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February 13, 2014
Sports Heaven has switched to blogging on our Wix site. To see new posts, please visit the link below. Thank you for your continued support of our blog and we hope that you like our new look.
Follow us on twitter at @SportsHeaven2
February 9, 2014
By: Sam Kluender
The most confusing and unpredictable team in college hoops right now is the Wisconsin Badgers. Before the season started the Badgers also seemed to be the hardest team to predict according to the experts. Many predictions from ESPN, CBS, and so on had Wisconsin anywhere from the lower half of the Big Ten to winning the entire conference. The main reason for that was probably not knowing how the team would play with the loss of seniors Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans, and Mike Bruesewitz. The upcoming draft class, according to ESPN's recruiting rankings, were not very good either. With only one starting senior on the team now, Ben Brust, Bo Ryan would have to rely on a much younger and inexperienced team.
Well, those who predicted the Badgers to finish 1st in the Big Ten or close to there were probably feeling pretty good about themselves a month or so into the season. With a starting lineup of Frank Kaminsky, Sam Dekker, Josh Gasser, Ben Brust, and Traevon Jackson, the Badgers started the season with a bang. To kick off the season Wisconsin found themselves playing three really good tournament teams in St. Johns, #11 Florida, and UW-Green Bay. The Badgers scored 86 points in their first game against St. Johns which was something unheard of for a Bo Ryan team. Under Bo Ryan, you can expect games in the 50's or 60's. With his swing offense, the team would slow down the game to their level, not take many shots, and play lights out defense. The win against Florida was a huge morale booster since in the past Wisconsin has had issues beating highly ranked non conference opponents. Last year, the Badgers weren't able to beat Florida, so that win helped push them forward.
Wisconsin kept chugging along beating a few easier teams in Bowling Green, Oral Roberts, and North Dakota pushing them to 6-0. The outlook of the team was very optimistic at that point but people weren't ready to pencil the team in as one of the best in the nations just yet. Their toughest stretch of games were just about to start when they went on the road to Cancun to play in the Cancun Challenge. They dominated there when they beat West Virginia, Virginia, and St. Louis. This is when more and more started to jump on the Badgers bandwagon. They came back home and beat rival Marquette and won their next 3 games to finish their non conference schedule undefeated at 13-0. Right then there were only 5 teams left undefeated. Never has a Bo Ryan team ever been considered elite nationally. Every season they would be very good and finish in the top 4 in the Big Ten, but would choke in March. Being undefeated going into conference play, many thought this might be his first elite team and a potential #1 seed.
The Badgers started their conference schedule being #4 in the nation, which hadn't happened in almost a decade. Like their non conference, the Badgers went into Big Ten play like a bull, defeating Northwestern, Iowa, and Illinois. Everything was going great, but there were some concerns about the defense. Although at 16-0 and #3 in the country, fans didn't feel like it was too bad of a problem; they were wrong.
Their first loss of the season came on January 14th on the road against Indiana. Like usual, Wisconsin shot well but couldn't defend down low. Indiana was able to keep passing down to Yogi Ferrell or drive the lane and Wisconsin had no way of stopping. From there on out everything got worse for Wisconsin. Leaks in their play became more evident and teams started to exploit them. No longer did they look like the #3 team in the country anymore. They came back home and lost to Michigan. The offense wasn't too bad, but the defense let Michigan shoot lights out and score 77 points on them. Knowing Bo Ryan you'd think this wasn't too bad since he's known for making corrections and fixing teams, well you were wrong. Desperately needing a win, they had to go on the road to Minnesota. The holes got even bigger when Wisconsin didn't even put up a fight, losing 81-68. They finally broke their losing streak by beating Purdue pretty easily 72-58. The winning didn't last, however, and in their lowest point of the season, the Badgers lost at home against Northwestern. They then dropped another game at home in a heart-breaker against Ohio State. The Badgers had lost 3 straight at the Kohl Center which had never happened before. Somehow they beat Illinois on the road and this is where they stand right now. After starting 16-0. the Badgers are now 18-5 and only 5-5 in the Big Ten.
