So calling the first weekend of the playoffs Wild Card Weekend was a proper name. As a wildcard, we are just not sure what exactly we are going to see from some of these teams. As you recall, I picked Kansas City, Falcons, Saints, and Jags and I expected at least one to be incorrect. The one I expected, turned out to be the most solid winner, and my “SURE BET” was my loser. Three out of four is not bad, but I would still be a poor guy in Vegas.
Titans Beat Kansas City: This was my sure bet. I did not think the Titans had enough weapons to win and I thought Kansas City was coming together again at the perfect time. I also mentioned that if Mariota started slow, the mistakes would start to happen and they would have no chance. First off, what happened was the exact opposite, but it started when Travis Kelce left the game with a concussion. The Chiefs went into the locker room up 21-3 with the momentum although without Kelce, I think the Titans sensed there was hope. And then there is the Andy Reid playoff Factor in Kansas City.
As soon as the momentum shifted, the Chiefs play calling went sideways. Add in the fact that in the second half, their other big play guy at wide out Tyreek Hill turtled in a big way. He would finish the game with just 1 catch for 14 yards. Hill dropped a couple passes in the second half that hit him in the hands. Both of which would have made a difference in the game. Instead, Alex Smith was left to do this basically by himself. It was a tough second half to watch.
On the other side, Marcuss Mariota looked like the second coming of John Elway. Mariota was making big throws and running the ball very effectively. They deserved the win, although this was more a case of the Chiefs losing the game.
Falcons @ Rams: The Rams were an 8 point favorite and playing at home. A place where playoff Football has not been played or seen for a while in Los Angeles. With that said, I predicted a Falcons win because of the Rams QB youth, not to mention the fact that they rested their starters (QB Included) the previous week which I thought was a major mistake. If this team was full of veterans, sure go ahead… but not with a team this young.
That turned out to be the case, not to mention the fact that the Rams Made some major mistakes in special teams which turned into points. Matt Ryan played extremely well and showed why playoff experience matters. He made big plays when the Falcons needed them. The Falcons defense played very well also.
The Rams defense had their hands full as special teams turned the ball over twice giving the Flacons great field position. They played well and the defensive line was dominate but the Rams secondary is average at best. If you couple those factors and the Rams offensive ineffectiveness in the first 3 quarters, it was the difference in the game.
Buffalo vs Jacksonville: This game you could say was dominated by the defenses. Or you could take a logical look at it and say that the offenses were so OFFENSIVE to watch there was no surprise the game ended 10-3. Neither quarterback made any big plays with their arms. Though Blake Bortles made a couple of really big plays with his legs which in the end was the difference in the game.
Both Bortles and Taylor both struggled completing any passes at all during the game. They were atrocious to say the least and Tony Romo, who called the game as the Analyst did his level best to not add insult to injury and pile on. I think I saw a tweet from someone who said, is there any chance Tony can go down to the field and be “Steady Quarterback” in the second half. I found that extremely funny (I even rooted for it at one point)and it took me back to my childhood when we used to play, pick up games. Remember that???? If you’re a millennial, I am gonna say probably Not.
LeSean McCoy did everything he could do on a bad ankle to keep Buffalo in the game. He was the only weapon on offense and along with the Buffalo defense, they would keep the game within a score with just 2 minutes left. Buffalo had trouble moving ball all day, and this drive would be no different. So, on third and 3 we would see Tyrod Taylor have to leave the game after a big hit. That brought in Nate Peterman who would pick up that big first down with his legs escaping from a tackle. He then complete another pass for a second first down in a row. After getting sacked, on the following play and a grounding penalty, Peterman would throw a sideline pattern that was read well by the corner, and the ball was picked off. The game would end, and so would all of those Buffalo dreams.
New Orleans @ Carolina: I predicted that the Saints would win this game because I mentioned that we just did not know what we would get from Cam Newton. After the Saints went up 21-3, this game also looked to be over. But Cam Newton woke up from his pouty slumber to guide the Panthers back to cut the lead to 24-19.
The Saints though, have Drew Brees and this was not his first Rodeo either and he would make a big throw to Michael Thomas for 46 yards that would put the Saints close. Thomas would finish the game with 131 yards receiving. After the Saints punched it in and extended the lead to 31-19, Cam Newton would come out and make a big play of his own. The Panthers would cut that lead once again to 5. That would end up being the final and the Saints would move on.
Divisional Round is Set:
Atlanta at Philadelphia at 4:30 on Saturday, followed by Tennessee at New England the prime time game.
Jacksonville @ Pittsburgh at 1:00PM followed by New Orleans at Minnesota at 4:40PM.
Early thoughts… and please this will change by the time I write my prediction columns but Atlanta I think will upset the Eagles because Foles is awful at quarterback. New England will beat up on Tennessee. Pittsburgh will get revenge against Jacksonville in the Snow at Heinz field on Sunday and Minnesota will show why they are the cream of the crop in the NFC this year…with Keenum at the helm.