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3 potential weaknesses on the Seahawks – Turf Show Times

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The Los Angeles Rams shouldn’t be too upset with the matchup they drew in the wild card round. The Seattle Seahawks went 12-4, but didn’t have any wins over playoff teams except for the default Washington Football Team (barely) and the Rams at home 10 days ago. In their only other games against playoff teams, Seattle had four turnovers and gave up 44 points to the Buffalo Bills, and then they lost to the Rams one week later.

You can only play the schedule you are dealt, but even against one of the softer-looking schedules, the Seahawks were merely “okay” overall.

Seattle’s defense is probably its greatest strength at this point, and may have been overlooked for its part in the Seahawks’ early-season scoring surge: Seattle forced 14 turnovers over their first seven games and had nine touchdown drives of under 50 yards in that period of time. Even though the Seahawks defense also clearly cost them a couple of games, I’d say that it saved Seattle’s offense more often than not.

A storyline that the Rams can relate to.

The Seahawks led the NFL in scoring through nine games, but they were 15th in scoring and 23rd in yards per play over the final seven. Despite going 6-1 in that stretch, it seemed Seattle had to do more to uplift Russell Wilson than the other way around. The Seahawks finished 12-4 and two games ahead of LA in the standings but the differences in how the two teams performed this season seem rather small and little would have had to change for the records to be reversed.

With or without Jared Goff.

Here are three potential advantages for the LA Rams this Saturday in Seattle.

Russell Wilson’s struggles

First, Wilson has struggled this season. Despite being a frontrunner for MVP at the midway point, Wilson is no longer a consideration. Not only because Aaron Rogers and Patrick Mahomes and Derrick Henry pulled away, but Wilson’s in the midst of one of the worst stretches of his career. If not the worst.

The statistics show part of the story: over his last nine games, 66% completions, only 14 touchdowns, seven interceptions, 6.8 yards per attempt, six fumbles, 28 sacks taken.

The other part is that Wilson has not appeared to be making the right decisions, he’s poorly executed some others, and except for a 40-3 blowout over the Jets, Seattle’s offense can barely eclipse 20 points.

Second, Wilsons struggles against the Rams. the Seahawks are 5-9 against Los Angeles since they drafted Aaron Donald in 2014 and 3-5 since Sean McVay arrived in 2017. Wilson put up numbers against the Rams in 2018, but lost both games. In his last three starts against LA, Wilson is completing 61% of his passes with one touchdown, three interceptions, 16 sacks taken, two fumbles and 6.9 yards per attempt.

The Rams won two of those games.

Jalen Ramsey on DK Metcalf

One reason that Wilson could be contained on Saturday is that Jalen Ramsey is on the Rams. Ramsey deserves to be a first team all-pro for his performance in 2020, as he consistently shutdown opposing number one receivers, including DK Metcalf and DeAndre Hopkins in four total opportunities.

Similar to Wilson, Metcalf has not performed as well as of late as compared to his full season stats. He’s been held to under 65 yards in six of his last eight games — and only once went over 80. He’s caught only two touchdowns in the second half of the year … as compared to five drops. He caught eight passes for 87 yards in two games against Los Angeles.

Seattle went to Tyler Lockett a lot in Week 17 and he came through for first downs, but also needed 14 targets to gain 90 yards. The Seahawks do not have a consistent third weapon in the passing game. It might be painstaking for either offense to string together long touchdown drives.

Jamal Adams is questionable

It’s possible that Adams will play, but he’s been held out of practice with a shoulder injury and he might not get a full one in at all before gameday.

Similar to how much different the Rams offense has to be with John Wolford filling in for Jared Goff, the Seahawks’ defense and its success has been heavily predicated on the role that Adams plays as strong safety-blitzer. And like LA, Seattle traded two first round picks for a defensive back for a reason and that reason was not to have him miss playoff games or not be at 100%.

Adams had 9.5 sacks in 12 games, blitzing even more times (98) than he did with the New York Jets (90) over 14 games in 2019. Adams has not only been the Seahawks best pass rusher (though at this point, it could be Carlos Dunlap since he was acquired in trade), he plays a key role in run defense and against tight ends in the middle of the field and we know how important Cam Akers and Tyler Higbee will be to McVay’s offense this weekend.

If Adams can’t go or if he’s not operating at full capacity, that could be what unlocks the extra opportunities needed for the Rams’ offense to move the chains.

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Player grades: Jesse Puljujarvi has game of his life as Edmonton Oilers beat Winnipeg Jets in a thriller – Edmonton Journal

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Josh Archibald, 4. Quiet game, too quiet for a forward.

