They playoffs are upon us, and Wow, did they start off with a bang! We saw the 2nd largest comeback in playoff history in a 99 point game, 3 road team underdogs win, and the Ice Bowl part 2. We had teams win by 1 point, 2 points, and 3 points. Absolutely thrilling weekend in the NFL!
For the Record…
Last week I picked the Colts, Eagles, Bengals, and 49ers. So I went 2 for 4.
Chiefs at Colts:
The Chiefs were a fun team this year, the epitome of the saying “there is parity in the NFL, next year any team can make it.” They had the #1 overall pick last year with the worst record. Yet this year were the last undefeated team and a playoff surprise. If I hadn’t have put money on the Colts, I may have rooted for the Chiefs. Even being decimated by injuries to pro bowl stars, the Chiefs got out to an incredibly fast start, leading 38-10 in the 3rd Quarter. We then witnessed the 2nd greatest comeback in playoff history (I highly doubt we’ll ever see another Bills comeback with a backup QB). The Colts put on the gas and scored a TD on every drive except for one INT in the middle. The Chiefs could only manage to kick 2 FG’s in the closing 28 minutes, which led to their demise as well. There are some playoff games that I remember vividly (2003 Giants vs 49ers comes to mind), and I think this one just got added to the list.
How the Colts Cameback:
Let’s pause for just a moment here, so we can dissect how the Colts actually came back. Sure the comeback was highly improbable, but FFMQB can attest to the fact that I was saying “The game isn’t over yet” several times in the 2nd half, and explaining how the Colts could pull it off. Within minutes of the 3rd, they were down by 28. The Colts needed to attack the score like any business goal is attacked. Split it up into time frames and chip away at it. You can’t score 28 points in one play, so the Colts needed to say “alright, we need to make up 14 points in the 3rd quarter and go from there” (thus halving their deficit to 14 by the start of the 4th). Well they exceeded their goal, and were down by 10 going into the 4th. Because they took care of business 1 play at a time and had short term goals, they ultimately won the game.
Saints at Eagles
I gave the Eagles 3 ways to win the game last week (rushing, getting to Drew Brees, and being the home team). The only thing Philadelphia accomplished was being the home team…Backup RB’s for the Saints outrushed the NFL’s leading rusher by 100 yards, and Drew Brees was only sacked twice. In fact, the Saints rushing was so good, they got the ball back with 5 minutes in the game and slowly marched their way down the field and didnt’ even give the ball back to Philly. This was a strong, gritty game that kept going back and forth. This to me is what playoff football is all about, even if the Colts game was more exciting.
Bengals at Chargers
The one stinker of the bunch. Andy Dalton became the 5th QB to take a team to the playoffs his first 3 years, and is subsequently 0-3 in those games. Once they got down, Dalton seemed to be throwing for the stars, just long bombs trying to knock the lead away in 1 play (not chipping away at it like the Colts did). Dalton did not have a solid game, and the Chargers proved me wrong, keeping the Bengals scoreless the entire 2nd half.
49ers at Packers
Ice Bowl Part 2! Ok, it wasn’t as cold as they initially thought as it ended up staying over 0 (windchill was -10). Couldn’t believe that Kaepernick and most Packers were playing sleeveless! Another back and forth game in the freezing cold, with 4 lead changes. Rodgers played mediocre, not necessarily good or bad, but he went the entire 1st quarter without a completion (first time in his career). Kaepernick also leaned on Michael Crabtree very heavily (13 targets), and it seems like their team is turning around with that pair back together. Like the Saints, the 49ers got the ball with over 5 minutes, and drained the clock before kicking a game winning FG without giving the Packers the ball. Kaepernick won this game with his legs, connecting on a couple key 3rd downs on the drive. If that is back in his repertoire, that could make the 49ers a more dangerous team.
Stat of the Week #1:
This is only the 4th time since 1990 that both #6 seeds won
Stolen Stat #2:
Indianapolis possession results in the second half: interception, touchdown, touchdown, interception, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, kneels to end game.
Stolen Stat #3:
New Orleans won its first-ever road playoff game.
Stolen Stat #4:
Kansas City has not won a playoff game in 20 years.
