The NFL released it’s 2015 schedule in April. The Baltimore Ravens have known their opponents but now they know exactly when they will play them. Since we’re on the cusp of  football season here are the takeaways from their schedule’s release.

Season Opener

The Ravens will open the season in Denver  versus the Broncos once again. The Ravens and Baltimore Orioles share parking lots and the Orioles play home on Sunday September 13th and Monday September 14th and like in 2012 the Ravens will have to open the season away. The Ravens play five of their first seven games away. They open in Denver and then travel to Oakland to face the Raiders, and then in weeks six and seven they face the 49ers and then the Cardinals.

Conference Play

The Ravens have three of their division games in weeks three through six, one of them being a prime time game (Steelers), and their last three in weeks 12, 16 and 17. Unlike last season, where there was a chance for the Ravens to steal the division early, the division winner will likely be dubbed towards the end of the season.

Strength of Schedule

The Ravens will play the 11th toughest schedule in the league. Of their 13 opponents, they will face five 2014 playoff teams in seven games (vs Bengals, vs Steelers, vs Seahawks, @Bengals, @Steelers, @Broncos, and @Cardinals), and four teams with losing records in five games (vs Browns, vs Rams, vs Jags, @Browns, @Raiders). The Ravens’ 2015 opponents finished 2014 137-117-2.

West Coast Trips?

The Ravens requested that they play the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers in back-to-back weeks to avoid two cross country trips. However, that request was not granted and it may be because the Green Bay Packers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Minnesota Vikings face the same problem. The Ravens got the short end of the stick and not only will they have to make two west coast trips, but they will have to make them with only three weeks in between. There is a bright spot though, they play in San Francisco and then travel to Arizona to face the Cardinals so they can potentially knock out two western teams back-to-back in one trip.

No Thanksgiving game

This year the Ravens will not be participating in any turkey day game action. They were not granted a Thanksgiving day game although it would have been nice to see them play maybe the Steelers or Seahawks while eating some turkey.

Tough Stretch?

The toughest stretch for the Ravens may come in weeks three and four when the host the Bengals on September 27th, but then have to face the Steelers in Pittsburgh Thursday night on October 1st. They have back-to-back division games and then they only have a short week to prepare for the Steelers.

Bye Week

The Ravens were awarded a week nine bye. This comes at a decent time right in the middle of the season. The teams past bye weeks have been in week 7 or 8 in four of the last six seasons. Last year it was in week 11.

National Games 

To my surprise and most likely many others, the Ravens have five prime time games. Yes, I said five. Of course both Steelers games are prime time. They play in Pittsburgh on October 1st on Thursday Night Football, in Arizona against the Cardinals on October 26th on Monday Night Football, in Cleveland versus the Browns on Monday Night Football, and they host the Seahawks on December 13th on Sunday Night Football, and the Steelers on December 27th on Sunday Night Football.

Season Closer

The Ravens will close the season with two division opponents (vs Steelers and @Bengals). They have closed on the road in four of the last six season. Most likely one of these two games will crown the division champs (no shade to the Cleveland Browns).

Weather & Games

I think it’s a plus that the Ravens make that trip to Denver in September before it gets cold. Also the week 13 match up in Miami on December 6th will be a nice vacation and escape from up north weather for the team and fans.

Notable Games

  • Week six the Ravens make a trip to San Francisco where they will face former Ravens Anquan Boldin and new 49er, Torrey Smith in a Superbowl XLVII rematch.
  • Week one the Denver Broncos and their new head coach and former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak come to town. It should also be noted that there has been talk of the Ravens still running the system Kubiak was a part of in 2014. C Gino Gradkowski was also traded to the Broncos for 2016 draft picks in April.
  • Week eight  when the San Diego Chargers come to town, they will also be bringing former Raven Jacoby Jones who was cut by the Ravens in February.
  • Week 11 Baltimore native and St. Louis Ram WR Tavon Austin will play his 1st game in Baltimore since he entered the NFL.
  • Week 10  former Raven RB Bernard Pierce, who was cut by the Ravens after an arrest, and the Jacksonville Jaguars make a trip to Baltimore.