Ethan Bear, 7. His game is back in sync. He got beat by Scheifele on a rush to the Edmonton net in the second. He and Nurse failed to shut down a nasty one-handed tip off the rush by Ehlers in the third. But overall played well in tough situations.

Darnell Nurse, 7.Has played like a No. 1 d-man these last three games, a real No. 1 d-man. Not a perfect game, but a super solid one. He turned over a puck in the second leading to an iffy moment in his own zone, but quickly recovered by deflecting a pass out of danger, then throwing. a forearm shiver to bash a Jet attacker into the boards. Made a solid block on a pass on a Jets power play in the second. The power play finally looked good when he took over from Barrie.

Adam Larsson, 7. He had a strong, hard and effective stick on defence all game. Made a strong play to cut out an Ehlers centering pass  late in the first. Not one major mistake on a Grade A chance against at even strength all game, even as the team was often under heavy pressure when he was out there.

Slater Koekkoek. 6.  He’s become a Steady Eddie of the Oil’s blueline. He made a fantastic sliding blocked shot on Perreault in the slot in the second.

Kris Russell. 6. Solid, smart defensive play the whole game. Had a bad luck deflection in the slot fly into his own net. That’s gotta hurt.

Tyson Barrie. 4. He made four major mistakes on Grade A chances against at even strength, so not his sharpest game back there. On the power play in the first he hit Draisaitl in the skates on a pass, part of the disconnect we’re seeing on the power play. He failed to cover his man, Mason Appleton, on a dangerous, dangerous, dangerous shot in the second.

Mikko Koskinen, 6. He was a bit too slow getting across the net on Winnipeg’s first goal. He came up with a huge save off Josh Morrissey later in the first after Ennis and Kassian’s rancid line change. He wasn’t tested much in the second, but came up with a whale of a save off Mason Appleton. I can’t fault him on either third period goal. Played well enough for Oilers to win.

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Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs dominate Buffalo Bills to earn 2nd straight trip to Super Bowl – TSN

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It took the Kansas City Chiefs five frustrating decades to make their third Super Bowl appearance.

Now, the defending champs are headed there for the second straight year.

Showing no lingering effects from his concussion, Patrick Mahomes sliced up Buffalo’s secondary with ruthless efficiency Sunday night, helping the Chiefs roll to a 38-24 victory over Josh Allen and the Bills in the AFC championship game.

The reigning Super Bowl MVP finished with 325 yards passing and three touchdowns, most of it to favourite targets Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, who complemented their star quarterback with a record-setting night of their own.

The Chiefs will face a familiar foe — Tom Brady — and the NFC champ Buccaneers in two weeks in Tampa, Florida.

“It was just trusting each other. The best thing about this team is we believe in each other,” said Mahomes, who was also dealing with a toe injury. “But the job’s not finished. We’re going to Tampa; we’re trying to run it back.”

Kelce finished with 13 catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and Hill added nine catches for 172 yards, becoming the first duo in NFL history with consecutive games of at least 100 yards receiving each in a single post-season.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams added short TD runs for the Chiefs, who will try to become the eighth franchise and first team since the Brady-led New England Patriots in 2003 and ’04 to defend the Lombardi Trophy.

“So glad to get to do it again,” said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, whose father Lamar founded the franchise. “Thought a lot about my dad tonight, thought about my family and how excited my father would have been that we got to do it again in Arrowhead Stadium. That’s what he would have liked the most about it.”

Allen, who had his worst game of the season in a Week 6 loss to the Chiefs, again struggled against the blitzing Kansas City defence. He finished with 287 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception, but a big chunk of his numbers came as the Bills tried to rally from a 38-15 deficit in the final minutes.

Their frustration boiled over with 3:19 to go, when Allen was getting sacked by Tanoh Kpassagnon. Alex Okafor finished off the tackle, and Allen pitched the ball in his face in resentment. Offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Dion Dawkins rushed in and levelled Okafor, resulting in a flood of offsetting personal foul penalties.

“Obviously a lot of emotion,” Allen said. “Any time you don’t finish the season with a win, that’s the type of emotion you’re going to have. The way it ended doesn’t sit right with me with how chippy and ticky-tack it got. I’m disappointed in myself. I let my emotions get to me there. That’s not how you’re supposed to play football.”

It capped a bitter night for the Bills, who had reached their first AFC title game since beating Kansas City at home on Jan. 1, 1994. They had won 11 of 12 since their loss to the Chiefs earlier this season — in fact, they hadn’t trailed in the second half since Week 8 — and were riding a wave of confidence that this might finally be their championship year.

