The regular season is over, and next week, the road to the Super Bowl starts. It’s finally here. Every playoff spot is clinched. The seedings are lined up. Times have been set for next weekend. It’s playoff time.
In this column, I’m not going to wrap up any games. I hated doing that. It was so boring. Next season, the format will be different. In this column, I will talk about the playoff seeds, next weekend’s games, and the infamous Black Monday.
No.2 Green Bay
Remember when the Cardinals had a three game NFC West lead? Remember when the Seahawks were 3-3, and we freaked out? Heck, we weren’t even sure they were going to make the playoffs! And now, the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC goes through Seattle. Have fun with that, everyone in the NFC.
In a thrilling game, Green Bay beat Detroit 30-20 to win the NFC North Sunday. Even with a calf injury, Aaron Rodgers had a phenomenal game, leading his team to a victory. The Packers earned a 1st round bye, which will help heal Rodgers’ calf. However, the No.1 seed wasn’t in their reach, and we know how dominate the Packers are at Lambeau Field. The bye helps, but Green Bay will have a tough opponent in their first playoff game, who ever that may be.
Through all the adversity, the Dallas Cowboys defined the odds, and really embarrassed me (I had them 5-11 this season). Tony Romo and DeMarco Murray had fabulous seasons, and the defense was exceptionally better than we expected. An injury to the Eagles’ Nick Foles gave them some help, but overall, the Cowboys won their division, and will face Detroit next week. Talk about big-time receivers in that one.
(Do I really have to talk about the Panthers?)
Anyways, in brutal fashion, the Panthers defeated the Atlanta Falcons 34-3 in Sunday’s NFC South title game. That’s a division, that didn’t even deserve a title game. This division was just a dumpster fire all year. Out of anyone, who expected the Panthers to win it? A cap-strapped team who had no wide receivers, a constantly banged up QB, and a defense THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO GOOD, BUT THEN DID ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ALL SEASON.
I took the Panthers defense in fantasy football, and somehow still went 8-2 with them before I switched to the Packers defense. UPDATE: I lost in my championship game this past weekend. I got killed. So much for my 12-2 season.
Anyways, the Panthers were the last team we would’ve thought to win this division. It’s a stink bomb. I hope my Cardinals kill them next week. They don’t deserve to be here.
And that leads to the Wild Card teams. My Arizona Cardinals have gone through pure torture this year, and yet, we’re still in the playoffs. Somehow, someway, We’ve started three QB’s this year, due to injuries to Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton. Ryan Lindley has started two games. You have no idea how miserable that has been. Lindley is a QB, who ON THE SAME DRIVE, can look phenomenal, and horrible. He’ll complete a deep pass play, and on the next play, throw it to the other team. It’s terrifying. As said above, the Cardinals have a matchup with the Panthers, who’s shouldn’t be here. It’s easily the worst playoff game we’ve had in awhile, no matter who is playing QB for Arizona.
Then we get to the No.6 seed in the NFC: The Detroit Lions.
This team plays in a tough division. A division that features one of the best QB’s in the league and a spoiler-like Vikings team. The Lions have multiple offensive weapons, and can explode at any minute. The Lions also have a very good defense, with a front seven that is unblockable. This coming weekend, we’ll have a shootout on our hands.
No.1 New England
I find it hilarious that both teams a top the conferences were teams that in Week 4 or so we thought were done. Now, both of them, Seattle and New England, have home-field advantage in the playoffs. Wait, who thought the Patriots were done?
Oh yea, that guy again.
Anyways, this Patriots team. You know what? They’re the New England Patriots. They don’t lose.
No matter what issues they have, they will figure it out. Tom Brady is having another great season, the defense has been much better, and….
He’s been healthy. That’s the key. New England’s offense isn’t the same without him. He just may be the biggest offensive weapon there is. There is no one like him. That’s the key. If he’s healthy, this team is really scary.
Right behind the Pats, lies the Denver Broncos. The Broncos are another great team. Their defense, like the Pats, has improved dramatically. The offense is running the ball more and more behind C.J. Andersen, which has to be a little concerning due to the lack of passing. Peyton Manning is great, but he just hasn’t looked himself. He has been sick and has had a thigh injury, but the performance level just isn’t there. The Broncos are lucky they got the No.2 seed, because Manning needs a break.
Last night, the Steelers beat the Bengals 27-17 in the AFC North title. The win though, didn’t give Pittsburgh a bye, and now, they must play rival Baltimore in the AFC Wild Card Game. That will be fun. Ben Rothlisberger has been phenomenal this season. He looks better than ever. The Steelers defense has been okay throughout the year. It’s the reason why they’ve been so hard to figure out. The secondary is up&down. They’ve had multiple injuries back there, but continue to preform well. Again, next Sunday’s game is going to fun, and hard-fought.
Then we get to the surprise No.4 seed, the Indianapolis Colts.
