Welcome to the Divisional Round of the playoffs! If you’re an optimist, it’s one week closer to the end of the league year and the fun (free agency, draft) begins… or if you’re a pessimist, it’s one week closer until the Pats or Steelers are in the Super Bowl.
Last week’s Wild Card Round, was an interesting spread of games to say the least:
-The Chiefs did what they’re notorious for doing, with another playoff collapse, except this time, it was aided by pathetic officiating, and a Marcus Mariota touchdown pass to Marcus Mariota.
-The Rams showed their inexperience with a 31-year-old coach and a 2nd year QB, as the Falcons maintained a lead in the 4th quarter without blowing it in Matt Ryan’s first ever road playoff win (awwww! Flacco’s first road playoff win was his first ever playoff game a decade ago!).
-The Jaguars and Bills got themselves into a good old fashioned shootout… like the Plaxico Burress kind, where it’s mostly self-inflicted shots, and the 10-3 final was the end result of an ugly game. Also that Jalen Ramsey interception to seal the game after Nathan Peterman came in was actually not an interception. Come at me, bro.
-The Saints wrapped up Wild Card Weekend by taking out Cam Newton and the Panthers, despite giving up 440+ yards of offense. Yup. Not a typo. That has to be the worst defense in the playoffs this year, hands down.
With the Divisional Weekend ahead of us, it’s time for the next round of who to root for, where I basically tell Ravens fans how to live their lives because I’m a controlling narcisist (I’m working on it. Sort of).
Titans @ Patriots
Saturday 1/13 @ 8:15pm
Last weekend’s games were enjoyable, without the Patriots or Steelers involved. This weekend? No more fun and games. This is strictly business now.
The Patriots come in with the top seed in the AFC, but aren’t nearly as flawless as years past, with Tom Brady working with a makeshift wideout squad sans Julian Edelman (maybe Chris Hogan as well, we’ll see), and honestly? Brady’s had 5 picks in his last 5 games which, for Brady that’s kinda sloppy…
Oh, and their defense? 20th in Rush ypg & 30th in Pass ypg?
Let’s just say they miss Dean Pees more than we do!
The Titans come in after a wild second half comeback against the Chiefs in the Wildcard Round, that can best be summed up by one play: Mariota to Mariota…TOUCHDOWN! Overall it was just a sloppy game for the Titans on both sides of the ball for the entire first half, but thanks to odd plays like the self-TD pass, officiating help (what’s a fumble?), and Travis Kelce going down to injury, they were able to overcome and win.
Can Derrick Henry run rampant on New England’s defense like he in KC (156 yards, 1 TD)? Can Marcus Mariota keep his strong second half going (3 TD’s after halftime)?
Time will only tell…
First and foremost, rooting for the Patriots is the most unpatriotic thing one can do. It’s like going to see Star Wars The Last Jedi, and uncontrollably sobbing when Supreme Lord Snoke dies (don’t you dare say ‘spoiler alert’ since it was released a month ago). It’s like sitting in gridlock on the highway, and getting out of your car to go hi-five the a-hole slamming on his horn as if that’ll make traffic suddenly break free. It’s like bringing sushi to a 4th of July cookout.
Feel free to add more.
We all know that the Ravens are the only team capable of beating the Patriots in Foxboro and making Tom Brady look like Tim Tebow, but perhaps the Titans can surprise all of us? After all, if you believe the ESPN report, it sounds like there’s a lot of turmoil and squabbling going on within the ranks of the Patriots… perhaps the distraction will be just enough to have every single NFL fan outside of the Mass-holes elated to see the PATS. GO. DOWN.
Falcons @ Eagles
Saturday 1/13 @ 4:35pm
Super Bowl Impostor Bowl! One team hasn’t won a Super Bowl ever and the other… well, I guess pretty much the same. Eagles fans will talk about how they won a ‘championship’ pre-Super Bowl era, but that’s not the same. I mean, if they won’t let Baltimore consider the Colts championships pre-SB in our total count then nah, Philly. Deal with it.
Of course the Eagles come into this game as the #1 seed, with the biggest headline is the absence of QB Carson Wentz (he hurt), or as Philly Phans call him, Our Lord and Savior.
That title has been given to Wentz by Eagles fans after 2 seasons in the NFL. But I guess when you’re desperate for success in any sport… I mean, the Eagles have been a mess since the days of Andy Reid & Donovan McNabb, while the Phillies, Sixers & Flyers have been ‘meh’ in their best years of late… do you think Cleveland looks at Philly like “at least our NBA team won a championship & the Indians have been contending?”
IS PHILLY WORSE THAN CLEVELAND AS A SPORTS CITY???