Instead, after finally conquering the Patriots in the AFC East, the Bills have a new roadblock to the Super Bowl.

“It stings to get this far,” said Bills coach Sean McDermott, who once worked under Chiefs counterpart Andy Reid in Philadelphia. “Sometimes the further you go, the harder it is to lose. It’s a learning experience for us as an organization.”

The Chiefs actually spotted the Bills a 9-0 lead, thanks in large part to Mecole Hardman’s muffed punt inside their 5 that gifted Buffalo a touchdown. But the reigning champs were hardly rattled; the Chiefs, after all, rallied from double-digits in each of their post-season wins last season, including their Super Bowl triumph over San Francisco.

Mahomes and Kelce soon found their groove. And the rest of the Chiefs offence followed suit.

They surgically took apart Buffalo’s defence on a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a short TD throw to Hardman — no hard feelings over that fumble. Then, the Chiefs cruised 82 yards in just five plays, the big one Hardman’s 50-yard end-around that set up Williams’ touchdown tumble. Finally, they made it three TDs in three possessions when Edwards-Helaire — in his first game back from an ankle injury — capped a 77-yard drive with a short plunge.

The only answer from Buffalo was Tyler Bass’s chip-shot field goal that made it 21-12 at the break.

You don’t beat Kansas City by kicking field goals from the 3-yard line, though. Or from the 9, where the Bills settled for another one to close within 24-15 late in the third quarter.

That became painfully clear on the ensuing drive. Mahomes hit Hill in stride and the All-Pro wide receiver promptly made the Bills secondary look downright foolish. Weaving in and out of woebegone defenders, Hill was finally caught inside the 5-yard line after a 71-yard gain, ultimately setting up Kelce’s short TD catch a few plays later.

“You watch him on film, you see what he’s doing. It’s like he’s running at a different speed compared to everybody else,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said. “And tonight, we saw first-hand for the second time. He’s fast.”

Any hopes the Bills had of a comeback were dashed when Rashad Fenton picked off a tipped pass deep in Kansas City territory. The Chiefs breezily marched the other direction, and Mahomes and Kelce kicked off the celebration of another trip to the Super Bowl when they connected for their second score of the game.

“I’m proud of these guys,” said Reid, who moved into a tie with Joe Gibbs for fourth on the career list with his 17th playoff win. “They did a phenomenal job, and hats off to the Buffalo Bills and the great job they did all year, and most of all, listen, we have the Lamar Hunt Trophy back in Kansas City.

“Now we have to get the big one.”

INJURIES

Chiefs: RG Andrew Wylie hurt his knee early in the second half and LT Eric Fisher limped off in the fourth quarter with an injury to his Achilles’ tendon. … CB L’Jarius Sneed and SS Armani Watts were evaluated for concussions.

UP NEXT

The Chiefs and Buccaneers have only played 13 times, and Kansas City had lost five straight before a 27-24 win in Tampa on Nov. 29 — a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. Brady is 5-5 in his career against the Chiefs, including an overtime victory with the Patriots in the AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium two years ago.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Chiefs defeat Bills to set up meeting with Buccaneers in Super Bowl – Sportsnet.ca

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It took the Kansas City Chiefs five frustrating decades to make their second Super Bowl appearance.

Now, the defending champs are headed there for the second straight year.

Showing no lingering effects from his concussion, Patrick Mahomes sliced up Buffalo’s secondary with ruthless efficiency Sunday night, helping the Chiefs roll to a 38-24 victory over Josh Allen and the Bills in the AFC championship game.

The reigning Super Bowl MVP finished with 325 yards passing and three touchdowns, most of it to favourite targets Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, who complemented their star quarterback with a record-setting night of their own.

The Chiefs will face a familiar foe — Tom Brady — and the NFC champ Buccaneers in two weeks in Tampa, Florida.

“It was just trusting each other. The best thing about this team is we believe in each other,” said Mahomes, who was also dealing with a toe injury. “But the job’s not finished. We’re going to Tampa; we’re trying to run it back.”

Kelce finished with 13 catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns, and Hill added nine catches for 172 yards, becoming the first duo in NFL history with consecutive games of at least 100 yards receiving each in a single post-season.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Darrel Williams added short TD runs for the Chiefs, who will try to become the eighth franchise and first team since the Brady-led New England Patriots in 2003 and ’04 to defend the Lombardi Trophy.

