Sunday, February 5, 2017

Super Bowl LI aftermath

Patriots win Super Bowl LI, 34-28

We go now live to footage of New England Patriots fans:


Incredible! But let's check on Atlanta Falcons fans:


Oh dear.

Yes, we've just experienced a Super Bowl for the ages. The 2016-17 NFL season has come to a spectacular finish with Super Bowl 51. The final score isn't a surprise; I predicted it would be 35-31. How we actually got to the final score is what blows all our minds.

I tweeted throughout the game, commenting on big plays, funny moments, commercials, and every scoring play. We'll focus on the game highlights.


Super Bowl timeline

All of the following times are in Pacific standard time (GMT-8), based on time stamps of my game time tweets.

3:38PM

Kick-off. The game begins with a defensive clash; neither team can put points up on the board. It looks like the shootout that many expected wasn't going to happen.

3:54PM

Sacks, sacks, and more sacks! Brady and Ryan are both taken down by tough defenses. Offenses can't get anything going.

4:08PM

We have our first turnover of the game! The Patriots fumble the ball and the Falcons swoop in and recover. The Falcons offense has a chance to draw first blood.

4:13PM

The Falcons swiftly advance down the field, the first major offensive threat of the game.

4:16PM

TOUCHDOWN FALCONS! 7-0 for Atlanta after Devonta Freeman runs it into the endzone.

4:30PM

TOUCHDOWN FALCONS! 14-0 for Atlanta after Matt Ryan makes a pass to Austin Hooper.

4:33PM

The Patriots, at this point, have performed poorly. Already down 14-0, the Patriots desperately need to stop the bleeding and get back in the fight before the Falcons can really dig their talons in.

4:38PM

The Falcons start taking holding penalties.

4:42PM

The Falcons take even more holding penalties. The team considers renaming themselves the Atlanta Penalties.

4:46PM

PICK SIX! Robert Alford swipes the ball and runs it all the way back. TOUCHDOWN FALCONS! 21-0 Falcons. The Patriots react:



New England can't help but think there's no way they can recover from such an enormous deficit. But there's lots of football to yet be played...

4:56PM

The Patriots start to march down the field. Finally, some life.

5:02PM

Finally, the Patriots score!

A field goal. Not exactly what they were hoping for.



21-3 Falcons.

5:08PM

Halftime. Falcons up 21-3. The Patriots need to recover fast, or else this game will turn into a repeat of XLVIII.

5:35PM

The third quarter begins. Atlanta has the ball, but quickly goes three and out.

5:50PM

But Atlanta quickly takes the field again and advances towards the endzone rapidly.

5:54PM

TOUCHDOWN FALCONS! Tevin Coleman grabs a pass from Matt Ryan. 28-3 Falcons.

And that's it for Atlanta's offense.

6:04PM

The Patriots and Falcons lock horns - er - helmets.

6:07PM

TOUCHDOWN PATRIOTS! At last, Tom Brady finds the endzone, passing to James White! Too bad Gostkowski's kick went wide right. Nothing going right for New England, even when scoring touchdowns!


Either way, 28-9 Falcons.

6:27PM-6:28PM

Tom Brady gets sacked. Twice. Lots of sacking in this game!

6:29PM

Field goal New England! 28-12 Falcons.


6:38PM

HUGE FUMBLE! The Falcons cough up the ball and the Patriots swiftly pounce and recover. This - this is the turning point in the game.

6:43PM

TOUCHDOWN PATRIOTS! Danny Amendola catches a pass from Brady, and then the team posts another two points! The Patriots roar back into the game, now within one score. It's on now! 28-20 Falcons.



7:00PM

An incredible catch by New England - was almost surely going to be a Falcons interception!

7:07PM

TOUCHDOWN PATRIOTS! JAMES WHITE RUNS IT IN! GAME TIED!


The Falcons can't muster up anything offensively - a complete reversal from the beginning of the game! The Patriots are determined to finish the job. Brady wants his fifth ring.

7:15PM

Overtime.


 But surely the Falcons can correct their wrongs and seal their season with a win, right?


7:25PM

TOUCHDOWN PATRIOTS! JAMES WHITE RUNS IT IN AGAIN! THE GAME IS OVER! THE PATRIOTS HAVE WON IT ALL! AGAIN!


The Patriots celebrate their comeback victory.

The Falcons react to their horrific meltdown loss.

And so caps off one of the most incredible Super Bowls in recent memory. The Patriots showed up late, but when they did, Atlanta capitulated. Never have I seen such a dramatic Super Bowl collapse. What happened, Atlanta? You forced Brady to make costly mistakes, just as I had predicted, but then your offensive weapons fell silent! The Falcons' missteps allowed the Patriots to capitalize and rally in the fourth quarter before delivering the killing blow in overtime.

