Wild Card Recap:
Bengals vs Texans
There were two things I took out of this game. #1: The Bengals had no purpose being in the post-season at all. And #2: The Texans looked very young, very spry, and very passionate as a football team. Andy Dalton was a cool story this year, being a rookie who led his team to the playoffs. I would like to point out that none of his INTs were his fault. But other than Dalton, the Bengals looked atrocious. You’re playing against a 3rd string rookie QB who has lost 3 straight games, how do you now put 10 guys in the box vs the leading rusher from last year? Arian Foster ran all over the Bengals when they should have known it was coming. Andre Johnson looked rusty to say the least. But the most impressive part of this game was the Texans defense. The best word to describe it perhaps, is “crisp.” Plus that INT return for a TD that should have just been a batted down ball was sweet. I figured the Bengals would come out and take the Texans by storm, but they forgot to show up on Saturday.
Lions vs Saints
Everybody knew what to expect in this game, a shootout. Well the two teams didn’t disappoint. Drew Brees threw his 8th straight 300 yard game, and had a whopping 466 yds passing with 3 TD’s. Probably the most surprising was the fact that the Saints rattled out 167yds on the ground! Talk about a balanced offense. Normally I would take time to bash the Lions right now, but I honestly liked what I saw. They definitely showed promise, showed fight, and proved that they should be in the playoffs for a reason. FMQB was a FG away from getting the score dead on! The Saints looked like a Super Bowl team on Saturday night.
Falcons vs Giants
There are two things that a great team needs to win in the playoffs: Good Defense, and a Strong Rushing attack. Well the Giants have one, but being dead last in the league for rushing doesn’t help their chances. Perhaps they took the Falcons off guard by running it 31 times for 172 yds. The Giants looked like they were built for the playoffs on Sunday, showing no mistakes. For the Falcons to only put up 2 points against a 9-7 team, that’s just pathetic. They went for it on 4th and 1 twice, and were stopped both times. If you can’t gain 1 yard, then you have no business winning this game.
Steelers vs Broncos
I’ll admit, I thought the Secretariats had zero chance in this game. Well Tebow’s 4th quarter magic came in the 2nd quarter and they built an early lead. With the Steelers coming back in regulation, I had the feeling that Big Ben would find a way to win. But the second we hit OT, my gut told me that Tebow had one more piece of magic in him. I didn’t realize it would be the first play of OT though! With the 3 blowouts before this game, Tebow and Big Ben made up for it with one of the more exciting games in recent playoff history. Big Ben looked hurt after the 2nd quarter, but managed to muster up 2 late game TD drives to tie the game. The Steelers D also looked very old and very slow (case in point, Ike Taylor not being able to stay with Demaryius Thomas. McGahee’s fumble should have been the game clincher for the Steelers (by the way, I loved how after every single play on that drive, the camera cut to McGahee sitting on the sideline). Tebow had a goofy game in my opinion. He didn’t look that great to me, but then every 3rd play he’d have a 30 yard completion. He completed under 50% of his passes, yet had 316 yards on only 10 completions! He had 2 passing TD’s and a rush TD. Overall we had another crappy statistical, yet entirely magical game from Tebow.
Stolen Stat of the Week:
The Lions had 882 yards passing in 6 days, and lost both games.
Stat of the Week #2:
The only drive of the 2nd half that the Saints did not score on, they were in the victory formation. 5 TD Drives.
Stolen Sat of the Week #3:
After giving up just two passes of 40 or more yards in the regular season, the Steelers allowed passes of 80, 58, 51 and 40 yards by Tim Tebow of all QB’s.
Stat of the Week #4:
In last year’s Wild Card round, 3 road teams won (ironically the only loss was the Saints at the 7-9 Seahawks). This year, all 4 home teams won.
Stat of the Week #5:
FMQB correctly predicted the exact points scored by both winning teams in the NFC last week. But botched both AFC team predictions.
Playoff Overtime rules:
Let’s pause a second to overview the new playoff overtime rules. They were enacted last year, but there were no OT games for it to be tested. Finally we had an OT game this year, and I was psyched to see the new rules in action! Well my hopes in seeing the rules were dashed after there was a TD on the first play of the game (by the way, the new OT system was enacted for 11 seconds, it took longer for the ref to explain the new rules and do the cointoss)! But along with the excitement of that play, came the excitement of a change in the NFL rules. Let’s blow past the fact that Sunday’s rule change was an utter failure (the purpose of the rule was to give each team a chance at possessing the ball, so much for that happening). The NFL took a step in the right direction by implementing this rule, but it needs to go all-in and adopt the college playoff system, perhaps a hybrid where teams receive the ball at the 50 instead (kickers are too good in the NFL). They also need to adopt this format for the regular season as well, not just the playoffs. But I will give the NFL props. A chipshot FG shouldn’t win the game, so they changed the rule so the other team would have an opportunity to beat it. I am excited to “actually” see this format in action. I think it’s safe to say that Sunday night was the most exciting utter failure of a rule change!
For a full breakdown on the new OT rules, go here.
Preview of the Divisional Round:
They call it the “Wild” Card round for a reason, because this is typically the round with upsets, crazy games, and crazy plays where teams try to justify that they are indeed good enough to get into the playoffs. But the Divisional round is truly where everything happens. Rare are the 41-10 games anymore, these final 8 teams are the best of the best, and the best games happen in this round. Honestly, there are 4 great weeks in the football season: Week 1, Week 17, the Super Bowl, and the Divisional playoff round. Teams are playing for a shot at a Super Bowl berth, and everything is on the line!
