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WildLyle's blog

We are here to discuss all the major sports stories and fun things about the games we love. From the Heisman trophy winner to the NBA Finals, you'll be able to get informative news

San Francisco's rough and rocky road to the NFL playoffs

Colin Kaepernick stands in the pocket and delivers a strike to Michael Crabtree
Colin Kaepernick stands in the pocket and delivers a strike to Michael Crabtree

Every year around this time, the NFL season tries to put certain teams out to pasture prematurely. With four games remaining for the (7-5) San Francisco 49ers, the third place NFC West team has control of their playoff lives. Basically, if San Francisco wins their remaining games, they’ll earn at least a wildcard playoff berth. In the best case scenario, San Francisco could end up winning the division on the last day of the NFL season.

However, NBC Sunday Night Football analyst, Tony Dungy believes that San Francisco will have a tough time making the postseason. During his weekly interview on the Dan Patrick Show, Dungy stated that it would be tough for a “(10-6) team in the NFC West” to make the playoffs. Currently, there are six teams in the NFC with better records than San Francisco. That’s why San Francisco’s best, and maybe only chance to make the postseason is to sweep the month of December.

The good news is that San Francisco has already beaten the (9-3) Eagles, and the (8-4) Cowboys earlier this season. Therefore, San Francisco will win the tie-breaker over any of those teams vying for the wildcard. The NFC East is coming down to a two team race, and Philadelphia has a home game against Dallas left. If the 49ers have anything to say about it, they’ll appreciate the Eagles a bit more with a sweep over Dallas. On the surface, it looks like Dallas has a ridiculously tough schedule in December. With three road games left, and a home game against the Colts, the Cowboys could fold down the stretch again. However, the 2014 Cowboys haven’t lost on the road this season.

Besides Arizona and Seattle in the NFC West, San Francisco’s biggest competitor for the final wild card spot might come down to the (8-4) Detroit Lions. The Lions face the Buccaneers this week, and finish the season with three straight NFC North opponents. Their final game is on the road at Green Bay. There’s a chance that NFC teams could win the division title or miss out on the playoffs entirely.

When it comes down to the San Francisco 49ers, their schedule can be navigated quite easily if they play well. Two of San Francisco’s opponents hail from the AFC West, while the two division foes are directly ahead of the 49ers. In those situations, San Francisco has the chance to kill two birds with one stone.

Their impending game is against the Oakland Raiders on the road. First and foremost, San Francisco needs to come out strong and demolish the Raiders early. They need to show a semblance of the Super Bowl contenders from the past three years.

Then San Francisco travels to Seattle to redeem their effort from the Thanksgiving night debacle. It’s already been confirmed that Seattle can be beaten at home, but it’s not certain that the 49ers have the ability to get the job done this year. There’s a chance that San Francisco could bypass Seattle with a win. After all, Seattle travels to Philadelphia this week.

The 49ers finish up their remaining schedule with two home games. There’s no question that San Francisco must win the final two games of the season. So far, San Francisco is a .500 team at home, and they’ve already given away a couple of games in dramatic fashion. If the 49ers just had one of those wins, the whole tenor of the conversation would take on a different tone. Yet, there’s no time to look into the past.

The first home game is against the San Diego Chargers. It’s likely that San Diego will still be fighting for one of the coveted AFC playoff spots. Therefore, San Francisco will not have an easy path. If the 49ers are coming off of a second loss to the Seattle, the entire structure of the organization is on the line. With Michigan making their decision to fire Brady Hoke, some pundits believe the Wolverines will go heavy to bring Jim Harbaugh in. If this is remotely true, San Francisco’s season could be done before their final home game.

San Francisco’s season finale is with the oft injured Arizona Cardinals. Although the Cardinals still lead the NFC West, their two game lead over San Francisco might be by the wayside before the week 17 match up.

When it comes down to it, San Francisco must win out. We just have to find out if their winning days are over. Once that’s the case, the 49ers should start anew with another regime. Let’s see if they can make a postseason run before that happens. 

Auburn Tigers vs Kansas State Wildcats preview

Nick Marshall attempts to get Heisman campaign underway Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Marshall attempts to get Heisman campaign underway
Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Marshall ready for big road test at Kansas State

The Auburn Tigers suspended safety Jermaine Whitehead on Wednesday right before their road game with Kansas State. Whitehead is the most decorated defensive back for the Auburn Tigers. He’s fourth on the team in tackles with 12, and leads Auburn with two interceptions, including one for a touchdown.

With Kansas State’s ground game, Jermaine Whitehead’s absence will be a detrimental factor for Auburn. The Wildcats are not as potent on the ground, because they utilize a much more balanced attacked than Auburn’s offense.  However, the Wildcats may use a ball controlled offense to keep Auburn's offense off the field.  

According to Sportsline.com, Auburn is a nine point favorite, but the line could go down with the loss of Whitehead. A Thursday night game on the road has not been kind to "Top 5" teams. Auburn will try to buck that trend.

Auburn Tigers

The Tigers average 330 rushing yards per game, and their philosophy will make teams wilt in the second half. Usually, that’s the best case scenario. Otherwise, Auburn can run past opponents in the first half. They average 6.7 yards per carry this season, so Auburn rarely has to use the passing game. However, when they do unleash the passing attack, it can be as deadly as the running game.

Nick Marshall leads the way at quarterback and he gets the chance to showcase his first of many Heisman trophy aspiring talents. Marshall has run the ball 19 times, and only passed the ball 25 times. He has a total of three touchdowns, but expect him to be unleashed if needed.

