January 12, 2014 |
DENVER - To the outside world, it's Peyton versus Tom - again - with a trip to the Super Bowl hanging in the balance. Not surprisingly, that's not how the Denver Broncos quarterback views it. "Tom Brady has just been an outstanding quarterback for such a long time, but the game next week is Broncos versus the Patriots," Peyton Manning said after a 24-17 victory over San Diego in a divisional playoff game. "I know there will be some individual matchups that will get headlines.
January 11, 2014
San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh and Carolina's Ron Rivera, teammates with the Chicago Bears in the 1980s, square off with very similar teams. Both have stifling defenses, productive power running games, and mobile, dynamic quarterbacks who can pick up first downs with their feet. Whereas Colin Kaepernick helped bring the 49ers to the brink of a Lombardi Trophy last season, Cam Newton will make his first postseason appearance for the Panthers. Carolina stunned San Francisco in November with a 10-9 victory at Candlestick Park, but the 49ers were without Kaepernick's favorite target, receiver Michael Crabtree, who missed 11 games because of a torn Achilles' tendon.
January 6, 2014 |
The San Diego Chargers were the surprise team of the wild-card round in the NFL playoffs over the weekend, the seven-point underdogs pulling away from the Bengals at Cincinnati to move on to the divisional round. The question is, can the Chargers, winners of their last five games, continue that streak Sunday in Denver against Peyton Manning and the No. 1-seeded Broncos? The two teams split their games during the regular season, each winning on the road. Sam Farmer, the Times' NFL columnist, likes the Chargers' chances, despite their 10-point underdog status.
January 5, 2014 |
Indianapolis and San Diego are moving on in the NFL playoffs. And Sam Pagano is still catching his breath. His older son, Chuck, is coach of the Colts, who erased a 28-point second-half deficit Saturday to stun Kansas City. Sam's younger son, John, is defensive coordinator of the Chargers, who Sunday upset favored Cincinnati, 27-10, ending the Bengals' season with their first home defeat. About 1,200 miles west, a family erupted in celebration. "We're sitting here, my wife and I, and we're exhausted," the elder Pagano said from his home in Boulder, Colo.
January 4, 2014 |
Being labeled the biggest, baddest team on the block doesn't matter much in the NFL playoffs. Since realignment in 2002, only twice has a No. 1 seed in either conference gone on to win the Super Bowl: New Orleans in 2009 and New England in 2003. Just as many No. 6 seeds have lifted the Lombardi Trophy during that span: Green Bay in 2010 and Pittsburgh in 2005. This is especially meaningful to the sixth-seeded San Diego Chargers, who know firsthand that a gaudy regular-season record isn't all it's cracked up to be. They open the playoffs as a seven-point underdog Sunday at Cincinnati, where the Bengals have not lost this season.