Super Bowl Pick ’Em: Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks

Photo is courtesy of http://www.sportsgamblingpodcast.com/ Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

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From day one, 'Our Sports Report' has been a fan’s perspective for all of you sports fans out there. None of us claim to be experts, but all of us are definitely fans.  Due to our motto, it would only make sense that we give you our take on the biggest game for all fans alike, the Super Bowl.

 

Every so often, the Super Bowl will feature at least one team that got hot at the end of the season and rode that high all the way to the big game, but that is not the case for Super Bowl XLVIII.  At the beginning of the season, the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks looked to be the two best teams in the league, and they have not disappointed. Both Denver and Seattle finished the regular season at 13-3 and while the Broncos have beat teams early behind Peyton Manning and their high-octane offense, the Seahawks have controlled each game with the confidence of Richard Sherman and their stellar defense.

 

I know, the Manning vs. Sherman match-up is all we have been hearing about for the last two weeks and even though it may be getting a little old, it’s publicity is relevant for a reason.  Putting the best quarterback in the game against the best corner around is what we all want to see and what sells.  Heck, watching those two compete against each other will be a prizefight within itself.  Even though Manning and Sherman are getting all the talk, each team has at least one other guy that I would keep my eye on to change the game.

 

Denver Broncos: Knowshon Moreno

 

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After being taken in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Broncos, Moreno could never really live up to his potential. In his first four years, Moreno seemed to either be injured or just didn’t have what it took to become a super star NFL running back. However, 2013 went a little different for Moreno as he ran for 1,038 yards, brought in 548 receiving yards and combined for 13 total touchdowns.  This was Moreno’s first 1,000-yard rushing season, and because of that resurgence, the Broncos are much more than a one-dimension team.

 

There is no doubt that Peyton Manning is the motor that makes Denver run, but Moreno has a lot to do with that as well. For any of you that know football, if you have a running game to compliment the passing game, the defense never knows whom to target.  That is what Moreno has brought to the Broncos this season. As good as Manning is, he is that much better when he has a consistent running back in the backfield. The running game keeps the opposing defense honest and that just allows Manning to do what he does best through the air.  Elway had Terrell Davis and Manning has Moreno. Seems like a can’t miss, right?

 

Seattle Seahawks: Percy Harvin

 

Photo by Harry How/Getty Images/http://tracking.si.com/

When Percy Harvin was traded this last off-season to the Seattle Seahawks, everybody seemed to be in agreement that this was their championship move. They had the amazing defense, a stud running back in Marshawn Lynch, an up and coming star quarterback in Russell Wilson and now they had a legitimate #1 wide receiver in Harvin.

 

Everything seemed to go as planned until Harvin sustained a hip injury during the off-season that required surgery. The injury sidelined Harvin until Week 11 when he finally got to suit up against his former team, the Minnesota Vikings, and caught one pass for 17 yards.  Harvin has totaled three catches for 21 yards in the playoffs, but he has spent a majority of the end of the season and the playoffs on the bench with injuries.

 

Due to his lack of production and injuries this season, you may be wondering why I am even talking about Harvin as a potential x-factor.  The reason for the attention is that we have been hearing more and more out of the Seahawks camp that Harvin is back to full strength and is set to make a huge impact in the Super Bowl.  I will believe it when I see it from a guy with four catches on the season, but if Harvin can play anything like he did in Minnesota, then the Seahawks just got that much better.

 

This is also a huge impact on the Broncos, because with Harvin only playing in two games all season, Denver doesn’t have much film to study the game changer on.  Sure, they can look back on his film and highlights with the Vikings, but that was a different system, a different team and a different atmosphere. If there is one guy that can change the thoughts of the Super Bowl by just stepping on the field, it is Percy Harvin.

 

It is pretty obvious that this year’s Super Bowl has the two best teams in the league. You put the best defense against the best offense and you get the Broncos vs. Seahawks.  I like both teams, but I learned a long time ago that you never bet against Peyton Manning so that is why I am going with the Denver Broncos over the Seattle Seahawks at a score of 27-21.  Also, I get a sense from the Broncos that they are going to do whatever it takes to get Champ Bailey a Super Bowl ring after 15 seasons in the league (kind of like Charles Woodson with the Packers a few years ago). Either way you look at it, we are about to see one heck of a football game when the Broncos take on the Seahawks tomorrow night so get your beverages and buffalo chicken dip ready and enjoy the game!

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Breaking Down the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes Schedule

Photo by Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer/www.cleveland.com

Written by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)

Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

For those of you that don’t know, Ohio State’s football season is less than 100 days away.  They officially kick off against the Buffalo Bulls on August 31 at Ohio Stadium.  Some experts are already placing the Buckeyes in the National Title Game against Alabama.  If one takes a close look at this year’s schedule, it’s easy to see why the experts feel this way…we have an easy schedule.

