Wild Card weekend came and zero home teams won. As a result I went 3-1. This is not awful but the story of the weekend was what the Green Bay Packers found in Washington. They found their team and they were not the same team at all so sometimes trends can be broken.
Wild Card = Wildness
Kansas City came right out and made the Houston Texans feel “not at home.” Remember my comments about opportunity? Houston just struggled to get through their opportunities. QB Brian Hoyer had 1 fumble and 4 interceptions. That represents 5 opportunities lost and Kansas City made it work out to a 30-point victory. Kansas City 30 Houston 0.
The second game on Saturday saw the Pittsburgh Steelers visit Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. The game had three distinct turns. The first turn saw the Steelers get out to a quick 15-0 lead. Then Cincinnati battled back and the second turn resulted in a 16-point outburst for a 16-15 lead. Then QB Ben Roethlisberger went down, and with an interception thrown by backup Steeler QB Landry Jones with 1:43 to go, all seemed lost. But in the third turn, Big Ben came back into the game after a Cincinnati fumble, and aided by two 4th down conversions and two 15-yard penalties, saw a 35-yard filed goal by K Chris Boswell. This was another case where the phrase “Defeat snatched from the Jaws of Victory” applies and it was just another playoff loss for Cincinnati. Pittsburgh 18 Cincinnati 16.
The first game on Sunday saw the Seattle Seahawks at Minnesota Vikings. And the game’s overarching story was the weather. The temperature was below zero. Minnesota led for three quarters and they were leading 9-0. But Seattle came back in the 4th quarter with 10 points aided by a fumble by Minnesota Vikings star RB Adrian Peterson. But no worries, for Minnesota drove down for a winning 27-yard field goal attempt by K Blair Walsh. Although Blair was 3-for-3 in field goals during the game, the fourth attempt failed and Seattle came out on top. Seattle 10 Minnesota 9.
The last game of the weekend was the Green Bay Packers visiting the Washington Redskins. The Redskins got out to a 11-0 lead. The Packers found their teamwork and they ran their way to victory. Aaron Rodgers ended the game with 210 yards passing and 2 TDs. By controlling the game on the ground, Green Bay shortened the game dramatically. Green Bay 35 Washington 18.
First up on Saturday are the red hot Kansas City Chiefs taking on the New England Patriots. New England just is not the same team and have been steadily getting worse. The Patriots have excuses because their team has endured more than 200 man-games lost to injury. And the secret sauce to the Patriots is their playbook. They believe in the idea of “next man up” and what results is a team effort. This kind of team is something desired for by all other NFL organizations. A constant winning formula in the face of NFL rules designed to keep them from winning year after year. This is the kind of game that could get away from New England quickly. There appears to be something wrong with QB Tom Brady and the game has sped up dramatically for him. I say Kansas City carries out a systematic game plan and New England just cannot get out of its own way.
The second game sees the Green Bay Packers visiting the Arizona Cardinals. Your eyes do not deceive you. These two teams played Sunday December 27th and Arizona was victorious 38-8. Green Bay looked overmatched in this game and I just cannot see any way that Green Bay is any better than December 27th. Arizona has been performing until a surprise blowout loss at home to Seattle on January 3rd. I think Arizona reestablishes itself as a finalist in the NFC and gets a victory.
In the first matchup on Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks travel to the Carolina Panthers. The Carolina Panthers have proven that they are the best team this year with a record of 15-1. Fifteen wins is really difficult in the NFL. It has only been done a handful of times. It was last done by the 2011 Green Bay Packers. I say that Seattle’s struggles in Minnesota are an illustrative point and Carolina makes it to the NFC Championship.
The last game of the weekend sees the Pittsburgh Steelers traveling to play the Denver Broncos. The Denver Broncos have been a hot mess with QB Peyton Manning, but Peyton has been named the starter over Brock Osweiler after he came in to guide the Broncos to a comeback win the last game of the season. Here are the problems with this game. The Pittsburgh Steelers have to rely on the banged-up shoulder of QB Ben Roethlisberger. The Denver Broncos have to rely on the banged up body of Peyton Manning. Peyton Manning has had 9 playoff years where he loses the first game of the playoffs. You heard that rightly, nothing more than 9 one-and-done seasons. For this I choose a 10th one-and-done.
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