S2016I01:: The GreenZone Report
Thursday, May 21st, 2015
Kurt Ison, GreenZone Media Committee
The Road to Super Bowl IX see's only eight teams still moving. Arizona will host the biggest game of the year as we take a look at the players who will be vital in their teams chances.
St. Louis Rams
Bradford + Beckham Jr. + Hill
The St.Louis Rams have been nothing short of a powerhouse this season and enter the playoffs as the big favourite to claim their maiden GZL title with Super Bowl IX. This team has been gaining momentum for a few years and this year sees the Rams in full stride. They are exceptional on both sides of the ball, leading in both total yards and points on offence while leading in sacks by a healthy margin.
The Rams titles hope rests mostly on their big three on offence. Running back LeVonte Bell has also been a rentless ball carrier. But St. Louis will need to go through the toughest defences in the coming weeks, and it will be their passing game that will separate them from the rest. Sam Bradford has thrown just five interceptions in four hundred and seventy-six attempts, along with a healthy thirty-three touchdowns. He doesn't have one favourite target, but two equally. He has the lighting quick and explosive Odell Beckham Junior on one side and the big bodied Stephen Hill on the other. Both receivers recorded thousand yard seasons and at least ten touchdowns.
This is a scary good team and its going to take either a meltdown or another rival to find the golden game plan to bring them down.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming of their worst regular season, quite a feat considering they still claimed their division fox the sixth time in GZL history. A roster deep in talent and a well coach outfit, the Buccaneers are never far of the pace. But one area they can improve is the run game where they ranked twenty-third.
Rookie Todd Gurley is the man tasked with pounding the ball for Tampa. A slow start to the year, Gurley found a new gear at the half way mark and he showcased why he was drafted at fifth overall. But consistency is what the Buccaneers are going to need, one off game by Gurley in the post season could be all it takes to see Tampa Bay end up short once again of the ultimate prize.
A team full of talent and plenty of post season experience. They will need a imposing run game to match the other heavyweights in the post season.
The Tennessee Titans are one of the most consistent franchises in the GZL and once again they claim their division and march into the playoffs. Henderson has been in Tennessee for seven seasons and the Titans have lost three Conference Championships in that time. The Titans could soon become a team of what ifs, as they continue to miss their chance at earning a spot in the Super Bowl.
Christopher Henderson is the quarterback and the veteran leader of this team. He has to find a way to win, a way to push the Titans past their previous falls. Tennessee ranked only twenty-first in the passing game last year, injuries didn't help but without a explosive pass game a teams chances take a dramatic fall. He is in his prime and so are the Titans, he needs to lead this team to the Super Bowl.
A consistently talented team, who have always just fallen short of the big game. This year could be the year they take one step closer.
The Baltimore Ravens are rolling, eleven straight wins which all started against the Rams. But the season ended badly when quarterback Joe Flacco was injured in the finally regular season game and was ruled out for the season. The Ravens haven't been tested without Flacco against the quality of opposition they will now clash with.
So in steps Drew Powell. The twenty-four year old is in his fifth season but has yet to hold down a starting job, mostly due to his under strength arm. However he does have the awareness and accuracy to get the job done, but he will rely heavily on his supporting cast. If he can do enough this team can go a long way, but if he can't the team becomes one dimensional and the Ravens hopes sink drastically. We will see if the Ravens revert to a run heavy game any make Eddy Lacy carry this team to the Super Bowl.
A very good team, on a roll. But a key injury could cost them this season.
Washington had an impressive regular season, claiming the NFC East for the third time. They avoided losing back to back games showing they were quick to learn from their mistakes. Injuries mostly to their Quarterback Ricky Stanzi has cost them games this season and he is under an injury cloud again.
They will need all the points they can get, and their most dynamic weapon is James Mayes. The receiver and kick returner has blistering speed and quick feet and has recorded his best season to date. Mayes will need to find the endzone and assert himself as Washington's key offensive weapon.
Injuries have cost this team already, but when they are at full strength they can compete with anyone.
The Miami Dolphins won a closely contested AFC East and even earn't a bye in the first week of the playoffs. They don't excel in any one area but have been able to win ten games so far this season, but they are now going to be put to the test. There is no one more important on the roster then running back Le'Veon Bell, he carried the bulk of the work as he finished just shy of eighteen hundred yards this season.
With a passing game and a defence which isn't a stand out, they will be relying on their running game to keep them in the contest. Opposition teams may plan to shutdown the run and so Bell will need to be at his best. At 240lbs and a strong power runner, Bell is a hard back to bring down. His frame allows him to handle the workload.
They are a team without much strike or shutdown. A big challenge that will require a full team effort to progress in the playoffs.
Green Bay Packers
Although the Packers have sustained multiple injuries they still posted an impressive 13-3 record. Super Bowl II Champions, the Packers know what it takes to claim the title. They have been an ever consistent force in the GZL and are in some of their finest form to date. However they will need to be at their best, the NFC appears to have the more talented teams.
The only running back to break two thousand yards this year, was Green Bays Doug Martin. Only standing 5'9", Martin plays above his size and continued his impressive career with his best season to date. The Packers passing game is good, but it isn't great. But it is made up by their dominant running game, which sees Martin run behind and imposing offensive line. Martin is the man that can carry the Packers back to becoming Champions.
A team that always produces and has had a strong roster assembled. The running back is the key, Martin needs to continue his impressive form and carry Green Bay further into the post season.
Jenkins + McCourty
The Denver Broncos haven't had much success in the GZL, claiming just their second division title and the first since 2012. A well balanced offence has been a big key to the Broncos success this season, but its their defence which will need to improve if they wish to find greater success this post season.
The Denver pass defence ranked twenty-fourth this season and could be the weak spot teams target. Corners Devin McCourty likely in his last season in Denver and Janoris Jenkins are the two players who are capable of tightening up the pass defence. Both are experienced veterans who have had much personal success during their careers. These two guys need to find a new level in the post season to bring some silverware to Denver.
A team without much post season action, but a talented unit which has one weak spot that if corrected could see them make a strong push.