This team is another confusing one. They have Andrew Luck, who is a top five QB in this league, and is sure to be the best in these next coming years. Truly, they have nothing around him. T.Y. Hilton is the only option. Reggie Wayne is facing retirement (IMO), and the Colts can’t run the ball. Like they can’t, at all. Trent Richardson is abysmal. The Browns made a smart move there. Also, this defense isn’t good. The secondary is awful. The front seven was harmed by Robert Mathis’ injury, leaving D’Qwell Jackson to lead them. All n’ all, with all their problems, Andrew Luck is a postseason QB, or at least that’s where we’ve seen him shine. If he can take over, watch out.
The Wild Cards in this conference are interesting this year. Two teams who I had in playoffs at the beginning are from the the same division. It’s the Bengals and the Ravens.
Both of these teams are very similar. Baltimore has an offense that leans on the run, but can pass when needed. However, passing always comes with risk. Both teams have very good receivers, but are always hurt. Both of these teams are always battling injuries, which leads to backups being forced in and not preforming. The Bengals and Ravens have good defenses, with the Bengals secondary being a lot better than the Ravens. The front sevens on both teams are very good, shutting down any team who runs the ball.
Next weeks’ AFC Wild Card Game between the Bengals and Colts should be fantastic. Indy can’t run the ball, and going up against the Bengals’ incredible run defense won’t help them. I expect lots of passing in that game.
As always, Baltimore and Pittsburgh will be great. Expect low scoring and big hits in that one.
Wild Card Weekend
Baltimore-Pittsburgh, Saturday, 8:15 PM EST
Cincanatti-Indianapolis, Sunday, 1:05 PM EST
Cardinals-Panthers, Saturday, 4:35 PM EST
Dallas-Detroit, Sunday, 4:40 PM EST
This was a rough one, and I do expect more coaches and GM’s to get the boot.
Coaches fired: Rex Ryan, Mike Smith, Marc Trestman, Jim Harbaugh, Dennis Allen (earlier this season)
GM’s fired: Phil Emery (Bears), John Idzik (Jets)
Who should have been fired: Thomas Dimitroff (Falcons GM), Reggie McKenzie (Raiders GM)
Mike Smith’s and Marc Trestman’s firing was no question. Trestman’s offense obviously quit working with this Bears team, and he couldn’t get Jay Cutler to stop being Jay Cutler. It’s shame that with such a high powered offense, it wouldn’t come together.
As for Phil Emery’s firing, he’s the one who signed Jay Cutler to monster contract and put together this team. It’s worked before. It can work again. However, they need new minds in the front office. Get someone else to work with this squad.
Mike Smith firing wasn’t unexpected, though it may not be entirely his fault. This Atlanta team had no offensive line or defense all together. They couldn’t run the ball. Atlanta has good QB and good wide receivers. That’s it. Smith didn’t have a lot to work with. However, it’s not just that. Smith’s decisions over the past couple years have been awful. He has no common sense when it comes to clock management. There was more problems than the team. In my opinion, more of the blame should go on GM Thomas Dimitroff. He built this team, and he hasn’t done a good job with it. He is wasting Matt Ryan’s career. It’s unfortunate, but true. He has to go, and as of right now, that doesn’t look too likely.
Then we get to the Jets, who cleaned house by firing Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik. Honestly, Rex Ryan should still be the head coach of the Jets. Though he is mainly a defensive guy, he gets it. He isn’t afraid to get into his players. Really, he’s great, and the Jets made a mistake letting him go. He will be coaching next season, whether it’s a head coaching gig or not.
One of the few moves I agree with this Monday was John Idzik getting let go. He drafted Geno Smith, thinking that he was the future of this team. Well, that didn’t happen. Smith is a disaster. This team has had issues at running back. Smith can’t perform with talent, inspiring my theory. That was the right move by the Jets. Honestly, rebuilding isn’t the answer. They’re closer than people think. That’s why I believe firing Rex Ryan was the wrong move.
I’ve somewhat covered the Jim Harbaugh story already, but I want to get one thing out of the way.
I’ve heard and seen people put the headline up “DID THE 49ERS MAKE A MISTAKE BY FIRING JIM HARBAUGH?
HOLD ON, THIS WAS A “MUTUAL PARTING OF WAYS”. SAN FRANCISCO DID NOT FIRE HIM. NOR DID HE LEAVE.
WOULD YOU TURN DOWN CLOSE TO $50 MILLION TO COACH A COLLEGE TEAM!?
Yea, (I’ll stop screaming now) I don’t think you would. Yes, it sucks for the 49ers, but if he did stay, it sounds like the 49ers would have fired him anyways.
It means more for Michigan than it does San Francisco, but it does leave the 49ers with a vacancy. They will get someone they like and who wants to be there. Don’t worry to much.
As for the Raiders, well, they think they can still get Harbaugh, and one report said “They had their heart set on him.” That just shows you who’s running that franchise. Sorry to all my friends who are Raiders fans, you don’t deserve this.
On to the Playoffs baby!!!!!