The Patriots leave Houston with another Super Bowl win, while Atlanta leaves empty-handed, just as they left Miami empty-handed back in 1999. 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

2016-17 NFL playoff predictions (Part 4 - Super Bowl)

The Super Bowl approaches! After duels a-plenty, the final showdown is set for Super Bowl 51 in Houston:

New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons

This match-up has all the works for an exciting showdown. The Falcons haven't won a Super Bowl, and haven't played in the title game since their first and only appearance in 1999, when they lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos. The Patriots have finally returned to the Super Bowl for the first time in two years.

 

How the Patriots reached the Super Bowl

The Patriots enjoyed huge success in the regular season, going 14-2 and easily earning a first-round bye in the playoffs. Their only losses this season were to the Buffalo Bills and the Seattle Seahawks.With the exception of the two losses, the Patriots have dominated all season and through the playoffs, beginning with a 34-16 Divisional round win over the Houston Texans and then a 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Patriots want another Super Bowl ring now.

 

How the Patriots can win the Super Bowl

The Patriots defense needs to show up big time. Atlanta has, without question, the deadliest offense in the league. The Patriots must not allow Matt Ryan time to make plays, or else the Falcons will easily make first downs and find the end zone. New England demonstrated their offensive capabilities this season, obliterating nearly all opposition. Brady's passing game will post the points, with support from the rushing unit when needed. New England needs a strong performance on all fronts if they hope to neutralize the Falcons.

 

How the Falcons reached the Super Bowl

The Falcons finished second overall in the NFC, their record of 11-5 bested by the 13-3 Dallas Cowboys. Despite their record, the Falcons have proven to be an near-unstoppable force, consistently posting 30 or even 40-plus points on the board. In the playoffs, the Falcons destroyed all opposition, pummeling the Seattle Seahawks 36-20 and then annihilating the Green Bay Packers 44-21. The Falcons are eager for their first Super Bowl win.

 

How the Falcons can win the Super Bowl

Score lots of points! If only it were that simple. Of course Matt Ryan will count on Julio Jones and the rest of his deadly offense to score, that much is certain. The Falcons defense will face its toughest test of the season; Tom Brady and the Patriots will never give up without a fight. Brady wants his fifth ring, and the Falcons are the only remaining obstacle. Force Brady to make costly mistakes, and the Falcons will run up the score incredibly quickly.

FINAL PREDICTION

I expect a high-scoring affair, with touchdowns galore from Brady and Ryan. Defense, however, will ensure neither team turns this into a lop-sided affair. It will be a fight to the brink, but only one will stand this day.

And it will be New England.

Patriots win, 35-31

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

2016-17 NFL playoff predictions (Part 3 - Championship)

As each day passes, the Super Bowl draws nearer! But first, the AFC/NFC Championship games. Here are the following potential Super Bowl match-ups:

New England Patriots vs Green Bay Packers
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Green Bay Packers
New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Atlanta Falcons

But who will win the day? Which teams will stamp their tickets to Super Bowl 51 in Houston? Let's take a look!

Thunderbirds101's picks

AFC

#1 New England Patriots vs #3 Pittsburgh Steelers
Whatever happens, we're going to have a Super Bowl featuring either Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger. Gee, that hasn't happened before (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, and now 2017).

The Steelers escaped with an 18-16 win over the Chiefs; the Steelers kicked six field goals and managed to survive after a costly holding penalty on a Chiefs two-point conversion attempt. The Steelers cannot hope to win if they kick only field goals. Not against New England. The Patriots will unleash all their heavy artillery to neutralize the Steelers. Unless the Steelers can reach the endzone, this game will be over in a hurry.

Likewise, New England cannot make any costly mistakes. No fumbles or interceptions, or Pittsburgh will swiftly capitalize on the blunders of the opposition.

I don't expect a blowout, but the Patriots will sneak away with this one.

Prediction: Patriots win, 31-27.
 
Result: Patriots win, 36-17.

T-Bird's comments after the game:
I suppose nineteen points is a blowout. Either way, another decisive Patriots win! The Steelers couldn't get anything done offensively; costly turnovers did not help matters. The Patriots, meanwhile, posted another 30-plus points, demonstrating once again their strength. With the victory, the New England Patriots returns to the Super Bowl once again, this time to face the Atlanta Falcons.

