Well, that was something special in the first week of the NFL Playoffs. We saw comebacks, great defensive displays and a concussed Quarterback playing through the 4th quarter. It was a special time for the fans of the Buffalo Bills who have seen their team play in a Playoff game for the first time in just under 18 years. Lets delve into five takeaways of the weekends action.
1: The New Orleans Saints show their metal.
Putting up 31 points on a top 10 defence in the Carolina Panthers who have slowed down the Saints in the previous two meetings of the two teams in the regular season. However the 2 touchdown performance by Drew Brees who hit two different targets for the scores and added 376 yards through the air as the ground game of the Saints which has been much applauded all season long was slowed down dramatically by the front seven of the Panthers but Brees and company we’re superb and put up more than enough points to win this game. The defence was a worry however as the Saints had a two touchdown lead almost disintegrated before the 4th quarter and will need to play more solid coverage against the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional Round next weekend.
2: Tennessee Titans wake up just in time.
Tennessee were sleep walking into an utter embarrassment in the Wild Card Round at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday. Derrick Henry finally started to play some ball in the second half and in total rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown to complement Marcus Mariota and his gutsy performance and the highlight of the entire game which was Mariota throwing a touchdown pass to himself for 6 yards as it ricocheted off the defender and into his grateful hands for the score. The hapless first half Titans cant dare to show up in Foxboro next Saturday because if they do the Patriots wont let them back into the game the same way the Kansas City Chiefs did, who let a 21-3 lead slip in the second half and increases the pressure on Andy Reid and Alex Smith to improve on their frank mediocrity.
3: Jacksonville Jaguars win ugly (that’s a great sign).
Man, this game as a defensive slog mixed in with some horrendous offensive play on the Jacksonville side of the ball. The 10-3 win in South Florida means that the Jaguars move on to play the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday with confidence in one side of their team, the defence was nasty, vicious and relentless in their pursuit of this average Buffalo passing offence. Tyrod Taylor did all that he could in this game but the coverage on most plays was air tight, no windows to throw into. LeSean McCoy was his old talented self in this game despite playing hurt. But the helpless Jacksonville passing attack is a worry for them, Blake Bortles has to be more accurate and decisive on some of these throws. He doesn’t have to be spectacular but he has to be better than just 87 yards which is conceitedly one yard less than he managed rushing the ball. He was the leading rusher for either team on the day.
4: The Atlanta Falcons are street smart.
May I start by saying the 2017 Los Angeles Rams we’re a joy to watch, the offence that they displayed during the regular season was poetry and Sean McVay deserves to be Coach of the Year and if his Rams keep up this level of performance increase he should be Coach of the Decade. Now lets move onto the game, where the Falcons just had a vice like grip on the football game from start to finish and never looked like letting go. Nothing stands out massively in the box score but the Falcons just controlled the game from the first quarter and the Rams were playing catch up throughout. Now the Falcons have a great chance of making the NFC Title game for a second season in a row when they go to Philadelphia to face the Nick Foles lead Eagles who are there for the taking, that is very much clear.
5: WARNING: HOT TAKE.
The winner of the Super Bowl will come from the NFC and they will defeat the fragile and beatable New England Patriots in Minneapolis on February the 4th. The NFC has three contenders who will be able to knockoff the mighty Patriots and they are the Saints, Vikings and Falcons who are all lead by talented offences which New England find hard to handle with their shaky linebacker core. Also two of those three have played the Pats this year and played them hard in close defeats. Also the Vikings have a top 5 defence in the league and are top 6 in all categories of the game, something the Patriots have never done in the Brady/Bellichick era. The NFC will hold court in an NFC stadium as the home team in Super Bowl 52.