Monday, January 9, 2017

Wildcard Weekend Wrap Up

Not one single away team won any of the Wildcard games this past weekend, which is actually a bit of a rarity. Cannot specifically remember that happening before, at least not since the Wildcard round became four games, instead of just two. Or, perhaps I am just not quite remembering correctly.

In any case, not only did no away teams find a way to win, but no away teams were even able to avoid being blown out, which is worse. That's right, none of the games were really all that interesting, and some were downright snooze fests. I almost fell asleep watching the Texans game, and outright fell asleep during the Seahawks game.

Ultimately, all the division winners won this weekend, which means that only division winners will be in action next weekend.

Let's take a look to see how that happened:

Houston 27, Oakland 14 - The Raiders became the first team to get knocked out of the playoffs this season, simply because their game was scheduled first. But this one may have been the most boring game of all. The Texans benefited greatly from this Oakland team's severe misfortune of losing it's best player. Hell, the Raiders were down to their third stringer! Obviously, that did not go well. The Texans slowly built up a lead and padded it, very, very slowly. Since the Texans do not exactly have an elite offense themselves, they were not able to pound on the points, or anything, but just kind of slowly built a lead, until the game was essentially out of reach for the Raiders. Not a thrilling affair at all, and one that felt like neither team was particularly impressive. It is a shame that Carr could not have been in this one for Oakland, because I suspect that the results might have been very different, and that at the very least, the game would have had a much different, far more interesting feel to it. Houston will now travel to Foxboro to face a much more daunting task against the Pats.

Seattle 26, Detroit 6 - Yes, this was the one game that I actually watched on Saturday, but fell asleep before the first half was over. Woke up just on time to watch the players walking off the field, with some members of the Seahawks talking to the media, and clearly in a happy mood. Saw the score of 26-6, and figured that this was about what you could expect from the game. There was that one spectacular touchdown in the first half, and Detroit is complaining that they did not get the face mask call that should have negated it. True, but when you lose by 20 points, and fail to produce more than two field goals the entire game after starting off the season at 9-4 and looking like a serious contender, then only managing to back into the playoffs, then maybe you should simply keep quiet. if this had been a close game, then they could complain about it. They had a legitimate gripe against Dallas two years ago. But the Lions did not belong on the same field as the Seahawks here, and failed to make a compelling case that they were truly a serious kind of a playoff team. Seattle will now go to face the Falcons in Atlanta, in what figures to be a far more compelling match-up next weekend.

Pittsburgh 30, Miami 12 - Another game that kind of went the way most expected the game to go. Pittsburgh was aggressive and jumped out early at their weaker, less experienced opponents. The Steelers took a lead early on, and then just kept building on it. Miami's offense looked completely overwhelmed by the Steelers defense, which almost looked like the old Steel Curtain yesterday. Yes, Pittsburgh was all over the Finns from beginning to end, and you could see it in their demeanor, in the body language of both teams. Of course, it was frigid in the Steel City, and for the team from southern Florida, that might have had an effect. But the Dolphins just had no answers for the Steelers in this game, and nothing that they tried worked, as Pittsburgh now goes on to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Chiefs. 

Green Bay 38, N.Y. Giants 13 - Despite this officially being the most lopsided game of the weekend, this was probably actually the most evenly matched and closest game. The outcome was very much in doubt throughout the first half - a half that the Giants actually largely dominated. The defense looked like they were flustering Green Bay's explosive offense, and the G-Men's offense was moving the ball and completing some impressive plays. The problem was that they kept settling for field goals, and for all of that early dominance, they only held a 6-0 lead as the first half wound down. Then, the Packers managed to finally get something going on offense, and scored a touchdown to take a 7-6 lead, despite having been dominated to that point. Then, they managed to score another shocking touchdown just before halftime, and despite playing better for most of the game, New York was actually losing 14-6. The second half obviously did not get any better for them in the hostile environment of Lambeau Field, as Green Bay put on a clinic the rest of the way, and the Giants succumbed to what, by then, was inevitability. The problem for the Giants was the same problem that they struggled with all season long - not enough offense, not enough points. As a result, the Packers eliminate them and move on to face Dallas next weekend. 

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