Buehler's Blog at Super Bowl XLVII Day 1

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Day 1

Today started off like any other: With me sliding into my Niners jersey. It’s the same one I’ve worn since the Niners beat the Falcons and the same one I’ll wear until the Niners beat the Ravens.

Of course this day started at 3:30 am and had a travel itinerary to New Orleans to catch the Super Bowl. So naturally I was amped upon waking at a non-human hour. Busted out some extra pushups and headed to LAX for the first flight to Louisiana.

Sat next to a gentleman who found out my last name. His next words: “I had a ferret once. Named it ‘Buehler’.” Then he silently chuckled to himself. The whole trip.

Once in New Orleans, I caught the tail end of the Niners arrival press conference. Missed Jim Harbaugh (and therefore prolonged the inevitable awkward moment of asking for a hug) but caugh Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Colin Kaepernick’s name plate. Yeah, you read that right. If you think Kaep ducks out of pressure quickly, you should see him evade reporters. It’s breathtaking.

Both Smith and Willis have daunting tasks ahead. Smith, battling a torn tricep and an improved Ravens' offensive line and Willis trying to find “Where’s Rice” before he blazes by him. Yet both were loose and answering questions thoughtfully and sincerely. They were enjoying themselves. And that’s what each team should be doing: Enjoying some level of satisfaction of achieving this pinnacle.

Last year, I watched as the Patriots employed the “muzzle the ox” strategy, ignoring anything of interest and in 2010, watched as the Steelers used the “been there, done that” to diffuse the crush of the media attention. Neither strategy was successful.

Instead, a team must recognize the great honor of representing it’s respective conference and focus on executing the game plan with ease. The Niners seem loose. Enjoying this experience. That’s the only way they’ll leave with a 6th Lombardi.

Til then, I’d like to thank the kind people of New Orleans for keeping me entertained and Pizzeria Villagio and SWAT Fuel for sponsoring this very special trip.

Broadcasting LIVE from Radio Row for the FIRST TIME IN COACHELLA VALLEY HISTORY at 12:00 pst!

Don’t miss a moment! 

 

Forget the Madden Curse, The Super Bowl Curse Ruins Your Franchise

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We all know about the devastation leveled on the preeminent player that graces the cover of EA Sports Madden NFL, but one player facing a bad year is nothing compared to watching an entire franchise plummet into the abyss that is "The Super Bowl Curse."

A city might earn hundreds of millions in economic revenue, but it can cost the NFL franchise a year of futility to host the Super Bowl.

Don't believe me? Let's look at the Saints. A team that went 13-3 last year, sent through a gauntlet of offseason tumult and started this season 0-4. Fought to 5-5, got hammered by a backup quarterback at home to fall to 5-6. They faced a daunting schedule to finish out and host the Super Bowl but miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

After the Colts stumbled to an 0-13 start, I got thinking, "Wow, one of the NFL's most consistent franchises chose a bad year to face plant into futility..." No team had won more games in a decade than the Colts did between 2000-2009. They were coming off a season where they had tied the NFL record for most consecutive playoff appearances, were looking to own that record and host the world's largest single-day sporting event. And then Manning can't play and the goose egg showed up in the win column for 13 straight week. Still not convinced? 

The Cowboys were happy to show off Jerry's World to the planet in 2010. What they didn't account for was Tony Romo's clavicle snapping, going from an 11-5 record in 2009 to collapsing into a 6-10 season as they watched the Green Bay Packers turn the 6th seed into a Lombardi Trophy on their giant big screen. 

Need more? Miami has hosted it's fair share of Super Bowls and received some cruel punishment because of it. 2006 the Dolphins were 6-10, hosted the big game and paid for it with a 1-15 season in 2007. The solution? How about a big time turnaround for the franchise with Tony Sparano. In 2008, the team rebounded to an 11-5 record, shocked the NFL by winning the AFC East. Sure they were ousted in the first round of the playoffs, but when 2009 opened up, this team was looking to build on '08 success and once again host the Super Bowl. They went 7-9 that year. Haven't made the playoffs since 2008.

And it's not just recent history either. The 1980 New Orleans Saints were up for the task of host the Super Bowl. They were coming off an 8-8 campaign in 1979, then promptly went 1-15 in 1980 and still hold the second longest losing streak in NFL history at 15 games. 

Below is a list of every Super Bowl, the host team and how they faired. Turns out, in 46 years of this game, only 21 teams that hosted the Super Bowl ended the same season with a .500 record or above. Only 10 teams made the playoffs, the last being the Buccaneers in 2000. Only 2 have played in the Super Bowl and ONE team in NFL history has hosted and won the game. That'd be the 1984 San Francisco 49ers when the game was held at Stanford. 

