Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wild Card Sunday

Saturday's games saw three ugly teams in the playoffs and one who was head and shoulders above the rest. Some of the worst offense ever displayed was courtesy of Andy Dalton and Joe Webb, who combined to go 25 for 60 for 307 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. I know what you're thinking, the combined box score isn't the worst QB play ever. Well, Dalton had only 3 yards of passing offensive before finally finding A.J. Green in the 3rd quarter and Webb just didn't belong on the field for the first three quarters in Green Bay. Yes, the Texans did things well as Arian Foster ran for over 100 yards again in the playoffs, while their defense was particularly stout. However, Matt Schaub didn't inspire confidence that he is capable of leading this team past New England next week, plus it doesn't help that Gary Kubiak will coach in a shell once the going gets bad and the Texans will take dumb penalties, which the Pats will make you pay for every week.

The Packers, on the other hand, played their absolute best game last night as Aaron Rodgers was in full control on offense and their defense was scary good, like they were in 2010. Yes, Joe Webb has a lot to do with that, but the Packers also didn't allow Adrian Peterson to hurt them and hold him to 99 yards on 22 carries is what I call holding him in check. Now they move on to San Francisco, for a rematch of the first game at Lambeau Field, which the 49ers made their opening statement that they weren't going anywhere this year and won a 30-22 game which the final score didn't show how much the Niners dominated. We have a whole week to see if in the Packers can get revenge; for now, there are two more playoff games worth previewing.

Indianapolis at Baltimore: Spread: Ravens by 7

Battle of old Baltimore NFL team vs new Baltimore team. Chuck Pagano faces his former defense. Ray Lewis' last game in Baltimore. The question is do the Colts end Lewis' career today or do the Ravens curtail the Chuck Strong movement this season? As much as I like what the Colts have done this year, asking them to win a road playoff game in Andrew Luck's first playoff start might be a lot.

Figure the Ravens will use a lot of Ray Rice, since the Colts are 29th in the league against the run. Joe Flacco doesn't inspire the utmost confidence, but as long as he can avoid turnovers, the Ravens will pass on the Colts as well (21st pass defense in the league). What helps the Colts is that this isn't a vintage Ravens defense, though the fact they lost nearly every major defensive player to injury at some point can't be overstated. As much as there is to like about Andrew Luck, he will throw an interception here or there and with a rookie QB, you don't know how it will effect him, especially on the road.

I figure the Ravens will get one last win for their leader Ray Lewis, the man who made the transition of the Ravens moving to Baltimore easier. The man responsible for the type of football the Ravens have played for the last 15 years. Chuck Pagano hopefully will coach another day and when he does, the Colts will be even better, but the fact he's coaching this game is the story of the year. Too bad that story won't have a Hollywood ending.

Ravens win 24-7

Seattle at Washington: Spread: Seahawks by 3

The two hottest teams in football have to play in the opening round? It's quite unfortunate that one of these two teams must go home before the National Championship game. Can the Seahawks continue their dominant ways away from home? How injured is Robert Griffin III and can a lesser RGIII prevail when playing in front of a raucous crowd in Washington (first home playoff game for the Redskins since 1999)?

For the Seahawks, their improved play is because of Russell Wilson becoming an effective passer, making a good offense with Marshawn Lynch's running lethal with Seattle's now well-balanced offense, plus the threat of Wilson to run. The Redskins are always a team that's dangerous on the ground with Griffin and Alfred Morris and they are always more difficult in the passing game when Pierre Garcon is healthy. The Seahawks defense is better than Washington's, though the Redskins have improved as the year went along.

Best case for the Redskins: Seattle doesn't play well on the road, Griffin is healthy enough to be able to run a little bit, making the Seahawks defense honest. The Redskins rushing attack keeps the Seahawks offense off the field. Best case for the Seahawks: Griffin is still gimpy and there's no difference in the Seahawks recent play in Landover. I happen to think that I'd rather have 100% Russell Wilson over less than 100% RGIII and the Seahawks will get the road win.

Seahawks win 27-17

This week: 1-1
Season: 131-119-6

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