Just as I had last week, there are a few thoughts running through my head regarding the outcomes of the weekend’s games. (I know, I have football-related thoughts. It’s crazy.) So before we turn to the title games, let’s take one last trek through the Divisional Round with some Mostly Average Analysis.
-There’s a lot of worry surrounding the Seahawks’ passing game all of a sudden, especially when it comes to Russell Wilson throwing the slant pattern. And everyone is suddenly pointing to these last few games as evidence to why the Seattle offense is floundering. Percy Harvin didn’t do much on Saturday, mostly due to being knocked out of the game twice. He might be back on the field Sunday versus the Niners, but even if he isn’t, I have confidence that Wilson can be the quarterback pundits were drooling over early in the season. The Seahawks faced some excellent defensive units down the stretch, so lower numbers for Wilson were to be expected. The slant pattern noise is more indicative of his useless receivers not getting open for him.
-It can’t be understated how useless Jimmy Graham was on Saturday. His name never really came up other than to comment on how Brees hadn’t thrown a ball his way yet. I’ve been trumpeting the Seahawks’ defense, but come on Sean Payton, you have to do better. Not working your match-up nightmare more effectively into the gameplan looks pretty silly now. What, did you think Seattle was just going to let him get off the line and go wherever he wanted? For shame, you offensive genius.
-Uh, who is going to stop that Patriot running game, aside from maybe the Niners? I’ve already seen a few analysts refer to the Broncos’ rank in run defense. Let me debunk that right here. Denver only ranks eighth because teams get so behind that they ditch the run altogether and throw constantly. (Why Denver ranks 27th in pass D.) New England’s physical offensive line and “Blount Force” ground attack could cause problems for every defense left in the bracket.
-The keys to fixing Indy’s offense is pretty simple. A little offensive line work, a young extra slot receiver, ditching the 2.9 yard averaging Trent Richardson for a third round running back, and a returning Reggie Wayne will give Indy a top five offense next season. The defense is another story altogether…
-The Panthers desperately need receiver help. For like, the fourth offseason in a row. This has been their problem for as long as I can remember. Steve Smith gutted out a great first half performance in Sunday’s loss but was ineffective after his knee flared up during halftime. Maybe if Cam Newton had somebody that can both run fast AND get open, maybe they would have scored more than ten points and he doesn’t force those stupid throws. Just a thought.
-The Niners are fucking crazy. Anquan Boldin can’t avoid being an ass after every catch. Ahmad Brooks thinks he’s a plane.
Colin Kaepernick has a little too much “chip” on that shoulder. And of course, Jim Harbaugh is BATSHIT INSANE.
-San Diego’s running game all but disappeared Sunday afternoon. That spelled doom for an offense that is built on controlling the clock. it’ll be interesting to see how inventive and consistent their offense is next season, when Ken Whisenhunt is no longer the offensive coordinator. But for now, I think the Chargers can actually feel decent about themselves.
-Even after the win, the Broncos are getting piled on because they had to fend off a rallying Chargers at the end. Can you imagine the uproar had the Broncos lost? Apparently Manning’s teams need to be blowing the doors off other squads, or else there’s an issue and he’s somehow not one of the best two quarterbacks of this generation.
Look, San Diego was a playoff team surging after beating the Bengals. They’ve been playing intense elimination football for WEEKS. It’s something that Denver was able to hold off a charge from a team like that. The Bronco defense was dominant in the first half against the sixth-ranked offense, something I didn’t think I’d be able to say. So can we all jsut chill on the criticism of a team that won a playoff game? Kthanx.
Boom. Thoughts competed. Regardless of where you fall in your football allegiances, one thing can be said for certain: Conference Championship Sunday is going to be AMAZING. We have the stalwarts QB’s and mutual respect for the teams in the AFC and the new breed of passer but burning, intense hatred between squads in the NFC. The day will not disappoint. And neither will the Super Bowl match-up, for that matter. Any permutation of quarterback/team pairings would be great for the NFL and all those RATINGS. I’m excited. I’ll see you back here soon for The Opening Drive of Conference Championship Sunday!