Eddie Lacy

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For the third year in a row I have had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Rank of NFL Fantasy Live and NFL.com. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to fantasy football, high-quality music and Star Wars, he is a really cool, down-to-earth guy.

I met Adam in New York at the 2013 NFL draft. I have interviewed him a handful of times over the last three years and he has yet to disappoint.

 

Booga: It is that time of year again. It’s time for all of the fantasy football players to get that much-needed info to build a Championship fantasy team. With the No. 1 pick, in this year’s fantasy football draft, fans should select?

Adam: I’m going with Eddie Lacy. Too often, we as fantasy enthusiasts can be reactionary. But it’s going to be important to be proactive here, so I like Lacy a ton. He had some injuries last year and ran o.k. early in the season. But he averaged close to five-yards per carry during the last 10 games of the season. And he plays in one of the top offenses in the league, which is nice.

But perhaps the biggest reason why I like him over a player like Adrian Peterson (who seems to be the consensus No. 1) is that he’s involved in the passing game. He established a career-high in touchdown receptions last year and I see him taking a bigger role for the coming year.

Jamaal Charles is another candidate for the top spot, but dang, he’s the only guy in Kansas City. He gets bullied way too much by opposing defenses. I hope Jeremy Maclin helps him out a little bit, but dang, I get bummed for the guy.

So I’m going Lacy. And if I’m at the end of the first-round, I’m thinking about going WR (like Antonio Brown).

Booga: I asked the fans to submit some fantasy football questions. Here is one from Thomas Powell.  “With the Chargers adding to their offensive line, and, especially, the drafting of Melvin Gordon, how will this affect Philip Rivers’ numbers as a fantasy quarterback?”

Adam: Rivers average draft position is in the ninth round. That’s a tremendous value for a guy I have a lot of confidence in.

Everybody is going to pass on him in drafts because they fear his best days are behind him. But as long as Chris Watt continues to develop, Rivers will have another fine season. To me, that’s the key. Making sure that center position is all square and ready to go. People outside of San Diego don’t get how great Nick Hardwick was. It’s a pretty jarring transition to go to a new center.

Booga: Another fan question. Nick Millican asks, “Can you please rank your top-five rookie fantasy players for the upcoming season?”

Adam: This is an interesting one. I think the key to this is, who is the best fantasy running back out there. And I really like T.J. Yeldon in Jacksonville. I know, the Jaguars get besmirched a lot by NFL fans. But they are a pretty fun team. As a former Chargers season ticket holder, I can vouch for the Jags fans. They are a lot like you. Laid-back, but passionate and better fans than they (and you) are given credit for. Why do people think just because we have nice weather, we can’t care about the NFL?

But I digress because none of that really has anything to do with why Yeldon will be good. I like his situation down in Duval County. The Jaguars have made some improvements on the offensive line with Jeremy Parnell and Steve Wisniewski. Plus the team is going to want to run the ball an absolute ton. Which will be great. Yeldon doesn’t have the break-away speed, but he can be that Emmitt Smith-type of runner. I’m pretty high. Oh, and I’m pretty high on him.

After that I like Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Todd Gurley (he’s going to be a stud at the end of the season) and Ameer Abdullah. I met Ameer at the Rookie Premiere in Los Angeles (I know, I’ll stop name-dropping at some point. Actually, I probably won’t), and I really liked him. I have this irrational thing where I’m drawn to people who are pretty cool.

Remember that when I (expletive) can Amari Cooper. Actually, if you want to mix in a rookie receiver, Kevin White is pretty damn good. Cooper’s ADP is the fifth round, White is the seventh. Nelson Agholor is right around the seventh. I’d take both of those guys over Cooper.

And for the record. If the unthinkable happens and the Chargers fold, and a new team springs up in Los Angeles called the “Chargers” (which is weird because the same stuff happened with the Rams and St. Louis), I would endorse you becoming Jaguars fans. They are cool fans. But let’s not think about such awful things.

Booga: It seems as though we have all been waiting for Ladarius Green to break out and make an impact at the tight end position, both on the field and in fantasy football. Is this the year that Green should be slotted as high as past expectations would see him drafted?