Cameron Artist-Payne leads the ground attack with 42 carries for 289 yards and four touchdowns. However, Corey Grant has been their more explosive running back this season. Grant is averaging 8.8 yards per carry, and he brings a dynamic change of pace to the Auburn Tigers.

Kansas State Wildcats

This game will come down to Kansas State’s defense. It’s not a foregone conclusion that Auburn will run all over this Wildcat defense. Kansas State gives up three yards per carry, but Auburn is by far the most explosive offense they have faced this season.

Kansas State will stack the box and force Auburn to pass the ball on early downs. Whether or not they are successful depends how comfortable Nick Marshall is in the passing game. Not does Kansas State have to tackle well, they need to be in the correct spots on the field to tackle well.

Auburn has a knack for getting the defense out of position, and then the whole team concept will get discombobulated. Kansas State must be wary of that from the opening kickoff.

X-Factor

Turnovers will be another huge key for both teams. Together, they have combined for three turnovers. Jake Waters has thrown one interception, while Auburn has fumbled a couple of times. Waters also ran for four more touchdowns this season. He has the second most carries in the game, so Jake Waters will be keyed as much in the running game as the passing game.

The Verdict

Usually, this is the perfect spot where Kansas State pulls off the upset and rides off into the sunset. Auburn has to get off to a fast start. The quicker that they slow the momentum of the home crowd, the better it will be for the Tigers’ chances.

Auburn 42

Kansas State 35

Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks preview

Russell Wilson commences defense of Super Bowl

The NFL regular season is set to begin with two of the NFC favorites for a Thursday night showdown between Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.  Currently, the Seattle Seahawks are a six point favorite according to Sportsline.com.  There are tremendous match ups galore across each opponents front seven, as well as, the two of the finest quarterbacks in the NFL right now. 

The last time Green Bay visited the Seahawks, the NFL was working with replacement officials and the game ended with the infamous "Fail Mary" pass.  What has been overlooked from that game is how dominant the both teams were on the defensive end. 

Aaron Rodgers was sacked eight times by the Seahawks and it took a Cedric Benson touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter to give Green Bay their first touchdown of the game.  It also gave the Packers a 12-7 lead until the final moment when Golden Tate caught the Green Bay defender in the end zone. 

At this point, Russell Wilson was starting in his third game as an NFL quarterback.  He only completed 10 passes for 130 yards.  Green Bay had the decided advantage at quarterback, but now Russell Wilson is a Super Bowl champion, an NFL MVP candidate, and he has a couple weapons at his disposal. 


Getty Images

One of those weapons expected to flourish for the Seahawks would be Percy Harvin.  In Harvin's first season with the Seahawks, he was sidelined with a hip injury for much of the season. However, the most electrifying player in football made his presence felt in a legendary playoff run.  Percy Harvin can line up anywhere on the field, and he'll be a factor in the running game as well as the passing game. 

Russell Wilson accounted for 27 touchdowns (26 passing) and 9 interceptions in 2013. His consistency has been uncanny since entering the league in 2012.  Overall, he's thrown for 52 touchdown passes in two seasons.  Yet, Seattle has not used Wilson in the same manner as other quarterbacks in the NFL.  This may be the year that Seattle breaks their mold a little bit. 

If Marshawn Lynch has anything to do with it, Seattle will continue to work the power running game.  Lynch had three carries in the preseason, and looked as quick as ever, so don't be surprised if he doesn't slow tonight or the rest of the season. 

Every time Russell Wilson takes the field, thoughts arise about him being the best quarterback in the NFL.  Then Aaron Rodgers takes the field and it's easy to recognize his greatness.  His smooth precision in the pocket needs to be evident in the season opener.  Green Bay can use the running game to help slow down Seattle's ferocious defense. 

Eddie Lacy led the Packers in rushing as a rookie, but he had to perform half the year without Aaron Rodgers.  Still, Lacy gained 1178 yards and helped Green Bay sneak into the playoffs.  This season, it's time for Green Bay to get back to the Super Bowl.  Unfortunately, Thursday night may be the game that decides whether they have home field in the NFC or have to hit the road during the postseason. 

The Packers have a dynamic wide receiving corps, and they'll be a great test for Richard Sherman and the best defensive backfield in the NFL.  With Jordy NelsonRandall Cobb, and Jarrett Boykin, the Packers might be the best team equipped to challenge this Seattle defense in the home of the 12th man.  They also added rookies, Jared Abbrederis and Davante Adams in the mix. 

Green Bay will be starting rookie center Corey Linsley in the most hostile place in the NFL.  If Green Bay is able to avoid the onslaught early, they'll be able to hang in with the game.  It will be tough for Green Bay to make a huge comeback if Seattle jumps out to a lead. 

Penalties will play a factor in this game.  Will the Seattle defense be able to play their physical brand of football in the secondary? It's not widely known, but Seattle has a variety of schemes on defense, and they don't just sit in bump n run coverage for the majority of the game.  Therefore, defensive holding and illegal contact might not affect the Seahawks like previous notions believed. 

The Verdict

Seattle is home and celebrating their Super Bowl championship.  With the wide range of emotions, the theme of the game could go a couple of different ways.  Turnovers might be a problem due to the crowd noise.  That's where Seattle will get the upper hand.

Seattle 34
Green Bay 21

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