As a fan, I tend to take a cautious look at things in an attempt to keep my hopes down.  Years spent as a Cubs fan tell me that nothing that is predicted to be good is certain.  But this year, even I can’t remain a calm fan!  That said, here is the schedule for this year:

August 31 – Buffalo Bulls - TBA

September 7 – San Diego State Aztecs - TBA

September 14 - @ California Golden Bears – 7:00 PM ET

September 21 – Florida A&M Rattlers - TBA

September 28 – Wisconsin Badgers – 8:00 PM

October 5 - @ Northwestern Wildcats – 8:00 PM

October 12 – No Game

October 19 – Iowa Hawkeyes – 3:30 PM

October 26 – Penn State Nittany Lions – 8:00 PM

November 2 - @ Purdue Boilermakers - TBA

November 9 – No Game

November 16 - @ Illinois Fighting Illini - TBA

November 23 – Indiana Hoosiers - TBA

November 30 - @ Michigan Wolverines – TBA (really? We all know this will be noon)

December 7 – Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis – TBA

Okay, like I said, when looking at this schedule it’s easy to make the case that the Buckeyes will win every game.  I will go ahead and predict that the Buckeyes will finish the regular season 12-0.  At that point, we need to find out who Ohio State will play for the conference championship game.  The short list of potential opponents includes: Nebraska, Michigan…and maybe Northwestern…if hell freezes over.  Now, let’s hold that thought and look at the regular season.

Ohio State should pretty much coast through the first four games.  Even though they should coast, they need to focus on blowing these teams out.  This schedule is weak, and style points will be everything. Even though last year was special, we can’t have close games this year.  If we win by a field goal against Cal, we can forget playing in the National Title Game.

We open up conference play under the lights against Wisconsin, which should be a fairly easy game since Russell Wilson is long gone.  Not that the Badgers will be a slouch, but the rivalry is not what it once was for a reason…they aren’t as good as they once were.

Honestly, I think the first test of the season will come on the road against Northwestern.  I know, this sounds weird, but this program has come a long way lately under Pat Fitzgerald.  For heaven’s sweet sake, they won ten games last year!  That’s not an easy task last time I checked.  I’m not saying that we will get blown out by any stretch, but look for the Wildcats to be to this year’s team what Purdue was to last year’s team…a massive stroke waiting to happen.

After a bye week, the Buckeyes host Iowa and Penn State before taking the road to face Purdue, none of which will provide much of a challenge this year.  The focus during these weeks is to not look ahead, keep refining their high power offense, and keep blowing teams out.  If the Purdue game is close, forget the shot at the National Title Game.  After these three games, the Buckeyes get another week off to prepare for the home stretch.

The final three games of the regular season include Illinois on the road, Indiana at home, and Michigan on the road.  While the first two games shouldn’t pose much of a challenge, the Michigan game always promises to be a wild ride.  I think that the Michigan game is the only game we can afford to win by a close margin, only because this game has a history of being a flat out nasty test of football.

Now, let us return to the conference championship game.  If the Buckeyes play Nebraska, it’s a win for sure as the Cornhuskers are a shell of themselves this year.  If the Buckeyes play Northwestern, I think they should handle that rematch without any problem.  Northwestern will need to win every other game they play to make it to the conference championship game, so like I said, the chances are slim that they get there.

Now the interesting option…what if Ohio State plays Michigan again?  It very well could happen, and it’s probably the most likely of all the matchups.  I like to think that we will beat the Wolverines two weeks in a row, but I have my honest doubts.  I believe it will be a battle of attrition since the games are always so physical when these teams meet.  Ultimately, I’m predicting a win.

If all things go right, THE Ohio State Buckeyes will finish the season 13-0 and be poised to compete for a National Title, and nothing will keep them on the outside looking in.  That said, this variable could keep Ohio State out of the title game despite going undefeated: too many close games combined with other undefeated teams (a variable which I call the SEC BS Constant).  Basically, if we beat Cal by a field goal, squeeze by Northwestern, and maybe play a close game with Nebraska at Lucas Oil Stadium, expect the Buckeyes to be left out in favor of another prominent undefeated or one-loss school (say Texas, Stanford, or Texas A&M).

However, I’m counting on all things to go right.  As a fan, I can’t stomach the thought of OSU being left out after winning 25 games in a row (this year and last year combined…for you kids scoring at home)!  So let’s buckle down and get it done!

GO BUCKEYES!

The Shake Down: NFL Free Agency

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Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images/nfl.si.com

Posted by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)

Edited by: Tommy Parrill (@DearTommy)

  Earlier in the week, I posted a story about the Baltimore Ravens and their busy offseason, thus far.  Whether it works out in their favor remains to be seen. Yet as the week has progressed, the Ravens haven’t been the only team doing the cutting and signing from the 2013 free agent pool.  So far, there have been some signings that I have liked, and some that I don't particularly care for.  There are still plenty of free agents out there to sign, but as of now, here are my loves’s and hate’s of the NFL offseason.