Adam: It seems like we’ve waited years for Laddy Green to make his impact. Enough to make me wonder if it’s ever going to happen. So I would end up taking a pass on him. I don’t like to stockpile tight ends anyway, and so I feel like he’s out of the Top 12 right now. I know Mike McCoy has said he wants to get Green more involved in the offense. But I have to put it in the “believe it when I see it” category.

Booga: With the turmoil surrounding Adrian Peterson and his time with the Vikings, is he still a player that should be drafted in the top three?

Adam: Oh yeah. Like I mentioned previously, Eddie Lacy is my top guy. I feel good about that. Peterson is my No. 2. He’s motivated. And he has a great coach in Minnesota. Look at some of the running backs Norv Turner has worked with (as an offensive coordinator). I mean, as awful as Norv can be as a head coach, dude is an exceptional offensive coordinator (which is why he continues to get these head coaching gigs).

I still can’t believe the Chargers passed on Rex Ryan to hire Turner. I know Ryan’s time in New York ended poorly, but he didn’t have a quarterback like Philip Rivers, either. I say he would have brought a fresh attitude to the Chargers during his tenure and I surmise he would still be the coach here in San Diego. Or down there in San Diego. I’m in Los Angeles right now, but you get my drift.

Seriously, why do the Chargers want to come to L.A.? San Diego is so much better. I’m telling you, I would take a gig in San Diego if the Chargers are committed to stay. I’ll go work for Fox Sports San Diego, do a show on XTRA 1360. I’d go to the Viejas Arena and support the Aztecs unless they are playing the Titans or Rebels. I’m in! But why does San Diego want out? I blame the Padres for building a beautiful stadium, and then not having a competitive team for so long.

But there I go again.

Booga: Chargers wideout Keenan Allen, despite having more receptions last year than he did as a rookie, experienced a sophomore slump of sorts. Where do you believe he should go in fantasy drafts? Is he only reliable in PPR leagues?

Adam: Allen is going to be a great value this season. I’m ready to kind of write-off last year, not so much as a sophomore slump, but as a bad season for the team in general. There was a turnstile at the center position. Danny Woodhead and a host of running backs got hurt. The team was a mess. So everybody suffered accordingly. Allen unfairly gets criticized because people over-drafted him and were burned. That’s the way fantasy enthusiasts operate. Hell, I’m still a little wary to draft Adrian Peterson because he nearly wrecked my team last year.

But I was surprised to see his ADP was in round five so far. Realize the only people doing drafts right now are the marks, the inside people who are super serious about fantasy. If those guys (and gals) are serious about Keenan, I feel very good about it.

Booga: Antonio Gates surprised so many last season, recording 12 receiving touchdowns. What should fans expect for his fantasy output in 2015?

Adam: I honestly don’t know, dude. I mean, you can continue to predict a drop-off for Gates every year and you will be right at some point. He has an ADP of the late-ninth round right now, which is a pretty good. I can live with that. If you are the type who likes to wait for a tight end and see what happens, that’s a good move. You can handcuff him with Laddy.

But if I’m projecting out for Gates, I can see about eight touchdowns. He’s still going to be a valuable asset for your team. He might not get double-digit touchdowns again, but he’s going to be good.

Booga: How does the trading of LeSean McCoy to the Bills affect his fantasy status? Is it safe to say that he will thrive in Buffalo’s offense?

Adam: I liked this deal. It was a good move for Buffalo. (And another fine set of football fans, too.) I really like the volume he’s going to get with the Bills. Ryan is going to want to run the ball a ton. Or more to the point, he’s going to have to run the ball a ton. And you’ve all read the reports the Bills want McCoy to lead the league in carries, much like DeMarco Murray did last year. So that’s encouraging.

The only downside is Fred Jackson. The guy always seems to find a way to weasel into our fantasy hearts. Watch, McCoy will end up getting dinged a little bit and here comes Action Jackson to get like 200 touches. It’s uncanny.

Also, McCoy was kind of salty because I gave him a fun little ribbing during the Madden Bowl. Geeze, dude. Why do you have to be so sensitive? He can’t take a little good-natured ribbing?

Booga: Odell Beckham Jr. posted phenomenal receiving numbers as a rookie in only 12 games played. If Beckham Jr. plays all 16 games, where do you believe he should be drafted?