 

 

 

 

After what he described as probably “his worst year of swimming”, Ryan Lochte looks to rebound at the FINA World Championships in Kazan (RUS). Close to throw in the towel during the rehab process for the knee injury he had sustained in the fall of 2013, and an abysmal year 2014, the swimmer has found the spark inside him back. It seems as if the move to Charlotte (NC) to train with SwimMAC Elite and under David Marsh‘s critical eyes eventually paid off for the 11-time Olympic medalist. Lochte describes his coach as “a mad scientist” who constantly looks to improve Lochte’s swimming, from swimming a 50m freestyle entirely underwater to rolling on his back kicking underwater whilst swimming a freestyle race. The admiration between the swimmer and his coach is mutual:

“Ryan dove in the water today and the way he moves through the water, it is very special. He has a relationship with the water I’m not sure even he understands.” David Marsh said in an earlier interview.

However, his schedule in Kazan will be really un-Lochte-esque, as we will only see him in two individual events: the 200 m freestyle and the 200 m Individual Medley, where he has the chance to become World Champion for a fourth consecutive time. He will also swim the 4×200 free relay. Whether we will see him in the 4×100 free relay and/or the 4×100 medley relay remains to be seen.

Lochte usually is known to swim as many events as he can possibly race in – he swam three events in one evening in Barcelona two years ago, when I was there: 200m backstroke (final; Gold), 100m butterfly (semi-final; top seed) and was part of the 4×200 free relay (Gold) – just not this time.

This light schedule he faces – his smallest schedule ever since he appeared on the scene in 2004 – is also a result of his throw-away year. Technically, he had qualified also for other events, namely the 200 back and the 100 fly, at the US National Championships last year. However, at the final qualifying stage for Kazan, the Pan Pacific Championships held in August 2014, he scratched the 200 back and focused on the 100 fly, where he ultimately didn’t make the team for Kazan. After Michael Phelps had been issued a ban lasting until Worlds, he was handed the 100 free spot, but gave his spot to freestyle sprint specialist Jimmy Feigen.

Lochte’s medal haul during the Pan Pacs was only one single individual medal, his smallest amount ever since making a splash on the big scene in the 2004 Olympics. He even failed to qualify for the A Final in “his” event, the 200IM. The bittersweet irony is that he won the B Final in the same time – 1:56.02 – as Pan Pacs champion Kosuke Hagino (JPN). This event, the 200IM, is the only race Lochte has posted a time inside the Top 20 ranking this year. And yet, it is his to lose: Hagino who beat Lochte on several occasions recently pulled out of Worlds because of an injury. Still, Hagino’s compatriot, Daiya Seto, is also one who could give Lochte a run for his money, and of course Hungarian Laszlo Cseh.

Hagino is not the only one who won’t race in Kazan: Australian James Magnussen (Defending Champion in the 100m freestyle), French freestyler and Defending Champion in the 200m freestyle, Yannick Agnel, are other big names who won’t make the trip to Russia due to injuries.

Asked if the many absences in the events he will be racing in will benefit him, Lochte remained realistic:

“There’s so many other swimmers out there that are up and coming. I’m not always really focused on, ‘Oh well Michael’s not there or Hagino, I can easily win.’ … Just because they’re not there doesn’t mean it should be a shoo-in for me.”