Love:

The Detroit Lions signing RB Reggie Bush & DE Jason Jones

Ever since his time in New Orleans, I feel that, if put in the right situation, Reggie Bush can be one of the most dangerous players in the game.  When I first heard that he signed with the Lions, it made perfect sense.  Having Matthew Stafford throw the ball 50 times a game, to arguably the best wide receiver in the game, Calvin Johnson, will allow Bush to conduct his explosive plays through the air as well as screens and options. Even out of the backfield, which is a thing of the past in today's game.  I still feel that Detroit is a solid #2 receiver away from being a legit contender, but the addition of Reggie Bush is definitely sending them in the right direction.

After losing Cliff Avril to the Seattle Seahawks, the Lions needed to add another physical and talented defender coming off of the line.  They got what they wanted in essentially a swap with the Seahawks, as defensive end, Jason Jones, is headed to Detroit.  Jones does not have the name of Avril, but packs quite the punch.  He is big, quick and agile. At 6’5”, he comes off of the line like a bull on LSD.  After flying under the radar in Seattle, he will have his chance to shine in Detroit.

Wes Welker to the Denver Broncos

After all of his years of production in New England, the Patriots didn’t feel the need to bring Welker back.  That sounded just fine to the Broncos who were right there to snatch him up.  We all saw how productive Peyton Manning was last year without his usual slot/possession receiver, and sorry to the rest of the NFL, but he has it now.  The Broncos now have Demaryius Thomas to stretch the field, Eric Decker to play the sideline, and Wes Welker to run a slant out 5 yards, and turn it into 20.  In terms of offense, this may be the missing piece that the Broncos were looking for.

Steven Jackson heading to the ATL

For his entire career, Jackson was the back-bone of the St. Louis Rams, with nothing to show for it.  His fortune changed when the Falcons cut Michael Turner and were waiting for Jackson with open arms.  Atlanta already has the young, tough and quick Jacquizz Rodgers, but now they have a bruiser in Jackson that will slow down the game. This gives the Falcons another offensive threat, which is just what they need to go with their air attack.

Michael Bennett, Cliff Avril & Percy Harvin to Seattle

The Seahawks turned out to be the surprise team in the NFL last season, almost reaching the Super Bowl.  After making moves this offseason, their success won’t surprise anyone this year.  First, they go out and trade for a legitimate #1 wide receiver in Percy Harvin from Minnesota, which has to make Russell Wilson ecstatic. They then go and improve on an already extremely strong defense by signing defensive ends Michael Bennett & Cliff Avril.  The presence of Percy already makes the rest of the offense better in Seattle, and Bennett and Avril do the same for the defense.  Seattle was so close to the Super Bowl last year, if everything falls into place, they will be there this year.

Hate:

Mike Wallace takes his talents to South Beach

Before I have every Dolphins fan on earth wanting my head, let me state my case.  I get that Wallace has tremendous speed and can stretch the field, but there is something about Wallace that I have never liked.  Mike Wallace has always acted like a primadonna with a bad attitude, and I want nobody like that on my team.  It seems like every time I turn around, he was complaining about a contract, a coach, or not getting enough ranch dressing... Alright, maybe not that last one. Will he make the Dolphins better, absolutely, but when he struggles and blames Tannehill, don’t come crying to me.

The New England Patriots replace Welker with Danny Amendola

The signing of Danny Amendola was a slap to the face of Wes Welker and just goes to show the arrogance of the Patriots.  The statement that New England is making is that it doesn’t matter who plays wide receiver in their system, but they will succeed.  Saying that Welker is nothing without the Patriots, and Amendola will now be the 1,000 yard receiver...pretty arrogant if you ask me.  Amendola’s injury ridden past may put a cog in their plans, and if it does, good.  New England can shove it, I hope Amendola struggles and Welker helps Peyton get another ring.

The Best for Last: Elvis Dumervil’s Agent

Over the last few days, Elvis Dumervil and the Denver Broncos had agreed on a contract restructure bringing Dumervil back to Denver, which is what both sides wanted.  However, when it came to yesterday’s deadline, negotiations between Dumervil’s agent and the Broncos were not able to be finished and went past the deadline because of fax machine issues.  Yep,  you heard correctly, FAX MACHINE ISSUES!!! I'm sorry, but in this day in age, why in the hell would you use a freaking fax machine to handle some of the most important paper work of your future?  Even I'm writing this blog on my phone!  My apologies to Elvis Dumervil, who wanted to go back to Denver, but next time, you might want to meet in person, or you know, email.  Welcome to the 21st Century folks.