Adam: OBJ’s rookie season was kind of like Guns-n-Roses debut album, “Appetite for Destruction”. You might want to Google that, kids. It was a big hit when I was a young boy, and trust me, it was huge. But the follow-up, well, not so much. I mean, I could go through tracks on the Illusion albums and find some hits. But it’s never going to be Appetite.

So it’s hard to expect OBJ to reach similar type numbers this year. Especially if he’s got this hamstring problem that lingers. Still, though. I love OBJ. Loved him at LSU. I’m probably going to overspend for him. Just because he was so amazing last year. Eli Manning is going to have a full offseason to get familiar with Ben McAdoo’s offense. So I see some big things. Plus Victor Cruz should help ease the pressure off OBJ a little bit, too. Hell, if the Giants can establish a ground game, he can be even better.

Great, now my expectations for OBJ are similar to the expectations I had for “Chinese Democracy” I just hope I don’t have to wait more than a decade for it.

And for the record, “Chinese Democracy” is a pretty great album.

Booga: Last year’s rushing leader, DeMarco Murray, crushed opposing ball carriers by almost 500 yards rushing in 2014. Now that he is in Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia, sharing the workload with newly acquired Ryan Mathews and former-Charger Darren Sproles, what type of fantasy impact do you think he’ll have in 2015? Where should he be drafted?

Adam: He currently holds an ADP of the second-round, just ahead of C.J. Anderson and Jeremy Hill. And I would take both of those guys ahead of Murray. I just fear a guy who was unhealthy for most of his career, suddenly found a magic elixir that made him healthy enough to run behind the best offensive line in the game. Now he’s got to share the load with your buddy Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles (another one of your buddies!), so there might not be enough of an opportunity for him.

At least he will be motivated in two games against the Cowboys! So there is that. But I’m going to find another direction in Round 2, and if he somehow makes it to the third round and he’s sitting there? Fine. But I don’t anticipate that.

Booga: Charger fans everywhere, myself included, are extremely excited about the drafting of running back Melvin Gordon. With a big, run-blocking offensive line, what are your expectations for the rookie runner out of Wisconsin?

Adam:Remember when I said that I have this thing where I will always lean towards the guys I meet in person and favor them? I really liked Melvin when I met him. So that is either good or bad depending on your perspective.

The big thing is the offensive line. Can it play well enough to open the holes for Gordon? The sizeable holes he enjoyed at Wisconsin? If the o-line plays well, Gordon will be the top rookie running back. The team is already trying to work him into the passing game. Listen to McCoy, he talked about pass protection when it came to Gordon and that’s a huge sign. So take this as a good thing.

Booga: In an effort to give you a bit of bragging rights, how many fantasy football championships do you own? And, please, be specific when it comes the ‘ships that were obtained among your peers at the NFL Network and NFL.com.

Adam: Oh stop, it’s not about the championships. I’ve done great on the NFL Fantasy Live League. I’m the Patriots of that league, replete with pushing the rules. But there is one league that continues to hang over my head. It is a keeper league. Over the last five years, my team has been: Tom Brady/Andrew Luck, Peterson, Forte, Le’Veon Bell, Alfred Morris, Brandon Marshall, Josh Gordon (his good year) and Rob Gronkowski. I never won that league. I always lose on the worst circumstances. Two years ago, I lost to the guy who played Jamaal Charles and Alex Smith that one week against the Raiders. I was going to win last year because I did pretty well with my waiver wire guys (I had CJ and Hill), but Luck put up a donut. It’s the best because I can never win it.

 

I would like to thank Adam for taking the time to do this interview. As expected, his responses were intelligent and humorous. You can follow him on Twitter @adamrank and you can catch him on NFL Fantasy Live on NFL Network.

 

Thanks a lot for reading.

 

Booga Peters

debate

 

Potentially, the biggest name on the free agent market is Adrian Peterson. Sure, Ndamukong Suh will be a close second but with the added morality issue attached to his pending availability, Peterson is the hot button name of the offseason.

To that point, myself and Boltblitz co-editor Mike Pisciotta differ on Peterson becoming a Charger. I am all for it, he is not. Time to take the matter to you, our loyal readers, to see who has the better argument for or against AP in lightning bolts next season. Enjoy.

