Archive for the ‘NFC East’ Category

Pittsburgh over Baltimore 31-24
Well, this game certainly went the way I expected. From the get-go you could tell these teams do not like each other. On the first drive of the game Hines Ward went after Ed Reed on a run play trying to block the safety. It was a great block, if only he didn’t block him into the ground viciously after the whistle blew earning him a unsportsmanlike conduct. This truly was a gridiron scuffle on the field, chippy as a game can get without seeing guys ejected. Ike Taylor also decided to head but TJ Housmenzadeh after a play, but there was no call there. It was truly a great game by two hard nosed teams that went down to the final 2 minutes and was won in the trenches with a clutch late sack on Joe Flacco on Baltimore’s final offensive possession. Baltimore is 0-4 in post-season play when their opponent scores 20 or more points, and after today they go to 0-5 as Pittsburgh beat the Ravens 31-24 on a defensive stop. Defense ruled this game, even if the score doesn’t reflect it. The turnover battle was absolutely key to the game. Baltimore dominated in the first half, getting themselves 2 turnovers and scoring a touchdown on both to lead 21-7 at the half. The first turnover was a strip sack on Big Ben by who else but Terrell Suggs of which every player on the field thought it was an incomplete pass except for Cory Redding who picked it up and ran into the endzone. The second turnover was a Mendenhall fumble recovered by Ed Reed to give Baltimore another short field inside the Pittsburgh 30 yard line. At the start of the third quarter it seemed like the teams decided to switch jerseys. Baltimore became completely innate in the 3rd quarter amassing a putrid -4 offensive yards and began to turn it over to the Pittsburgh defense. The Steelers quickly got two turnovers, both courtesy of safety Ryan Clark. Clark forced a rare fumble by Ray Rice, giving Big Ben a short field to get a TD to Heath Miller. Then Clark intercepts Flacco on an over thrown ball to give the Steelers yet another short field, allowing them to tie the game at 21. The game was unfolding just as I expected, both teams were getting turnovers… what I didn’t expect was how efficiently both teams were after the turnover. At these point, all four turnovers in the game amounted to touchdowns. Another indication of how evenly matched these two heavyweights are. Then the Ravens killed themselves. First step to losing to the Steelers, allow them to win the paramount turnover battle with an inexcusable botched snap. This turnover didn’t lead to a turnover, but it still garner 3 points on a field goal try. The Ravens defense remained clutch, forcing a 3 and out and continuing to harass Roethlisberger. It looked like the tides would turn back into the Ravens favor as Ladarius Webb ran back a punt for a touchdown to take the lead. Step two to losing to the Steelers, commit foolish holding penalties to take a touchdown off the board. They were still left with good field position, but could only tie the game at 24 with a field goal. Step three to losing to the Steelers, stop doing what was working on defense. All of a sudden, after very effectively rushing Big Ben (6 sacks), they stop blitzing and bring only three on the rush. What did this equate to? A deep ball to Antonio Brown for 58 yards, setting them up at the Baltimore 4 yard line for a Mendenhall touchdown run. The score was then 31-24, but the Ravens still had a chance. After a unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the touchdown, the Ravens got great field position at the Steeler 48 yard line. Step four on losing to the Steelers, drop passes. It was 4th and 18 after a clutch sack by Ziggy Hood, and TJ Housmanzadeh was wide open and outright dropped the ball past the first down marker. He clinched the game for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and this epic battle of defenses. The defenses set up their offenses for short fields, inflating the scores. Don’t let the final score fool you, this was yet another Ravens Steelers defensive brawl where the turnover battle determined the game.