Which team are they? Are they the team we all thought could make the Final Four at 16-0 or the struggling team who may be lucky to get past the 2nd round in the tournament? Well, probably neither. Certainly going 16-0 is no fluke, especially when their non-conference was the the hardest according to SOS. On the other hand, Big Ten play is much different than many of the teams they played in that winning streak. Right now they dropped out of the AP Top 25, but Joe Lunardi of ESPN still has them as a #4 seed in the tournament.
The team has practically done a 180. Their offense who had been so good at the beginning is now inconsistent and keeps going through large stretches of minutes without baskets. No one seems to have confidence to make big shots anymore. The real test of their strength will come up soon where the Badgers have their toughest stretch of games on their schedule. Their upcoming games are against Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan, and Iowa. This is the time to make or break it. If they can pull out some wins, they can find themselves back in the top 15 and in great position for March or find themselves struggling to be a top 10 seed in the tournament.
I think they'll turn it around to a point. They have way too many great shooters on the team to continue to shoot as poorly as they have. The Badgers live and die by the 3 which has been one of their biggest weaknesses in January. It's not an issue of getting good looks so im inclined to believe the offense will get better. The defense is what it is, though. Changes can be made and personnel can rotate, but it isn't going to get significantly better. Bo Ryan is a good enough coach to make it good enough for them to be able to win any game as long as the offense hits their shots. I think Joe Lunardi has it just about right. This Wisconsin team is no longer as good as we all thought, but as a a 4 or 5 seed, it still isn't out of the realm of possibility that a Elite 8 or Final 4 berth can happen.
February 8, 2014
By: Brendan Luksik
Who's excited for the Olympics? I know I am, even though we all know that the Winter Olympics are the Summer Olympics little brother. We also know that there has been some drama about security in the Sochi Olympics this year. But all the popularity and politics aside, the winter Olympics provide a different dynamic than their summer counterpart. And with that comes a variety of different style sports. Because fewer people regularly watch the Winter Olympics, fewer know about the games. I think we all like to be educated people so here are 5 Winter Olympic Sports you probably didn't existed or didn't know much about.
1. The Nordic Combined
Originating in Norway from competitions amongst foot soldiers in the army, Nordic Combined was first introduced in 1892 in Oslo and joined the Olympic ticket in 1924. That being the first Winter Olympic games, this sport is one of the originals. The discipline is the combination of two events: ski jumping and cross-country skiing. At the Sochi games, medals will be contested in Men's individual, Men's Sprint and Team 4x 5K.
The ski Jumping portion comes before the Cross Country portion because the way in which the point system works out, the field is more competitive than after the cross country being done first. The Winner is determined using a point system the Olympics use the Gundersen scoring method. Points are earned for distance and style in the Ski Jumping portion and for speed in Cross Country method. Points earned from the Jumping portion determine seeding time for the Cross Country portion and more points are then awarded after its completion with the fastest time getting the max points and a scale of lessening points for the finishing order behind him.
2. Super-G Alpine Skiing
The Super Giant Slalom or Super-G discipline is a sub discipline of Alpine Skiing. This event first appeared on the Olympic ticket at the 1988 Calgary games. It became popular enough to make World Cup test runs in as early as 1983. It was soon moved to the Olympics after approval of the International Ski Federation.
Super-G is very similar to the Slalom event in that both have a series of gates that the contestants must navigate through. Missing a gate will disqualify a contestant and the contestant with the fastest time is the winner. Super-G events have fewer gates than the other disciplines (30 for women and 35 for men) and are sloped less severely than downhill events, even though they are considered a speed event. Unlike normal Slalom, Super-G contestants get only a single run at the hill.
3. Ski cross
If you never heard of this one, that's ok. Ski cross made its debut at the 2010 Vancouver games and will be returning for only its second Olympic ticket. Very similar to Moto cross and its Olympic counterpart Boarder cross (the same thing with snowboards) was originally marketed as a promotional event for the Audi Quattro and was supposed to be called "Quattro Racing." The International Ski Federation took notice and added Ski Cross to their World Cup events in 2006 and the sport took hold from there.