Greg: To start, I want Adrian Peterson in lightning bolts next season. Peterson, even after a year off, is still the gold standard for running backs in the NFL. Who’s better? DeMarco Murray? Murray has had one good year out of five. Eddie Lacy is still a pup. LeSean McCoy was traded by the Eagles mere days ago. Teams just don’t trade away franchise running backs without damn good reason, and we still don’t know what the Eagles’ reason is. Peterson is the best running back in the game and he’s going to be available to the highest bidder. The Chargers are the perfect fit. So Mike, what reason could you possibly have for NOT  wanting AD (All Day) Peterson in powder blue?

Mike: First off, Greg, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Peterson is still a Viking.  He hasn’t been released, nor is he officially on the trading block.  Yes, the Chargers are rumored to be a potential trade partner.  To your point, teams don’t trade away franchise running backs without damn good reason, so what’s the reason for trading Peterson?  Dean Spanos doesn’t want or need the public relations firestorm that will surely surround a trade for Peterson.  Not while in the middle of a push for a new stadium and trying to gain public support.

Greg:  Peterson is on the trade block because he wants out!  He feels disrespected by the organization for the way they strong-armed him into going onto the Commissioner’s exempt list last season, he feels he didn’t get the show of support he expected from the front office and now his agent’s shouting match with high-ranking team officials during the combine has become public. He might still be under contract, but the writing is on the wall. The Vikings are shopping Peterson without coming out and saying it. It’s funny you mention stadiums because Adrian Peterson in a Chargers uniform just might be what gets the Chargers a new stadium! People will come out in droves to see Peterson and Rivers on the field at the same time! Don’t forget he’s already made his wishlist of teams public and the Chargers are one of them.

Mike: He feels disrespected.  Cry me a river!  Just because he wants out of Minneapolis.  Just because some talking head named San Diego as a possible landing spot.  Just because star-struck fans think he’d be a fit in San Diego doesn’t make him a candidate to play in America’s Finest City.  These same fans wanted Michael Sam in powder blue!  Fact is, anyone with a recognizable name, anyone with an endorsement contract or a headline is desired by the casual fan.  People will also come out in droves against any  form of public support for the Chargers’ stadium effort for bringing on a man convicted in the court of public opinion  for child abuse.  Nobody cares that he pleaded no contest.  Nobody cares he wasn’t humiliated in front of a jury of his peers and convicted.  Do you honestly believe that public sentiment won’t swing further away from the Chargers over this?  The timing is simply awful.

Greg:  You’re making the mistake of lumping him in with the multitudes of middle-of-the-road prospects available at this time every year. This is Adrian freaking Peterson, the one man you can put on the roster of any team and they automatically become a playoff capable team. Even Minnesota. You’re also overestimating the whole court of public opinion angle. I was wondering how long it would take you to get there. AP starts averaging 120 yards and two touchdowns and that morality issue will conveniently be pushed aside. San Diego is the best place for a player who wants to win and keep a low media profile. Winning is the best deodorant and that’s what will happen with Peterson in SD.

Mike:  I’m making no mistake at all, Greg. The Chargers cannot afford to give up a king’s ransom for someone who sat out virtually the entire 2014 season.  He is not a free agent.  Minnesota is not stupid enough to release him and get nothing in return for him.  That leaves trading Peterson.  This would amount to a fool’s errand.  Many insiders have said a trade for Peterson would resemble the 1989 Herschel Walker to the Vikings trade.  Need I remind you of how these same Vikings got fleeced?  In case you do, let’s recap from Wikipedia, shall we?

Players/Draft Picks Received by the Minnesota Vikings
  • RB Herschel Walker
  • Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1990 (54) (Mike Jones)
  • San Diego’s 5th round pick – 1990 (116) (Reggie Thornton)
  • Dallas’s 10th round pick – 1990 (249) (Pat Newman)
  • Dallas’s 3rd round pick – 1991 (68) (Jake Reed)
Players/Draft Picks Received by the Dallas Cowboys

Truth is, Chargers have way too many holes to pull off a trade of this magnitude.  It would be career suicide for Tom Telesco, not to discount the aforementioned public relations firestorm.

