by Ryan Meehan
Wild Card weekend we found out that sometimes, it’s an underdog’s paradise. Three out of the four dogs won, and both of last year’s Super Bowl participants are out, so there will be a new world champion in February.
NFC Game One: Seattle Seahawks 41, New Orleans Saints 36
Well, the defending Super Bowl champions are officially out as the Saints lost at Qwest Field Saturday afternoon 41-36. I’d kind of figured that the home field advantage (whether fair or not) would help the Seahawks quite a bit. Now, I didn’t figure that they’d put up 41 points and win. This was interesting because regardless of how irrelevant your running game is, you still have to have one and that ended up doing the Saints in. Pierre Thomas being hurt forced Drew Brees to throw the ball 60 times, which can’t be good for anybody.
I’m not going to get into the whole debate as to whether or not the Saints would have won if this game was played in the Superdome. There isn’t a single person with their head screwed on straight reading this article that would believe New Orleans wouldn’t win that game.
And who in a million years would have ever thought that Marshawn Lynch would be your Wild Card weekend hero? Not me. With the way the Seahawks played in the first 15 weeks I didn’t think they were much more capable than Carolina, but they’re jacked up about something now and whatever they are doing appears to be working. Shit, I didn’t think the Seahawks could even use steroids after seeing the way they got blown out in that Giants game. And even though I am not a Pete Carroll guy, I thought that he handled the victory with a lot of class and humility. He’s still a douchebag, but he’s starting to look and sound more and more like an NFL coach every week.
AFC Game One: New York Jets 17, Indianapolis Colts 16
As expected, this was a very close game. Colts coach Jim Caldwell showed his inexperience by failing to manage the clock properly, and it ended up costing them EVERYTHING. Didn’t I say something in week 17 about how the old Peyton Manning would have been able to drive that ball all the way in for six, but the new Manning could only get in field goal range? That could have very well been the difference right there. Once again, we saw how poor the Colts defense and special teams really are when it’s crunch time.
Mark Sanchez has a career playoff record of 3-1. Peyton Manning’s career playoff record? 9-10. And Sanchez doesn’t look like a horse either. And just when you thought Lynch was an unlikely hero Saturday afternoon, nighttime rolls around and Nick Folk is generating more Google searches than colon cancer. (Although both are pretty unpleasant to look at) The Jets are your typical arrogant bunch of loudmouths, and I hope they enjoy the hell out of it because they are going to get erased next week in Massachusetts.
AFC Game Two: Baltimore Ravens 30, Kansas City Chiefs 7
No real surprise here. Baltimore didn’t need Flacco to be anything special and he went out and played a spectacular game. Go figure. As always, the Ravens shined on defense and pulled no punches. They’re also a hell of a road team. The good part about this is now all of the bandwagon Chiefs fans can finally shut up, although of course they probably won’t do that.
When I saw Willis McGahee’s knee get bent back in the National Championship game a few years back, I was almost certain that he’d never play football again. But he’s had a pretty good career so far and now that he’s out of Buffalo, he’s finally on a team that will use him correctly.
NFC Game Two: Green Bay Packers 21, Philadelphia Eagles 16
The Packers aren’t the greatest team in this conference, but they have a lot of guys that make real clutch plays. Aaron Rodgers didn’t have great numbers (18/27 for 180) but he did what he needed to and finished the job. Green Bay’s pass rush is awesome, and they kept Michael Vick from making the explosive plays that made him all of those millions of dollars that he ended up pissing away. But it was on the other side of the ball that the Eagles did themselves in. Philly kind of had a poor red zone defense all year long anyway, and the fact that Green Bay didn’t even attempt a field goal tells you a lot about how many holes are on their D-line. I can honestly say that I can’t ever remember David Akers missing two field goals in the same game. He’s had an incredible career, so it’s odd to see them lose this game by five points. That HURTS.
The one bright spot about Green Bay’s offense to me was James Starks. The kid had 123 on 23 carries and he worked his ass off for every yard of it. Every playoff team needs a good third down back, and that’s exactly what Starks is becoming. It’s a good thing he is too, because other than him the Packers only had fifteen rushing yards. You can’t help but wonder how good they would really be had Ryan Grant not been hurt. But every team has to deal with injuries, so it’s not really a valid excuse.
Overall I only got one out of four right this week, proving that this isn’t as exact of a science as we make it out to be. Aside form the Chiefs / Ravens game, everything came down to the final minute and you can’t ask for much more than that. Divisional weekend brings some interesting games:
Baltimore Ravens (13-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
New York Jets (12-5) at New England Patriots (14-2)
That’s right, no teams from the AFC West or the AFC South are left. Thank God.
Seattle Seahawks (8-9) at Chicago Bears (11-5)
Green Bay Packers (11-6) at Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
Not exactly dream matchups if you’re talking about ratings, but they all earned it. I’ll preview divisional playoff week here on Thursday. See you then.
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