Packers Dominate Falcons 48-21
The Packers dominated in absolutely every phase of the game. Aaron Rodgers completed 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns before being rested in the fourth quarter. He also ran for 13 yards and a touchdown while eluding nearly every sack attempt by the Atlanta Falcons. Rodgers focused on Chris Owens, the Falcons replacement nickel back, and saw a lot of success. The Falcons played the wrong team, not only are the Packers better at every position save running back, but they are very limited in the secondary which plays right into the Packers’ strength. The game started with a would be huge pass play to Greg Jennings as the Falcons forced a fumble. Atlanta took advantage of the turnover and scored on an intimidating Michael Turner touchdown run. The Packers came back right away with an 8 minute touchdown drive. On the ensuing kick-off, Eric Weems took the ball 102 yards for a NFL post-season record touchdown return to put the home team up 14-7. Rodgers drove his team back down the field again, capped by a Kuhn touchdown run behind lead blocker BJ Raji. From there it was downhill for the Falcons, they began turning the ball over. Ryan threw two picks on two promising drives, one was brought back for six. Ryan then botched a snap and Green Bay recovered, proving that Matt Ryan is still not ready for the big games. As Rodgers kept running up the score, the Falcons were forced to abandon the run and put the game on Ryan’s shoulders. He was not up to the task, throwing two picks on bad decisions, and couldn’t handle the pass rush of the Packers. It is not yet time for the Atlanta Falcons, they need another viable running back to pair with Turner and another receiving weapon to compliment White. Tony Gonzalez lost about 2-3 steps this season, he should retire this off-season without winning a playoff game in his Hall of Fame career. As for my predictions, Ryan again threw for under 200 yards against the Packers and White had another pedestrian receiving total at 57, though he did get a touchdown. I predicted about half the total points scored in this game, but really… who expected 48 points from Green Bay?
Post will be updated as games finish…

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Seattle Seahawks upset defending champion New Orleans Saints

Wow, that about raps it up right there. Honestly, how much more can be said? That team we saw in Seattle was not the Seahawks, that was some other team that is, well, good! They had the most points they had scored in the regular season. Marshawn Lynch made plays for the first time in years. Hasslebeck thought it was 2006 during his Super Bowl run (2005 regular season). As much credit I give the Seahawks for their out-of-no-where resolve and ability, we have to look at one aspect that gave them a boost. Drew Brees, during the regular season, struggled at times. Some people attributed this to a rogue knee injury, the existence of which was shot down by Brees himself. You know why he really struggled? No consistent running game. When Brees didnt have the running game of Pierre Thomas, well, take a look at the Browns game. Then Chris Ivory began to step up and Brees too played much better. Yesterday, Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory were on the injured reserve list. Guess what! Drew Brees struggled. Not as much as he did against the Browns, but they have playmakers. The Seahawks are still… the Seahawks… at least a little bit. Drew Brees against any other NFC playoff team would’ve looked like Jake Delhomme with the running by the Saints yesterday. Just shows three things; Pierre Thomas was the real MVP of the Saints Super Bowl run and win last year, Drew Brees is indeed not on the same level as Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, and Reggie Bush will always be a compliment back and nothing more. Kudos Seattle, but dont expect another win until next season.

New York Jets over the Indianapolis Colts

I have little to say about this game, it went just about how I expected… except the Jets defense did a little better than I expected them too and put the Jets in position to win it. Peyton had his chance, but couldnt get that touchdown late in the game to seal it. If he had, the Colts would’ve won. However, he got the field goal instead. Sanchez struggled, all game, as expected. He can get that field goal attempt though, and Nick Folk hit it from 32 out as time expired to give the Jets a win. They move on to face a rested New England Patriots team who looked dominant as the season wound down… especially in their 45-3 victory over the Jets. Mark Sanchez needs to play MUCH better in order to beat the Patriots. LaDanian might not give him that support again this week.