Lochte had lost the spark, as previously stated. He lost focus, especially during the rehab process, but also knows that he only had himself to blame for that:

“I should have stuck with rehab a little bit better. I should have took care of myself outside of the pool.” (source)

Having drawn his conclusions from his sub-par year 2014, he is fired up again and you can expect him to swim more events at next year’s Olympic Trials. What exactly he will swim, he doesn’t say, yet. However, swimming’s most grueling event, the 400 m Individual Medley, doesn’t seem to be out of the question. He has swum it a couple of times during the Arena Pro Swim Series, so don’t be surprised if he competes again in this event in what will be his fourth Olympics next year. Lochte even doesn’t count out a potential run for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. It isn’t a final decision as of now, he could hang up the Speedo after next year’s Olympics, or he could go for another four years:

“I told myself I’d quit swimming if I stopped having fun in the sport. I don’t seeing myself doing that anytime soon. (…) Swimming is my home. Every time I step in that water, I’m in my own universe. I’m one with the water.” (source)

Looks like sky really is the limit for Ryan Lochte.

 

photo credit: mine

The following confession will come to you as a surprise, considering that I am the resident swimming blogger on here. I HATED swimming in school. Absolutely, totally hated it. It wasn’t always like that. Here in Germany, swimming is on the agenda in elementary schools for the 3rd graders. It is a playful, yet serious way to teach the kids how to swim. So that was fine by me. I liked the water, and going swimming once a week with your classmates was fun. But only in elementary school or when I was with friends. Once I got older, it became a total horror to me. So much for the #funnestsport …

Swimming reappeared on the time table in Grade 5, and every time we drove by bus to that pool, I felt uncomfortable. Part of it was that I couldn’t swim that well, another part was that I had an irrational fear of the deep end of the pool or jumping in from the starting block, and finally, I was usually the last one when we had to swim laps. I felt like a big failure because of that, simply because I thought I was exposed, and I somehow lacked the strength and stamina to keep up. Yeah no. It got even worse in another year, and frankly, I was more than relieved when we could get back out of that damn pool and me away from the shame. Add to it that I have some body issues which I do not like to put on display that much.

However, the little private pool we used to have was an entirely different story and once summer rolled around, you could find me there for hours on end. Not non-stop, of course, but in a hammock nearby, reading, and occasionally jumping into that pool. In the meantime, and thanks to the patience of a former classmate, I had lost my fear of being underwater. I now LOVED being there. Me and my friend had little competitions going on who could stay underwater longer, swim more laps underwater or whatever. The pool parties I would throw for my birthday at the end of August were somewhat legendary and always HUGE fun.

But swimming in the public was still an issue.

Now imagine my joy when I was an assistant teacher at the local elementary school (where I had also gone to) and had to help the two 3rd grade teachers during the swimming lessons. Oh. Boy. But the miracle happened – I came to enjoy it, actually. My task was mainly to supervise the kids in the non-swimmer pool and play with them, including games such as picking up little rings from the bottom of the pool and such. In fact, my confidence even grew a bit, so much that I asked the teachers if I was allowed to jump into the pool in a cannonball at the end of the term. They said “Yes”, and the kids got a kick out of it. At the beginning, I wouldn’t have thought that possible in any way.

That was also the last time I was in a public pool.

The other day, I came across an interesting article in Berliner Kurier and Tagesspiegel. An alarmingly high percentage of children in Berlin cannot swim, despite the efforts to teach them in the 3rd grade. The problem is especially prevalent in the district of Neukölln. It seems sort of ironic, since Neukölln is the home of SG Neukölln, with approximately 4,700 members the biggest swim club in Berlin. Former German top swimmers Franziska van Almsick and Britta Steffen used to swim there, so did backstroke specialist Jenny Mensing (now at SC Wiesbaden) and Dorothea Brandt (now SG Essen).

But still there are 40% of children who cannot swim after the mandatory swim lessons in elementary school, in the north of the district, the percentage even is at 70-80%! How come? The problem is that Neukölln, and especially its northern part, has a huge quota of immigrants or unemployed inhabitants. Children there aren’t really supported by their parents, be it reading or sports-wise. Most immigrants have an Islamic background, so especially the girls are forbidden to attend swimming lessons (mostly, the teachers and principals succeed in convincing the parents, though), or the kids feel ashamed to get undressed in front of their classmates. Mayor Franziska Giffey states that in most Arabic or Turkish families they don’t really go swimming at all; often, the parents cannot swim, either. Therefore, it is no surprise that the kids have never really been in touch with the water as well.