Saints at 49ers:
There is a strange subplot to this story that may unravel as the game goes on. The last time these two teams met, it was Week 1 of the Preseason, and Jim Harbaugh’s first game coaching in the NFL. Apparently there is an unwritten rule that in the preseason, the two head coaches call each other to discuss strategy. Well Jim never called Sean Payton, to which defensive coordinator took issue with and blitzed Alex Smith nearly every play. A) This is just ridiculous, and B) What does Jim Harbaugh do to piss off other coaches?!?! Good bulletin board material nonetheless…Anyway, there’s a game to be played on Saturday too. I think the Saints are the first team to win on the road this year. The 49ers will put on a better show than expected, but even a killer defense won’t be able to stop Drew Brees.
Final Score: Saints 27, 49ers 16
Chance of Saints pulling the upset: 85%
Broncos at Patriots
Here’s a rematch between the much hyped Game of the Season in Week 15. Except this time the game is in Foxboro. In the earlier matchup, the Patriots offense seemed to overmatch the supposedly staunch Denver defense. Rob Gronkowski seemed like he could do whatever he wanted in that game. But Tebow came on strong, even holding the lead early in the second quarter. I do believe the Broncos have a small chance at an upset, but only if the Tebow magic starts flying again. The Patriots will still win this game, but the Broncos will put up a better fight then they did in Week 15.
Final Score: Broncos 27, Patriots 34
Chance of Broncos pulling the upset: 30%
Texans at Ravens
I can already tell you the story of this game. The Ravens will go into halftime with a 10-7 lead as both offenses struggle to find their own against stingy defenses. In the second half, the Nevermores will have a decent 17 point outing, and the Texans will mount a comeback only to fall short. In my mind, this is the one playoff game I could go without watching this weekend, but I’m hoping for a closer game than expected. The Texans have never defeated the Ravens in their history (0-5). The first matchup this season was a 29-14 Ravens win.
Final Score: Texans 24, Ravens 27
Chance of Texans pulling the upset: 40%
Giants at Packers
There are 3 teams that can take out the Packers right now in the playoffs. The Saints, Patriots, and Giants. Ironically, there is a chance that the Pack could play all 3 on their Super Bowl run. People aren’t going to give the Giants much hope, but I honestly feel like this is a 50-50 game, it was only a FG game this season. Defensively the Giants have what it takes to stop the Packers, and Victor Cruz is going to go nuts on the worst pass defense in the league. Of course the Packers will keep up with them offensively, but I’m suspecting another close game. So here’s my crazy prediction of this week! I am going to predict that the Giants pull the upset and defeat the Packers at home. For some reason, for as long as I remember, these teams that go 13-0, 15-1, etc. always set themselves up for disappointment. (Vikings in 1998, Chiefs, Colts of late, Patriots in 2007). Not one of these teams seem to go all the way. So my thought is that the Packers will not win 3 in a row, and their loss could very well be on Sunday.
Final Score: Giants 31, Packers 27
Chance of Giants pulling the upset: 50%
I just want to take a second as I have a beef about college football. First of all, the only game I watched all year was the “Game of the Century” between #1 LSU and #2 Alabama. After the 9-6 snoozer I practically vowed to never watch college football again. But as a sports fan I had to watch the national championship game touted as “The Rematch of All Rematches”, and we got more of the same. The same 5 field goals were scored in the national championship game, plus one TD (to which the extra point was missed). For a whopping final score of 21-0. You can’t tell me that LSU had a better chance at scoring than Oklahoma St, Stanford, or Oregon. The game was the 3rd lowest in ratings (in an era where football is king). Maybe the BCS will understand that we need a playoff system now. I’m just saying, March Madness is huge in this country, yet nobody talks about college basketball. With how big college football is, why not have a December madness? It would be HUGE! My lobby is for either 4 or 8 teams. That’s only 2-3 games the national champion would have to play to earn the title. Anyway, this game is the reason I don’t watch college football…On a side note, how about the SEC, winning the past 5 national championships (Florida, LSU, Alabama, Auburn, and Alabama). Talk about a power conference.
C’mon Jeff Fisher:
I’m calling you out coach, make up your mind! You interviewed with the Dolphins 2 weeks ago, and a 2nd interview with the Rams last week. Just make a decision already, and move to the Gateway to the West!
Out of Luck:
Ok so I promised only one crazy prediction this week, but I’m going to throw out one more. The Colts just got a new GM and still plan to draft Luck with the #1 overall pick. As much as I hate to see Manning get traded, I feel that it’s coming this offseason. I see him going to one of 3 teams. Miami, Cleveland, or my new wild card, the New York Jets. How epic would it be if Manning went to the Jets, played Brady twice a year, and he could easily take that team to the Super Bowl with that talent. Plus having Eli and Peyton both in New York would be a riot! He wouldn’t stand for all the Rex Ryan personality BS, but he could pull that team together and make a run. If Manning gets traded somewhere, only if he wins a Super Bowl will his legacy not be tarnished.
A Big Letdown:
Keep in mind, that there are only 7 games left in the football season. I was actually discussing this with my boss, but the playoffs and Super Bowl build you up into the most excited you will be as a football fan, and then all of a sudden there is no football…for 7 months. So cherish these last few games, because after this weekend we’re down to 3 left.