This is the time of year that I look forward to every year: the NFL Playoffs! It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! As happy as I am during this time, it also makes me a little melancholy: it’s the beginning of the end. It’s not like last year with uncertainty looming with a threat of a lockout, but it’s still sad to see the end coming. This past weekend we had a chance to witness the WildCard games, which usually is the most boring part of the playoffs to me. But not this weekend! There were some barn burners. With every sports writer and sports blogger giving game analysis of each contest, I want to take a little time to shed some light on the losers of these games, and where they may be heading in the next season.
The least anticipated of the four games was the Bengals taking on the Texans, with 2 rookie QBs and 2 strong defenses, with the Bengals coming out as the loser. Most experts had Cincinnati finishing with the worst record this season. With losing Chad OchoCinco to the Patriots and that whole Carson Palmer debacle, nobody gave them a chance. But with Andy Dalton having a firm grip of the QB of the present and future ; and world-class WR AJ Green, the Bengals made some noise this season. Throw in complementary players like Cedric Benson, Jerome Simpson, and Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals were in contention the entire season. Even though they didn’t beat any team of note, they both surprised and impressed just by making it into the playoffs. Even with the pieces they currently have, they seem pretty set, but wait….DON’T forget about those beautiful draft picks they acquired for unloading that Palmer guy to the Raiders. I would say that Cincy is sitting pretty. But you have to consider the history of the Bengals. They don’t always make good decisions. We’ll see how things unfold in the offseason.
I picked Detroit to be in the playoffs this season. My reasoning was all about that defense. Suh and Fairley….Fairly and Suh. What great cornerstones to build on. It was going to be a thing of beauty to see that defense. Well, there was definite beauty, but it mostly came from that offense. Matthew Stafford is on the verge of being the next big thing in the QB position. With over 5000 yards passing and 40 plus TDs, Stafford was a MONSTER! If he stays healthy, Detroit will always contend. Calvin Johnson proved that he is the best WR in the game, and with guys like Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, and Titus Young, they will be set. The defense will continue to improve because they are young, mean and hungry…..a little too mean, maybe. My only concern would be the Lions running game. Who knows what’s going to happen with Jahvid Best and his concussion issues. I’m sure they will address that position in the offseason.
I knew going into their game, that the Atlanta Falcons had a good, almost great chance of coming out losers against the Giants in that WildCard matchup. I knew for one reason and one reason only: they don’t scare anybody. They never have. Matt Ryan’s not scary. Roddy nor Julio scare people. The Falcons D don’t scare teams, and even as good as he is, Michael Turner doesn’t scare teams. Where’s the intimidation factor? It works for the Lions, the Steelers, the Ravens. It even worked for the Giants, well at least it did yesterday. The Falcons will continue to be good and will continue to be playoff contenders, but until they get some toughness, they will continue to go winless in the playoffs.
I was not prepared to write anything about the Steelers because I expected them to go far in the playoffs. I was all prepared to say that Tebow had a great year, and he’s a great athlete, but he’s definitely not the Broncos QB of the future, and Denver should shop for a new QB and build the team around their very good defense. OOPS!! The Steelers lost a tough one. But I do expect the Steelers to continue to be playoffs contenders and even Super Bowl favorites next year. Big Ben and Rashad Mendenhall will return from their injuries. Pittsburgh has great young receivers, even with the uncertainty of the future of probable Hall of Famer Hines Ward, so they are set at WR. Their only concern will probably be the aging defense, but I’m sure that with be addressed. The Steelers always draft well and usually make good decisions during free agency. I don’t think Steeler fans have any reason to be too upset. Yesterday’s loss against Tim Tebow and the Broncos was upsetting enough!
What do you think of the Wild Card Weekend Losers?