Then there’s the Falcons…
[this space intentionally left blank because nobody cares]
Ugh… it’s one dirty bird or another today, and we’ll take the one that doesn’t think Matt Ryan is some golden boy. Instead, we’ll take the one that thinks Carson Wentz is Jesus.
- 28-3 is still funny.
- Flacco > Ryan
- Last week the national media gave all of the props to Matt Ryan for his first road playoff win… he’s been in the league over a decade. This is media hype for something nobody cares about. Joe Flacco, in contrast, had his first playoff road win in his first ever playoff game a decade ago! And let’s not forget the Falcons beat a rookie 31-year-old coach, and a 2nd year QB in Goff, who already has the same amount of playoff wins in his 2 seasons as Matt Ryan did in his first 5 seasons (0).
Saints @ Vikings
Sunday 1/14 @ 4:40pm
This game is likely to be the best of the weekend, simply because I don’t truly care who wins- I just want them to win it all (if the alternatives are the Pats, Steelers or Eagles).
The Saints come into town after defeating the Panthers last weekend in a shootout that resulted in the New Orleans defense giving up 440+ yards to Cam Newton’s offense. Despite Alvin Kamara & Mark Ingram being held to 45 total rushing yards, and 68 total yards on offense, Drew Brees & Michael Thomas led an aerial attack that ended with a 3rd straight win over Carolina.
The Vikes have already beaten the Saints once this season, in a 29-19 home opener in Week 1. In that game, wideouts Adam Theilen & Stefon Diggs went nuts, totaling 250 yards & 2 touchdowns. While extremely impressive, a few big differences in this game on Sunday:
- Saints aren’t trying to force-feed Adrian Peterson, and will use Alvin Kamara much more.
- Sam Bradford isn’t starting for the Vikings- Case Keenum is.
- The Vikes no longer have Dalvin Cook in the run game (127 rushing yards in Week One matchup).
At first, I wanted the Saints, as their offense is so unreal I don’t want to see it come to an end; however, I thought about the story of our brethren in purple and how great it would be to see them go all the way.
Just think about it: they didn’t have QB Teddy Bridgewater to start the season, then lost QB Sam Bradford, and everybody chalked up Case Keenum as a bust, only to see him truly thrive this season. The Vikings also lost rookie stud RB Dalvin Cook to injury early in the season, but have been able to survive that loss as well, thanks in large part to Keenum’s ability as a passer, but also a great defense that keeps opposing offenses in check.
Hmmm… wears purple… solid defense… underrated QB playing great…
THE VIKES ARE EVERYTHING WE WISH WE HAD IN BALTIMORE!
That, and to see a home team host the Super Bowl (held in Minneapolis this year) would be awesome.
Jaguars @ Steelers
Sunday 1/14 @ 1:05pm
The Jags are coming off a win in, what I consider to be, the most inept showing of offense in the playoffs during my NFL viewing tenure- and that’s coming from a Ravens fan who watched the 2000 playoff run under Trent Dilfer and, more important to their success, Matt Stover.
Alas, they move on after beating the Bills, whose fans committed their entire savings accounts to Andy Dalton’s charity, just to watch their team score a whole whopping 3 points in the Wild Card game, followed by the firing of their OC Rick Dennison (Ravens fans, remember when we wanted Rick to stay in Baltimore as OC when Kubiak left? Bullet dodged!), and an offseason of inevitable change.
But fret not Bills fans- Kirk Cousins will be your new starting QB next season, you’ll draft a wideout in Round 1, and compete with the Belichick-less Pats next year (all predictions- all likely wrong- but IF I’m right, you best give credit!).
The Steelers are… I don’t know, good but not great? Like they can either show up and blow up, or they can play well- it’s a total crapshoot. Just look at their encounter with the Jaguars 2 months ago, when the Jags won 30-9 in Pittsburgh.
Could this be a sign of more things to come? Could the Jags repeat their success? Could the Steelers be this year’s AFC North Tee-Shirt champs and end their run there?
Let’s hope so!
Other than the fact that rooting for the Steelers is like rooting for a root canal performed by Michael J Fox, the NFL needs a Steelers loss.
THE OFFSEASON CONTENT!
You know, the usual headline:
“Big Ben contemplating retirement!”
“Le’Veon Bell threatens to sit or retire if given another franchise tag!”
“Antonio Brown records post-game speech!”
And then the Yinzer logic/excuses are just delectable. You can literally eat it up.
“Ben played hurt! And AB wasn’t 100% because he was sick on Friday! And the officials screwed us! And JuJu was held on every play! And if we had Ryan Shazier we would’ve won! And none of it matters because we have like (counts on fingers) this many rings (still counted wrong) that we won before I was even a fetus, but by extension, I am better than you!”
Classic Yinzer logic. Wipe your tears with your towels, children.