In the event, races are tie trialed into a bracket, with the fastest 32 making it into the tournament. From here racers are timed down the hill racing side by side in 4-man sets until the bracket is played out to the finals. While Ski Cross has the speed of a downhill discipline it is considered a freestyle event because the contestants must work with the terrain, jumping and swerving while they race.
4. Figure Skating Team Event
This is a new twist on one of the Winter Olympics Biggest Events. Figure skaters can now be judged for team events. The Sochi games are the first Olympiad to feature team figure skater scoring. Based on their scores from the 2013 World Finals, 10 Countries earned the right to compete for the medal at the Olympics. Canada, Russia, China, the US, and Great Britain all made the list.
With scores being earned identically to the rules of the standard individual events, each country can compile up to 8 scores from each discipline their athletes compete. Which 8 scores will be used, are determined by the countries prior to the events. The top 5 scoring countries will move on to the final free skate that determines the winner. In the first round, there is no additional skate for the athletes. The scores earned during the individual events are the scores used for the team event. It's like competing for two medals at once.
Also brand new on the Sochi ticket this year, is Snowboard Slopestyle. If it seems familiar that's because this is a direct adaptation from the very popular version seen during the Winter X-games. The discipline has grown very popular there and so blossomed into an Olympic sport.
The goal of Slopestyle is to achieve the most complex trick while jumping the highest altitude. The emphasis of the sport is on the contestant's ability to do a variety of complex tricks, not just a small set of skills. Contestants use a terrain park and jump on to and off of boxes, rails and slides. The contestants are judged for each run and the top scorer wins the gold.
February 7, 2014
By: John Morris
To most people, rolling a stone across the ice would be considered a leisure activity to avoid them being bored while walking along the sidewalk. You wouldn't consider that a special talent and wouldn't try to work on technique or style. However, to certain Olympic athletes, this is an art form that they have not only perfected, but cherish. I'm talking about Winter Olympic Curling. To some people this should not even be an event and call it "a waste of time and money." To others it is special event that highlights the need for technique, dedication, and talent.
To understand the sport, it's important to understand that curling is a team sport. No team can win without perfect communication and order with his/her teammates. Each team has a total of four players. Two curlers and two sweepers. The curlers alternate turns up and down the rink heaving large granite rocks at a target. Bending the rock to their will is a special skill that all curlers must master to become good enough to join the ranks of Olympic Curlers. The sweepers job is simple and complex at the same time and it has a rhythm to it that can entice the viewer to be enthralled by it. As the "stone" makes it down the rink, the sweepers attempt to speed it up by scraping the ice with their brooms in order to create speed and lessen the curve of the stone. It's a relatively simple game that is a real treat to watch.
For a game that has its roots traced back medieval Scotland, curling has only recently become a notable sport in the United States. Most people today would only associate the word curling with a workout that body-builders do to make their biceps large enough to be mistaken with a tree trunk. Even for those who know that curling exists do not fully grasp the concept of how difficult the sport is and how much work is put into it. It is a misunderstood sport by most accounts and for the most part is accused of not being competitive or skillful enough to be part of the Olympics.
In my personal opinion, I believe curling is an intriguing and fun sport to experience. The argument that it should not be an Olympic sport or a sport in general is an invalid point. The fact that these same people consider sports like bowling or ping pong legitimate sports, yet do not consider curling worthy of such a title are ludicrous. Curling is unique in its own regard for its special nature of attention to detail and strict technique. The players would agree that what they do takes a great deal of effort. Then again, everyone is still entitled to their personal opinion.
This years Olympics in Sochi are sure to be a real thrill with returning stars such as Bode Miller and Apolo Ohno. They will also be spiced up with the addition of new events such as Women's Ski Jumping and Snowboard Slopestyle. However, I will still be looking to the old game of curling for a source of entertainment during this years' Olympics. We will all see what this winter may bring.