To help the children learn to swim, Giffey and the district of Neukölln have started a pilot scheme called “Neuköllner Schwimmbär” (“Swimbear” – the bear is part of the name since it is also the heraldic animal of Berlin). The project costs around 18,000 EUR (approx. 19,848.60 USD) and will be split up between (the State of) Berlin, schools, the district Neukölln as well as some sponsors. Money well spent, as both articles I have linked above state. The project which aims at a playful way to help the kids lose their fear of being the water is in full swing already, and the kids who have been participating so far gladly enjoy it. Four coaches are responsible for groups of 25 children, and some of them are really enthusiastic: they even jumped into the pool at the deep end. Others love going down the water slide, even though they are yet insecure in swimming itself. Giffey hopes that the childrens’ enthusiasm will transfer to their parents as well.

With the project, 2nd Graders are already being introduced to the water in this playful way, as many children have not even been in a pool ever before, due to the above mentioned reasons. A good way to prepare them for what is to come in 3rd grade when swimming appears on the class schedule.

However, there might be another reason as to why swimming is unpopular amongst families here in Berlin, regardless of their background, as spokesperson Matthias Oloew hints at: “Most pools don’t really attract the masses to go swimming there, or they will say that the water’s too cold.” He also states that in a different area in Germany, the Ruhr area, there are many Muslim families as well, yet the problem of them being non-swimmers is not as serious there – “their pools are nicer”. According to him, the solution for that problem is in the making.

In my opinion, the whole project of the “Schwimmbär” is a step into the right direction. The kids will learn in a playful way to lose their fear of the water, and who knows? Maybe they will come to love the #funnestsport as well at some point.

 

The Hall of Fame is – and should only be – about numbers. The number 4,256 is why Pete Rose should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I don’t think this is even a debate. As we approach the All-Star game, in Cincinnati, this question is again raised. According to documents obtained in an ESPN investigation, the “Hit King” bet on baseball while playing with the Cincinnati Reds. Rose’s betting records during a six-month period in 1986 and shows no evidence that he bet against his team.

The Hall is about performance, not about moral character. If character, lifestyle and court convictions come into play, all three of the major sports halls would have half the members they have now. Now that known steroid users have become eligible for Hall of Fame induction, integrity of the game has become an issue. Will Tom Brady’s inevitable spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame be rejected if reports prove he knew about the deflation of game balls? Probably not. Rose’s gambling never led to any tanking, nor did it give his team a competitive edge.

Unfortunately for Rose, the rules are very clear in this case. Betting of any kind on a game in which the bettor is a participant will result in a lifetime ban. However, I do believe it’s time to let the gambler into the Hall – given that drug, alcohol and steroid users, along with those accused of domestic violence, have been allowed to be up for vote.

So where does all of this leave the all-time hits leader? Sadly, not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. SHOULD Pete Rose be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. WILL Pete Rose be inducted into the Hall of Fame? Probably not. That being said, I’m sure many feel, as I do, Rose’s accomplishments should be honored in the Hall of Fame. He may have broken a big time rule in the MLB, but ultimately he still played the game clean (as far as we know) and he still is more deserving than any steroid user.

Finally after weeks of build-up and numerous mock drafts, the NFL Draft will commence tomorrow in my hometown of Chicago. Actually it’s taking at the Auditorium Theater which is less than a mile from where I do my show. As I’ve told a couple of national broadcasters, there is no fandom necessarily but there is excitement here for the draft. Here are some questions that we hopefully will finally get answers to this week.

Will Jameis go no. 1?

It seems to be a foregone conclusion that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will take former Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston. I am sure head coach Lovie Smith and the rest of the Bucs brass have done their due diligence, talked to MANY people who know Winston especially with the things that have gone on involving Winston in the last couple of years off the field. Only time will tell if Winston will be a great player and even a model citizen, but it’s up to him to make both happen.

