UNNECESSARY ROUGHNESS, PLAYOFF ROUND 1: SO MUCH FOR THE WILD CARD TEAMS
And so much for my predictions! I went 1 for 4, pretty terrible, but I was hoping for a few upsets and only ended up getting the one nobody saw coming! This weekend held classic NFL Playoff action, but ultimately ended with every home team being the victor. Let’s take a look.
The Bengals traveled to Houston and got just plain outplayed in every aspect. Cincinnati made way too many mistakes on offense and defense for Cincinnati, and they gift-wrapped a victory for Houston. Not to say the Texans didn’t play impressive football, because they surely did; their first ever playoff appearance and win is huge for that franchise. They will now travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens, who will undoubtedly fight a lot harder than Cincinnati did. I like Baltimore at home, they play with a different energy, and should lock down a win against Houston this weekend.
The Saints just kept on rolling this weekend. The Lions had to play a perfect game in order to win, and they didn’t. The first half was all Lions, recovering two forced fumbles and limiting Drew Brees and the Saints offense to 10 points, as I expected. I knew Detroit was going to come out swinging on defense. The problem was they didn’t do enough. Their offense sputtered in the 2nd half while the Saints’ offense dominated. There were two opportunities for interceptions and the Lions couldn’t capitalize. When you face a team who goes 3/3 on 4th down conversions, you have to take the confidence away from them. Detroit just didn’t have enough that day. Now the Saints travel to San Francisco which should be a very interesting matchup, Top 3 offense vs. Top 3 defense. Who’s gonna bend first? New Orleans will not be 3/3 on 4th down this week, SF is the best run defense in the league and they’re going to show it. If San Francisco can shut down Drew Brees, control the clock, and score some points (even if David Akers has to do all the work) then I like San Francisco. The Saints are a totally different team on the road. They have magic in NOLA but they aren’t superhuman everywhere else. I think it will be a good game, but ultimately I think that New Orleans will be too much for San Francisco.
The Giants hosted the Falcons, and boy am I glad I decided to lave the house before that game. What a pathetic offensive showing for the Falcons. Hats off the the Giants D; we all know they are good, but they aren’t that good. The Falcons played Falcon Playoff football, unmotivated and lackluster. The first half was all defense, really on both sides of the ball, and then the Giants took over and never looked back. Atlanta gave up big plays on defense and couldn’t convert 4th and inches on more than one occasion. Their only points came on an intentional grounding call in the end zone, leading to a safety. The Giants now travel to Green Bay. The last time the Giants faced Green Bay in the playoffs it was for a trip to the Superbowl. I’ll never forget that game and how devastated I was when Brett Favre threw a classic game ending interception in overtime. I like the Giants’ fire right now, and I think they are going to really disrupt the Packers, but I also think they may be a little overconfident. They have only beaten one team this year with a final record over .500 (the Patriots). That’s not a stat I like if I’m a Giant fan. But this is the Playoffs. The Packers are healing up, they are on a bye, and they may be sluggish. Then again that just might be what they needed. I like the Packers at home and I think Aaron Rodgers and the offense will find a way to work around the Giants’ front four with play action and rolling out the QB. I see the Packers defense picking off Eli at least a couple of times. In the end, the team with the better turnover ratio will win.
Everyone thought the Steelers were gonna blow out Tim Tebow in Denver, but that is not what happened. Forget Tebow Time, forget any magic or prayers, forget everything about the regular season; the Broncos just played the better game, probably their best game of the year statistically. When you do that, you give yourself a chance no matter what team you’re playing. Pittsburgh is without question a better team, but that didn’t matter. The Broncos jumped out to an early lead, leaving it up to their defense, which is their strong point, to hold it down. And they did just enough to send it to overtime where Tim Tebow capped off a 300 yard passing game with a victory. Do they go to New England next week and pull the ultimate upset? More than likely not. But who knows? That looked like a better Denver team than I’ve seen all year. The only thing I’m gonna say is I’m not betting against Tebow and the Broncos, even if it’s almost guaranteed their season ends this weekend in Foxborough.
There is no Most Valuable Idiot this week as usually those awards are handed out to players on trash squads, and we don’t have any trash squads left. This weekend is going to be crazy good and every game will be a must watch.
Go watch the college National Championship tonight. Maybe this one will end 3-3 and go to over time… bleh.
– Jeff Paulick / Lazarus A.D.