Greg: What you fail to realize, Mike, is Peterson has the all  the leverage with the Vikings. Peterson will account for 15.4 million against the Vikings salary cap. The Vikings will obviously want to restructure his contract to make it more cap-friendly. They owe him 12.5 million if he suits up for them this season. With all the ill-will between the sides, what reason does he have to want to do anything to help the front office that has shunned him and looked to distance themselves as far away as possible from his off-the-field transgression? If Peterson flat-out refuses to redo his deal, the Vikings are hamstrung in free agency and their chances of fielding a contending team are greatly compromised. At that point, the Vikings would look to move AP.

After what you’ve seen the last two seasons, do you really think Telesco would get fleeced the way the Cowboys took the Vikings to school in 1990?  C’mon, Man! We know Telesco is one of the most capable GM’s in the league and we’ve commended him (for the most part) for doing so much with so little money. In Telesco we trust, right? We know a deal coming from his office will be a good deal for the Chargers. Give the Vikes a few draft picks. Give them Mathews (please!!) You know why? With AP on the Chargers, SD’s picks are going to be in the high 20’s or (dare I say it) low 30’s anyway because the Chargers will be playing in the championships at the end of the playoffs! That’s what this type of move says, Super Bowl or bust!

Mike: Greg, what leverage?  Trade me or I sit out another year?  What kind of leverage is that?  That’d be akin to the kid sitting in the corner holding his breath until he gets his way!  I’d love to cite Saturday Night Live’s Dan Aykroyd right about now.  I’ll give you this, you’re right about the or bust part.  Trading for Peterson will equate to Los Angeles, make no mistake about it.  But, enough of the politics that will surround this acquisition.

If Telesco even desires Peterson (and I say he’s making a mistake if he does), I say hold out, force the Vikings’ hand and make them release him so there’s no trade liability there.  The Chargers need a NT, depth at linebacker, depth at WR on top of needing a running back.  Telesco can’t afford to surrender draft picks that are needed to fill holes!  What idiot would pay a king’s ransom for a player in a position the game has devalued?  The draft class is running back rich, so they can get younger and faster at a fraction of the cost.  I can’t believe you don’t recognize that.  Additionally, they can’t trade your favorite Charger anyway, he’s not under contract come Tuesday.

Greg: The only thing dumber than not moving a disgruntled player is paying the man 12.5 million to stay home! That’s Raiders stupidity. I don’t think the Vikings would go that route. You are right that Telesco will be best suited to force their hand and wait for him to get cut. The GM would be a fool not to look at ways to acquire Peterson but he’s not a king’s ransom type of guy and we all know it. While they’re waiting for the shoe to drop in Minny, sign line help and draft skill positions for depth.

Contrary to what you think this is not a Los Angeles move, this is a stay in San Diego play. This is a last ditch effort to rouse enough interest to get the fan base to come out and vote for keeping the team in the city because there is a team worth watching within it. The buzz Peterson brings will move PSL’s and fill the Q to the rafters. Knowing Rivers finally has a reliable running game will renew faith in the team. The bolts will have a true home field advantage!! Make no mistake, Peterson makes the Chargers a Super Bowl favorite!

Aside from cost of acquisition and media relations, you haven’t given me any other reason he shouldn’t be on the team. We’ve already agreed there are ways to get him without costing the team a fortune in picks and players. Media? Meh. He’s not the first player to have issues in San Diego. Remember Vincent Jackson? How about the Mantei Te’o catfishing black eye?  All those issues were non-issues in the media landscape outside of San Diego. The Chargers were in the market for Suh and they were also in on Steve Smith last year so it’s obvious they have no aversion to players with problems.

Mike: Greg, you’re naive if you think this won’t result in a public relations nightmare.  You can’t compare VJax’s or Suh’s or Smith’s on-field or locker room issues to Peterson.  He pleaded no contest to beating his kid!  What’s worse, is if he had it to do all over again, he’d do the same thing!  Right or wrong, he’s labelled.  He’s damaged goods and Telesco is a fool if he brings him in.

Peterson is 30 years old in May.  That’s 75 in running back years.  He won’t be the effective player he was.  He missed all of last year, save one game.  This is a “what have you done for me lately” business and in 2013, he ran for as many yards with as many carries as Ryan Mathews.  You want Mathews strung up, tarred and feathered and burnt at the stake!  Where’s the upgrade?

