Jags Survive, Chiefs blew it, the Dirty Birds are back, and the Panthers can’t figure out Brees for the third time, but does it really matter? NFL Wild Card Round Recap.
By: Dylan Pescatore
The first week of the NFL Playoffs brought lots of emotion out of the people watching, but does it matter? The AFC was represented by 4 teams that, to be stout, don’t have a chance to go to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs, Jaguars, Bills, and Titans all battled to face the top two seeds in the AFC, a conference that is very top heavy. In the AFC, it’s the Patriots and Steelers on top, and all the other teams are trying to catch up. There isn’t much unpredictability in the AFC, no dark horses to challenge your prediction of the Steelers going to Foxboro to face the Patriots. Some could say this MLB offseason is more exciting, even if 90% of Free Agents are still available.The two games this weekend weren’t predictable, as the Chiefs had and up and down season, the Bills sneaking in, the Titans benefiting from an easy division, and the Jaguars offense not being able to find an identity. People watch sports for unpredictability, and that is something the AFC just doesn’t have. There isn’t any value in the Titans upsetting the Chiefs in the long run, everyone expecting the Patriots to dismantle the team from Tennessee. Unpredictability is needed in sports, but when there isn’t any value to it, it doesn’t mean much. I compare the AFC to the NBA, it’s the Warriors, Cavaliers, and the Celtics, everyone else chasing. Momentum is hard to keep over 7 days and a trip north for both the Jags and the Titans, adding on they are going to the play the top 2 seeds in the AFC, Hall of Fame Quarterbacks at the helm of both, but you never know what can happen.
Picks: Patriots and Steelers roll on to the AFC Championship easily.
On to the exciting conference, the NFC. You could make a case for all 6 teams in the NFC to go to the super bowl, except the Eagles and their bad luck with injuries. The two games from the NFC were the two most interesting of the weekend, putting the Saints against their Divisional rival the Carolina Panthers, and the reigning NFC Champions Atlanta Falcons facing the up and coming L.A. Rams. The Rams made a huge jump this year, the emergence of Jared Goff and MVP Candidate Todd Gurley energizing this offense, although those two weren’t the main reason the Rams added 7 wins to their record from last year. The main reason was their new head coach, Sean Mcvay, in my mind at least. In sports you’re seeing young coaches being hired more and more, the coach to player connection becoming more and more important to General Managers when they hire coaches. You saw the Yankees do it this year with Aaron Boone, trying to make a connection personally between the coach and players, sports getting away from the hard nosed coach yelling at players to do better all the time, never creating a friendship with the players. Sadly for the Rams, their lack of experience hurt them, as their offense couldn’t find their way, and the Falcons rolled over them 26-13. The Falcons move on to Philadelphia, as they will try to reach the stage they reached last year. On to the other game, the Saints and Panthers meeting for the 3rd time this year, in which the Saints won both, trying to sweep the Panthers 3-0 this year. That is just what they did, home field advantage and having a Hall of Fame Quarterback, adding on with two of the best running backs in the league in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. The Saints used big plays and the inexperience of the young Panthers to beat them 31-26, the Saints now heading to Minnesota to try and reach the NFC Championship. They had a tough test in front of them, including one of the toughest defenses in the league, and a high powered offense that has kept its pace even with the change of quarterback Sam Bradford to Case Keenum. This will be the game of the week, the one everyone will tune into, everyone wondering if Drew Brees can beat that tremendous defense the Vikings have in the new U.S. Bank Stadium. I leave you with not only my picks, but one of the best newspaper headlines I’ve seen in a long time.
Falcons move on easily over Nick Foles in Philly. 21-10
The Saints pull out a dirty win over the heavily rested Vikings. 28-24