Defense wins championships.
536 offensive yards for wins insane wild card shootouts.
@steven_lebron - Pittsburgh Steelers
Since the game’s on Sunday, there’s no way Tebow can los…nevermind, not going there. The Steelers are more banged up than insert your favorite aging celebrity here. Tebow against Dick LeBeau’s defense? On home field, on the road, on a neutral field, in my backyard, anywhere they play this game that’s a huge mismatch to me. The loss of Mendenhall will hurt them in later rounds, but I don’t see it being a factor in this one. In fact, I’m so confident in this one that I’m going to create prop bets for our followers. First, Will James Harrison go “Tebowing” after a big play. Second, total number of points for Denver vs. total number of completions by Tebow. Third, how many agonizing shots of John Elway in the press box will be captured? My answers: Yes, total number of points for Denver over completions by Tebow (it will be close though, 9-8) and too many. Steelers in a blowout. If Tebow wins…I don’t even want to think about this.
@nhall - Denver Broncos
There are some things I just won’t bet against. Tebow is one of them. We saw it last year with the Seahawks. Nobody. And I mean nobody gave them a chance. Whenever everybody is going one way, it usually means you should consider the alternative. Mendenhall is out for the rest of the season while Ryan Clark and Pouncey are out of this game. Big Ben is already banged up. You’re telling me you don’t see a way that Elvis Dumervil or Von Miller could get through that offensive line and take a shot at that bad ankle? I didn’t see all of the Steelers games but I saw their prime time ones. Kansas City, the Browns, the Niners - in which game did they look dominant? The Browns were in that game, McCoy gave them the ball. KC was in that game too, they just had something like a -22 turnover rate. I’m not sure these are the dominant Steelers we are used to. Can they win in Denver? For sure. But can I see a situation where the crazy crowd in Mile High takes over the game, and the Steelers lose key personal to injuries, and Prater kicks four 50+ yard field goals into the thin Denver air? Yes, yes I can!
@steven_lebron - Atlanta Falcons
My favorite match-up of the week. Anytime you have two teams that have underachieved in the first round, you’re bound for hilarity, redemption and disappointment. The perfect ingredients for a crazy first round game. This is as much about what I don’t like about the Giants than it is about what I like in Atlanta. The Giants talk a lot for a 9-7 team. Brandon Jacobs calling out Rex Ryan, and this week Justin Tuck calling out the Falcons’ offensive line. Is Tom Coughlin okay with this? Last I checked, this Giants team hasn’t even won a playoff game since their Super Bowl win. And suddenly we’re suppose to believe this inconsistent squad will get it together and make a run? Hard to fathom. I think Matt Ryan gets his first playoff win and Julio Jones has a big game to justify the trade at least for this year. For one team, a playoff win will justify a disappointing regular season. For the other, lots of questions headed to the off-season. Again, this will be fun.
@nhall - New York Giants
I worry that any argument I make for the Giants will actually curse their playoff chances. This team is so strange. They do better when the odds are stacked against them and crumble under prosperity. It’s bizarre. They’ve been plagued by injuries and have no running game to speak of yet Eli Manning is playing out of his skull. They beat the Patriots and hung close to the Packers but got swept by the Redskins. I guess it’s a positive that this game will be in New Jersey - the Giants don’t really have much of a home field advantage. They won about half their home games, one of them being a road team against the Jets. Maybe it’s more of a negative for the Falcons than a positive for Giants. Playing outdoors in the crazy wind might effect Matt Ryan. Matt Ryan, who has still never won a playoff game. I look for that streak to continue. So far Ryan had appeared in two playoff games where he threw 3 touchdowns and four interceptions. He could have another long day if the Giants can get a consistent pass rush. For the Giants, Manningham could have a nice day if Grimes is still out. Plus the Giants have one of the most exciting weapons in football, Yards After the Catch CRUUUUUUUUUUUZZ!
I too am very much looking forward to this one, I just have no idea what to expect.