Baltimore Ravens over Kansas City Chiefs

Well, this isn’t what I predicted, but it is not a surprise. The Ravens have been road warriors in the post-season in recent history. However, I do not believe that is the story here. The story is the Chiefs… or better yet… the young Chiefs. Matt Cassel did not look ready for a post-season bout. He was flustered and he let Ray Lewis’ defense get under his skin. Young star wide out Dwayne Bowe didn’t help his struggling QB. Bowe just couldn’t get open to save his life, and with Baltimore’s somewhat suspect cornerbacks, I have to assume Bowe just dropped the ball on this one (not a pun, he didn’t see a ball all game). Then we have rookie Devin McCluster and his timely fumble. The Chiefs were still in the game at this point, but when Ray Lewis punched the ball out of McCluster’s hands to give the Ravens offense a very short field, the Chiefs couldn’t recover. Don’t fret Chiefs fans, this wasn’t your year anyways. It was still a highly successful season in Kansas City, and they are young and built to compete. We will see Kansas City again next post-season. As for the Ravens, Joe Flacco cant struggle to start the game again next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Green Bay Packers win over Philadelphia Eagles

Well, this is the one I got right. The two BIG factors attributed to this Packer win is David Akers’ two missed field goals and James Starks’ day on the ground (23 carries, 123 yards, 5.3 ypc). Dom Capers’ defense really did the job I expected holding down a Vick lead offense to just 16 points. Vick was blitzed 13 times and sacked thrice while rushing for 33 yards on 8 attempts (4.1 ypc). Clay Matthews consistently got to Vick forcing him to get rid of the ball quickly, limiting the Eagles big play opportunities. Matthews was so effective, the Eagles felt compelled to bench starting tackle Winston Justice for King Dunlap. Side note: If you talk to an Eagles fan, they will tell you that Dunlap is the better tackle to begin with, to which I agree. The Eagles had a very slow start on offense, going three and out on their first two possessions. However, Green Bay started quickly, scoring 14 points in the first half to the Eagles 3. It could’ve been 21-3 if not for a horrendous drop on a perfect pass to James Jones who had beat Asante Samuel and the rest of the Eagles secondary. The second half was a completely different story, almost like a flip flop. Aaron Rodgers began the 3rd quarter with a fumble that let the Eagles back into this contest. Vick took advantage with the turnover for a touchdown pass to Jason Avant, making the score 14-10. Aaron Rodgers didn’t look like a QB who just coughed up the ball on the next drive, methodically moving his offense down the field for a touchdown screen play to Brandon Jackson. That would end Green Bay’s day scoring mid way through the 3rd quarter. Vick was able to start the makings of a comeback victory and he looked like a warrior. Despite all the hits throughout the game Vick was standing tall and delivering strikes all day. His clutch rushing TD from inches away on 4th down is what kept the Eagles fighting for the win. Andy Reid immediately decided to go for the 2pt conversion to make it a 3 point game instead of a 4 point game. Absolutely the right call, since even with a 5 point deficit if the attempt failed they would still need a touchdown on their next possession. Vick, the warrior he was, had Celek on a perfect pass to complete the 2pt conversion. Unfortunately, he stepped out of bounds at the back of the endzone and came back in to be the first to touch the ball, a penalty in the NFL. Vick had his team on the precipice, but Celek’s mistake was costly. Less costly that it seemed, as the ref indicated that it was a loss of a try. Then Fox went to commercial, and Eagles fans at home were left to face-palm and sit dismayed on their couches. The fans at the Stadium though saw a glimmer of hope as the refs began to huddle. Turns out, since Celek reestablished his position on the field, it was not a loss of down play (or in this case loss of try). Merely, it was a 10 yard penalty, retry the 2pt conversion. Eagles fans had hope again, but was the second chance their death sentence? They try again with Vick in shotgun. Dom Capers brought the blitz and Vick couldn’t get a semblance of a pass off before get hit, hard. So hard, he limped profoundly off the field as the try failed. The Packers got the ball back, and went into time killing mode. Starks was able to break off a 12 yard run, but the Packers offense failed to do anything else with Rodgers taking a sack to end the drive and force a punt. The Eagles had held and they were back in the game. Desean Jackson trotted out onto the field and the atmosphere suddenly changed. People around the nation had flashbacks to week 15 at the Meadowlands when Jackson took back a Matt Dodge punt for a game winning TD. It felt like he could do it again, and it looked good as he reversed the field too. Yellow flags flew quickly though, as Jackson went down. Holding penalty on the Eagles, and it started looking bad. Then out trotted Vick, and hope was again restored. Reports were that the Eagles coaches tried taking Vick’s helmet away, preventing him from coming back into the game. He wouldn’t have that, and came back onto the field; a warrior. However, the warrior he had been all game was not the one on that last Philly possession. Vick looked off, throwing incompletions that could’ve been completed. Bar one big play to Desean Jackson for 28 yards, he overthrew Celek a great deal leading him into a big hit, and he overthrew LeSean McCoy on an easy dump off pass. To ice the game, Vick went to what worked for the Eagles all year, the big play. He went for the deep pass to the edge of the endzone, but he didnt throw it to the sideline, which is quarterbacking 101. Instead, he threw it inside, allowing Tramon Williams (pro bowl snub with 6 regular season picks) to clinch the victory for the Packers with an interception. With one Aaron Rodgers kneel, the Packers stamped their tickets to Atlanta to face the first seeded Falcons while the Vick redemption season ends on the worst note possible short of a serious injury. It looked good Eagles fans, it really did. The Eagles were the sexy pick going into the game. I’m not one that fancies the sexy pick’s though. I believe the old school view holds true, football starts with the trenches. The Packers won that battle with 3 sacks on Vick (hobbling him) and protecting Rodgers well on the other side of the ball. Next step for the Eagles, resign Michael Vick because he is their future, trade Kolb for a 2nd round pick, and draft defense. The Packers need to watch the game tape from this week and figure out why Starks was able to run for over 5 yards a carry. They need to bring that run game to Atlanta because it makes them so much more dangerous.

