Saw Hail, Caesar! last night. It is definitely worth seeing. Even better than the philosophical ramblings of the "study group" that kidnapped George Clooney's character, were the scenes with Channing Tatum and Alden Ehrenreich. Both of them were very good. Tatum's dancing sailors scene was well danced and very funny; Ehrenreich had more scenes, a greater variety of scenes, and they were all well done
For Carolina, Ealy and Kuechly were certainly outstanding, but let's not give short shrift to the play of the one-armed Davis. I recall one play where Anderson bounced off of him because Davis could not wrap up, but Davis was still all over the field.
As for Denver, I do not recall a team winning with essentially no offense at all. And that makes this Super Bowl defensive performance the most impressive one I can remember. For that matter, the Carolina defensive performance was the most impressive one I can recall for a losing team; they sure smacked Manning around. But, at the end of the day, it was Newton who looked the worse for wear by a long shot; he got hit a lot harder than Manning got hit.
One other factor worth a comment: Denver has not recently faced a RB as good as Stewart. He will not be much of a factor if the Denver defense can dominate the Carolina line; there is plenty of talk about how the Panthers OTs (particularly Oher) are of dubious quality, but, with Newton running the read option, the blocks do not have to be held all that long, meaning that Stewart can be the difference maker.
1) If the Denver o-line can hold off the Carolina rush, the Denver receivers are good enough to take advantage of the Carolina DBs (save for Norman, of course) often enough. 2) If the Denver safeties are healthy enough to keep Ginn from getting behind them (especially early in the game), and if the safeties and LBs maintain assignment discipline and keep their eyes on Olsen (assuming Denver stays away from the defensive scheme used against Pittsburgh), then Denver might be able to frustrate the Carolina offense. 3) If Manning avoids INTs as he has been doing of late (and if his RBs stay awake enough to go ahead and assume any backfield passes are laterals) while managing to take advantage of the Carolina DBs, then Denver has a chance to frustrate the Carolina defense. 4) The key to this game is this: a fast start by the Carolina offense. If the Denver defense prevents the Carolina offense from jumping out to a fast start, then a Denver offense which avoids turnovers can pull out a victory; if the Denver defense not only constrains the Carolina offense especially through the first half but also creates turnovers the way the Saints defense did in the December Carolina game while the Denver offense avoids turnovers, then a Denver victory becomes much more likely. Conclusion: Since all of the above will happen, Denver wins. Why will all (or enough) of the above happen? For one very simple reason. Because the season has to conclude with a justified contrarian pick, of course!!!
Saw 13 Hours. Very entertaining and, in that way at least, superior to The Revenant. Did not find 13 Hours to be a political hatchet job. The utter chaos depicted in the movie was fantastic. Glad to have seen this movie.
Will Thomas Davis get a soft cast so that he can play? What's the status for each of the Denver safeties? Do the Broncos have to rein in their rush in order to accommodate Newton's threat as a runner?
The Denver receivers should be able to find some open spaces the Carolina DBs. But how often will Manning throw accurately? Can Carolina force Manning into the errors which he has avoided making during the last three games? Does a Carolina victory depend extensively on Broncos offensive miscues?
Is a Denver victory in what would then have to be Manning's last game too much like a Hollywood movie to actually happen?
I dunno, missing on two fourth down plays when a FG in either case would have made it a five point instead of an eight game? No matter what Belichick says, those were dubious coaching decisions. And, sure, blame can be put on the o-line, but why couldn't Brady get the ball out on his expected 2 seconds? The Broncos definitely changed up their scheme from what they used the week before. Still, I agree about Manning's passing. He missed way too many open receivers.
The Denver defense was outstanding -- especially before the injuries to the safeties, and the Denver coaches seriously out-coached the Pats coaches. Makes for a very interesting Super Bowl match-up, one for which it should be quite easy to have a contrarian pick.
There is absolutely no way the Denver DBs can cover the New England receivers (especially Edelman) if Denver utilizes the same defensive strategy which they used against Pittsburgh. Denver's only hope then would in being able to get a pass rush that forces Brady to move. There is, however, a problem with the Patriots offense, and I'm not referring to the running game. No, I'm thinking about something unidentifiable or maybe just unnameable, and I'm not sure what it is. But what it is is output from the offense that is much less than is expected given Brady and his receivers. They simply do not score as many points as it seems that they should. What's up with that? Then again, and lucky for the Pats, the Denver offense is one of the least imaginative, most boring offenses in the league. On top of that, the drops last week might have been unusual in terms of the number of drops, but Thomas, in particular, has been infected with the dropsy bug in the few Broncos games I've seen.
Jared Allen has a broken foot, Based upon stats, it would seem that this injury should not really make that much of a difference. But I'm not convinced that missing player who only had a couple of sacks is not that big of a deal in this case. Regardless, the real question is: What happened to Carolina - on offense and defense - in the second half? A replay of the Giants game near fiasco. The Panthers definitely have a couple of DBs who are liabilities. With regards to the QBs, my guess is that it would be Palmer who'd be most rattled by the fact that this is a title game.
All that said, since I simply have to have a contrarian pick - right? - I'll say that Carolina wins. And so does New England.
Is the Chandler Jones issue a factor? Probably not. Will Alex Smith take to running more as a way of opening up the passing? He should; he's a good runner - something most folks don't attribute to him, since he's regarded mostly as a game manager. Still, the nagging issue is the Chiefs' receiving corps. They really don't have much of one. And, yet, they win. Will this be a contrarian pick?
The difference between the Arizona and the Washington defenses is a most valid point. But Rodgers is definitely good enough to cause a Packers victory. Good enough to make this a contrarian pick?
The Steelers are akin to the Chiefs insofar as they so often win despite it seeming on paper that they should not. Then there is the fact that the Broncos offense just is not very good. In addition, there is the fact that Manning is too old really to have healed as much as Broncos' fans would like and as much as the Broncos need going forward. Maybe all this comes together to make the Steelers a contrarian pick?
But what's been going on with the Carolina defense? At the latter part of the season, the Saints, the Giants, and the Falcons racked up yards and points on them. Even the Bucs gave them trouble for a half. Does Seattle have enough of a ground attack to be a contrarian pick? Has Josh Norman gotten his swagger back? Will the Panthers defense play with reckless abandon?
Contrarian pick of the week: Kansas City Chiefs.
And if not the Chiefs, then the Seahawks.
And if neither the Chiefs nor the Seahawks, then the Steelers.
And if neither the Chiefs nor the Seahawks nor the Steelers, then no one, because Arizona is ready to move on to the next round.
In the mountains of Georgia, where there is no television - by choice by the way, this afternoon there was heard a most horrific hacking - no, make that a choking - sound eminating from some point northwest or north by northwest of here. It was a sound corresponding to a Seahawks victory.