afc-nfc-championship-matchups

What’s up people, happy New Year! I was just kickin’ it in Hawaii. On my way back, I stopped at Pebble Beach, and now I’m blogging from the 19th hole in South Florida. I love golf. I hadn’t played in several months because of football and I was a little rusty, but I do have a 2 handicap.

Week 14 saw a record 104 TDs. Wow! But when you get into the postseason, offenses rediscover the running game and defenses take over.

This is probably the biggest break I’ve had since before my final year at Notre Dame. It’s been a whirlwind since then. In Hawaii, I didn’t do any surfing ’cause they’ve had a lot of shark attacks out there and that just didn’t sound appealing to me, LOL. I’ll take another two weeks off, have some more fun, then get back to working out during the week and a little traveling on the weekends. The break is nice but you miss staying in shape. Football is almost a year-round thing.

We didn’t reach our Super Bowl goal, but we won the AFC North, finished 11-5 and 8-0 at home in front of our great Bengals fans. We knocked a big division rival, the Super Bowl champ Ravens, out of the postseason. So we have a lot to be proud of.

It hurt to lose the Wild Card game, especially at home. It’s tough when you invest so much into it, all the way back to Bradenton and prepping for the Combine and going through the draft and then training camp and it’s all about that one goal. It’s hard when you fall short. But at the end of the day, 31 teams go home just like us and only one team wins it all.

As a rookie, I had a lot of firsts. That Monday nighter against the Steelers was fun. So was getting my first TD in Detroit with a lot of family and friends in attendance. It was a pretty good season, and at the end of the day it is what it is. Coach Lewis said we learn from our losses and move on. In early April, we officially start working out at the facility again. Back at it!

The 2013 regular season saw a record 11,985 points scored. Peyton Manning passed for a record 55 touchdowns, and five quarterbacks had 30-plus passing TDs. Week 14 saw a record 104 TDs. Wow! But when you get into the postseason, offenses rediscover the running game and defenses take over. Those have been key in the NFL for a long time, and with that in mind, here are my thoughts on the final three games to come.

tyler-eifert-vs-patriotsFacing—and beating—the Pats in Week 5 gives our blogger a unique POV.

Patriots at Broncos
Two of the NFL’s best, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, face off for the 15th time (10-4 in favor of Brady so far). We actually beat the Pats during the season. When you think of New England, you picture Brady carving up defenses, putting up points. But they’ve almost reinvented themselves now with a ground-and-pound running game featuring 250-pound bruiser LeGarrette Blount. Defenses have to load the box, and that makes it easier for Brady. Meanwhile, the Broncos had 280 rushing yards —240 from Knowshon Moreno—when New England narrowly beat them in November.

When you have two great passing QBs, it opens up the run and vice versa. People say this will be a chess match. I still expect a lot of points, with Manning and Brady doing their thing. Their last game went to OT, and this could come down to the wire. It’s a toss-up. But growing up in Indiana, I was a Peyton Manning fan, so I’ll be rooting for him. Being at home should give the edge to Denver. And I’m sure Peyton’s aware this may be one of his last chances to win it all again.

Niners at Seahawks

The rivalry at the top of the NFC West is intense. Bengal vets talk about being on a team for four or five years, playing divisional rivals twice a year every year. Then if you meet again in postseason, for all the marbles, it just amps everything up even more. It’s going to be physical and chippy—and fun to watch for us neutrals. These are two of the most physical teams already, so I expect a slugfest.

The two young QBs, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, are mobile guys who do it with their arm and legs. The typical concern with young QBs is taking care of the football and making smart decisions. This is a high stakes game with a lot of pressure. Will Kaepernick’s championship game experience give him the edge? I think Wilson has had some pretty big games so far. We’re also looking at two great running backs in Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch and the Niners’ Frank Gore. Both are bruisers, and every yard will be earned.

But defense wins championships. Both of these teams are in the top 5, with Seattle no. 1. And being at home in ultra-loud Century Link Field will be a big advantage for the Seahawks in that department.

So that’s my prediction, a Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl. And then I’ve got to take Peyton. He’s too good—but that’s why they play the game.

Please follow me on Twitter @EiferTy85. And as always, Who Dey!

—As told to Ashley Jude Collie