San Francisco 49ers Schedule Preview

Coming off another frustrating loss for the third season in a row, it’s now or never for the San Francisco 49ers. At 12-4 on the 2013 season the Niners came one play away from heading to their second straight Super Bowl appearance only to have their dreams shattered by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. To make matters even worse, offseason headlines have been all but promising of a 2014 comeback with the possible loss of Aldon Smith and troublesome ventures of Colin Kaepernick. In any matter the 49ers remain grounded and determined seal the deal in 2014.

With the end of Colt McCoy’s contract San Francisco reached out to the Jaguars to obtain Blaine Gabbert as their number 2 quarterback for a sixth round pick. While the club is hoping to only use Gabbert as a number 2, having a solid first round pick to take over the reins if necessary is always reassuring. Brandon Lloyd will join forces with Crabtree, Boldin, and Patton as the 49ers newest wide out and has the potential to be the solid #3 receiver Harbaugh has been looking for. Lloyd has taken on a persona of a downfield highlight reel receiver in the past but at 33 years old has had to reinvent his game as a reliable pass catcher anywhere on the field. The offense will also return Mario Manningham and Marcus Lattimore from injuries to hopefully provide another spark in the huddle. While the presence of Aldon Smith on the field is no doubt significant, losing him in the 2014 season is not the end all be all for San Francisco’s defense. There is no getting around the fact that Smith is a rare athlete (40 sacks in his first 38 starts) but with high reward comes high risk and a defense with plenty of weapons it’s a risk the 49ers must pass on to reach their pinnacle in 2014.

The 49ers were in control throughout most of the 2013 NFC championship game.

The 49ers were in control throughout most of the 2013 NFC championship game.

For 49ers fans all home games this year are going to be big as the Niners will break in their newly constructed Levi’s Stadium after bidding farewell to Candlestick Park last year. Look for visits from the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Chicago Bears, and San Diego Chargers to Santa Clara to take on the red and gold in their new home. While these are all great games to check out at Levi’s Stadium, the game at the top of the list should be when Alex Smith brings his Kansas City Chiefs back to the Bay for the first time since departing from the team he helped build. Smith was a Niner for seven seasons before he took over in Kansas City and lead the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and will surely get a warm welcome back to the Bay. If there was one game to take it all though, it would have to be the 2013 NFC Championship rematch against the Seattle Seahawks. You can be certain blood will be boiling when this rivalry hits the field in San Francisco, especially between a certain cornerback and “mediocre” wide receiver.

Having spent the past three season on the brink of the Super Bowl there is no reason to think the 49ers won’t head right back to the playoffs in 2014. With another year of experience under Kaepernick’s belt the offense should be at the top of their game, especially when it comes to clock management, something Kap has struggled with in his first few years. To get back to the Super Bowl San Francisco is going to have to win in Seattle. They went 2-0 at CenturyLink Field in 2013 and it cost them the NFC Championship both times. With 11 picks in the upcoming draft the 49ers are poised to load up on some fresh new talent and don’t be surprised if Harbaugh works out a deal to move up from the 30th overall pick like they did last year to get LSU Safety Eric Reid.

2014 Dallas Cowboys Season Preview and Schedule

The Dallas Cowboys have been the NFL’s most average team over the last decade, and as they come of yet another 8-8 season the team is looking for a new identity. The 2013 Cowboys had one of the worst defenses in NFL history, giving up an obscene amount of passing yards including allowing Calvin Johnson to break the NFL record for receiving yards in a game. Even with the defensive woes, the season came down to Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles. QB Tony Romo was lost for the game after an injury the previous Sunday, and a Kyle Orton interception with two minutes left in the 4th quarter ended the Cowboys season.

This year the Cowboys go into the season without All-Pro defensive end DeMarcus Ware for the first time in nine seasons, releasing the pass rusher before the cap hit. Ware joined the AFC champion Broncos and the Cowboys brougth in Henry Melton to help out in his absence. Miles Austin was also let go after a productive career thus far, though he might still be brought back with a smaller deal if the Cowboys decide not to pick up a wide receiver in the first couple rounds of the upcoming draft.

Will this ever be a winning combination? (USA Today)

Many of the fans complaints through the 2013 season came about the coaching staff, with Monte Kiffin’s defense playing a new system that did not work in any facet of the game. The blitzing that we saw in 2013 behind Rob Ryan was gone, with a more conservative approach being taken. On offense, Bill Callahan took over play calling duties from head coach Jason Garrett to middling success. The season began well, including a huge game passing from Romo against the Broncos in Week 5 that included 5 TDs and over 500 yards. As the season went on the offense declined, and the choice to call passing plays even with the run working baffled pundits and fans around the league.

The 2014 schedule is challenging, with home games against the 49ers, Saints, Colts and Cardinals. Those teams had a combined record of 44-20 in 2013, and the 49ers were one play away from a second consecutive berth in the Super Bowl. The Saints returned from suspension hell after the ‘Bountygate’ scandal, and were once again a force to be reckoned with — including their 32-point beat down of Dallas in Week 10.
On the road the Cowboys will see Chicago, Tennessee, and the defending-champion Seattle Seahawks. There’s no stadium in the NFL louder than Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, and the last time the Cowboys were at Soldier Field it didn’t work out too well for them. The Cowboys will also play the Jaguars at Wembley Stadium in London on November 9, with the Jags losing the home game from their schedule.