~

NFC

#2 Atlanta Falcons vs #5 Green Bay Packers

Also known as Aaron Rodgers vs Matt Ryan. The two most explosive offenses in the NFC will clash in a duel of the fates. Do not expect defense to be a highlight on this day; this will be a high-scoring shootout with touchdown after touchdown. Only question is, who will prevail? Matt Ryan leads the deadliest offense in the league, but Aaron Rodgers leads an unstoppable Packers team that has constantly posted 30-plus points a game since their December 11 game against the Seahawks. An unstoppable force meets another unstoppable force. But only one shall emerge victorious this day: Green Bay.

Prediction: Packers win, 41-38.

Result: Falcons win, 44-21.

T-Bird's comments after the game:
We turn now to live footage of the Green Bay Packers:
That was not a duel; that was total domination by the Falcons! Big mistakes by the Packers, including a missed field goal, a fumble, an interception, you name it! As expected, the Falcons launched all their heavy artillery and blitzed the Packers defense; unexpectedly, the Packers offense sputtered and crashed, scoring nothing in the first half. The Falcons advance to Super Bowl 51 in Houston!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2016-17 NFL playoff predictions (Part 2 - Divisional)

Welcome to part two of Thunderbirds101's NFL playoff predictions! Four for four on the picks in the Wild Card; let's hope the Divisional picks are as successful!

Let's get this done and dusted.

Thunderbirds101's picks

AFC

#1 New England Patriots vs #4 Houston Texans
After a first-round bye, the Patriots enter the playoffs all guns blazing on a seven-game winning streak. In their one meeting back in September, the Patriots routed the Texans 27-0. The Texans have a potent defense, but it will be a daunting challenge to overcome one of the most elite teams in the league. The Texans were fortunate to face the battered Raiders in the Wild Card - they will not be so fortunate again.

Prediction: Patriots win, 41-10.
 
Result: Patriots win, 34-16.

T-Bird's comments after the game:
A decisive Patriots win, despite interceptions and fumbles. Both teams made costly turnovers, but the Patriots ensured their artillery overwhelmed the Texans. Overall, no surprises with this game.

*

#2 Kansas City Chiefs vs #3 Pittsburgh Steelers
Back in October the Chiefs were routed by the Steelers, 43-14. It was the Chiefs' worst performance of the season, but that was at Heinz Field. Now Pittsburgh must fight this time at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs, however, have not won a playoff game at home since 1994 in a 27-24 overtime win over the Steelers. A spirited duel awaits.

Prediction: Steelers win, 35-31.

Result: Steelers win, 18-16.

T-Bird's comments after the game:
A spirited duel, but not as high-scoring as I anticipated. The holding call on the Chiefs' two-point conversion attempt was brutal; one penalty smothered the Chiefs' hopes of staying alive. Alas, the Steelers advance, and now the stage is set for a battle royale in Foxborough.

~

NFC

#1 Dallas Cowboys vs #5 Green Bay Packers

After a rout of the Giants, the Packers move on to face the top team in the NFC. The Packers must ensure their O-line isn't shredded like it was early on against the Giants. As long as Aaron Rodgers has room to maneuver, the scores will pile on fast. As for Dallas, they must ensure their wide receivers don't have butter fingers like the Giants. Simple, really.

Prediction: Packers win, 38-27.

Result: Packers win, 34-31.

T-Bird's comments after the game:
I was going to post explosion GIFs, given how poorly Dallas began the game, but this is a more accurate GIF, given what happened:


What a game! Green Bay opened the game in complete control, all guns blazing, but Dallas fought back hard and tied the game - twice! Unfortunately for the Cowboys, the Packers scored a last-second field goal and neutralized the top-ranked team in the NFC. Green Bay's victory sets them up for a NFC Championship showdown at Georgia Dome.
 
*

#2 Atlanta Falcons vs #3 Seattle Seahawks
After a decisive victory over the Lions, the Seahawks head on to the road to face the Falcons. The Falcons have the most explosive offense in the league, but their defense has repeatedly given up 30-plus points in several regular season games. Seattle's primary weakness will - as always - be the offensive line. It held strong against the Lions - will it hold against the Falcons?

Prediction: Seahawks win, 28-24.

Result: Falcons win, 36-20.

T-Bird's comments after the game:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2016-17 NFL playoff predictions (Part 1 - Wild Card)

Another year passes. So comes the time for another round of NFL playoff predictions! This post will focus on the Wild Card games; future posts will predict the outcomes of the Divisional and Championship games, and eventually the Super Bowl.

Let's roll.

Thunderbirds101's picks

AFC

#6 Miami Dolphins vs #3 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers enter the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak. Opposite the Steelers are the Dolphins, the latter of which opened the season with a dismal 1-4 record, but then won nine of their next eleven games, including a 30-15 takedown of Pittsburgh.

