Wild Card Weekend fulfilled all of our wildest expectations. The failures and successes of the weekend were on full display as we were treated to four playoff contests, three of which were decided by a three points or less. I can’t wait to break these games down! (I can however, wait to reveal my record after four games. Ew.)
(12-5) Indianapolis Colts 45
(11-6) Kansas City Chiefs 44
The NFL Playoffs kicked off with one helluva ending in Indianapolis. An early injury to Jamaal Charles could have spelled Kansas City’s doom, but Andy Reid’s offense fought back thanks to a near-brilliant game from Alex Smith. Smith and company lit up the Colts defense, which I still don’t believe was on the field at all in the first half. The Chiefs also benefitted from several poor decisions by Andrew Luck, which came in the form of two first half interceptions, as well as a third that came on the opening play of the third quarter. A Trent Richardson fumble seemed to be forced by no one, which can only affirm how terrible Trent Richardson truly is. With Luck’s third quarter pick setting the Chiefs up for a short touchdown pass to Charles’ replacement Knile Davis, the game’s score was 38-10 and it all seemed over for Indianapolis.
But then Indy rallied like they had no tomorrow. (In football.) Five plays later, they scored a touchdown. Then came a strip-sack from Robert Mathis (so good) which was followed by another five play drive for seven points. Indy then mounted a furious comeback, scoring five touchdowns in the game’s final two quarters on their way to a one point victory.
There’s a lot to take away from this game, especially how the Chiefs decided to never cover receiver T.Y. Hilton, despite the fact that he’s the only real deep threat at receiver. His 64-yard score showed off some mind-bogglingly bad defense. But perhaps the nuttiest of plays in this nutty comeback was near the Chiefs goal line in the fourth quarter. Donald Brown received the handoff and ran up the middle where it was punched out of his grasp. The ball bounced backwards, where an aware Luck picked it up and hustled forward, diving for the touchdown. It unleashed a slew of internet puns that I can’t even begin to describe.
The Chiefs had problems on so many levels. Knile Davis filled in nicely for the injured Charles, but then Davis was injured. As was corner Brandon Flowers. And receiver Donnie Avery. And end Justin Houston. Andy Reid wasted some timeouts (because Andy Reid) and Alex Smith picked a terrible time to intentionally ground the football, moving his team out of field goal range in the final period. Instead they had to try and convert a fourth and eleven, which they of course failed. It was hysterical. Now they get to sit around and sulk for an entire offseason while the Colts head to Foxboro to take on the Patriots.
My prediction results so far: 0-1
The Colts may have won, but their one point win means I picked wrong against the 1.5 point spread. UGH. (But to be fair, the line moved to 1.5 in favor of the Chiefs. I would have gotten it right had I picked against that line.) Thankfully, San Diego’s win spared the sports world six days of hype surrounding Manning-Luck II.
I blew too many words on that game. Imma try to be more concise. I pwomise.
(12-5) New Orleans Saints 26
(10-7) Philadelphia Eagles 24
So perhaps this game wasn’t as constantly exciting as Colts-Chiefs, but we don’t need scores every two minutes to be entertained, right?
New Orleans shook off the road monkey that had been riding their back in 2013, getting a two point win in hostile territory. (I’m not sure any territory is more hostile than Philly. Especially for the Eagles.)
There were several punts exchanged early, as well as a missed field goal from the Eagles’ twelve year-old kicker Alex Henery. Two interceptions from Drew Brees in the first half kept the Saints from adding to their two made field goals, trailing 7-6 at the end of two quarters. At the very least it was striking distance for a road team in the playoffs. New Orleans ran the ball up and down on the Eagles, racking up 185 yards on the ground. Eventually Brees and company got back on track, with a 24 yard pass to Lance Moore putting the Saints ahead early in the third quarter. The Eagles fought back with scores from LeSean McCoy and tight end Zach Ertz, giving them a 24-23 lead with under five minutes left. But that lead was not to be. Not as long as Brees “drew” breath.
Eagles fans turned deathly quiet as soon as Shayne Graham kicked the game winner with no time left on the clock. You could have heard a drunken vomit, it was so quiet. One of the best moments of this game came after it was over, when the celebratory fireworks accidentally went off at Lincoln Financial Field. You know, the home stadium for the team THAT LOST.
