AFC & NFC Championship Games Are Set

 

~ The road to the Super Bowl is narrowed down to four teams as the AFC and NFC Championship games are now set. The Green Bay Packers will head into Chicago to face the Bears for the right to represent the NFC. The New York Jets will look to continue what has been one of the great post season runs  in recent history as they head to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers for the right to represent the AFC.  Seeding has played a very small factor this season as 2 of the 4 #6 seeded teams (Jets & Packers) are now 1 game away from the big game in Dallas.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger isn’t Tom Brady or Peyton Manning when it comes to flash or style on the football field. I give the guy respect though because he just goes out and gets it done and sometimes it’s not pretty. In the Steelers playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens, Roethlisberger led his team back from a 21-7 Ravens lead with that blue collar-like approach that represents his style of play. It’s been a long and tough season for the Steelers’ quarterback. He was suspended the first four games of the season following sexual assault allegations that weren’t prosecuted. His image was badly damaged from it, however he has come back to help lead Pittsburgh to 12 wins this season and securing a 1st round bye in the playoffs and now his team is 1 game away from a Super Bowl berth. In a season where so much of the focus has been on Michael Vick and his performance on the field for the Eagles, Roethlisberger’s story has been mostly under the radar. It’s been that way for him since he was drafted actually. The talk of the draft that year was Eli Manning, then the draft day trade of Manning for Phillip Rivers. Somewhere within all of that the Steelers drafted Roethlisberger and he’s proven to be a winner with 2 Super Bowl rings as proof. The win over Baltimore was Roethlisberger’s 7th straight over them and for the Ravens this one had to hurt the most. Costly turnovers dropped passes and not enough big plays when it mattered most took the Ravens out of this game in the second half.

How about those Jets?  2 years for Rex Ryan as head coach and 2 years in the AFC championship game, not bad at all. If you would have told me a couple of weeks ago that the Jets were going to beat Peyton Manning and the Colts then Tom Brady and the Patriots, both on the road … I would have just sat there in front of you with a Bill Bellichick facial expression. Well, the Jets did just that and are now 1 game away from the Super Bowl. People can say what they want about the Jets back dooring into the playoffs this season or being a 6th seeded team. Do they talk a lot? Yes … they talked so much heading into New England, it would have been a major setback had they came out of there without a win. I give credit to Rex Ryan for what he’s done as Head Coach the last 2 weeks for the Jets. Ryan put the spotlight on him,  he told the media that the Colts game was “personal”. Ryan then tells the media the Patriots game is “Rex Ryan vs. Bill Bellichick”. It was a bold strategy that took the spotlight off the team and allowed them to go out and just play. As much as Rex the Promoter is known for his talking, Rex the Coach has put in some of his best work the last couple of weeks in stopping Manning and Brady. The fact of the matter  is not many NFL teams are going to beat the Colts and the Patriots in consecutive weeks on the road. They head into the AFC title game playing with house money. I’m not making the mistake of putting Ben Roethlisberger under the radar. Between the Jets and Steelers, I have to give momentum to New York right now.

Over in the NFC, I was never really convinced that the Atlanta Falcons were for real & I’ve grown more and more convinced that the Green Bay Packers are for real. There is no other starting quarterback among the 4 left in the playoffs that is playing as well as Aaron Rodgers is right now. The Packers have found a running game to go along with Rodgers and the passing attack and it’s defense has been making big plays throughout the playoffs. The latest big play  by cornerback Tramon Williams was a 70 yard touchdown run after intercepting a Matt Ryan pass that ended the first half and bascially the season for the Falcons. This Green Bay team is dangerous and I still can’t believe I didn’t take them seriously during the regular season. The Chicago Bears put the Seahawks away early, and while it was good while it lasted for Seattle’s playoff run, Green Bay-Chicago is a much more attractive game. Two teams that don’t really like each other in the oldest rivalry in the NFL.

Two good games for the right to go to the Super Bowl and I’m going to go with the two teams who are playing the best football right now. The Jets and Packers are heading to Dallas after this weekend.

Advertisements

Ravens & Packers Advance In Playoffs, What’s Next For Vick?

 

~ Home field advantage didn’t mean a whole lot for the Chiefs or the Eagles in the playoffs this year. 

