Local Football Bloggers
In a 16 game, 17 week season, a football team goes through a lot up ups and downs. San Francisco’s regular season was no exception, luckily with more good then bad, and completed a remarkable journey finding themselves right where they were a year ago. The reason for the teams trip back to the playoffs is the man on the sideline, Jim Harbaugh.
After a disappointing game last week, San Francisco bounced back against Arizona, and just in time for the playoffs. After a slow start, both sides of the ball woke up in the second half and the team cruised to a relatively easy victory. The 49ers can feel very good as it enters the playoffs with a lot in their favor, as the final week went exactly as they could have hoped.
After almost a week of waiting, head coach Dennis Allen makes it official by naming Terrelle Pryor as his starting quarterback in Sunday’s finale at San Diego. Pryor hasn’t started a game since he won the 2011 Sugar Bowl while at Ohio State. Cornerback Philip Adams is on injured reserve with a groin injury and has been replaced by Brandian Ross.
With quarterback Carson Palmer out for the final game with cracked ribs, competition begins in earnest for the starting quarterback job between backups Matt Leinart and Terrelle Pryor. Indications are that Pryor will get more than three plays, but the bulk of the playing time will go to Leinart. The Raiders were also shut out of the Pro Bowl for the first time since 2003.
After losing last week to the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers failed to lock up the NFC West. The first team goal of 2013 was to win the division, and they can still do so with a win in the season finale against the Arizona Cardinals. Both the offense and defense have struggled for the last game and a half, however it’s the defense that not only needs to play much better, but should also have no problem carrying San Francisco into the playoffs, with momentum at their back.
With the Raiders mired in another losing season, now is the time for quarterback Terrelle Pryor to get his chance to prove to his coaches and the fans what he can do. The Raiders are guaranteed a top five pick in the upcoming NFL draft so there’s nothing to lose by playing him. In fact, a loss by the team only helps to ensure a better draft pick.
The Sunday Night NFC West match-up between San Francisco and Seattle will be physical. The last time the two teams met it was deemed one of the most physical games of the season. With a lot riding on this game for both teams, the rematch figures to be just as brutal. To make matters worse, both teams are beat up, and the 49ers could be without a key player.
The Raiders once again will be without Richard Seymour. The veteran defensive tackle hasn’t played since November 4 with lingering knee and hamstring injuries. Safety Tyvon Branch is questionable with an ankle injury. For the Panthers, running back Jonathan Stewart might play for the first time since week 12. He’s been out with a high ankle sprain.
In order to figure out what they have in Colin Kaepernick the 49ers need to start him against the Saints. By playing another game he will allow the coaching staff to get a better picture of what he cab do and determine if Monday Night was a fluke or not.
It’s the first game back in Cincinnati for Carson Palmer. On the other side, former Raiders head coach Hue Jackson is now a special teams and defensive backs assistant coach and this reunion only adds to the storyline.
The Raiders have 16 players in the injury list while the Bucs have only four. But Tampa Bay is missing left guard Carl Nicks who is a big part of the Bucs offense. Can the Raiders defense exploit his absence?
Things have gotten so bad for the running game of the Oakland Raiders that quarterback Carson Palmer is currently the third-leading rusher on the entire team. That looks even worse when you realize that Palmer has only 26 yards rushing this year thanks to scrambling around. Where-oh-where has the Raiders’ run game gone?