As the earth turns to stone and the great cold descends to chill the care right out of our hearts, we look back on a great weekend of playoff football. Each conference now has its final four. So much for that talk about how it was unfair for the Niners to have to go to Green Bay, where they won, or that the Chargers were unsuited and unworthy of a playoff bid, for they won as well. On to the Divisional Round, where the big boys sit waiting…
What I learned this week…..
dumbdie-heard enough to sit in weather colder than a penguin’s pecker then you win Fan of the Year. I think I saw someone’s shadow freeze in Green Bay. Not for me, I have a TV that I like very much. And snacks. (more on that later).
Should the Patriots beat Indianapolis it will mean their 8th trip to the AFC Championship game in 13 seasons. My math skills tell me that means Tom Brady makes the conference title game 66.6% of the time (Tom missed 2008 with a knee injury). That’s unfathomable. It goes against everything this league is supposed to be, completely beating year in and year out the system as its constructed. Incredible.
Just because you wanted to use 1/2 of a habanero for your chili and just because some Scoville Index you looked up says 1 habenero = 35 jalepenos doesn’t mean add 17 jalepenos to your chili. The math doesn’t work that way for some reason. Oh, and chili gets hotter if you make it and then let it sit in the fridge overnight before heating it up again. Aye dios mio.
NFC Breakdown – Both road teams, and both Wild Cards as it were, advance. So you can chill on the ‘reseeding’ talk. New Orleans goes back to Seattle, where they were already once throttled earlier this season, and San Francisco gets a rematch of their 10-9 defeat at the hands of the Panthers. I foresee revenge but for one: Seattle and the 49ers will meet next week in what may just be the best undercard since the 90′s.
This just in…T.Y. Hilton can play. In his last two games he totaled 24 receptions for 374 yards and 2 TDs. It may take more than just Aqib Talib to slow him down. Dude runs a 4.25 40-yard dash.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugh
Good: San Diego Chargers – The Bengals just forgot to show up, at home, again. Chargers took advantage, and took it to them. Now San Diego travels to Denver, where they just won, with a ton of confidence. This for a team that really had no business getting in the playoffs to begin with. All of that is washed away now and their one win away from being one win away from the Super Bowl.
Bad: Andy Reid, HC, Kansas City Chiefs – Specifically his play-calling and clock management. Up three points, about six minutes remaining, with the ball he called two timeouts and each of the pass catchers ran out of bounds. He then kicked a pointless field goal. All he did was preserve time for the game-winning TD it seems he knew was coming. This is nothing new for Andy.
Ugh: How can it be anyone but the Cincinnati Bengals? – Bengals QB Andy Dalton now has seven turnovers and just one touchdown in his playoff career, and HC Marvin Lewis, in his eleven seasons, is 0-5 in the playoffs. Mike Brown is too cheap to do anything about it, but how much longer are they going to wait for Marv to win?
FWIW…When you have temps in the -30s and implement policies like the Green Bay Packers did, negating the return of any unused playoff tickets, you’re going to have some difficulty selling out the stadium.
AFC Breakdown – But for a horrific job by Andy Reid and the breakdown of a banged up and largely backup defensive side the Chiefs would’ve maintained their 38-10 lead over Andrew Luck and the Colts. But alas, both Andy’s happened.The Colts prize? Travel to Foxboro to face Brady, Belichick and the Patriots, where the Pats are 11-3 in the playoffs (3-3 in their last 6). I like the Patriots but not by the eight their giving. Then on Sunday, Denver plays host to the upstart Chargers,who needed a bevy of miracles to get in the playoffs but just one to win: Andy Dalton. I think beating Denver twice in a month is too tall a task to ask of this Charger team, but know this: they’re not some warm-weather team that shrinks in the elements. They’ll play the Broncos hard as hell. As I said last week, Broncos come out on top and then get set to host the Patriots for Brady-Manning XV.
Hey, didn’t you used to be….the Kansas City Chiefs top-rated defense? Injury after injury ravaged them and by the time it came to get a stop, they just couldn’t. Depth, Andy. Depth.
You gotta figure…This season is considered a huge win for Chip Kelly and the Eagles. There was nothing expected of this team this season, it was all about next year and beyond. Next year came early for the Eagles, who won their division and are poised to reinvent the game offensively in years to come, despite what all-time dope Phil Simms has to say. Kudos.
W2W4: It’s the playoffs, ya dope. Watch them all. No bad teams left at this point. But for game o’ the week I’ll take the Niners / Panthers rematch that totaled 19 points last time they met.
Locks of the Century of the Week…Pretty nice little Wild Card round for me, losing only on the Eagles pick. This week, though my initial reaction is to take all home favorites, I’ll play some dogs. Playoffs shouldn’t be 10-point games.
NEW ORLEANS @ SEATTLE -8 The Saints did a nice job against the Eagles taking what they were given. By the time Chip stopped playing the pass his front was already beaten up. Eagles couldn’t really get anything going either, and the Saints defense started out very strong, forcing three consecutive punts. I don’t see the same thing playing out this week. Seattle has already game-planned the Saints once, and drubbed them. It may not be by twenty this week, but on the road again, in that building, I can’t imagine the Saints putting up very many points. One defensive touchdown could be the difference between a four point win and 11, so I’m going Seahawks -8.
INDIANAPOLIS +8 @ NEW ENGLAND Colts had a great comeback, yes, but the deficit was their own doing as well. Meanwhile the Patriots come off of a bye, finished the season 7-2, averaging 32.4 ppg in those contests, and 36 in the wins. Much has been made of the Patriot runing game of late, but we all now that team switches things drastically week to week to expose their opponent. Their own weak spot is up the middle, and lucky for them the Colts will hardly be able to expose that weakness. Still, the Pats have not covered very many large numbers all season, and I see this week as no different than it has been: a tough win, possibly late, in possible dramatic fashion …Colts +8
SAN DIEGO +9.5 @ DENVER Covered it earlier, but I do think the Chargers and McCoy have a good book on Manning. Chargers have been Peyton nemeses of late, and he he doesn’t have a terrific track record as a top seed. Will Welker finish the game? Can the Chargers play clock-killer with their now three-headed running game? I’m not entirely sure, but I do think this one plays closer than the 10. Chargers +9.5
SAN FRANCISCO -1 @ CAROLINA Two weeks in a row, in the playoffs, San Fran is a road favorite. That’s saying something. Unlike Mssrs Brady and Manning I don’t think Cam really knows what to do with the bye, and the last two weeks they did play, both wins, he wasn’t spectacular. Meanwhile, most all of this 49ers team knows what it takes to win, at home, on the road, and that in later rounds it gets tougher and tougher. Colin Kaepernick is playing better football of late, they survived the tundra and I expect them to survive the south as well. Niners -1
NFL Wild Card NFL Divisional NFL Playoffs
Tags: Andrew Luck Andy Dalton Andy Reid Bill Belichick Cincinnati Bengals Denver Broncos Football Green Bay Packers Indianapolis Colts Kansas City Chiefs Marvin Lewis New England Patriots New Orleans Saints NFL NFL News Nfl Offseason Patriots Peyton Manning Philadelphia Eagles San Diego Chargers San Francisco 49ers Seattle Seahawks T.Y. Hilton Tom Brady