Where does Mariota go?

Most of the latest mock drafts have former Oregon quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota going at no. 2. The question remains is that where exactly will he land? You’ve got the team with the number two pick, Tennessee Titans, where word is that they’re not sold on current quarterback Zach Mettenberger. You also have teams that may trade up to get Mariota: Washington Redskins who despite having quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, head coach Jay Gruden doesn’t seem to like either of them. The New York Jets, who have Geno Smith, but he hasn’t been very good. A few wild cards: the Cleveland Browns where they may trade Johnny Manziel, who drafted him last year via trade. The San Diego Chargers, where veteran quarterback Philip Rivers may not re-sign, especially if they relocate to Los Angeles. The Chicago Bears where there’s a new regime, and they may not be sold on veteran quarterback Jay Cutler. Last but definitely not least the Philadelphia Eagles, where despite having Nick Foles, Mark Sanchez, Sam Bradford (who they traded to get him from the Rams), and Tim Tebow (who just signed with them last week), Eagles head coach Chip Kelly doesn’t seem to be satisfied. Remember Kelly recruited Mariota when he was coaching at Oregon, Mariota fits his system perfectly. Mariota and where he goes will be the first real suspenseful thing that will happen early in the evening.

How will the rest of the top ten look?

Assuming Winston and Mariota go 1, 2, where will things go after that? Where will former Florida linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. land? Will former USC defensive end Leonard Williams slip out of the top five? Which wide receiver will go first: former Alabama receiver Amari Cooper or former West Virginia receiver Kevin White? Where will former Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton go? Will some teams that need defense go offense and vice versa?

Surprises? Steals? Sleepers?

One of the best about any draft are potential surprises and steals. With news of him failing a drug test, just how far will former Nebraska linebacker Randy Gregory fall? Also after getting a citation for marijuana possession, how far will former Missouri defensive end Shane Ray fall? Recovering from his ACL surgery, could former Georgia running back Todd Gurley be a potential steal for someone? Also another steal could be former Central Florida wide receiver Breshard Perriman, son of former NFL wide receiver Brett Perriman. How about former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley? Or former Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon?

It will be a few years before we find out if these players will be stars or busts. Also who will be the next Tom Brady? Russell Wilson? Antonio Brown? TY Hilton? JJ Watt? Robert Quinn? Only time will tell. Enjoy the draft, everyone.

Former Oregon QB Marcus Mariota will be in Hawaii awaiting his position in the NFL Draft.

Former Oregon QB Marcus Mariota will be in Hawaii awaiting his position in the NFL Draft.

 

 

 

In my opinion the Baltimore Ravens aren’t in desperate need at any position. They have multiple play makers and a team full of young players that can step up when needed. Also, Ozzie Newsome has a keen eye for talent and untapped potential.

However, they still have picks in the upcoming draft and have a chance to better their roster. After an in depth evaluation of the current roster and players under contract, this series will highlight a few positions the Ravens may look to upgrade at.

While this isn’t a high priority, it is possible. This pick may not come in the first round but a new pair of hands may be coming to Baltimore. Steve Smith Sr. is going into his second year of his three year contract. Smith Sr. is also 35 and soon to be 36. He will be starting on one side but with the recent departure of Torrey Smith it is uncertain who will be opposite of him. There are five other receivers under contract or future contracts for the 2015 season who are all young and ready to step up. Of those five, Kamar Aiken will be an exclusive rights free agent and Marlon Brown will be a restricted free agent in 2016. I can see the Ravens picking up another receiver late unless they have something in the works.

 

In my opinion the Baltimore Ravens aren’t in desperate need at any position. They have multiple potential play makers and a team full of young players that can step up when needed, they just have to keep the injury bug out of Baltimore. Also, Ozzie Newsome has a keen eye for talent and untapped potential.

