Alabama Players Meet In NFL Championship Games

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This weekend the Super Bowl matchup will be decided in the NFL with the AFC and NFC Championship games playing, and there are a slew of Alabama players on all four teams. So this year’s Super Bowl will be guaranteed to have Alabama players on both teams.

Seattle Seahawks

The defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks feature three former Alabama Crimson Tide players in receiver Kevin Norwood, offensive guard James Carpenter, and defensive tackle Jesse Williams. Carpenter was a two year starter at Alabama and 2010 All SEC tackle before becoming the shock of the 2011 NFL Draft, being selected in the first round by the Seahawks.

Carpenter started right away for Seattle but tore his ACL midway through his rookie season. Ever since then he has settled in as a starting guard for Seattle, struggling at times and shining at other times. He even earned an All Pro vote in 2014.

Norwood missed all of training camp and seven games during the season due to a foot injury, but bounced back later in the season to catch nine passes for 102 yards. The rookie didn’t record a catch in last week’s win over Carolina, but with slot receiver Paul Richardson’s playoff-ending ACL injury, Norwood will be called up to take his spot and earn more playing time in the slot.

Norwood is expected to get the majority of the reps at slot in the NFC Championship and hopefully the former Tide wide out will make the most of his chances.

Jesse Williams has yet to play a down for Seattle having missed his first two seasons in the NFL due to knee issues.

Green Bay Packers

Eddie Lacy has added a dynamic to the Packers offense that has been missing for years – a true running game. With his hardnosed running and toughness he has become the first running back to start his career with back to back 1,000 yard seasons in Packer history.

Lacy ran for 1,139 yards and nine scores while averaging nearly five yards per carry this season. He also caught 42 passes (third on the team) for 427 yards (fourth on the team) and four touchdowns (third on the team).

Last week Lacy ran for 101 yards in the Packers’ controversial win over the Dallas Cowboys. He is battling a slight knee injury that has hampered him from practicing much during the playoffs. It is very unlikely Lacy will miss a huge game like this and I expect him to play as hard as ever against the tough Seahawk defense.

On the other side of the ball 2012 and 2013 All-American safety HaHa Clinton-Dix will start for the Packers at free safety, a spot he started the final half of the season. After struggling a bit in the early parts of the season Clinton-Dix ended up earning NFL All-Rookie honors en route to finishing second on the team in tackles with 94 as well as breaking up 6 passes, intercepting one, recording a sack, and recovering a fumble.

The hard hitting youngster has shown an ability to play the run that surprised some and his coaches have been very high on him expecting even bigger things in the years to come from the Alabama great.

Indianapolis Colts

Over on the AFC side the young Indianapolis Colts feature a pair of All-SEC players in running back Trent Richardson and nose tackle Josh Chapman.

Chapman started every game this season and recorded 21 tackles with a forced fumble and five tackles for loss as he helped the resurgence of the Colts run defense.

Richardson did lead the Colts in rushing in 2014 with 519 yards and three TDs (also 27 catches for 229 yards), but lost his starting job to young running back Daniel Herron late in the season.

Richardson averaged under four yards per carry yet again this season and at times looked like he had no idea how to run the football, running away from holes opened up by his line. For Colts fans and Alabama fans alike it has been frustrating and shocking to see the fall from grace for the former All American and Heisman finalist.

He was benched and inactive for last week’s playoff game and there is a big chance he will be inactive again this week. One thing is for sure, unless something wild happens, Richardson will likely not be a Colt in 2015. Hopefully Trent can get back on track at some point.

New England Patriots

On the other side the veteran New England Patriots features just one Alabama player, former All American linebacker Dont’a Hightower.

After an up and down start to his career for the first two years, Hightower has blossomed as the team’s starting strongside linebacker in 2014.

In his first few years in the league Hightower’s pass rush ability wasn’t used much, but in 2014 he was allowed to rush the passer much more and it paid off for the Patriots. Hightower ended the season second on the team with 89 tackles and second on the team with six sacks. He also forced a fumble, broke up two passes, and recorded four tackles for loss.

In last week’s playoff game he recorded eight tackles, two for a loss despite reaggravating a shoulder injury early in the game. Hightower has been limited in practice this week but it shouldn’t keep the Pro Bowl snub from starting.

Lacy and Clinton-Dix lead the Green Bay Packers against Norwood, Carpenter, and the rest of the Seahawks in the NFC Championship 2:05 PM CT on FOX, while Hightower and the Patriots do battle with Richardson and Chapman’s Colts in the AFC Championship at 5:40 PM CT on CBS.