More than anything else, I enjoyed Racist Riley Cooper dropping key passes. We should all feel happier inside because of it. Karma.
My prediction results so far: 1-1
YES! I’M AVERAGE AGAIN. This is the only spread I actually picked correctly this weekend.
(10-7) San Diego Chargers 27
(11-6) Cincinnati Bengals 10
Cincy turned in the best faceplant of the weekend in Sunday’s opener, falling to the Chargers in a game that, while closer than the final tally would indicate, never felt all that tight. Awkward clock management and dropped passes and a fumble from Giovani Bernard were just a few of the blunders made by Marvin Lewis’ squad.
Let’s first talk about what is the most significant story coming out of this game, aside from the Chargers advancing. Andy Dalton continues his poor performance in pressurized situations, losing his third playoff game in three tries. This one may have been worse than all of them, as he made ridiculous decisions all afternoon.
There were awkward plays where Dalton just ran around in the pocket, not able to spot an open receiver. Those plays typically ended in a scramble for a short gain or a sack. But the worst of those instances ended with Dalton diving to the ground, the ball coming loose as he hit the surface. With no contact before the dive, it was correctly ruled a fumble, which was recovered by the Chargers. Shorly after that turnover, Dalton threw his second pick of the day, a poor throw that Melvin Ingram sat on and returned inside the five yard line. The Chargers didn’t always score seven, but they turned these turnovers into points.
On certain series throughout the game Dalton seemed to be gaining momentum, but it was always derailed by turnovers or poorly aimed throws. The one time Dalton hit A.J. Green in stride deep down the sideline, Green dropped it and killed their comeback hopes. After that it was a lot of garbage time yards from Dalton but the Cincy offense would stall out on the Charger side of the field. A 58-yard run from Ronnie Brown with just over two minutes left in the game sealed the win for San Diego. The Chargers played efficiently, throwing only sixteen times, compared to forty rushing attempts, mostly between Ronnie Brown, Ryan Mathews, and Danny Woodhead. They’ll move on to the Divisional Round, where they’ll meet the Broncos for the third time this season. We’re just setting up for an EPIC Rivers implosion in round two, right?
My prediction results so far: 1-2
That’s it. Andy Dalton is on my “never bet on” list. At least everyone else got this one wrong too.
(13-4) San Francisco 49ers 23
(8-8-1) Green Bay Packers 20
I was cold as soon as this game started. There were WAY too many players “braving the elements’ without long sleeves. I call these men neanderthals. Why have we invented crazy awesome thermal wear if no one is going to use it when the wind chill is below zero???
Now, onto the game! The Niners had to settle for field goals in the first quarter, when the Packer defense actually showed up. That gave time for their offense to heat up, as Rodgers marched his team 70 yards to take an early 7-6 lead off a jumping Tramon Williams interception. That was the game’s sole turnover. That doesn’t mean it was a pretty game, though.
Both offenses had their issues moving the ball, with the Packers absorbing four sacks and six hits of Rodgers. Colin Kaepernick found his swagger as the game progressed, rushing for 98 yards, including a key conversion on the game-winning drive. But he burned a few timeouts because his team frequently didn’t know what the hell they were doing. Jim Harbaugh was an immature mess on the sidelines, made funny because he still wore his khaki pants. He tried going turtleneck with under-layers in the first half, but wisely switched into full winter jacket for the second.
Eddie Lacy had a solid day on the ground for the Packers, bouncing off tackles and picking up key first downs. And the game wasn’t without a few examples of Rodgers magic either, as he somehow escaped from a surefire sack, only to find a wide open Randall Cobb down near the goal line. That led a John Kuhn touchdown and a four-point lead in the fourth quarter. But his heroics weren’t of any use as the Niners scored a touchdown four plays later and finally drained the clock in order to trot out the ancient Phil Dawson for the game-winning field goal.
My prediction results so far: 1-2-1
STUPID PUSHES. Now I have to type that extra “-1” every time I want to update my crappy record.
And there you have it. Wild Card Weekend is all wrapped up! The second best football weekend of the year is complete. Now? Onto the best weekend…
I’ll see you back here soon for The Opening Drive of the Divisional Round! (And other posts, hopefully.) Stay warm!