Reviewing The Wild Card Weekend

So, the Seahawks get to face the Saints.  I’ll have my take on why we’ll beat them later in the week.  For now, let’s take a look back at the weekend that was.

Indianapolis defeats Kansas City 45-44

There was a great article on Grantland last week about the woes of the Kansas City sports fan.  People like to anoint Cleveland as the most tortured sports city, even though they’ve actually won championships in football (granted, in the 40s and 50s), and their baseball franchise has actually PLAYED in the World Series and won a title.  But, whatever, it’s Cleveland, so you might as well let them win SOMETHING, even if it is as dubious a title as this.

Kansas City certainly belongs in the discussion, especially recently.  They haven’t won an NFL playoff game since January of 1994, with Joe Montana at the helm.  And, as of this weekend, the saga continues.

To gag away a 28-point lead (the second-largest deficit overcome in NFL Playoff history, behind the Bills/Oilers game in January of 1993, with a 32-point halftime deficit) early in the third quarter is incomprehensible.  With the way the Colts were playing, with Andrew Luck having a terrible first half & change, I couldn’t envision a scenario where the Colts made their way back into the game after being down 38-10.

And yet, doesn’t it make sense?  Andrew Luck, the golden child, pulls a miracle out of his ass thanks to an amazing game out of T.Y. Hilton and some of the worst defense I’ve ever seen out of the Chiefs.

You gotta wonder now:  Is this as good as it gets for the Chiefs under this regime?  It looks like they’re going to stick with Alex Smith for the duration, which, I guess, isn’t the worst thing in the world.  The only thing is:  he’s never going to get any better; it’s only going to go downhill.  Alex Smith rarely costs you a game, but when the going gets tough, he also rarely goes out and wins you a game either.  That defense was pretty rock solid through most of the 2013 season, but depth was a real issue when people started getting injured.  They likely don’t have the weapons they need on offense to really be elite (outside of the running game, of course), Dwayne Bowe is no longer a #1 receiver, which makes Alex Smith’s job that much tougher.

Going forward, in upcoming seasons, there are a bunch of teams in the AFC whose situations you have to like more than the Chiefs.  I think they’re just going to be a run-of-the-mill playoff team going forward.  They’ll get there – they may even get a win in the playoffs eventually (whenever Peyton Manning falls off the cliff and the Chiefs take over that division for a season) – but I highly doubt they’ll ever get to the Super Bowl or win one with their current roster set-up.

As for Indy, the sky is the limit as they move on.  Great offense almost always trumps great defense.  I won’t count them out of any game against the Patriots, that’s for damn sure.

Finally, as for me, I missed this pick (just barely), leaving me 0-1 to start the weekend.

San Diego Defeats Cincinnati 27-10

In the 2011 NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks selected James ‘Pancakes’ Carpenter in the first round, at pick #25.  We were coming off of Matt Hasselbeck’s final season in Seattle – a shocking 7-9 division title and playoff victory against the Saints – and everyone knew one thing about this team:  we needed to draft a “quarterback of the future”.

Prior to 2010, we traded for Charlie Whitehurst, but after one season that proved to be a bust.  We made our peace with Hasselbeck leaving and were left with a questionmark going into 2011.  We would eventually pick up Tarvaris Jackson, who was but another stopgap for this team.  The 2011 draft:  THAT’S where we were going to find our quarterback.

Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder all came off the board before the Seahawks could pick.  That 2010 playoff run really screwed us in the long run, because picking so low in the draft (for a team that wasn’t very good to begin with) didn’t leave us with many options.  Of course, Gabbert and Ponder are the apocalypse, and Locker has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career.  Really, we dodged a bullet in a way by having the 25th pick.

Of course, we ended up dodging an even BIGGER bullet by taking Carpenter instead of Andy Dalton – who fell to Cincinnati in round 2, at pick #35.

Andy Dalton does JUST enough good things to keep him employed as a starting quarterback in this league.  But, he does JUST enough horrible things to ensure that his teams will never see the light of day in a Super Bowl.  Sunday’s game was no different, as he made two horrible throws for interceptions and also lost a fumble.  People like to clown on Tony Romo, but I would choose him in a HEARTBEAT over Andy Dalton.  Tony Romo has greatness about him, but he’s just kind of a fuck-up sometimes.  Dalton does nothing great, yet plays like he does, and that’s what gets him into trouble.  He thinks he can make all the throws, but he can’t.  His career to date has been a never-ending series of long bombs to A.J. Green … and that’s it.  If he didn’t have A.J. Green, he would be no better than the Kyle Ortons or Matt Cassels of the world.

