The Seahawks dominated the Broncos in a way few, if any expected. Their defense put the clamps on one of the most prolific offenses in the history of the league. Given the fact Seattle has a young quarterback with a low salary, they will certainly be one of the favorites in 2014. Their biggest test may again reside in their own division in the form of the San Francisco 49ers - who mirror the Seahawks in many facets.
Make no mistake, Seattle’s victory will create another paradigm shift in the league as teams will revert back to focusing on running the ball and building a powerful old school defense. It is a copy cat league but more importantly cyclical. Anytime something is deemed dead - take it with a grain of salt. Now the traditional pocket passer seems to be a thing of the past but there is little doubt that will change as well.
NFL Talent Awards:
AFC - Peyton Manning is the AFC Offensive Player of the Year. Although he disappointed in the Super Bowl, the grizzled veteran had a remarkable 2013 throwing for an astounding 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns. The end is near but expect another big season for Manning in 2014.
The Defensive POY goes to former Manning teammate Robert Mathis. The wily veteran accumulated 19.5 sacks in 2013. Mathis flourished under the tutelage of Chuck Pagano and will be a factor again in 2014 as the Colts aspire to be a championship contender.
The AFC Rookie of the Year is the unheralded Kiko Alonso. The Buffalo linebacker was all over the field finishing third in the league with 159 tackles. A pleasant surprise for Bills fans, Alonso quickly became a fan favorite. His aggressive style fits well with the Orchard Park faithful.
The Coach of the Year is Andy Reid. The former Eagles boss rejuvenated the Chiefs leading them to the playoffs. Despite a devastating meltdown to the Colts, Kansas City appears to have a bright future under Reid. He has ignited one of the best fan bases in the entire league. Expect another playoff run in 2014.
LeSean McCoy takes home the NFC Offensive POY honor with 1,607 rushing yards. McCoy was a critical part of the remarkable turnaround in Philadelphia which resulted in a playoff appearance. Always a dynamic player, in Chip Kelly’s system McCoy is often in one-on-one situations which is impossible for almost every defensive player in the league.
The Defensive POY goes to stud linebacker Luke Kuechly. He anchored one of the best defenses in the league leading the Panthers to the NFC South crown. Kuechly is a tenacious sideline to sideline tackler with unusual instincts. He will be one of the best middle backers for years to come.
The Rookie of the Year goes to Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy. He bruised his way to 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Packers were solely a passing team in the past but the emergence of Lacy gave the team a truly balanced offense. If Lacy can get in better shape - his game should further develop making Green Bay a legitimate Super Bowl contender.
There are many deserving coaches in the NFC but the job Bruce Arians did was remarkable. Although the Cardinals missed the playoffs, their turnaround to a 10-6 team in the tough NFC West was astounding. Arians proved his worth in Indianapolis and he cemented it in Arizona. With Carson Palmer under center, to pull off a similar record in 2014 however will be a monumental challenge.
The off season is now fully in place with the NFL combine beginning on Feb. 19. Always a popular event, the buzz will be even greater this year due to Johnny Football participating in addition to the quarterback hoopla near the top of the draft.
March 3 marks the deadline for all teams to designate franchise players. The leagues New Year starts on March 11, marking the beginning of free agency.
The NFL draft is pushed back this season with the first round taking place in New York City on May 9. Unlike most professional sports, the NFL keeps on churning, even during the off season.
We will take a few weeks off leading up to the NFL combine. The “off” weeks will consist of more film study and combine evaluation. From there positional rankings will take place with the ever popular mock draft on the near horizon. Remember “We Don’t Mock – We Educate.”
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