So Jets fans, you think THIS year is bad. Wait until your team is officially the Super Bowl host franchise. (Giants will likely be the exception to the rule. They usually are.) 


 

SUPER BOWL NFL SEASON HOST CITY HOST TEAM RECORD PLAYOFFS?
I 1966 LOS ANGELES RAMS 8-6  
II 1967 MIAMI DOLPHINS 4-10  
III 1968 MIAMI DOLPHINS 5-8-1  
IV 1969 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 5-9  
V 1970 MIAMI DOLPHINS 10-4 WILDCARD- LOST IN 1ST ROUND
VI 1971 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 4-8-2  
VII 1972 LOS ANGELES RAMS 6-7-1  
VIII 1973 HOUSTON OILERS 1-13  
IX 1974 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 5-9  
X 1975 MIAMI DOLPHINS 10-4  
XI 1976 PASADENA RAMS 10-3-1 WESTERN DIVISION WINNER, LOST IN NFC CHAMPIONSHIP TO MINNESOTA
XII 1977 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 3-11  
XIII 1978 MIAMI DOLPHINS 11-5 WILDCARD- LOST IN 1ST ROUND
XIV 1979 PASADENA RAMS 9-7 WESTERN DIVISION WINNER, LOST IN SUPER BOWL TO STEELERS 31-19
XV 1980 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 1-15  
XVI 1981 PONTIAC LIONS 8-8  
XVII 1982 PASADENA RAIDERS 8-1 LOST IN SECOND ROUND TO JETS 17-14
      RAMS 2-7 **STRIKE SHORTENED SEASON 
XVIII 1983 TAMPA BAY BUCS 2-14  
XIX 1984 STANFORD 49ERS 15-1 DESTROYED MIAMI IN SUPER BOWL 38-16
XX 1985 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 5-11  
XXI 1986 PASADENA RAIDERS 8-8  
      RAMS 10-6 WILDCARD-LOST IN FIRST ROUND
XXII 1987 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 8-7  
XXIII 1988 MIAMI DOLPHINS 6-10  
XIV 1989 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 9-7  
XV 1990 TAMPA BAY BUCS 6-10  
XVI 1991 MINNEAPOLIS VIKINGS 8-8  
XVII 1992 PASADENA RAIDERS 7-9  
      RAMS 6-10  
XVIII 1993 ATLANTA FALCONS 6-10  
XXIX 1994 MIAMI DOLPHINS 10-6 WON DIVISION- LOST IN SECOND ROUND TO SAN DIEGO WHO WAS DESTROYED BY 49ERS IN SUPER BOWL
XXX 1995 PHOENIX CARDINALS 4-12  
XXXI 1996 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 3-13  
XXXII 1997 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 4-12  
XXXIII 1998 MIAMI DOLPHINS 10-6 WILDCARD- LOST IN 2ND ROUND TO DENVER
XXXIV 1999 ATLANTA FALCONS 5-11  
XXXV 2000 TAMPA BAY BUCS 10-6 5 SEED, LOST IN 1ST ROUND
XXXVI 2001 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS 7-9  
XXXVII 2002 SAN DIEGO CHARGERS 8-8  
XXXVIII 2003 HOUSTON TEXANS 5-11  
XXXIX 2004 JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS 9-7  
XL 2005 DETROIT LIONS 5-11  
XLI 2006 MIAMI DOLPHINS 6-10  
XLII 2007 PHOENIX CARDINALS 8-8  
XLIII 2008 TAMPA BAY BUCS 9-7  
XLIV 2009 MIAMI DOLPHINS 7-9  
XLV 2010 DALLAS COWBOYS 6-10  
XLVI 2011 INDIANAPOLIS COLTS 2-14  
XLVII 2012 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS ???  

Buehler's Divisional Round Picks

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Buehler’s Divisional Round Picks

It’s funny. You go out on a limb and it’s not until the ground pounds you in the face that you realize, that limb was too thin and you shoulda stuck closer to what you knew.

Vegas was hammered this year because favorites did their job all season long. Week 9 was the worst week in many sports books’ history because NFL fans weren’t going out on those limbs like I did last week.

The only game I got right was the Packers-Vikings matchup. Other than that, I thought the Bengals could secure some semblance of a running attack to beat the Texans, they did not.

Thought the Skins’ Alfred Morris could help DC avoid the Wildcard Cliff. Shanahan left RG3 in too long and gave Morris 5 carries in the 2nd half. Brutal.