The Baltimore Ravens knocked the Chiefs out of the playoffs with a dominating 30-7 win in Kansas City. How bad were the Chiefs against the Ravens defense?  Matt Cassell is not going to want to look at the highlights anytime soon. If he does look at the tape, he wont be looking for very long. The Chiefs only had the ball for a little less than 20 minutes, the Ravens had the ball a little more than 40 minutes. The second half was all Baltimore, they looked like the defense that went to the Super Bowl in 2000. Whatever running game the Chiefs had in the 1st half didn’t make it back out the locker room after halftime. Kansas City came into the playoffs rolling and I’ve been impressed with them all season and the way they played. That was a tough way to end a surprisingly good season, they got punched in the mouth.  Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco picked on the Chiefs defense all day by throwing to Todd Heap once he realized they had no answer for him. On the other side of the field, it was a long day for Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell who couldn’t get into a rhythm with any of his receivers. The receiver Cassell needed the most was his Pro Bowl receiver, Dwayne Bowe. Bowe had a breakout season and led the league with 15 touchdown catches. The Ravens took him out the game so well, he didn’t catch a pass … he wasn’t even thrown too. Ravens All Pro Ed Reed had a great game while playing with a heavy heart because of a personal family matter. Reed was into this game and it was obvious from some of the tackles he was making. The win for Baltimore sets up a 2nd round playoff battle in Pittsburgh against the Steelers. As history has shown us, this game will be physical, it’s going to be personal, and it’s going to be very good to watch. Read more of this post

NFL Playoffs Kickoff With 2 Thrillers, Seahawks & Jets Advance

 

Images by Getty 

~ The two teams that played in the Super Bowl last year will be watching this year’s Super Bowl at home. The NFL playoffs opened up with two thrilling games in the wild card round as the Seattle Seahawks pulled off an upset win of the defending champion New Orleans Saints. In the nightcap, the New York Jets were able to get a taste or revenge against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year with a last second victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

I wouldn’t exactly call it David knocking off Goliath, however it was close enough. The Seattle Seahawks stunned the defending champion New Orleans Saints with a 41-36 victory to open up the NFL playoffs. The game turned out to be one of the more exciting games in recent history that featured a 67 yard touchdown run by Marshawn Lynch that might go down as one of the greatest runs in NFL history.The Seahawks with a 7-9 record this season became the first team with a losing record to win a playoff game. The Saints had a better record, however had to play at Seattle because the Seahawks won the NFC west division. (with a 7-9 record, just to show how bad that division was this season)

“We kind of expected to win,I know that sounds crazy, but we did expect to win. The fact that it happened, it’s just kind of like, we want to take it in stride and go to the next one. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s the way the mindset of this team was.” … Pete Carroll, 1st year head coach of Seahawks

The Seahawks had a 14 point lead early in the 4th quarter, when the Saints began to show signs that they were about to make a comeback. That’s when Lynch broke off one of the greatest runs in playoff history for 67 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown and a few anxious moments later gave the Seahawks a win that ended the Championship title defense for New Orleans. Quarterback Matt Hasslebeck threw for 272 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Seattle. Hasslebeck wasn’t even cleared to play until 2 days earlier because of a hip injury.

That run by Lynch was epic and is sure to be apart of playoff highlights for years to come. It’s a great backdrop to that potential story too if it’s ever explored. Lynch was basically a forgotten man in Buffalo before being traded to Seattle. It was also a great story for Matt Hasslebeck who is in the final year of his contract and fought all the way back through injury to play in this game. It’ll be interesting to see how far Seattle goes and it’s going to be just as interesting to see what the Saints do in the off season to fix what went wrong. Reggie Bush had a injury plagued season and has not been able to be the star he was projected to be with New Orleans. The consistency just has not been there for Bush and the Saints need a running game to help take the pressure off of Drew Brees. Brees threw the ball 60 times in the loss to Seattle.

The Jets have been making a habit out of last minute victories this season. It’s only right that in the playoffs they’d take the Colts down to the wire for a thrilling finish as Nick Folk kicked the game winning field goal with time expiring to give the Jets a 17-16 thrilling win.  The Colts, who thought they won it when Adam Vinatieri made a 50-yard field goal with 53 seconds to go, as it turns out though that was just enough time for the Jets. A 47 yard kickoff return by Antonio Cromartie and a poised enough Mark Sanchez led the Jets right into position for Folk to kick the game winner.

Rex Ryan needed this win, it was a playoff win and it was against Peyton Manning. LaDainian Tomlinson came up big when it mattered most with 2 touchdown runs and 82 yards rushing and the Jets get to play another week … in New England.

Reminder > New OVERTIME Rules For The NFL Playoffs

~ The playoffs this year are going to be featuring new rules for Overtime. It’s not exactly sudden death anymore and I’m not exactly sure if that’s Brett’s Favre’s fault for throwing that interception in the NFC championship game last season that sent the Vikings home and the Saints to the Super Bowl or maybe it’s not. I could be wrong … I’m most likely not.

NFL owners voted to change the current sudden-death nature of overtime last March for this year’s playoff games, in which the possibility of a team winning with a field goal on the opening possession of overtime is eliminated.

This is how the new system will work …

  •  The team that gets the ball first in overtime can win the game by scoring a touchdown.
  • However, if they get a field goal, its opponent gets a possession with a chance to tie the score with a field goal or win it with a touchdown.
  • If that team gets a tying field goal, the game proceeds on a sudden-death basis where the next team to score wins the game.
  •  If neither team scores on its first possession of overtime, the game is sudden death from there.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this turns out for the playoffs, I like the set up however I’m wondering why they didn’t use it for the regular season just to try the system out.

%d bloggers like this: