Is the window closing for the 49ers’ chances of winning a Super Bowl?

Are the 49ers’ chances of winning the Super Bowl slipping away?

In hindsight and in the big picture, the 49ers have accomplished a lot since Jim Harbaugh arrived as head coach. Three straight NFC Championship Game appearances, including an appearance in the Super Bowl, is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s hard enough for a team to continue that kind of successful consistency but the 49ers have done that.

However, in all three seasons, the 49ers were good enough to go to the Super Bowl and win. They are that good of a football team and can only get better. At least that’s what it appears for this team.

But as this 2013 season has come to an end, the 49ers have a lot of decisions to make in order to return to the playoffs and finish off what they started. They have injuries (NaVorro Bowman, Mike Iupati) that they have to monitor this offseason. They have key free agents like Donte Whitner and Anquan Boldin that they have to figure out if they can keep.

Can this team be this good and maintain all this kind of success? How much longer can they hold on to this core before they have to restart all over again?

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My predictions for today’s championship games in the NFL

Who’s going to the Super Bowl? Check out my predictions below.

Julian Edelman has been a major factor in the Patriots’ success this season.

NEW ENGLAND (2) VS DENVER (1)

Even though the Denver offense is nothing short of amazing, the biggest focus for the Broncos may actually be their defense. Manning has a lot of weapons to work with and can easily move the ball down the field, but the Broncos defense has to keep the Patriots off the board and the pressure off the Broncos offense.

Tom Brady is 7-0 against Jack Del Rio led defenses and this might be why I am leaning towards the Patriots. The passing attack may not be as explosive as before, but the running game has been great and don’t be surprised if LeGarrette Blount sets the tone early, slows down the game for the Patriots.

The Broncos defense will have to pressure Brady and without Von Miller, they have to find a way to collapse the pockets so Brady can’t find his receivers. Getting the Patriots off the field will give Manning and company their opportunity to shine. Expect a lot of passes inside with Wes Welker and Julius Thomas. The offense will look to get those two involved early.

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Sunday’s championship games are a blessing to all football fans

What a great day we have in store for us on Sunday. (NFL Network)

It’s rare in the NFL in which before the season begins, the teams we expect to battle for the Super Bowl actually make it. With injuries, surprise teams and other factors, the final four never actually ends as the team we expect. But when it does, it’s a beautiful thing. 

This Sunday we will have exactly what the NFL world expected to see. We got the classic matchup of future Hall of Famers Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. It’s a rivalry that continues to give us memorable moments.

On the other side, we have the two new young guns that are changing the way we see NFL quarterbacks. Not only that, the defenses for both teams are phenomenal.

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My predictions for Sunday’s Divisional round games

Here are my predictions for the second round of the playoffs.

The 49ers are healthier since their last meeting with the Panthers and are on a 7-game winning streak.

SAN FRANCISCO (5) VS CAROLINA (2)

The last time these two met, the 49ers had injuries to Vernon Davis, Ray McDonald. Aldon Smith was limited in snaps following his return from rehab and Michael Crabtree wasn’t playing. This 49ers team is different from the one that lost to the Panthers 10-9 in Week 10.

But does that mean the Panthers have no chance? The Panthers defense still pose a great threat to the 49ers’ passing game. Their secondary plays well and the pass rush is what gave Colin Kaepernick his worst performance of the year. If the Panthers can get the pressure on Kaepernick, then that just puts more pressure on the run game to bail the offense out.

Cam Newton makes his playoff debut and he has a lot of pressure on him to succeed. If Steve Smith is not at full strength, that means Newton has to make a lot out of his receiving weapons that is good, but not elite. Also, the running game for the Panthers has to set the tone against a stout 49ers defense.

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My predictions for Saturday’s Divisional round games

Here are my predictions for the second round of the playoffs.

Can the Saints figure out the Seahawks?

NEW ORLEANS (6) VS SEATTLE (1)

The Saints got embarrassed earlier this year when they went to Seattle to take on the Seahawks? Are the Saints equipped to take down Seattle this time around?

One thing that makes this matchup difficult for the Saints is the defense of the Seahawks. The secondary is still very strong and the passing attack from Drew Brees needs to be very precice to give the Saints any kind of chance.

One thing that they must do is execute the screen game to perfection. However, this game also may come to the hands of the Seahawks’ offense. Their rushing attack remains very strong and could be the difference in setting the tone early. The Saints have a strong defense but can it handle the dynamic play of Russell Wilson?

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My predictions for Sunday’s Wild Card round games

It’s time for the playoffs once again! Here are my quick predictions on today’s games.

The Bengals won their first meeting last month.

SAN DIEGO (6) VS CINCINNATI (3)

What intrigues me about this rematch is that both teams are slightly different than the last time they met. Andy Dalton, while having a fantastic season, still has his inconsistencies with ball security. He is prone to throw interceptions and that is an issue that he has to fix or else it could cost the Bengals.

Philip Rivers has started to play better and the emergence of Keenan Allen has really helped the passing game grow. It could be a battle between Allen and A.J. Green in terms of who will have the bigger impact in stretching the field.

The key factor in this game might come down to how the defense can stop the run. Ryan Mathews has emerged as a running back that can change the pace of the game and the Bengals feature two solid backs in BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Gio Bernard. Whichever defense can hold the running game in check should win this.

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My predictions for Saturday’s Wild Card round games

It’s time for the playoffs once again! Here are my quick predictions on today’s games.

A rematch of two former No. 1 picks

KANSAS CITY (5) VS INDIANAPOLIS (4)

This is going to be a fun matchup to watch because both teams are coming back after miserable seasons. Two years ago, the Colts suffered through a horrific season and came back as a playoff team under the guidance of a new quarterback. Last year, the Chiefs retooled after a disastrous season, got their new quarterback and a new coach to lead the way.

I am looking forward to see how Jamaal Charles will be used in this game. He is coming off a strong finish this year and could be the x-factor in this game. But on the Colts’ side on offense, I am really impressed at how their running game is starting to show some signs of life. I don’t expect them to have to run really well, but maybe just well enough to keep a strong balance.

This game might come down to field position. Both quarterbacks are smart generals and won’t try to take big risks to jeopardize the team. And I believe that might be the difference, allowing the defenses to set the tone for the game.

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