Greg:  You’ve heard of separation of church and state, right? In the sports world, there’s separation of on-the-field and off-the-field. Basically, the child abuse case will be an afterthought to the football loving public. I am in no way condoning what he did but he has to lie in that bed now. The Chargers are not culpable for his actions a year ago. Sure, there will be a media circus when mini-camps begin. It will carry into the preseason and maybe the first couple regular season games. After that, it’s all about the football and how he’s performing on the field.  Most likely, there will be a big press conference to clear the air and allow everything that needs to be said to be said. After that, there will be no more answering of questions on the subject. We’ve seen this continually with superstar players through the years, most recently with Alex Rodriguez.

Speaking of on the field, if you had to put your money down on a 30-year old running back, who better than Adrian Peterson? Two years ago he returned from a horrific ACL injury and ran for over 2,000 yards! He came nine yards short of achieving the highest single season rushing mark in NFL history! Not counting last season, in his eight year career he has missed eight games. Eight! In only seven years he ran for 10,000 yards! Those are just rushing yards, we haven’t even discussed his ability to receive out of the backfield in which he also excels. The man runs with remarkable power and breakaway speed. He is the definition of a freak athlete and now he will be coming back after what was basically a year off. He is going to be angry and motivated and he might shatter the rushing record by a mile this time around. So yes, I will hitch my wagon to this 30-year old every day and twice on Sunday! And on that last Sunday I will dance hardest because he and Philip Rivers will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy!

Mike: Nice dream, Greg.  But let’s face facts.  His shelf life has expired.  If he were a loaf of bread, he’d be in the go-back basket.  He fell way off after that 2000 yard season.  He fell all the way to Ryan Mathews’ 2013 numbers.  He was just an average Joe in 2013, and Minnesota quarterback couldn’t hold a candle to Philip Rivers.  Remember how San Diego’s beloved LaDanian Tomlinson’s numbers fell off?  I love LT to death and hated to see him go, but numbers are numbers.  Same goes for Peterson.  He’s past his prime as a running back, and no way will he come even close to the star-crossed numbers you describe.  In the Charger offensive scheme, with the talent they have in the receiving corps, the featured back will not thrive.  I want Philip to hoist the Lombardi, but I don’t think Adrian Peterson will contribute to that success.

There may be no more answering of questions on the child abuse subject, but locals won’t forget that.  Let’s not forget the non-fan who may be swayed to vote in favor of keeping the team in town.  Signing Peterson could be the proverbial nail in the coffin.

Greg: I will end on this note. You’re right. Numbers don’t lie so here’s your numbers. That season you said he ‘fell off’ after the 2000 yard season, he was fifth in the league in rushing. He had 1266 yards and he missed two games! I’m happy if my starting running back ‘falls off’ to fifth place in the league! That season the Vikings were 28th in the league in passing and they were 14th in rushing on his ability alone. Peterson averages 1400 yards a year from scrimmage, is durable, he beats eight man fronts with ease and his presence is going to open up the entire passing game for Philip Rivers.  Think of the threat of play action alone! Eight men in the box is going to leave Antonio Gates one-on-one in the middle of the field. Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd are going to stretch the field vertically and defenses won’t be so quick to blitz Rivers knowing they have to account for the dump off to Peterson in the passing game. Add in some grunts on the offensive line to open holes and that’s a recipe for an unstoppable offense.

Morality wise, who are we to judge? We’re not looking to hire him to be CEO of our company. We’re not voting him to be the next President of the United States. We’re not looking to him to be our role model. Peterson has had his day in court and it’s over. Life goes on. He’s not the first athlete in the NFL to exhibit questionable judgement off the field and he won’t be the last. A team is going to give him a chance. Why not us? That’s a question you’ve failed to answer in my opinion.

At the end of the day we want the best players to help our team WIN. That’s it. We want the Chargers to win a Super Bowl and Adrian Peterson can be a huge piece of the puzzle in the form of a solution to fixing the running game. Peterson. Woodhead. Oliver. Who can stop that three-headed monster? Nobody. That’s why we make the deal. Everything else will follow. The stadium. The Ring. The vindication.