However, the Dolphins have lost players to injuries, including starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins haven't won a playoff game since a 23-17 OT Wild Card win over the Indianapolis Colts back in 2000. The Steelers, meanwhile, are roaring into the playoffs.

Prediction:
Steelers win, 27-17.

Result:
Steelers win, 30-12.

T-Bird's comments after the game:
No surprises here. Costly turnovers decimated any hope of a Dolphins victory. The Steelers have punched their ticket to a showdown with the Chiefs.


***

#4 Houston Texans vs #5 Oakland Raiders 

Both these teams enter the playoffs following a loss. The Texans have been inconsistent all season, whereas the Raiders finished their strong 12-win season with their worst offensive performance all year, posting a measly six points on the board. The Raiders must use rookie quarterback Connor Cook because Derek Carr and Matt McGloin, their respective first- and second-string quarterbacks, have been sidelined with injuries.

With the core of Oakland's heavy artillery sidelined, the 12-4 record looks misleading. Derek Carr spearheaded the team's wins over the season, and without him, Oakland faces a daunting task.

But that's not to say Houston will see great playoff success either, if they win. If the Steelers win and the Raiders lose, then the Texans face just a slight challenge.

The Patriots.

In Foxborough.

Good luck with that.

Prediction:
Texans win, 17-13.

Result:
Texans win, 27-14.

T-Bird's comments after the game:
The Raiders' 12-4 record was definitely misleading entering the playoffs. Without Derek Carr, the Raiders could not endure the vicious Texans defense. Connor Cook threw three costly interceptions, whereas Brock Osweiler threw none. A solid win, but can Texas maintain this momentum against New England?

~

NFC

#3 Seattle Seahawks vs #6 Detroit Lions

What's the deal with the Seahawks? How is it that a team that takes down New England and Atlanta then loses to Tampa Bay and Arizona? Earl Thomas's absence has sent shockwaves through the Seattle defense, surrendering points all across the board in recent games. Still, the Lions aren't much better, having limped into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak. The Lions will put up a spirited fight, but it won't be enough.

Prediction:
Seahawks win, 24-16.

Result:
Seahawks win, 26-6.

T-Bird's comments after the game:

A decisive victory for the Seahawks! Seattle turns up with a strong defense, solid offense, incredible one-handed catches, bizarre butt catches, and stolen touchdown catches! Truly the ingredients for a playoff victory! Seattle moves on to face Atlanta in the Divisional round.

***

#4 New York Giants vs #5 Green Bay Packers

The Packers enter the playoffs having gone on a six-game winning streak, complete with four straight games of scoring 30-plus points. The Packers will have all artillery on deck to counter Eli Manning and shred the Giants' defense. Still, the Giants are a formidable foe. Twice this season have the Giants defeated the NFC-leading Dallas Cowboys. The Giants have never allowed 30 or more points a game this season, but neither have they scored 30 or more points. The Giants also lost 23-16 to Green Bay in the regular season, albeit back in October. This will be a well-fought duel.

Whether the vicious Wisconsin cold plays a factor remains to be seen.

Prediction:
Packers win, 27-24.

Result:
Packers win, 38-13.

T-Bird's comments after the game:
We turn now to live footage of the New York Giants:


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Super Bowl 50 aftermath

 BRONCOS WIN SUPER BOWL 50, 24-10.



Well then.

I'm not complaining.

The 2015-16 NFL season has come to an end with Super Bowl 50. I would say the result was astonishing, but that's not truthful. In retrospect, it should have been obvious from the moment the Broncos defeated the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

Let's reflect on Part 4 of my NFL predictions series. First, how I said the Broncos could win:
"The Broncos can win if they can maintain their defense against a deadly Carolina offense that overwhelmed the Seahawks and the Cardinals. The Broncos proved they can hold off the Patriots, but the Panthers look to be a daunting threat given the thrashing of the Cardinals. Manning has struggled with interceptions, but he has not thrown a turnover in the playoffs so far."
Indeed, the defense showed up strong in Super Bowl 50. The Panthers, having posted a combined eighty points against the Seahawks and the Cardinals, could only muster up ten against a Broncos team that refused to budge. The Broncos sacked Cam Newton seven times and forced three turnovers: a catastrophic fumble-recovery that led to a defensive touchdown, a rushing fumble, and an interception. Manning did not have a stellar game, but the defense held the line just enough to allow the Broncos to post twenty-four points.

Speaking of the Panthers...
"The Panthers must keep doing what they're doing. The offensive line must protect Newton at all costs, knowing how dangerous the Broncos defense was against the Patriots. The defense must relentlessly attack Manning at every opportunity in order to stifle the Broncos offense. The Broncos haven't produced many points in the playoffs (23 against the Steelers, 20 against the Patriots); the Panthers ruthless offense may trigger for the Broncos haunting memories of Super Bowl 48 against the Seahawks.