San Diego, meanwhile, gets to go back and play Denver – a team they’ve beaten IN Denver this season.  I still like Denver in that game, but when Philip Rivers gets going, he’s one of the best quarterbacks in football.  That game could be REALLY fun to watch next week.

And, of course, since I picked Cincy, that makes me 0-2 for the weekend thus far.

New Orleans Defeats Philadelphia 26-24

Saturday night was movie night, which meant that I missed the tail end of the Colts/Chiefs game and all of the Saints/Eagles game.  By all accounts, this was an entertaining one, and the better team ultimately came away victorious.

My mantra when picking playoff games is to pick the better team, regardless of whether they’re home or away.  New Orleans is just flat-out better than Philadelphia.  So, bringing up arguments about how the Saints have never won on the road in the playoffs is just stupid; you didn’t think that was going to go on forever, did you?

Philly is good.  Nick Foles really surprised and impressed me this season.  But, they’re just not there yet.  They’ve got the weapons on offense to go pretty far in this league (making an already-stacked NFC that much more formidable), but until they get some talent infused into that defense, I don’t like them to be much more than the NFC’s answer to what Kansas City or Cincinnati are in the AFC.

I think it’s cute that New Orleans thinks they have a chance against Seattle this week.  One would think:  you stunk up the joint earlier this year, why would you expect that to change now?  They seem to think, however, that since they’ve played in this environment before, they’re going to be “used to it” now.  Yeah, right.

In 2010, the Saints came in here for a playoff game and, sure, it was pretty loud and rowdy (that Beastmode run really electrified the crowd anyway), but no one really expected us to do anything in the playoffs that year.  I would argue that – Beastquake aside – the fans were more hard core in this year’s Monday Night Football game against the Saints.  Because this is a team with expectations.  And, that was a game that weighed heavily on the NFC #1 seeding.

But, the game on Saturday?  You’re going to see a level of 12th Man Mania that you’ve never seen before – not even in the Carolina NFC Championship game in 2005/2006.  It’s only a shame the game isn’t on at night, to give the fans a chance to REALLY get liquored up.

Drew Brees, you’re going to want to pack some extra strength headache medicine this weekend.  Our fans aren’t only going to try to inconvenience your offense, but we’re actively going to try to make your ears bleed.

Also, this game put me on the board with a win, making me 1-2 on the weekend.

San Francisco Defeats Green Bay 23-20

You gotta give Green Bay a lot of credit:  they’ve been beaten repeatedly by the 49ers in recent years, and yet they’ve done absolutely nothing to rectify the most glaring issue about their team:  the defense.

Predictably, Colin Kaepernick ran and threw all over the Packers on Sunday, because that’s what he does.  Green Bay puts up shitty pressure on the quarterback, ultimately never touching the man.  But, they also run themselves completely out of the play, so Kaepernick has these GIGANTIC running lanes with which to gash the defense.  Here’s a thought:  let Kaepernick defeat you with his arm.  Yeah yeah, I know, in the regular season he did just that, but what are the odds he’s going to throw for over 400 yards again?  Especially in sub-freezing weather conditions, on the road, on a shitty field?

His 227 yards through the air wasn’t doing much against the Packers.  But, his 98 yards on the ground fucking MURDERED Green Bay.  Way to breathe, no-breath.

So, it’s official, if the Seahawks are going to make the Super Bowl, they’re going to have to go through at least one elite defense, as San Francisco goes on to play Carolina.  My preference is to play the Panthers, because I don’t think they’re as good as the 49ers, and because I look for every opportunity to see disappointment in Jim Harbaugh’s fat, stupid face.  I hope his kids are terrible toy-makers and constantly talk about how much they want to be dentists.

After this game, I’m 2-2 on the playoffs.  Pretty standard, if you ask me.  Later on in the week, I’ll come back with my Divisional Round Predictions.

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