of the Broncos or Patriots, it is only fitting that Manning or Brady gets to the finals by beating the other. Same goes for heated division rivals San Francisco and Seattle. It only seams right that to be the best you beat the best in the process.

5. Enough with the Aaron Rodgers is he gay or isn't he. I don't care if a guy is gay, straight, bi, white, black, green, blue or yellow. All that should matter and all anyone can fairly criticize him for is his play on the football field. What he does off the field is his own business. Let the man be. He owes it to no one to explain or openly preach about his sexuality. I know there are people on every side of the matter that want him preaching in their court. Hes not that out spoken guy and never has been. Why do you expect his to get on his soap box and preach now? That's just not who he is. Give the man some space.

6. I have no problem with Kaepernick doing Cam's Superman. Nothing wrong with a little gamesmanship so long as it doesn't cross the line. Kaepernick has just having a little fun, and in fairness there were players on the Panthers doing his signature move before he went with some fun of his own. I would much rather see Kaepernick having some fun after a big play than see Anquan Boldin or Steve Smith head butting guys or getting in an opponents face after every single catch. Have some fun with it, but know where the line is. Kaepernick never crossed it.

7. Any doubt this is a QB league? I touched on this last week but it really holds true. Four teams with true "franchise quarterbacks" 2 from the old guard, 2 from the new school all made it to the finals. See any teams left standing without a franchise QB? Didn't think so. It just goes to show why there will most likely be three QB drafted in the top 10 picks this spring in hopes that they have found their guy, the one to lead them where SF, SEA, NE, and DEN are now.

8. Is there a blue print for slowing the Broncos' offense? Hopefully New England has been paying attention to what San Diego had been doing on defense. In two games against them, San Diego held them to 20 and 24 points, their lowest point totals of the season.

9. John Harbaugh needs to take it down a notch. Great coach, no question about it but running out onto the field to get into the ref's face after an apparent blown call on an Anquan Boldin TD catch in the end-zone is taking it too far. Now, he was completely correct in his opinion of the call -- as replay showed -- but that is why we have instant replay in the NFL. Yeah, it would be great if the refs got the call right the first time but they are human. On very close bang-bang plays they are going to occasionally miss one. Stay on the sidelines Jim. You will get your chance to plead your case.

10. I have no idea who is going to the Superbowl, which is very exciting. Really, really great match-ups this weekend. No offense to Panthers, Chargers or Colts fans but those teams just don't offer the pazzaz that we have with our final four this year. The 49ers and Seahawks play a very similar style of play: really great defense and run-option style offenses. They play in the same division and hate eachother. If there is a team capable of beating Seattle in Seattle it is the 49ers. That said, no one has been able to do it to this point so until someone does, its very hard to pick against them. Same goes for New England/Denver. The Broncos blew a 21 point lead, something i doubt happens again but just just never know what you are going to get when Brady and Manning face off.

Here's to another great weekend of football! Enjoy the games this weekend everyone!

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