February 6, 2014
By: Matt Goss
It is Olympic time again as we are weeks away from the 2014 Winter Games. This year's venue will be Sochi. As always, any NHL fan is anticipating the hockey that accompanies the games. It is country against country in an amazing stretch of hockey that puts one country on top of the others. Four years ago, the winner was Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver. It was an epic battle that poised Canada against the United States. Down 2-0, the United States brought it back to 2-2 at the end of the third with an immaculate goal by Zach Parise. Into the overtime these teams went scoreless before Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal for Canada, winning the gold. It was a great game that ultimately put Canada on top. Does Canada have the firepower to beat out the competition in 2014 at Sochi?
Crosby, this year's Captain of Team Canada, will lead the team into
Sochi with a powerhouse team. This team contains everything you could
ever want in a gold-medal winning team. Canada is always one of the
greatest competitors in hockey due to its great following in the
country. So many NHL players come from Canada, much more than any other
country, in the historical NHL and the contemporary NHL. This year's
team is stacked in all ways, offensively, defensively, and
Offensively, Team Canada has a great calling of forwards that are bound to be a threat. With players, like Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, John Tavares, Patrick Marleau, and Ryan Getzlaf, this team is not going to have too much trouble scoring goals when needed. Goal scoring is the job of all of these players and they do it better than almost anyone. This offense will be flexible to line pairings and straight up potent.
Defensively, the Canadian hockey team features some of the best defensemen in the league. Duncan Keith and Shea Weber are the two defensemen that any team would love to have on their Olympic team. Canada possesses both players as well as other great players like Dan Hamhuis, Drew Doughty, and Jay Bouwmeester. This defense will be able to combat any offense that is thrown its way.
2010 Canadian Captain Scott Niedermayer (left) lead the gold medal squad's defensive corps, but now that he is not on the team, younger players like Drew Doughty (right) will be expected to take on bigger roles.
Lastly, Canada has a good choice of goaltenders. Obviously any of these elite goaltenders will help the Canadian case for winning another gold medal. The three goaltenders this team can pick between are Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, and Mike Smith. Any of these goaltenders will only help Canada repeat as gold medal winners.
Canada hosts a very strong Olympic roster for Sochi. There is a good chance Canada will repeat as Olympic winners as their roster is powerful, skillful, and all-around good. Sochi will be a great test for this team as well as every other country's team. I predict Canada will repeat as Olympic champions as their team is just too strong in comparison to other teams. Canada, led by Crosby, will bring home Sochi's gold.
February 5, 2014
By: Tyler Heyl
This year in the NHL season is a very special season. The NHL is taking about a two week break from their season to observe the Olympics. Since hockey is an Olympic sport, it seems like every four year there is a debate whether or not NHL players should play in the Olympics. However, in recent history NHL players have always played in the Olympics. It has always been a great experience for the players, especially playing for their country, but nobody ever thinks about the Olympic break for the NHL player that does not get selected for the Olympics. What is the break like for him? Positive or Negative? Let's see if the break is worth it for the non-Olympic athletes.
Well what is good about it? Those players get two weeks off from a very punishing season. These players probably are very happy to get that time off to let their bodies heal some. This could make them fresher for the second part of the season and even make them better for a playoff run than the Olympic players. Also, it would give the players time to spend with their families since it is difficult to do that during the season. The most important thing I think is when players play in the Olympics they play against very good talent. Over the course of two weeks playing against this extraordinary talent, players could get into a little funk of not scoring and start a slump that continues into the regular season. This is especially true with goalies. Not going to the Olympics is definitely the safer play, especially to be fresher for the playoffs.
Now what is the disadvantage about it? Well, there is always disappoint for the players that have not been selected to play for their country. Also, with the two weeks off they are not playing any hockey so they need to keep in playing shape. The players need to be responsible enough to keep up their endurance. Two weeks can just be a long time away from hockey so it is very important to keep in shape. Also, normal All Star players do not necessarily make these Olympic rosters because the Canada and USA rosters are so competitive. Then the rosters of say Finland are not as competitive to get onto. So younger players that are not as good could get into the Olympics instead of the All-Star caliber veterans.