Indeed, it might just be a rerun of Super Bowl 48, albeit with the Carolina Panthers instead."
Except the opposite happened.

The Panthers, who finished 15-1 on the season, never showed up to play. The feared Panthers offense, which only two weeks ago slaughtered the Cardinals, posted a rushing touchdown and a field goal, all for ten points. The Panthers defense sacked Peyton Manning five times, but what good does that make when the offense barely showed up? The Panthers offensive line buckled and capitulated at critical moments, allowing Von Miller and the rest of the Broncos o-line to deny Cam Newton his first Super Bowl championship. The Panthers leave Santa Clara empty-handed, just as they left Houston empty-handed twelve years ago.

Thanks for reading, and here's hoping the Seahawks return to the Super Bowl in 2017!

2015 NFL playoff predictions (Part 4 - Super Bowl)

Welcome to the final chapter of the 2015 NFL playoff predictions by Thunderbirds101 and AT88TV! After three weeks of playoffs, the Super Bowl 50 match-up in Santa Clara, California is set:

DENVER BRONCOS vs. CAROLINA PANTHERS

Hopefully this will be an exciting matchup, but the ghosts of Super Bowl 48 still haunt the Broncos. The Panthers are back in the Super Bowl, determined to win their first Lombardi Trophy after Tom Brady and the Patriots snatched it away in the dying seconds of Super Bowl 38.

How the Broncos reached the Super Bowl

The Denver Broncos finished first in the AFC, capitalizing on a sudden slump by the New England Patriots, the latter of which lost four of its last six regular season games. Peyton Manning has suffered numerous injuries this season, but has recovered to lead the Broncos to victory over the reigning Super Bowl champions and receive another chance for a Super Bowl victory. The Broncos defense smothered the Patriots dangerous offense; the Broncos benefited further from mistakes by the Patriots, including a missed PAT and two costly turnovers in the AFC Championship game.

In the playoffs, the Broncos enjoyed a first-round bye, first playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Divisional game. The Broncos slipped away 23-16, setting up the match-up with the Patriots in the Championship game. Along with the aforementioned mistakes, Tom Brady threw a game-ending interception when the Patriots desperately needed to complete a two-point conversion to take the game to overtime.

As the Broncos advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years, Peyton Manning looks for his second ring. His first and only ring came in a victory over the Chicago Bears nine years ago in Super Bowl 41. Since then, he suffered a disappointing loss against the New Orleans Saints in 2009 and a humiliating beatdown against the Seattle Seahawks in 2014. Whether Manning and the Broncos are up to the task remains to be seen...

How the Broncos can win the Super Bowl

The Broncos can win if they can maintain their defense against a deadly Carolina offense that overwhelmed the Seahawks and the Cardinals. The Broncos proved they can hold off the Patriots, but the Panthers look to be a daunting threat given the thrashing of the Cardinals. Manning has struggled with interceptions, but he has not thrown a turnover in the playoffs so far.

How the Panthers reached the Super Bowl

The Panthers dominated the NFL all season, save for a frustrating loss to the Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers have obliterated nearly all opponents with ease. At no time were the Panthers playoff hopes in doubt.

In the playoffs, the Panthers enjoyed a first-round bye, first playing the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Divisonal game. The Panthers destroyed the Seahawks in the first half and opened up a 31-0 lead, but a furious comeback by the Seahawks nearly ruined the Panthers season; the Panthers won 31-24.

Next, the Panthers played and obliterated the Arizona Cardinals, forcing seven turnovers and winning 49-15. The Panthers appear unstoppable, and hunger for their first Super Bowl win, determined not to lose on a last second field goal.

How the Panthers can win the Super Bowl

The Panthers must keep doing what they're doing. The offensive line must protect Newton at all costs, knowing how dangerous the Broncos defense was against the Patriots. The defense must relentlessly attack Manning at every opportunity in order to stifle the Broncos offense. The Broncos haven't produced many points in the playoffs (23 against the Steelers, 20 against the Patriots); the Panthers ruthless offense may trigger for the Broncos haunting memories of Super Bowl 48 against the Seahawks.

Indeed, it might just be a rerun of Super Bowl 48, albeit with the Carolina Panthers instead.


FINAL PREDICTION

Thunderbirds101's pick:

PANTHERS WIN SUPER BOWL 50, 30-17.

 

AT88TV's pick:

PANTHERS WIN SUPER BOWL 50, 42-7.