@nhall - Detroit Lions
Man, this one is hard to pick. How do you root against either of these two
cities teams? I wish there was a way these two teams could play later on in the playoffs. It’s true that the Saints beat the Lions earlier in the season but that was without Suh, I think I heard something about stomping. Does one player make that much difference? Probably not but Stafford is coming into his own. Brees surpassed Dan Marino this year but Stafford was only 46 yards behind the record. I haven’t seen any team stop him these past few weekends - a healthy Stafford is a deadly Stafford. Oh, and they have a machine at wide receiver. Triple coverage, no problem, just chuck it up there and let the legue’s leading receiver take care of it. And what if the Lions gat a game out of Kevin Smith? It sounds insane but he could be the key to the game. He’s had four rushing TDs since week 11. If nobody breaths on him and he stays whole for this game he could wear down this Saints De. On the flip-side the Lions pass defense is underrated. Drew Brees is gonna be Drew Brees but this Lions defense could keep the big plays under wraps if they can avoid penalties. But it’s the Detroit Lions, that’s probably asking too much.
@steven_lebron - New Orleans Saints
Agreed that both of these teams were feel good stories this year, even if the Lions tried their hardest to turn heel on us. But I always like to draw the line between teams that have Super Bowl aspirations and those that are happy to get there. Again, that sure worked out last year in Seattle for the Saints. I saw a stat this week: the 1999 St. Louis Rams aka. The Greatest Show On Turf averaged 34 points per game at home. This year’s Saints? 41 points per game at home. Hard to think there’s anything the Detroit defense can do to slow that down. The only way this game is even close is if the Saints commit a few turnovers early and have to play catch-up. Even then, hard to see the Lions keeping up on both sides of the ball over sixty minutes. I think the Saints are primed to start a long playoff run, but do remember those Rams with Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk and company won one Super Bowl, lost in the first round then lost a Super Bowl. The Saints are two thirds of the way towards that path. I’m going to take the Saints to pull away in the second half. But if Kevin Smith pulls a Marshawn Lynch and rips off a game clinching TD, don’t talk to me next week.
@steven_lebron - Cincinnati Bengals
I’ve been a huge fan of Andy Dalton and AJ Green since this video. I can’t remember a rookie quarterback-wide receiver tandem that achieved chemistry so quick and got the team to the playoffs. Now the Bengals did take advantage of all their winnable games on a not so difficult schedule, but you can’t tell me a road game at the Texans with T.J. Yates (and Jake Delhomme lurking) at quarterback doesn’t fall into the category of a “winnable game”. Houston hasn’t scored more than 22 points since their starting quarterback went down, they finally lifted a decade long drought of underachieving by getting their first playoff berth. They’ve accomplished all that they need. The Bengals might not have beaten Pittsburgh or Baltimore, but they hung tight in those games, and have those battle-tested experiences to draw on for this post-season outing. In a battle of two rookie quarterbacks, I will take the more competent one to win a low scoring affair on the road.
@nhall - Houston Texans
Two rookie QBs, yup. Low scoring, yup. But that’s where we differ. This is everything to Houston, first playoff game of their young history. It’ll be a fantastic crowd for sure. The Bengals only beat one playoff team this year, the 8-8 Broncos. And that was way back in BT (before Tebow) time in week 2. They lost at home to this same Houston team only four weeks ago in Cincinnati. It’s true that the playoffs are a different animal, and neither of these teams are necessarily hot but Houston will have Andre Johnson. Will he be 100%?No, but you have to respect even a gimpy Andre Johnson. If Andre Johnson can get down field and at least sell the threat of a pass than I think this offense will be just fine. They have the best running back combination in the league. That will do wonders for the play action. Cincy is a popular pick but I don’t understand what they’ve done. This Houston defense has something to prove. I like a healthy Owen Daniels to come up big and Jonathan Joseph to pick of Dalton on one of those fingers crossed chucks to A.J. Green.
Of course, if Jake the Snake Delhomme does in fact start I take this all back and will be doubling down on the Bengals.
Interesting wide receiver numbers from the wild card round. Most of these teams don’t have a true number one receiver but I think it’s a pretty good sampling.
Do we chalk this up to playoff caliber defenses? I’m not sure. There were still a lot of points scored this weekend. I just don’t think it was by the usual suspects. Take the Eagles’ Jason Avant, 7 receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. Or Pierre Garcon’s 5 receptions for 112 yards and a score. Garcon has all the talent in the world. This doesn’t surprise me in the least. I just think Peyton stopped punishing for dropping all those balls in the early part of the season.
What do you think? Are we looking at stingier defenses, more focus on the run, or something else?
Most people missed it but this was Flacco’s best throw of the day.