The NFC East is always a wide-open race, and this year expect the Redskins to once again challenge the Cowboys and Eagles. The Cowboys went 1-1 against the Eagles in 2013, and will need to get through divisional play with a winning record if they want another shot at the NFL playoffs in 2014.

2014 New Orleans Saints Season Preview and Schedule

The New Orleans Saints were a cat among the pigeons with their “Bountygate” scandal, but they found a way to persevere. The losing season in 2012 was followed up by an 11-5 campaign that included wins over teams like the 49ers and Panthers in the regular season, before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Seahawks in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. Drew Brees returned to the elite status he had cultivated for himself amongst NFL quarterbacks, and the Saints defense ranked 10th in the league in points allowed.  The stage is set for New Orleans to take back its place at the throne of the NFC South in the 2014 season.

A familiar face in Lance Moore has been released after having only 37 receptions in 2013, his lowest total since 2009. Moore spent eight years in the Saints organization after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo. Kenny Stills looks to be the future Moore’s former position, with the 21-year old rookie hauling in 32 receptions for 641 yards and 10 TDs in 2013. The biggest signing of the off-season thus far is veteran cornerback Champ Bailey, who spent the last 10 seasons in Denver. The 35-year old made the league’s All-Decade team for 2000-09 and this will likely the last stop of his NFL career.

Sean Payton and Rob Ryan worked well together in 2013. (USA Today/Derick Hingle)

The Saints 2014 schedule is chalk full of interesting opponents, though we won’t know the dates until the April 22 release from the NFL. At home, New Orleans will host big non-divisional games against the Ravens, Bengals, Packers, and 49ers – who sported a combined record of 39-24-1 in 2013. The Saints beat the 49ers 23-20 in Week 11 last season with a field goal as time expired, so expect that one to come down to the wire once again. The last time New Orleans faced the Packers, Brees threw for 446 yards and 3 TDs in a 28-27 loss at Lambeau Field.

The road is a little friendlier, with the Saints traveling to cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Dallas. New Orleans went 3-5 on the road in 2013, and had trouble getting the offense going outside of the Superdome. Expect Brees to not have the same problems against a historically-bad Cowboys secondary and a weak Lions defense, but Heinz Field in Pittsburgh is no walk in the park.

The NFC South will be an interesting race to follow, with most pundits not knowing what to expect from the Panthers and Falcons in 2014. Carolina came out of nowhere to win 12 games last season behind one of the NFL’s best defenses, but the offense was shaky at best. The Falcons were picked by many to make the Super Bowl in 2013 before injuries and a nose-dive in offensive production dropped Atlanta to a 4-12 record. A healthy Falcons team will be back this season, and wins over these division rivals are key for the Saints to get back into the playoffs and get the all-important home field advantage.

 

Roger Goodell made $44.2 million in 2013

A-Rod made $27 million last year? That’s cute.

After his salary was reported to be over $44 million in FY 2013, if anyone should be doing commercials where he’s jamming out to a song that goes “i’m the man, i’m the man, i’m the maaaan” it should be the commish. That’s a lot of money, but he is the head of a league that made about $10 billion last year and is showing no signs of slowing down. Goodell, the son of a former U.S. Senator, began as an intern with the NFL in 1982 — rising to its highest position 24 years later.

Super Bowl Celebrations 101

On Sunday, 82,500 fans will pack in to MetLife Stadium for Super Bowl XLVIII. While there’s no comparison to the experience of actually being at the game, we here at TicketCity have a few tips on how you can still have a great time taking it all in from home.

BlogPic_MO  Meredith:  Wings! Every Super Bowl party needs wings, they are the ultimate football food. Spicy, mild, boneless, BBQ; offer a variety and everyone will be happy!

 

 

Clark:  Be sure have a squares game, even if it’s just a couple bucks per square.  6256_117511376991_5117319_n
It gets everyone into the game and paying attention to the score. You can find directions and templates here.

 

6tag_061013-194207  Brandon:  Get the guests involved! Make up some yellow and red flags and give them to the guests as they arrive.  This way everyone can show their support or disgust with a particular call.

 

 

Ryan H.:  Bacon. Explosion.  Those two words together can only mean trouble; tasty tasty trouble.  A ‘Bacon Explosion’ is weaved bacon that is wrapped around 2 lbs of pork and, bacon1you called it, more bacon. You can find the original recipe over at BBQ Addicts website, but I guarantee it to be one of your most popular dishes at this party.

 

162803_486792519291_1291932_n  Randy:  Marshmallows!  It’s great to be prepared for a marshmallow fight just in case the game gets boring ;)

 

 

Now that you’ve had a successful and enjoyable Super Bowl XLVIII, it’s time to start planning for next year! Super Bowl XLIX will be held in Arizona at the University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 and you know where to go to score tickets!