My Colts pick was all emotion. Wanted to see them win more than I thought the matchups favored the Horseshoe. 

The point is, I learned my lesson. I’m looking to bat 1.000 this week…

AFC Games

Ravens at Broncos

You’re going to hear a lot about the Ravens’ defense because Ray Lewis is set to retire and he’s spent the past 42* years building a reputation of irrefutable toughness.  *slight exaggeration

And you’re going to hear a lot about Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning because he’s pulling off the rare “Comeback POY” and MVP campaigns concurrently.

But this game is MORE about the Broncos defense and Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco.

The Ray Lewis led D and Manning will offer every reason to conclude we’re gifted by watching some of the greatest of all time. While Manning has led the Broncos to 5 more wins this season over last season, the defense has been equally impressive, coming in the top 5 in the NFL in passing D, rushing D, scoring D, and leading the NFL in getting off the field so their All-World QB can launch an aerial assault (translation: Broncos lead the NFL in allowing lowest 3rd down conversions).

Then there’s Flacco. Good ole’ Joe. Poor kid. Reminds me of the struggles of Eli Manning before we all decided you couldn’t spell Elite with ELI because he added elusive hardware. Thing is, while Flacco goes downfield more than any other QB in the NFL and has a better completion percentage with the long ball, that form of football is high risk and while Boldin provided the Ravens with their reward last week, it’s not going to work against the Broncos defense. Broncos win 31-10.

Texans at Patriots

JJ Watt is one of my favorite players to watch. He looks just like my baby brother and won the Lott IMPACT Trophy the first year I became a voter. I’d love to see the Texans win. Both teams are 10-1 against common opponents. The Pats went 1-3 against the NFC West, and added a loss to the Ravens while the Texans went 2-2 against the NFC North, and added losses to the Colts and Pats.  The Pats have a tough time against strong pass rushes while the Texans lost games to teams that use the big play.

We know about the Texans’ last trip to Foxboro. It was uglier than me with pink hair. But you can reference the Pats’ week 13 45-3 annihilation of the Jets in 2010 for apt perspective to offer Houston fans because the Jets followed that performance in the divisional round of the playoffs and took the Pats out 28-21, in Foxboro. So there’s hope Texan fans… Of course, Rex Ryan employed a new defensive strategy to handle the Pats and Jim Leonard was back for the Jets and spectacular in that game… but I digress…  

I’m trying to find reasons for a Houston win because I’d like to see it. But the Texans won’t get beaten as badly by the Pats, I just don’t see enough evidence to support an upset bid here. Pats win 28-21.

NFC Games

Seahawks at Falcons

Come Sunday, the Seahawks will have traveled more than 8500 miles in 7 days. Read that again. So that pounding running game is taking a pounding itself and this team will be TIRED come the 4th quarter when they are usually at their best. I have no idea why the team didn’t strategize better. So while the Falcons run defense is a liability, only 3 teams in the NFL give up more rushing touchdowns, I can’t see Seattle’s running game being at it’s best.

Chris Clemons being out is a significant drop off for the Hawks and as great, GREAT, as Russell Wilson has been in the post season and back stretch, no body can endure that kind of physical stress and be at their physical best against one of the NFL’s more elite offenses.  Falcons, the 1 seed, advance 30-14.

Packers at Niners

You know I’m a Niners fan. If Alex Smith were in this game, I’d take the Niners. But he’s not. So I can’t. While Kaepernick is a better weapon and certainly a more explosive athlete, it’s too much pressure to stick him in a head to head battle against Aaron Rodgers. Now, I realize he beat Drew Brees and Tom Brady head to head and on the road. The concern with Kaep is the Niners then want to throw more when he’s in. He’s 5-2 as a starter. His 5 wins: 28 or fewer pass attempts. His 2 losses: 30+ … If the Ninerst stick with the run, they’ll win the game. If Gore carries the ball more than Kaep attempts to throw, they’ll win. But if they don’t. Packers move on. I have a sinking feeling that the Niners will be forced to throw as the Packers can get hot fast. As painful as this is to type right now. Packers win 24-20.

I’ve never wanted to be more wrong than right now. 

 

Buehler's Conference Title Game Picks

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Conference Title Games

Welp, 3 games left in the season (single tear drop). Then we’re relegated to draft news, coaching hires, rehashing the newest ink in history books and, yes, some baseball (more tears).

BUT before that happens, we get some juicy conference title games. 3 of the 4 teams in last year’s conference title games are back. The only team not making the trip is the team that won the whole darn thing… God bless the Giants.