Stolen Stat #5:
Cincinnati has not won a playoff game in 23 years.
Stat of the Week #6:
In the last 19 seasons, only once (2009, New Orleans and Indy) have the two top seeds entering the playoffs advanced to the Super Bowl. Not great news for the Broncos and Seahawks matchup potential.
Stat of the Week #7:
The Colts had just 14 turnovers in 16 games this season. They had 4 turnovers on Saturday.
Stat of the Week #8:
Peyton Manning has gone 1 and Done 8 times in his playoff career
Quote of the Week:
“Beating the Chiefs, so easy a caveman could do it” Regarding Andrew Luck and his beard
Quote of the Year:
“Yeah, but Sean Payton can’t make it rain” Reporter (Payton is making the Saints practice as realistic as possible with the Seahawks logo, wet ball drills, deafening music).
“No, but I can…” Saints lineman Classic answer to that question!
Division Round Predictions:
I know that most Wild Card weekend are unpredictable, but the Divisional round tends to even out a bit. But I’m sensing another surprising weekend.
Saints at Seahawks
Seattle has been a popular Super Bowl pick since about Week 2, and they trounced the Saints 34-7 earlier this season. But I think Sean Payton is a genius when it comes to creative ways to attack adversity. Last week it was different colored gatorade and heavier workout uniforms. This week he has painted the Seahawks logo on the Saints practice field to make it seem as real as possible. Call me crazy, but I’m going to pick the upset, with the #6 Saints beating the #1 Seahawks 20-17.
Colts at Patriots
I will start by admitting that I am changing my pick on Friday morning. I went all week knowing that I was going to pick the Patriots in this slot, but I have a feeling that the Colts magic from last week will carry over. The ONE thing they can’t do is get down early. Even if down 14-0, the Colts will lose. But if they come out strong, I think that their D-line will give Brady fits and force mistakes. Will be an interesting game. There’s one team that you can’t count out if they’re down by 28, against another team that you can’t count out if they’re down by 7 with a minute left in the game. So basically no lead is safe in this game. My prediction is that Brady will have the ball with a chance to drive down the field, and fail. 24-20 Colts win.
49ers at Panthers
Another rematch from the season. In this close and defensive battle, the Panthers beat the 49ers 10-9. I’ve been down on the Panthers all year, and have truly been shocked watching them beat the Saints and Patriots earlier this year. I’m still struggling to pop on the bandwagon. I think their surprise playoff run will be as short lived as Kansas City’s. San Francisco is the hottest team coming into the playoffs, they’ve won their last 7 and seem to be finally hitting their groove. Colin Kaepernick found his legs again last week, and think that he will stay on that pace this week. San Francisco has also had it’s fair share of playoff games the last 3 years, while Cam Newton struggled to win games in the regular season. I’m going for the 2nd upset in the NFC with the 49ers taking the Panthers easily, 24-10.
Chargers at Broncos
A rematch isn’t enough for this matchup, this will be the 3rd time these 2 teams play this year. Both teams split the season series, with the Chargers winning in Denver (and vice versa). Even the Broncos win was by a less than convincing 8 points. I love when teams meet for a 3rd time. You already know their tendencies and it’s always a division rivalry game. I remember the Jets a few years ago getting revenge on the Patriots after going 0-2 against them in the regular season. This should be a hard fought game. Remember that Chargers coach Mike McCoy was Denver’s O-coordinator last year. I think Manning comes out knowing he can’t lose, and the Broncos handle business in convincing fashion. Denver 35, San Diego 17
Danger for Denver:
The Broncos lost to 3 teams all season (Colts, Patriots, and Chargers). All 3 teams are left, and they’ll have to beat 2 of them to even make the Super Bowl. To be fair, the Broncos kept it close, losing by 3 to the Pats, 6 to the Colts, and 7 to the Chargers.
Bonus “For the Record”:
Yes, I am living dangerously this week and picking 3 upsets. But as Bond would say, “There’s no point in living if you can’t feel alive”
Reader: Non NFL-Thought of the Week:
Tim Tebow made his ESPN debut last night – picked Fla St. to win 35-31. He was wrong. Fla st. won 34-31…plenty of room for improvement.