However, they still have picks in the upcoming draft and have a chance to better their roster. After an in depth evaluation of the current roster and players under contract, this series will highlight a few positions the Ravens may look to upgrade at.

The Ravens managed to retain running back Justin Forsett who had an exceptional first season in Baltimore. In 2014, Forsett averaged 79 yards per game and had his best season in the NFL to date. Forsett was able to step up when the team had its problems with Ray Rice, and took on the starting role for the Ravens. Forsett and the Ravens agreed to a three year $9 million deal in March. However, Forsett is 29 and running backs don’t have a long shelf life. It would be smart to pick up a young back and let them learn behind Forsett. There are three other backs currently on the roster but that is as of now. Lorenzo Taliaferro only saw action in nine games last season and has yet to prove himself. Former Ravens running back Bernard Pierce was released after his arrest so now the search for that back up running back has started. Coach Harbaugh has also made it known that he wants to add depth at the position, so I would expect the Ravens to do just that. Especially if a quality back drops to 26th.

Every time a big sports event is hosted by Qatar, I get this feeling in my guts. Qatar has been an unknown force when it comes to World Championships, no matter if it’s soccer or handball. “Controversial” is the word that comes to mind first, the phrase “Money talks!” is next.

Earlier this year, the emirate hosted the IHF Handball World Championships. A decision as laughable as the fact that Qatar will  be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Qatar neither had a tradition in handball, nor a real squad, and the same goes for their soccer team as well – mindboggling ZERO World Cup participations, anyone? Moreover, the venues were almost empty, had it not been for some die-hard fans following their NTs around the globe.

The fact that Germany’s squad had qualified for this event is as controversial as the whole tournament itself. Technically, Germany had NOT qualified, as their previous qualifier tournaments had been crappy, to say the least. So for the third time in a row, it looked like the German team would be on the sidelines watching. But then the miracle happened and Germany was allowed to travel to Qatar, thanks to a Wild Card. The DHB team caused a little storm, going all the way to the Quarterfinals and later on also securing the spot for the Olympic qualifying round by finishing 7th. However, German handball fans were left in the dark. Literally. Thanks to absolute insane TV rights and contracts, there were ZERO minutes of the tournament on free TV over here. If you have payTV, congratulations. If not – well, better luck next time aka fire up a stream.

The Quarterfinals were also when Germany faced hosts Qatar … and lost 24-26. Sure, the team wasn’t up-to-par in the decisive moments, I’ll give them that. But from what I have read on several social networks, the referees had their share in this mess by making questionable calls especially against the German team. Make of that whatever you want, but it does sound fishy.

So, let’s have a brief look at the whole Qatar issue.

As previously mentioned, Qatar was a no name on the handball world map. However, if you know the backdoor in the IHF Rule Book as well as have some $$$, anything is possible.

This backdoor in the IHF Rule Book is basically that, if a player hasn’t played for his national team for the past three years, they can simply switch countries. Yep, it IS that easy. Just move to another country, get the citizenship, and you can play for Qatar. Now Qatar did exactly that: they went on a “shopping tour” and signed players from various countries (strong forces in handball, of course), gave them a passport and had them wear the Qatari uniform. The QAT team had, if I remember correctly, four Qatari natives. FOUR. The rest are “mercenaries” from other countries.

The team went all the way to the final where they met France. Unfortunately for the Qataris, and fortunately for the handball fans, the French squad showed that justice happens at times and while you can buy a team, you cannot necessarily buy Championship titles. France won 25-22. Phew.

Now with the FIFA World Cup 2022 being held in Qatar, you can only HOPE for the fact that FIFA won’t adopt this rule the Qatari Handball Federation made use of and allow the emirate to buy themselves a whole soccer NT. So far, that rule is not yet in the books, but with the rise of constructs like Red Bull sponsored soccer teams (we have such a “thing” here in Germany as well, and frankly, I just want them GONE as soon as possible) etc., you never know what is going to happen during the next couple of years.