One game’s a rematch, the other is impending slaughter. Let’s start with the former.

AFC Title Game

Ravens at Patriots

This is not only a regular season rematch, but a rematch of last year’s AFC Title game. The AFC Title game last year was decided on a dropped ball by Lee Evans and a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff. Shockingly, those names are not found on this year’s Ravens’ roster. Instead Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones have been blazing down the sidelines, Anquan Boldin, who also saw costly drops in last year’s playoffs has been clutch this year and Justin Tucker has been the difference in the win in Denver.

A lot is being made of the notion that the Ravens are a team of destiny and Ray Lewis’s pending retirement is willing this team to victory. Many point to their win over the Broncos as evidence to that notion. I point to Peyton Manning’s interception and the Broncos’ lousy offensive game plan to explain that upset. Destiny schmestiny. This is football. Let’s not romanticize this matchup (I’ll do that with the next one, as I’m sure you’ll notice).

When looking at this Patriots-Ravens matchup, the obvious is that the Patriots are 7-1 in AFC Title games and Tom Brady has more post seasons win than any other quarterback in the history of the game. When you take into account the Patriots’ resurging running attack, the balance on offense is breathtaking. Still, I see two names making the biggest impact in this game.  Terrell Suggs and Rob Gronkowski. One is playing (Suggs) and one is not (Gronk). In the week 3 matchup, won 31-30 by the Ravens in Baltimore, the reverse was true. Gronk played and Suggs did not. The Ravens rallied from 13 and 9-point deficits early and late in the game to take the win. Baltimore won’t forget that. Additionally, the Patriots lost this year to the Cardinals, Seahawks, and Niners. Only Kaepernick comes close to exposing the back end of a secondary like Flacco can and they all have a solid pass rush which has long been the secret to success against Brady. With Suggs providing pressure on Brady, Lewis roaming the middle to suppress that running game, and the Pats missing Gronk, this game is going to be on the shoulders of Welker who hasn’t been as reliable as years past. Especially going across the middle. There’s no reason to suppose the Ravens are a team of destiny when the matchups favor them. For the first time in a decade, there will be a team not named Steelers, Colts or Patriots in the Super Bowl. Ravens win 31-28.

NFC Title Game

Niners at Falcons

I’ll spare you the long post. The Niners are a better team. All around.  The Falcons don’t have the linebackers to deal with Gore, let alone the headache that is Colin Kaepernick. The only way the Falcons win this game is if Kaepernick turns the ball over 3+ times. He can do it twice, I still think the Niners overcome and win. Justin Smith absorbing the double teams for Aldon Smith makes all the difference in the world to the Niners’ defense and the Niners won’t gift-wrap a whole half the way the Seahawks did. It will be 60 minutes of excellent football (provided Kaep doesn’t do that 3 TO thing) and the NFC will be represented in the Super Bowl by the greatest franchise in the history of sports (slight bias seeping through). Niners win 35-21.

Overall, meeting my Niners in New Orleans for the Super Bowl might be the coolest thing I’ve done in my professional career… so IF they don’t end up pulling out the win, you’ll likely find me walking aimlessly through a desert wondering what my next career might be. Here’s to a happy ending…  

 

Buehler's Wildcard Picks

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Buehler’s Week 18 NFL Picks

I know what you’re thinking: “Glad the Niners got a first-round bye so Buehler can’t ooze bias through her NFL picks.” … I hear ya. And you’re right. So while the Niners have a week off to consider a multitude of ways to sufficiently throttle the unlucky team that sojourns to The Stick, I’ll leave the remaining oozing bias for next week and stick with the 4 games happening this weekend.

Saturday’s Games:

Bengals at Texans

These two teams find themselves in the exact same place as they did last year for Wildcard weekend. Well, sort of. The Texans have their starting quarterback, who wasn’t available last year, and the Bengals have an improved defense that is often forgotten in casual conversation. Last year, then rookie, Andy Dalton was called upon to throw 42 times, was picked on 3 of those passes and the Bengals were bounced by a better Texans team.

But, would you believe now second-year man, Dalton, has more postseason experience than Matt Schaub? Or that only 1 team throws more passes of 40+ yards than Cinci? Meanwhile, the Texans give up more big plays than any other playoff team. How about the running game? Texans have a big time runner in Arian Foster, who was the key to last year’s playoff win, but while they’re 4th in the league in attempts per game, they are 13th in the league in terms of 1st down percentage. So they run a lot, but it’s not moving the chains. For contrast, the Redskins and Pats are #1 and #2 in attempts, respectively, and #2 and #1 in 1st down percentage respectively.

