Kansas City Chiefs

The Big Game

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The matchup for Super Bowl LV is set, Kansas City (14-2) versus Tampa Bay (11-5).

Tom Brady led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl in his first season with the team and his tenth appearance in the big game.

Tampa Bay will be the first team to play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium.

When it comes to this it seems like a technicality because there have been teams that played in their hometown but not stadium.

For instance, the 1979 Los Angeles Rams played Super Bowl XIV at the Rose Bowl. The 1984 San Francisco 49ers played Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium.

This is a matchup of the young upstart QB against the greatest of all time.

The Chiefs are defending champions, led by Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes was second in the league in passing yards with 4,740, 38 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Brady was third with 4,633, 40 TD’s and 12 picks.

Both teams are loaded with offensive weapons. Tight end Travis Kelce is fifth in receptions (105) and second in receiving yards (1,416) in the league, which includes wide receivers. He also had 11 touchdowns. Tyreek Hill had 87 receptions for 1,276 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Tampa Bay’s star play makers have missed a few games this season with injuries.

Mike Evans had 70 catches, 1,006 yards and 13 TD’s. Chris Godwin played in 12 games with 65 receptions, 840 yards and 7 touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski had 45 catches, 623 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Buccaneers also have two talented running backs, Leonard Fournette and Ronald Jones.

These teams met in Week 12 in Tampa. Kansas City won 27 – 24, but the game did not seem as close as the final score.

The Chiefs led 20 – 7 at halftime and the Bucs scored 14 points in the fourth quarter. Hill had 13 receptions, 269 yards and 3 touchdowns. The number one priority will be to stop him in this game.

Tampa Bay is 6th in total defense and Kansas City is 16th. The Chiefs are average on defense but in today’s NFL they just need to outscore opponents.

The road to the Super Bowl was very different for these teams. The Bucs were the fifth seed in the NFC, so they had to play three road games. They beat Washington, New Orleans and Green Bay to get here. The NFC Championship was a hard fought 31 – 26 win over the Packers.

“Tom is the GOAT (greatest of all time),” said Bucs receiver Scotty Miller, who caught a 39-yard touchdown pass with 1 second left until halftime. “Last year, we ended 7-9. This year, we’re going to the Super Bowl. He’s the biggest reason.”

The Chiefs were the number one seed in the AFC so they had home field advantage and a bye week in the first round.

They played Cleveland in the divisional round and won 22 – 17. Mahomes was knocked out of the game with a concussion.

In the AFC Championship they beat Buffalo 38 – 24. There were several times in the game where both teams got into scuffles.

I think this is going to be a very close game. Losing the first meeting should give Tampa Bay an advantage because they know what to expect.

Also, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienimy is the hottest candidate to get a head coaching job. This has to provide some distraction for him going in to this game.

The Big Game

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The matchup for Super Bowl LIV is set, San Francisco versus Kansas City. The 49ers are the top seed in the NFC and the Chiefs are No. 2 in the AFC.

The teams are polar opposites. San Fran (15-3) has an elite defense, ranked second in total defense. They only give up 19 points per game and 282 yards. They have a great front four and can generate pressure with them. They ranked fifth in sacks with 48.

They also rank second in rushing offense. They average 31 rushing plays and 144 yards per game. The only team that had more yards was Baltimore.

This is old school football we used to see in the 80’s and 90’s. The surprising thing is that the Niners don’t have a bell cow running back.

They have a true committee with Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert.

Each of them has at least 530 yards during the season. Mostert was the star of the NFC Championship game against Green Bay, rushing for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns.

“I did have a lot of doubters and naysayers,” said Mostert, who has been cut seven times in his career. “Now I get to actually tell them, ‘Look where I’m at now. I never gave up on my dreams.”

Kyle Shanahan is in his third season as head coach in San Francisco. He was the offensive coordinator for Atlanta prior to this and he coached them in Super Bowl LI.

The Falcons had a decisive 28 – 3 lead late in the third quarter but lost. Shanahan was criticized for being too aggressive and not trying to run the ball more to control the clock.

Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo only had 8 pass attempts in the NFC Championship. He’s the one obvious weak link on the team.

San Francisco is playing in their seventh Super Bowl. They are trying to tie Pittsburgh and New England for the most Super Bowl wins for a franchise with six.

On the flip side Patrick Mahomes is the catalyst for the Kansas City offense. He was the league MVP last season. He missed two games in 2019 and still finished 10th in passing yards. Garoppolo was 12th.

In the AFC Championship, Mahomes threw for 294 yards, 3 TD’s and 0 interceptions. He also ran for 53 yards and a touchdown. The Chiefs (14-4) have not been to a Super Bowl since 1970.

KC has great skill players and a lot of speed. Travis Kelce might be the best tight end in the league. Tyreek Hill is a top ten receiver and the fastest player in the NFL.

The Chiefs do not have a running game. They were 23rd in rushing and average 98 ypg. KC also has an average defense, ranked 17th in total defense. They give up 350 ypg.

Andy Reid has the most wins without a Super Bowl victory. He’s looking to change that in Miami.