The Seattle Seahawks’ dreams of becoming the ninth team to defend their title and become repeat Super Bowl champions was cut short after a heartbreaking goal line interception with 20 seconds left to go in the game.

Down 28-24 the Seahawks stormed down the field and set up at the one yard line for a potential game winning touchdown. However, instead of going for the no brainer play and handing it off to Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch, the Seahawks decided to throw it and Malcolm Butler, an undrafted free agent rookie sealed the win for the Patriots.

The offense had went cold and the Seahawks had scored 17 unanswered points until halfway through the fourth quarter where Tom Brady threw two touchdowns, including the game winning touchdown, to receivers  Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman. Edelman finished the game with 9 receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown, and Brady finished 37-50 for 328 yards, 4 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a third Super Bowl MVP trophy.

The Seahawks hoped to become the first to repeat since the Patriots in 2004 and 2005, but the Patriots ended the night with their fourth Super Bowl win. Brady and coach Belichick are now 4-2 in Super Bowl appearances, and have won their first championship since the infamous spygate scandal.

It all comes down to this, we’ve got the two no. 1 seeds battling it out in Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX. This will also be the match-up of the league’s top offense against the league’s top defense. Both teams are chasing history:

New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks (6:30 PM ET) (NBC)

This will be the first meeting between the Patriots and Seahawks since October 14, 2012, where the Seahawks edged the Patriots 24-22.

The Patriots easily defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7, in the AFC Championship game. Now this thing called deflate gate followed but I am going to spare all of you and just preview the game. The Patriots are making their eighth Super Bowl appearance, (first since 2010) tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers for most all-time. Quarterback Tom Brady will be looking for his fourth Super Bowl win, which would be tied with Terry Bradshaw and Joe Montana. Brady has 49 postseason touchdown passes, and he will target tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Julian Edelman, a lot. But one key for the Patriots could be their running game, LaGarrett Blount rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns in the AFC title game. It will be tough though as he’ll be going against the league’s third best rush defense. The defense held the Colts to just 209 total yards. Cornerback Darrelle Revis and linebacker Jamie Collins each had an interception. They had zero sacks, and that will be key if they want to slow down Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense.

As for the Seahawks, they became the first team to make back to back trips to the Super Bowl since the Patriots in 2003-04. They beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 in the NFC Championship game, in an overtime comeback for the ages. Wilson is hoping to achieve what Brady did in his first three seasons, back to back Super Bowl wins. Wilson will have to have a much better start than he did in the first half in the NFC title game, where he threw four interceptions. No doubt he’ll run if no one’s in reach. His receiving corps will have to step up, too. Wide receivers Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin, and tight end Luke Wilson can’t afford to drop any crucial passes. Running back Marshawn Lynch who rushed for 157 yards and a touchdown in the NFC title, will face one of his toughest test, the Pats’ rush defense. Cornerback Richard Sherman and safety Earl Thomas are battling injuries but will play, they’ll have tough assignments covering Gronkowski and Edelman.

One thing that’s being lost here is that Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will be facing his old team, this is just third time in Super Bowl history of such match-up. In Super Bowl III, head coach Weeb Eubank led quarterback Joe Namath and the New York Jets to an upset over his former team, the Baltimore Colts 16-9. Also in Super Bowl XXXVII, coach Jon Gruden led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they dominated his old team, the Oakland Raiders 48-21. Carroll was fired as Patriots head coach following the 1999 season, despite a solid 27-21 record and two playoff appearances in three seasons. He and Patriots owner Robert Kraft didn’t see eye-to-eye when it came to player personnel. Though both sides would go on to have successes, I am sure Carroll deep down would love to get revenge on the franchise that let him go.

Enjoy the game everybody, this should be entertaining and interesting game.

Patriots QB Tom Brady (12) and Seahawks CB Richard Sherman leads their teams in their first meeting since 2012.

Patriots QB Tom Brady (12) and Seahawks CB Richard Sherman leads their teams in their first meeting since 2012.