Overall, the pros outweigh the cons. So I believe that this Olympic break is extremely important for the NHL. The players that participate in the Olympics get a once in a lifetime experience to play in the Olympics and the players that do not get that opportunity benefit also. So it's a winning situation for the NHL.
February 4, 2014
By: Joel Norman
Is Kevin Durant the best player in the NBA? At the beginning of the season nine in ten people would have resoundingly have denied that. The debate of which player has been better seems to have been going on ever since LeBron James left dreary Cleveland for sunny Miami. For the past five years, Durant has averaged more points than James, but many say that James has the edge because of the two titles that he has won, including one head to head with Durant in 2012. This year, the difference between the two is much tougher to discover. Both have lead their respective teams to the tops of their separate conferences and both have put up their stellar numbers along the way, but one player has the edge.
Now that his twelve game streak of scoring 30 or more points is now over, it's time to seriously consider giving Kevin Durant the 2013-2014 MVP award. Oklahoma City has gone through much of this season without Russell Westbrook. Their All Star point guard has only played 25 games and none since Christmas Day when he reinjured his knee. Since Westbrook has been out, the Thunder have gone 16-6, largely because of Durant's efforts. Durant had a spectacular January, averaging 35.9 PPG, .549 FG%, and 6.1 APG. Oklahoma City topped teams like Houston, Golden State, Portland, San Antonio, and Miami during their season high 10 game win streak. There is no way that the Thunder would be at the top of the league if Durant was hurt and Westbrook was leading the pack.
On the flip side, LeBron James puts up a very solid case for why he should win MVP. James had to pick up the slack this year with Dwyane Wade having missed thirteen games this year and playing a career low 33.1 MPG because of his unreliable knees. While James' average of 26.2 PPG equals his lowest average as a member of the Heat, his field goal percentage of .578 is the best of his career and has been rising for eight straight years now. With Wade having to take on fewer minutes, James has had to lead the team more so this year than any other year whether it is by his play or by his voice. James' stats are a slight drop off from last year, but he is likely just saving all his energy for another long playoff run.
When looking at which player is better overall, I believe that that title still belongs to LeBron James. However, MVP voting is not supposed to be based on which player is better, but instead to which player is more valuable. That is why Kevin Durant should win the 2013-2014 NBA MVP Award. His super-human numbers each and every night have allowed his team to remain at the top of the league despite the crushing injury to Westbrook. Without Durant elevating his game to another level, the Thunder would be hovering around the 4th or 5th playoff seed in the West. While James has had to deal with injury problems to his sidekick, Durant has had to be the boss dog in Oklahoma City for the majority of the season without a second scorer to back him up the way that Westbrook did. If Durant wants to be known as the best player in the NBA, he will need more than just an MVP over James, he will need to dethrone the King by beating him in the Finals. Until then, James takes the title of the NBA's Finest.
February 2, 2014
By: Joel Norman
The first play of the game told the story. As Peyton Manning stepped up to the line of scrimmage for the first offensive play of the game for the Denver Broncos, he decided to change from shotgun formation and walked towards his center, Manny Ramirez, hiked it over Manning's head and into Denver's own end zone, which they would recover and would result in a safety. The second half opened quite differently, but with a similar result. Percy Harvin returned the kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown, making this the second year in a row that the winning team has opened the second with touchdown on a kick return. The Seattle Seahawks won their first ever Super Bowl with a 43-8 triumph. Fueled by a stellar defensive effort, Seattle proved they were as good as the hype suggested, unlike Denver.
Defense wins championships. It's an overused phrase, but it certainly rang true in Super Bowl XLVIII. While the opening play of the game was an example of miscommunication rather than the Seahawks' defense doing damage, they would go on to set the tone defensively from there. Manning would go on to throw two interceptions and be pressured throughout the game, despite throwing for 280 yards. Denver's offense was unable to get into any sort of a rhythm in the first half and their defense made Russell Wilson look like an elite NFL quarterback that he is not quite. While the Seahawks did put up 43 points, it wasn't really because Wilson had a monster game. He did go 18-25 with 2 touchdowns on 206 yards, but he received much help thanks to his defense's ability to get turnovers. Malcolm Smith's 69 yard pick-six helped, but the other two takeaways by Seattle gave Wilson great field position and the Seahawks were able to score each time that they got a turnover.