“So glad to get to do it again,” said Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt, whose father Lamar founded the franchise. “Thought a lot about my dad tonight, thought about my family and how excited my father would have been that we got to do it again in Arrowhead Stadium. That’s what he would have liked the most about it.”

Allen, who had his worst game of the season in a Week 6 loss to the Chiefs, again struggled against the blitzing Kansas City defence. He finished with 287 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception, but a big chunk of his numbers came as the Bills tried to rally from a 38-15 deficit in the final minutes.

Their frustration boiled over with 3:19 to go, when Allen was getting sacked by Tanoh Kpassagnon. Alex Okafor finished off the tackle, and Allen pitched the ball in his face in resentment. Offensive linemen Jon Feliciano and Dion Dawkins rushed in and levelled Okafor, resulting in a flood of offsetting personal foul penalties.

“Obviously a lot of emotion,” Allen said. “Any time you don’t finish the season with a win, that’s the type of emotion you’re going to have. The way it ended doesn’t sit right with me with how chippy and ticky-tack it got. I’m disappointed in myself. I let my emotions get to me there. That’s not how you’re supposed to play football.”

It capped a bitter night for the Bills, who had reached their first AFC title game since beating Kansas City at home on Jan. 1, 1994. They had won 11 of 12 since their loss to the Chiefs earlier this season — in fact, they hadn’t trailed in the second half since Week 8 — and were riding a wave of confidence that this might finally be their championship year.

Instead, after finally conquering the Patriots in the AFC East, the Bills have a new roadblock to the Super Bowl.

“It stings to get this far,” said Bills coach Sean McDermott, who once worked under Chiefs counterpart Andy Reid in Philadelphia. “Sometimes the further you go, the harder it is to lose. It’s a learning experience for us as an organization.”

The Chiefs actually spotted the Bills a 9-0 lead, thanks in large part to Mecole Hardman’s muffed punt inside their 5 that gifted Buffalo a touchdown. But the reigning champs were hardly rattled; the Chiefs, after all, rallied from double-digits in each of their post-season wins last season, including their Super Bowl triumph over San Francisco.

Mahomes and Kelce soon found their groove. And the rest of the Chiefs offence followed suit.

They surgically took apart Buffalo’s defence on a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a short TD throw to Hardman — no hard feelings over that fumble. Then, the Chiefs cruised 82 yards in just five plays, the big one Hardman’s 50-yard end-around that set up Williams’ touchdown tumble. Finally, they made it three TDs in three possessions when Edwards-Helaire — in his first game back from an ankle injury — capped a 77-yard drive with a short plunge.

The only answer from Buffalo was Tyler Bass’s chip-shot field goal that made it 21-12 at the break.

You don’t beat Kansas City by kicking field goals from the 3-yard line, though. Or from the 9, where the Bills settled for another one to close within 24-15 late in the third quarter.

That became painfully clear on the ensuing drive. Mahomes hit Hill in stride and the All-Pro wide receiver promptly made the Bills secondary look downright foolish. Weaving in and out of woebegone defenders, Hill was finally caught inside the 5-yard line after a 71-yard gain, ultimately setting up Kelce’s short TD catch a few plays later.

“You watch him on film, you see what he’s doing. It’s like he’s running at a different speed compared to everybody else,” Bills safety Micah Hyde said. “And tonight, we saw first-hand for the second time. He’s fast.”

Any hopes the Bills had of a comeback were dashed when Rashad Fenton picked off a tipped pass deep in Kansas City territory. The Chiefs breezily marched the other direction, and Mahomes and Kelce kicked off the celebration of another trip to the Super Bowl when they connected for their second score of the game.

“I’m proud of these guys,” said Reid, who moved into a tie with Joe Gibbs for fourth on the career list with his 17th playoff win. “They did a phenomenal job, and hats off to the Buffalo Bills and the great job they did all year, and most of all, listen, we have the Lamar Hunt Trophy back in Kansas City.

“Now we have to get the big one.”

INJURIES

Chiefs: RG Andrew Wylie hurt his knee early in the second half and LT Eric Fisher limped off in the fourth quarter with an injury to his Achilles’ tendon. … CB L’Jarius Sneed and SS Armani Watts were evaluated for concussions.

UP NEXT

The Chiefs and Buccaneers have only played 13 times, and Kansas City had lost five straight before a 27-24 win in Tampa on Nov. 29 — a game that wasn’t as close as the final score. Brady is 5-5 in his career against the Chiefs, including an overtime victory with the Patriots in the AFC title game at Arrowhead Stadium two years ago.

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