Mike: It’s clear that Greg and I do not agree when it comes to Adrian Peterson in lighting bolts.  He makes very compelling arguments in favor of pursuing and I feel my arguments are compelling against him coming to San Diego.  What do you, loyal Boltblitz readers have to say?

 

 

 

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SB49

 

 

Here in sunny Phoenix, you can’t have consecutive conversations on any subject without the Super Bowl being mentioned. For good reason, Phoenix is the center of the universe this week and the game pitting the New England Patriots versus the Seattle Seahawks has all the makings of an epic encounter.

Then again, we thought the same thing about last season’s Super Bowl…

On the first snap of last season’s big game, the ball was sailed over Peyton Manning’s head and it was all downhill from there as the almighty Denver Broncos were boat raced by the Seahawks 43-8.

Are we doomed for a repeat of last season?

Let’s check the similarities. The Seahawks are the power of the NFC, featuring (arguably) the best secondary in the game and a stout defense that keeps opponents off the scoreboard while the offense gets ahead early and forces the opposition to play out of their comfort zone. The Patriots were the top team in the AFC or, perhaps, considered 1 and 1A most of the season when you include Denver in the mix. Both teams finished with identical 12-4 records and first round byes in the playoffs. In the end, the Patriots had the edge due to a 43-21 win over the Broncos. The fact that the Patriots are the AFC representative in the Super Bowl erases all remaining doubt.

The Patriots also feature a deep and talented secondary and the best game planning staff in the league in Bill Belichick and crew. The Patriots offense, like Seattle, is not explosive by definition but they have bursts of scoring that is usually enough to put teams away.

Both teams come armed with a play making quarterback and one star complimentary player. Seattle has Russell Wilson and running back Marshawn Lynch. New England has Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Aside from those tag teams, neither offense has a player that strikes fear into the opposition. The question is which tandem will be held in check the best. Both teams have slow, plodding offenses with short rhythmic passing attacks. Neither team has a propensity to fire the ball deep down the field.

The differences are Seattle has a more creative offensive attack with Wilson running the read-option. His ability to extend plays with his legs will create problems for the Patriots. New England has faced one running quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) and no read option teams all season. The Patriots, boring style and all, do average 30 points per game to Seattle’s 24. All their offensive shortcomings are overshadowed by the ability of Brady to make the plays needed to win. Brady is in the argument of best quarterbacks of all time. New England is playing to cement their legacy while Seattle is hoping to create a legacy reminiscent of what the Patriots are doing now. Back to back Super Bowl wins over two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game will go a long way to doing so.

In the end, it boils down to can Seattle disrupt Tom Brady enough to make him average. He’s great when he has time to throw and has established a rhythm. When the pass rush forces him to slip and slide in the pocket he becomes average and prone to making mistakes. Seattle’s defense found its stride at the right time coming down the back stretch of the season as they reeled off six straight wins, allowing six points per game to the opposition. Only one team in that stretch scored more than 7 points.

For New England, the big question is can they stop Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is the most punishing runner in the league and over the course of a game defenders are less and less willing to tackle him head on. The Patriots have given up big rushing games to lesser backs this season. Moreno (132), Knile Davis (107), Chris Ivory (107), Matt Forte (114), Eddie Lacy (98) and Justin Forsett (129) in the Divisional Playoff against Baltimore. Stopping Lynch makes the read-option and play action ineffective which is the Seahawks bread and butter.

Thankfully, this game looks dead even which means we won’t be looking for something more interesting to do before halftime as was the case last year. The Seahawks will shackle Gronkowski for most of the game. He’ll find an opening for one short touchdown catch. Seattle strong safety Kam Chancellor will be the unsung hero of the game. The heartbeat of Seattle’s defense, force multiple incompletions on balls headed to Gronk and without his safety net Brady will falter.

The stingy Seahawks D will force field goals instead of allowing touchdowns in the red zone. Brady will throw for a pedestrian 250 yards and two touchdowns but the pass most talked about will be of the second half pick six he threw to Earl Thomas that broke the game open. One half of the Wilson/Lynch tag team will win the MVP and the ‘Hawks will succeed in going back-to-back by a score of 30-23.

Who you got, Bolt Nation?

 

Bolt Up!!

 

The Greg One

 

#FearlessPredictions

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