I think this will be a very close game. I think the 49ers can get pressure on Mahomes without blitzing. They have a good secondary, so they can slow down the explosive Chiefs offense.

Kansas City’s defense has to stop San Francisco from running and force Jimmy G to beat them.

I give the slight edge to the 49ers.

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Giving Back

By: Josh Aubrey

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Once again, one of the top football players in the NFL was in Bulloch County, giving back to the community where he grew up, as Kansas City All-Pro linebacker Justin Houston held his annual Faith Before Fame weekend.

Over the past four years Houston’s event has grown, from a free youth football camp, to adding a celebrity basketball game, and now this year the addition of a cheerleading and dance clinic, a three on three basketball tournament, and a kickball tournament.

“This is about trying to reach as many people as we can,” Houston said. “Trying to get everyone to come together as one community. We continue to expand what we are doing in order to reach more kids.”

“As a kid I dreamed one day of being able to play in the NFL,” Houston said. “Now that I have reached that goal, anything I can do to help another kid reach their goal, or just put a smile on a kid’s face, I’m happy to do it.”

The football camp saw a few hundred kids turn out and once again there were many current and former NFL players on hand to give them instruction.

“A lot of these guys played at Georgia or have ties to the state of Georgia,” Houston said. “I try and help a lot of these guys when they have their camps and they are happy to help me out. The NFL players are good about giving back and helping one another.”

Among the former University of Georgia NFL players that have helped Justin the past four years is Akeem Dent, who played for the Falcons and the Houston Texans.

“It’s so important to try and give back to the communities where we grew up,” Dent said. “You can tell when we talk to these kids they really listen to what we are saying. Just getting them to come out of their houses – in this kind of heat – where a lot of them are playing video games, shows they at least want to try, and there’s a great turn out here.”

Some of the kids at the camp will also want to follow in Houston’s steps and play at Statesboro High. Many of the younger current Blue Devil players participated in the camp, while many of the older ones helped work.

“It’s such a fantastic opportunity for our kids,” said Statesboro High football coach Jeff Kaiser. “Our kids love being around Justin and the other NFL players he brings here. He emphasizes the importance of hard work and pushing through the tough times. He also brings his message of faith before fame, and that is the same type of message we try and bring to our players as well.”

Houston’s volunteer staff is full of former University of Georgia players and with the Bulldogs nearly winning the national championship last year Houston and his former teammates have high hopes for this year’s team.

“It was amazing to watch how close they got to winning it all this year,” Houston said. “They have a lot of talent coming back. I went down and watched a practice session and I’m really impressed by the coaching staff. They really pay attention to detail during practice and I’d be surprised if they don’t make another run this year.”

 

Carolina Panthers Blow Playoff Chances

jjBy: JJ Lanier

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

At this point in the NFL season you pretty much have an idea where every team stands.

Sure, there may be an anomaly like the Kansas City Chiefs last year, who started out 1-5 and then went on the win their final 10 games, but for the most part there aren’t too many big surprises.

In the case of the Carolina Panthers, they are basically the NFL’s version of HBO’s “Vinyl”. There are high expectations at the beginning of the season due to the person who gets top billing, his supporting cast, and the people behind the scenes who put everything together.

Only it turns out halfway through the season you realize you now spend your Sundays not only wishing for it all to be over, but you’re watching episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm instead because you need a good laugh.

Needless to say, the 2016 campaign that started out with hopes of another possible Super Bowl appearance more or less came to an end when Carolina lost to those aforementioned Chiefs, 17-20 this past weekend.

Sure, they’re not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs as of yet, but at 3-6 they might as well be.

The Kansas City loss was actually fairly apropos when you look at the Panthers season as a whole. Much like those lofty expectations to start the year, the Panthers had a lot going for them coming into the weekend.

After a two game winning streak, where it looked like the Panthers Defense was starting to come around and Jonathan Stewart returned to the backfield, things were starting to go their way.

Even though they entered the game 3-5 a win, coupled with what ended up being an Atlanta loss, would put Carolina in better position than you would normally expect for a sub .500 team. Well, obviously, that didn’t happen.

Carolina played like the better team for most of the game, but like in a number of losses they’ve had this year, they just couldn’t close it out in the end. I can almost count on the missed opportunities and mental mistakes taking place about as often as Bobby Cannavale’s character doing lines of coke, which was just about every week.

Even if Carolina were to avenge all three of their NFC South losses from earlier this year, which is a huge “if”, they still play both the Raiders and Seattle on the road, in back to back weeks, followed by a much improved San Diego Chargers team in Charlotte.

Throw in the Washington game and 8-8 is about the best any Panthers fan can realistically hope for. Even a record of 9-7 probably wouldn’t be enough for a playoff appearance.

Over the next two months there will be a lot of talk about “showing what they’re made of” and “getting a jumpstart on next year” which I’ve always thought was a load of crap. The Jaguars finished last season on a tear and was a popular pick to win the AFC South. How is that whole “jumpstart on next year” thing working out for them?

And putting forth a courageous effort? How is playing hard the remainder of this season going to have any impact on next year?