The other key ingredient for each team is their defensive line. The Bengals are #3 in the league in sacks, the Texans are close behind at #5. However, if the Bengals can slow JJ Watt, who has collected 20.5 sacks on the season, the next most prolific quarterback threat is Antonio Smith with 7 sacks. Meanwhile, the Bengals have shared responsibilities between Geno Atkins (12.5 sacks) and Michael Johnson (11.5) and some supporting cast with Wallace Gilberry (6.5) and Carlos Dunlap (6). The Bengals have more weapons to get at the passer and we know the Texans are a one-trick pony. If Cinci can slow Foster down and force Schaub to throw the ball more than he’s comfortable, the Bengals defense will do it’s part to snag Marvin Lewis’s first playoff win. And if the Bengals can corral any semblance of a running game more than what they accomplished last year, you’ll be watching the Bengals move on to Denver in the divisional round.  Bengals win 24-21.

Vikings at Packers

This is the easiest game of the weekend to pick. Vikings at home barely beat the Packers who had little to play for. The Packers at home, despite a flawed defense, despite Peterson’s heroics are just too much for the Vikings. Packers win 35-20.

Sunday’s Games

Colts at Ravens

I worked for the Colts last season. I was at every home game as they went 0-2, 0-4, 0-8, 0-11, 0-13… I was also there when they logged the second and final win of the season. Week 17 against the Houston Texans. I watched as Dan Orlovsky found Reggie Wayne in the end zone with 23 seconds left on the clock. The team had nothing to fight for, but they found more than enough fire to knock the division leader in the teeth and send them into the post season with a loss that many considered meaningless, but it demonstrated a will to win in the Colts that has perpetuated the most improbable of regular seasons in NFL history. The Colts are the second team to ever go from 2 wins to 11 wins in one season. They saw THAT dramatic of a turnaround with a rookie general manager, rookie head coach, rookie interim head coach, rookie quarterback, rookie running back…etc… Most think it’s remarkable they made the playoffs (something predicted in this space before week 9), but what’s really remarkable is they aren’t overly impressed with their own success. THEY expected it.

Meanwhile the Ravens are getting Ray Lewis back and while he is the emotional leader and while you suppose his presence alone will improve the defense, he can’t help Joe Flacco. He can’t help Anquan Boldin catch the ball. Lewis isn’t the guy that’s going to get Torrey Smith open. The Ravens do not do well when under pressure. And the Colts don’t realize they are under any. The Horseshoe will continue to SHOCK the unknowing football world, but those who understand what makes a great team tick won’t be shocked at all. Colts win 24-21.

Seahawks at Redskins

Perhaps the only team in the NFL scorching the postseason scene more than Seattle is the Redskins. And as usual, the quarterbacks are getting the bulk of attention in this match up. But as unusual as these two players are, that does make a lot of sense. Last year’s Bengals/Texans matchup was the first time in NFL history two rookies went at it in the playoffs, and this year it’s happening again, except intentionally. I could jot another 500 words on the impressive seasons of RG3 and Russell Wilson, but while the quarterbacks are leading the conversation in most media outlets, I’m looking at this game as Marshawn Lynch versus Alfred Morris.

Marshawn Lynch was beaten in head-to-head rushing only 3 times this season, Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson and Reggie Bush were the backs to rush for more yards in those matchups. The Seahawks lost 2 of those games. No team in the NFL runs the ball more than Washington and the Seattle run defense is mediocre, giving up 4.5 yards a carry. The Seahawks have won 5 straight, the Skins have won 7 in a row. The Hawks took a trip through the NFC West, beat the Bills and Bears. Not a daunting task when you consider the aging Bears defense, Niners emotional trip from New England to Seattle and the Cards', Bills' and Rams' inconsistencies.  The Skins beat the Giants, Cowboys (twice), Eagles (twice), Browns and Ravens in their winning streak. They beat the same team twice, twice. That’s no fluke. They beat Eli and Flacco. They faced down a good pass rush in the Browns. They embarrassed Tony Romo in week 17. I know everyone thinks RG3 at 80% isn’t good enough to beat the Seattle pass rush and I’m telling you he won’t have to be because Alfred Morris is feeling just fine.  I was born and raised in Seattle. Watched them carefully in 2005 as the franchise took it’s first-ever trip to the Super Bowl and I have still NEVER seen or heard THIS much love for the Seahawks. Ever. But when it comes to the game Sunday, it won’t matter how hot the Hawks were in the regular season. Skins win 28-14.

Wildcard weekend is wild, and these games are sure to keep us on our seats! Can’t wait!!

 

 

 

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