The Supporting cast of the NFC Championship Game
It is fair to say that one of the most exciting aspects of this weekend’s matchups will be the battle between the QB’s. Manning vs. Brady is a scrap we all look forward to and seeing the young guns, Kaepernick & Wilson duke it out promises to offer a QB battle that should last for years to come, but what of the people around them. As we roll into the award season I take a look at the players who, with them, the QB’s couldn’t win a Super bowl and for fun relate them to the best supporting actor nominees they most resemble in their performances.
I think it’s only fair to start with the player that stands the most chance of stealing the spotlight and overshadowing the main star.
Marshawn Lynch (Seahawks) – Heath Ledger, the Dark Knight
In 2008 Heath Ledger shocked a lot of people with his performance as the Joker in the 2nd Nolan Batman film and completely stole the show. Batman was almost a bit player in a movie that gravitated to the most interesting character, which was the Joker.
Cut to 11th January 2014, Century Link Field, about 9:05pm. Marshawn Lynch is leaving the field after pretty much singlehandedly dominating the Saints Defence and there is really no doubt left in anyone’s mind that Lynch is the player they can hang their hat on and use to attempt to get them to a Super Bowl.
Wilson is a good QB. But as any listeners of the podcast will know (you really should download it by the way); I’m not his biggest fan. What we saw in this game was that Lynch is the star and Wilson should be considered the game managing QB that can on occasions break a big run for a first down. But this is a post about Lynch. In the previous game, the Saints Defence had taken LeSean McCoy out of the game. Almost completely. They removed the man who has rushed for the most yards from the equation and it was the difference between them winning and losing. In this battle Lynch was too strong. Lynch managed to run for over 140 yards and 2 TD’s whilst knowing that the game plan really was set on stopping him run the ball.
There is no doubt in my mind that the game plan for the Seahawks has to revolve around Lynch pounding the ball, it has worked for them so far this season and it is their best chance of winning a game against what is shaping up to be the best Defence in the game.
Michael Crabtree (Niners) – Kim Basinger, LA Confidential
In Curtis Hanson’s noir thriller, Kim Basinger made a huge comeback as the distractingly beautiful Femme Fatale of a movie chocked full up and coming actors. Basinger’s distracting performance meant that Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey and Guy Pierce had a chance to shine and as a result become household names in Hollywood.
Crabtree missed a large chunk of the season through injury, during which time the Niners Passing attack was, well…lack lustre. Now Crabtree is back, it is no coincidence that the Niners passing game has improved massively.
Crabtree himself is having a good season, but not a great one, his greatest skill however is stretching Defences and forcing attention away from Davis and Boldin, who have both seen their fair share of double and triple coverage. With Crabtree being a constant threat Davis and Boldin have stepped up as go to names for Tight Ends and no. 2 Receivers. With the resurgence in the Pass game, the Run game also improves. Which will be important against the Seahawks Secondary who have had a standout season amongst stand out seasons.
Crabtree was the missing piece of a Niners Offence that was lacking potency. Now they can cause some serious problems for the Seahawks Defence.
NaVorro Bowman (Niners) – Javier Bardem No Country For Old Men
In the Coen Brothers 2007 masterpiece, Javier Bardem plays Anton Chigurh, a terrifying hitman intent on reclaiming a package and won’t stop until he’s done it. He’s quiet, relentless and always completes his task.
NaVorro Bowman has progressively got better and better, to the extent that he might now actually be better than his middle Line backing counter-part, Patrick Willis, who still continues to play to impressive level himself.
In a game that had a number of impressive Defensive plays, Bowman’s sack on Newton stands out as the Defensive play of the game. Bowman also led the game in tackles and was the top Defensive player amongst an exceptional group of Defensive Players.
In a game that will be defined by big Defensive plays, NaVorro Bowman looks set to have a statement game and be one of few difference makers that could be the difference between a win and a loss.
Richard Sherman (Seahawks) – Joe Pesci, Goodfellas
In Goodfellas Joe Pesci pushes himself to the acting limit by being a crazy, mouthy, dangerous psychopath…ok it’s not a push but he was really good!
Last Season Richard Sherman complained about not making the pro-bowl and I agreed that he didn’t deserve to be there. This season however is different. Whilst he has been helped by one of the most amazing secondarys in recent years, he has stood out as one of the most amazing Corners in the league. As well as being famous for playing ability he has also made a name for being crazy (see above) and mouthy (see above), add these to his dangerous (see above), skill set and we have a pretty close similarity to Joe Pesci in Goodfellas.
In the last game Richard Sherman led a Secondary that was mind blowingly good. Sherman shut down whoever was silly enough to get near him and made Drew Brees look decidedly average for the majority of the game.
Sherman will undoubtedly be given the chance to take down Crabtree single- handily, which could be the difference between taking Davis & Boldin out of the game. Sherman will of course be his usual understated self and I would imagine literally no fights will break out with him involved.
Anyway that’s the NFC taken care of. I’ll be putting the AFC up very soon, enjoy!