Green Bay Packers(6) at Philadelphia Eagles(3):

This is probably the best game this weekend, the one that is the biggest push. Can Green Bay handle Vick for a full 60 minutes? Will they blitz the defensive backs, which seems to be causing Vick problems. Will Clay Matthews contain and set the edge? Will Asante Samuel guess right against Aaron Rodgers? Will Green Bay overcome their running woes against a poor Eagles rush defense? Honestly, who knows? There are a lot of ifs in this game, things that could go either way. To me, the talent is all their for both teams to win this one. This game will come down to two people; Eagles Head Coach Andy Reid and Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers. Its up to these guys. Andy Reid needs to get his offense ready for what Dom Capers is surely to throw at him. I have faith in Capers gameplanning the Packers defense to victory, forcing Vick to continue his streak of iffy play with Matthews setting that edge and Woodson blitzing.
Prediction: 34-24 Green Bay Packers

New York Jets(6) at Indianapolis Colts(3)

This one is incredibly simple to me. Yes, the Colts have had an uncharacteristic up and very down season. Yes, for the first time in years they had to play in week 17 to get into the dance. However, I have two word for you, Peyton Manning. The only way the Jets win games is if the defense makes plays for their average offense. Peyton Manning wont do that, Mark Sanchez is going to have to dual with Manning, and guess who is going to win?
Prediction: 30-17 Indianapolis Colts

New Orleans Saints(5) at Seattle Seahawks(4)
The first team with a losing record to ever make the playoff. I find it despicable, a travesty. Much better teams sat at home. I am not calling for a change other than a possible change of the divisions to make them more competitive. Now, how will this team do against the defending Super Bowl Champions? The only thing the 12th man will be doing is booing and beating the traffic home.
Prediction: 38-10 New Orleans Saints

Baltimore Ravens(5) at Kansas City Chiefs(4)
This is another push game in my opinion. Ed Reed is going to get a pick, Ray Lewis is going to limit Chief’s tight end Moeki; you know, the usual. However Dwayne Bowe is going to abuse a weak cornerback crop and Jamaal Charles will run like he did all season, shockingly well. The Ravens offense will give up on running Ray Rice as usual when they meet the brunt of Chief’s defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and turn one dimensional and struggle. Look for Kansas City to pull this one out at home at Arrowhead despite how good Baltimore has been on the road in the playoffs in recent years.
Prediction: 21-17 Kansas City Chiefs