If there was any bright spot from this game for Denver, it's that Demaryius Thomas set an NFL record for receptions in the Super Bowl with thirteen and also had a touchdown and 118 yards to go along with it, but his fumble after getting a first down in the third quarter proved costly when Wilson threw a 23 yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Kearse. While their passing attack was strong, the Seahawks were able to get a strong running game too, despite not having any player rush for over 50 yards. With 135 yards combined, Seattle was able to be a threat on the ground in addition to the air. But the day belonged to the Seahawks' stellar secondary known as the "Legion of Boom" and if more than one player could receive the MVP award, then those players would have claimed it. Instead Smith would claim it because of his pick-six.
It's hard to grasp this Super Bowl. It was very sloppy and dominated by the predicted underdog. Dominant offensive teams have been stopped before, most recently the 2007 New England Patriots under Tom Brady, who at the time set the single season touchdown record with 50, but they only lost 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII. Much like Brady that year, Manning broke the single season touchdown record (55), won MVP, and lead his team to the best record in the league, but simply could not get it done. Manning falls to 1-2 in Super Bowl's and 11-12 in playoff games. He has made 13 Pro Bowl's, been a First Team All-Pro 7 times, and has won 5 MVP's, but has a losing record on the sport's biggest stage. All time in Super Bowl's, Manning has thrown three touchdowns and four interceptions. Despite being the MVP in his victorious Super Bowl XLVI, Manning's stats were eerily similar to how they were in his two losses. He may be one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but not the best. This was one of the more lousy Super Bowls, but that does not take away anything that Seattle did. Defense does in fact, win championships.
February 1, 2014
By: Sam Kluender
It's crazy to believe that the NFL season has already come and gone so quickly, but now it's time for the biggest sporting event in the world. This years Super Bowl has shaped up to be a really special one. The Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will face off on Sunday. The NFL has seemingly gone back to it's roots and this years game will be played outdoors in a cold weather climate. A few years ago it was something unheard of, but now it's a reality. Another somewhat overlooked tidbit is the fact that for the first time the #1 ranked offense and #1 ranked defense are squaring up in the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, both teams are #1 seeds which has only happened once since 1993.
The Denver Broncos are led by future hall of fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Before coming to Denver in 2012, Manning was already a hall of famer. The past two years though has made people think whether Manning might be the greatest QB of all time, and a Super Bowl victory will only help his case. His greatness the past two years has been helped by the combination of stars he has at his disposal. The Broncos wide receiving corp of Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and Demaryius Thomas has helped lead the teams offense to historic numbers. The difference between this team and others is that fact that Manning doesn't just have one great receiver to throw to, but 3. Defenses can't double team one guy and hope to shut down this offense. Denver's offense led the NFL this year in total yards, yards per game, as well as an NFL record for points. Not only did they lead the NFL in points per game at 37.9, they did it with a double digit cushion with the next best team, the Chicago Bears, at 27.8 points per game. The Bronos rushing game is far from as dominant as their passing attack, but is strong enough to help them instead of hurt them. They rank 15th in rushing yards and yards per game. Their rushing game is mostly Knowshon Moreno, but in recent weeks, Montee Ball is been a significant contributor.
The Seahawks are almost a polar opposite of the Broncos with their defense being historically great. Seattle's team is lead on offense by sophomore QB Russell Wilson and on defense by All- Pro cornerback Richard Sherman. As stated before, their defense is what has pushed this team this far. Their secondary, nicknamed The 'Legion of Boom', has shut down nearly every offense this season. The foundation of that secondary, Richard Sherman, led the NFL in 8 interceptions. As a team, they are #1 ranked in opposing passing yards a game at 172 and 7th in opposing rushing yards at 101.6. Like the Broncos rushing attack, the Seahawks offense is good enough to help them win games, but is not the driving force of the team. The injury laden offense for most of the season was not very good in the passing game. They finished the regular season 26th in the NFL at only just about 200 yards a game. Their rushing game led by Marshawn Lynch is the driving force in the offense. 'Beast Mode' had a over 1200 rushing yards this year to help put the Seahawks 4th in the NFL in rushing.
