Wild-Card weekend provided us the expected and unexpected. Here is a recap of what happened in the first round of the NFL Playoffs.
In the first playoff game of the season, Seattle Seahawks shocked the defending Super Bowl champion, New Orleans Saints and won 41 -36. They are the first team with a losing record (7-9) to win a playoff game. The biggest play of the game was Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard run for a touchdown. Kudos to Pete Carroll for leading the Seahawks to victory in his first year back in the NFL, but I still think that the game should not have been in Qwest Field. I am not making excuses for the Saints’ performance. However, playing well during the regular season should be rewarded with a home game during the regular season. A team that didn’t even win half of its regular season games should not be at home during the playoffs. (Really, they should not have been in the playoffs, but I’ll save that for another time.) In Qwest, opponents average over 2 false starts, thanks to the “12th Man.” We call it home-field advantage for a reason. Nevertheless, the Seattle Seahawks will go to the “Windy City” to play the Chicago Bears.
In Philadelphia, Michael Vick could not get the Eagles pass the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdown passes to lead the Packers to a 21 – 16 win. Charles Woodson and the rest of the Packers defense did a good job containing Vick. While his last play was an interception, the 2011 NFC Pro Bowl starter still managed 292 passing yards and 33 rushing yards. People will remember the last play of the game, but what killed the Eagles in this game was special teams. (I always say these special men will make or break you.) Philadelphia missed two field goals. Had they just made those, the game would have gone to overtime. Who knows what would have happened. Now the Packers are going to the Georgia Dome to meet NFC Leader, Atlanta Falcons.
I expected the New York Jets to beat the Indianapolis Colts but thought the story would be about the quarterbacks – Peyton Manning (Colts) and Mark Sanchez (Jets). It was not. The game came down to special teams and the kickers. Adam Vinatieri made a 50-yard field goal, his longest kick since 2008, with 53 seconds left. The Colts thought it was over. However, 50 seconds later, Nick Folk kicked a 32-yard field goal for the Jets. Game over. The Jets are on their way to Foxborough to meet the league’s best, Belichick’s New England Patriots for the third time this season.
No surprise in Arrowhead Stadium. The Baltimore Ravens – Kansas City Chiefs game was not worth watching. The playoff experienced Ravens dominated a youthful Chiefs team. Baltimore’s defense led by Ray Lewis was on fire. They forced five turnovers, got three sacks and limited the Chiefs to just one touchdown. The offense looked good as well. They scored passing and running to get the win, 30 – 7. The Ravens will play their arch rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers next week in Heinz Field.
So we’re on to the NFL Divisional Playoff Round…
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers - Saturday, Jan. 15, 4:30 PM ET NBC
This is going to be a blood bath between division (AFC North) rivals. Both teams are known for their old school, hard-hitting defenses. At their last meeting, the Steelers won (narrowly), but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left the game with a broken nose. These guys don’t play that push-you-out-of-bounds stuff, they tackle! I see Ray Lewis’ adrenaline still pumping and the Baltimore defense continuing its roll from yesterday to end the Steelers’ season.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons - Saturday, Jan. 15, 8:00 PM ET FOX
Green Bay loss to Atlanta in November by just a field goal. Green Bay ended the season with two tough games to guarantee a playoff spot. They are focused. The Falcons have been resting. On Saturday, I think Green Bay will return to the Georgia Dome with a hungry offense and an angry, experienced defense to avenge their previous visit.
Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears - Sunday, Jan. 16, 1:00 PM ET FOX
Seattle is feeling confident. They just upset the defending Super Bowl champs and they beat the Bears 23 - 20 during the regular season in Chicago. Impressive win on Saturday, but I think that their season ends this weekend. Chicago has improved since that close game in September. Most notably is the running game. Matt Forte ran for at least 91 yards in five of the Bears' final six games.
New York Jets at New England Patriots - Sunday, Jan. 16, 4:30 PM ET NBC
This is a contest between the top two teams in the AFC East. Their last game again looked more like a pro team scrimmaging a college team. Tom Brady massacred the Jets 45 – 3 on “Monday Night Football.” It will not be easy for the Jets to travel and beat a well-rested, well-coached Patriot team. BUT, the Jets are going to do it. Mark Sanchez will step up, the defense will realize that it does not need to blitz on every play (deep threat Randy Moss hasn’t been a Patriot since September) and this good team will find a way to win.
College Football Championship Game
Tonight college football’s champion will be determined in warm Arizona. Auburn Tigers will play Oregon Ducks in the Tostito’s BCS Championship Game. This game will be “Nothing but Newton.” Cameron “Cam” Newton. This is Auburn’s extraordinary quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy this year.
Oregon went undefeated, but they are in the PAC 10 and only played ONE team in the top 15. Meanwhile Auburn dominated the extremely competitive SEC and beat FOUR teams in the top 15. The SEC is the best right now in football. Their bowl record this year proves that. I’m a Big Ten girl so it pains me to make this acknowledgement, but I give credit when it is due.
Auburn will be champs and here are three quick reasons why:
1. Oregon has not seen anything close to what they will experience tonight since their meeting with Ohio State in the Rose Bowl . They couldn’t do anything with Terrelle Pryor and will not be able stop Cam Newton.
2. Auburn ranks third in the nation in third-down conversions. Why? Cam Newton will scramble and make big plays with his feet.
3. Oregon ranks seventh in the nation in turnover margin. When they turnover to tonight they will be giving the ball back to Cam Newton. I think you know what will happen.
Tostito’s BCS Championship Game kicks-off tonight at 8:30 pm on ESPN.
Heels & Helmets®