NFC Wild Card Playoffs: Top 10 Things We Learned

The NFC Wild Card weekend was a grandiose display of offenses.  Quarterback Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints thumped the Detroit Lions 45-28.  The Lions could not handle the unadulterated offensive firepower of the Saints.  On the other side, the New York Giants Eli Manning played exceptionally well against the stifled Atlanta Falcons.  The Giants won handsomely 24-2 over the Falcons with the Atlanta Falcons unable to generate any significant offense.

Here are the top 10 things we learned about the NFC Wild Card playoffs:

  1. Atlanta Falcons Coach Mike Smith and the Playoffs Don’t Mix. Three playoff losses from his 2008 season is beginning to sound like a trend.  On the bright side (or not), the Atlanta Falcons has become the Philadelphia Eagles of the South.
  2. New Orleans Saints Drew Brees is the Man. Saints quarterback Drew Brees was spectacular as he had 466 passing yards, touchdowns and a 134.4 quarterback rating in his game against the Detroit Lions.  Currently, he’s the top quarterback in both rating and passing yards in the playoffs, and he’s the man to beat.
  3. Atlanta Falcons Need to Work on Their Fourth-and-Inches.  It does not bode well when a team can’t get inches to a first down.  Seriously.
  4. Who Needs Peyton Manning When We Have Eli?  Giants quarterback Eli Manning performed admirably against the hapless Atlanta Falcons.  He had 277 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and a 129.3 quarterback rating, second only to Drew Brees in the playoffs.
  5. The Running Back Tandem of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are Dangerous. Running backs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw are ranked third and fifth respectively in the playoffs in terms of rushing yardage.
  6. Detroit Lions Wideout Calvin Johnson is Megatron.  With 211 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns in his game against the New Orleans Saints, Calvin Johnson still remains the beast.  Now he’s just a beast without the playoffs…
  7. Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford Performed Well Despite the Loss.  Despite his two interceptions, Matthew Stafford performed well with a 97.0 quarterback rating in his game against the New Orleans Saints.
  8. The New York Giants Receiving Corps Are a Threat. Giants wideouts Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are passing threats, and just in time…
  9. The New Orleans Saints Receiving Corps Are a Threat. The New Orleans Saints receiving corps of Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem should make the San Francisco 49ers defense shake in their boots.
  10. The Running Back Tandem of Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas Are Dangerous. Not only do the Saints have weapons in the air, they have weapons on the ground in Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas.  Both are capable of breaking tackles, and both assist this high-powered offense.

The New Orleans Saints top-ranked offense will come head-to-head with San Francisco 49ers fourth-ranked defense. It will be harder for Drew Brees and company to overcome, but nothing a little Orleans magic won’t cure. Meanwhile, the New York Giants have a tougher hill to climb as they are facing Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers. With the top-ranked Aaron Rodgers in terms of quarterback rating of 122.5, his 45 passing touchdowns and his third-ranked offense during the regular season, can the New York Giants beat this Goliath?  It’s going to be bare-knuckle fight, that’s for certain.

AFC Wild Card Playoffs: Top 10 Things We Learned

What an exciting AFC Wild Card weekend! Quarterback T.J. Yates and running back Arian Foster of the Houston Texans thumped the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10.  And the thriller with the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers…Steelers coach Mike Tomlin could have never predicted the Denver Broncos would have posed a problem as Tim Tebow was almost considered bench material.  Tebow struck, when it counted, in overtime with the 80-yard bomb to his wideout Dimaryius Thomas and won the game 29-23.

And to sum it up, the 10 things we learned from the AFC Wild Card playoffs:

  1. Don’t Underestimate Denver Broncos coach John Fox. He spotted the weakness of the Steelers, their thinned secondary, and exploited it.  He let Tim Tebow go after rushing wasn’t successful with either Tim Tebow or their running back Willis McGahee.
  2. Don’t Underestimate Tim Tebow’s Magic. Tim Tebow’s magic came back when it counted — in the playoffs.  Dimaryius Thomas helped him greatly. (The New England Patriots won’t make it that easy even with their porous defense.)
  3. Houston Texans Running Back Arian Foster is Still The Man. No doubt Arian Foster helped the Texans win as he had 153 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns in the game.  His presence was felt, and he will be in their next game against the Baltimore Ravens.  A tale of two running backs in this divisional game, you bet.
  4. A Hobbled Ben Roethlisberger Didn’t Help the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Not just his mobility was off, but his accuracy was off as he had throw over the linebackers of the Denver Broncos even without the help of Brian Dawkins.
  5. Steelers Running Back Isaac Redman May Be in Line for the Starting Job.  Although not quite as strong as Rashard Mendenhall, he has the agility to break tackles.  Mendenhall may be looking in the mirror pretty soon.
  6. Broncos Wideout Dimaryius Thomas is Dangerous.  He was the savior for Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.  Tebow would have benched for Brady Quinn if it wasn’t for Thomas’ awesome performance of 204 yards and a touchdown in his game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
  7. Pittsburgh Steelers Number One Defense Counted for Nothing. Having the best defense in the league counts for little if they can get burned for long yardage.
  8. Texans Quarterback T.J. Yates Did Satisfactory in the Playoff Environment. He’s no Matt Schaub, but he has a future with the Houston Texans as their future quarterback.  If not there, then definitely somewhere else.
  9. Cincinnati Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton Has Some Growing Pains. Dalton still needs some more experience in the NFL.  He has the talent and composure to succeed in the league, but he needs time.  He needs to learn that frustration does not breed success.  Ask Peyton Manning in his difficult games.
  10. Charles Barkley Shouldn’t Do NFL Halftime Shows. Ever. Seriously.  He shouldn’t.

Now Tom Brady and his New England Patriots will face the revived Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos.  Can Tebow bring the magic or will he fall to the tactics of Bill Belichick?  Two potent running backs, Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice and Houston Texans Arian Foster, will face each other to decide who is the better running back.  Don’t underestimate the underdog in this match; as it won’t be the size of the dog in this fight as much as the sheer will.