The match-up of the two teams is really going to be interesting. It's pretty much coming down to, will defense prevail or will offense? Will Manning be able to continue his historic season against a secondary so good that no other team he's played thus far has come close to matching? Will Lynch be able to run against the good Broncos run defense? Another factor to think about is the weather. The Super Bowl is not going to be the next Ice Bowl, but it will be cold. Weather in the 30's or 40's with the chance of snow will definitely play a role. On paper, the Seahawks should have the advantage, but Manning has played well in the cold this season. If the snow becomes a big factor, it changes the whole outlook of the game since running the ball will become key and will likely take the ball out of the NFL MVP's hands more.
There's definitely many fans who are hoping for blizzard like conditions. That's understandable because a Super Bowl like that would be tons of fun, but with a matchup like this. The weather hopefully wont play too large of a factor we've never seen the #1 ranked offense and defense play each other and it'd be a shame to see that be ruined. I'm unlike most people who think that offense is more important than defense. That's why I see the Broncos winning in a close game. Hopefully this game lives up to all the hype; it could be the best Super Bowl ever.
January 31, 2014
By: Sam Kluender
Recently I wrote about the Seahawks' season and how they've gotten to the Super Bowl. Now it is time to switch conferences and talk about the AFC Champions, the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are just like the Seahawks in the sense that Denver making it this far is no surprise. The Broncos entered the 2013 season as the favorites to win the AFC by most people. In fact, many places in Vegas had the Broncos as the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
The Broncos season of 13-3 came to be starting as early as January when the Broncos made some big changes in the coaching staff. The most notable ones being Adam Gase being promoted to the offensive coordinator job from quarterbacks coach and Greg Knapp being hired to be the teams new quarterbacks coach. Those hiring of those two coaches is thought of to be big reasons for the success this team has had this year, specifically on offense.
The team from the start of the off season was already very strong coming off a 13-3 record in the 2012 season. The offense in 2012 was one of the best in the NFL, mainly because of the huge off season signing of Peyton Manning who has seemingly single-handedly turned this franchise around. That wasn't enough though for John Elway and the rest of the front office. The team decided that the offense needed another weapon to play along side of Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. Coincidentally, Wes Welker had just hit the free agent market, surprisingly, after a few amazing years in New England. He was the perfect fit for this type of team so the Broncos spent the big money to get him. While making the offense better was something Denver wanted to do, what was most important was improving the defense. The Broncos in 2012 were pretty good at stopping the run but gave up many yards passing. In hopes to lessen the yards passing they went out and signed veteran CB Quentin Jammer and Dominique-Rodgers-Cromartie to work with newly drafted DT Sylvester Williams and CB Kayvon Webster.
The Broncos now had the roster just about where they wanted it coming into the upcoming season. However, the team learned of the news in July that All-Pro linebacker Von Miller was suspended by the NFL for recreational drugs. This was a major blow to the team's defense with Miller being a cornerstone of the entire defense. The suspension was initially for 4 games but later was extended to 6 games after finding out he tried to cheat the system. The team was also hit by a big injury bug around this time as well. Three major parts of their offensive line, G Chris Kuper, C J.D. Walton, and C Dan Koppen all are declared out for the regular season.
The team entered the regular season with all of their offensive weapons healthy, but there was major concern whether the very injured offensive line could protect the now older Peyton Manning or if this would be the kryptonite of the team. The Broncos started their regular season at home against the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens, who stunned them the year before in the playoffs. Manning started off the year with a historic game where he threw for over 450 yards and 7 touchdowns, tying the NFL record for TD's in a game. That game was also the breakout game for a then unknown TE Julius Thomas. The newly formed secondary of the Broncos also shined with 2 interceptions that game.