San Francisco was the popular choice by many experts for a return to the Super Bowl heading into the 2013 season, but it was Seattle that jumped to an 11-1 start, claimed the NFC West, won a couple tight playoff games and destroyed Denver in the Super Bowl.
This is a young, interesting team with a ton of talent on both sides of the ball. But now the Seahawks are the hunted. Can they replace their free agency losses and make another run deep into the playoffs? Mitch Quesada, editor of 12th Man Rising, says it’s been a good offseason and the team is built for another good season.
Zoneblitz: Seattle capped a tremendous season with a Super Bowl blowout win. How would you assess the season and how this team came together?
Quesada: A Super Bowl-winning team needs a little bit of everything to win the biggest game in football. The Seahawks had that last season. They had a dominant running back, explosive receivers, a playmaking quarterback, the best defense in the game and the best home-field advantage in the NFL. The stars were aligned for the Seahawks to make franchise history last season and they did it with a nice balance of everything, including commitment and trust in each other. Continue reading
Denver rode one of the most dominant offenses in NFL history to a 13-3 regular season and an appearance in the Super Bowl. But the Broncos’ championship dreams ended in a hurry when Seattle put on a show in the Big Game.
This offseason has seen quite a bit of turnover on a Broncos roster that, at least defensively, was exposed by injury and suspension in 2013. So can Denver rediscover that magic and give Peyton Manning one more run at his second ring? Or is the window closing too fast? Sayre Bedinger, editor at Predominantly Orange, shares his thoughts.
Zoneblitz: The Super Bowl got ugly, but the Broncos still got there in record-setting fashion. How would you assess the season? Continue reading
Somewhat lost over the last three years as Seattle, Baltimore and the New York Giants have claimed Super Bowl rings is how good San Francisco has been during that time. The 49ers have been to three consecutive NFC Championship games and came within a couple plays of replacing the Ravens as Super Bowl champions in 2012-13.
But the Niners have fallen just short all three of those seasons. And with contract expirations, the salary cap and other realities of the NFL, there has to be some desperation to close the deal.
So can San Francisco open Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara with a Lombardi Trophy claiming season? Or is this 49ers team destined to become the next team featured when ESPN or NFL Network celebrates the best teams to never claim a ring?
Zoneblitz: San Francisco has a Super Bowl appearance and three NFC Championship games in the last three seasons, but fell short of the big game in 2013. How would you assess the season? Continue reading
The New England Patriots have won 51 regular season games in four seasons, claimed playoff spots in 10 of the last 11 years and won double-digit games 12 of the last 13. Yet despite two Super Bowl appearances and three other conference championship appearances in the last nine seasons, if it doesn’t happen this year it will be a clean decade since the Patriots took home the Lombardi Trophy.
Most teams would do almost anything for a resume like the one put up in New England since Bill Belichick took over. But the coach and his QB, Tom Brady, aren’t getting any younger. So is there restlessness to make the next run? How far away are the Patriots from adding the fourth Super Bowl championship of the Belichick era? And what has to happen to get there?
Rich Hill, managing editor of Pats Pulpit, joined Zoneblitz to share some insight on a team he thinks is a healthy season away from contending.
Zoneblitz: The 2013 season brought another 12 wins and a conference championship appearance, but the team has lost back-to-back AFCC games — how would you assess the season? Continue reading
Carolina stumbled out of the gate in 2013 and at the quarter pole it looked like coach Ron Rivera might be headed toward an ugly exit. Then, all of a sudden, the team came together, winning 11 of 12 and chasing down the Saints to win the NFC South title. Carolina even notched a playoff win to cap a turnaround season.
But the offseason has produced considerable change. Left tackle Jordan Gross retired and GM Dave Gettleman has allowed a complete turnover of the wide receiver depth chart. Free agency and cap issues cost the Panthers several key defensive cogs that were instrumental in the 12-4 run.
So where do the Panthers sit heading into this week’s draft and the 2014 campaign? Ken Dye, lead writer for Carolina Cat Chronicles, says the holes created by the roster change have not yet all been filled. But he’s got high hopes based on what he’s seen thus far from Gettleman.
Here’s what he had to say:
Zoneblitz: Carolina stumbled out of the gate before catching fire, winning 11 of 12, winning the NFC South and making a playoff run – what created the turnaround and what’s your assessment of the 2013 season? Continue reading