In a year where NFL ratings went down due to a multitude of factors, a weekend where all four playoff series were non-competitive is not necessarily a good thing for the NFL. On both Saturday and Sunday, the early game was a complete blowout where the winning team took control within the opening minutes of the game and cruised to victory. The later games were a bit closer, with the winning team waiting until the 4th quarter to pull away.
Raiders 14, Texans 27: The Texans scored an early FG then capitalized on a Jadeveon Clowney INT to get a 2-score lead in the first quarter. With the Raiders well behind the 8 ball and the Texans out to a comfortable lead, the plan became don’t lose the game for the Texans. Osweiler did that, not turning the ball over despite some interceptable passes the Raiders dropped late in the first half. The Texans offense didn’t do much for the game although they did have a couple nice TD drives to pull away and the defense harassed Connor Cook and the Raider receivers all night. Also if I’m the Raiders, I’m replacing Michael Crabtree with Andre Holmes next season. The Patriots will play the Texans this week, and the Pulpit will have everything covered leading up to the game.
Lions 6, Seahawks 26: Thomas Rawls had his way with the Lions defense, rushing for over 160 yards and taking advantage of a bad defense. The Seahawks did let the Lions stay in the game a bit too long, but fortunately were able to get out of their own way long enough to let the Lions self-destruct. The Seahawks took advantage with a pair of 4th quarter touchdowns. I do have the feeling Seattle is going to have a tough time keeping up with the Falcons top rated offense on Saturday.
Dolphins 12, Steelers 30: This game was the shortest for the home team to assume control of the game, as it took the Steelers only 3 drives to put up an insurmountable 20-0 lead. One stat that tells this game apart is Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown combined for 298 yards from scrimmage, the Dolphins as a team put up 305, although 75% of the touches on the Steelers offense and all four touchdowns went to those two. While the Dolphins attempted to dink and dunk their way down the field, the Steelers forced three straight turnovers to put the game away. The Dolphins threatened to back-door cover late but back-to-back sacks by Lawrence Timmons ended that scare. The Steelers get the Chiefs in the divisional round, the one game I think the road team has the best chance to pull an upset.
Giants 13, Packers 38: The Packers offense didn’t show up until 5 minutes to go in the first half, but they were unstoppable for the final 35 minutes. The Giants dominated the first 25 minutes of the game, but only put up a 6-0 lead thanks to inopportune drops by the Giants WRs that turned TD opportunities into FG tries. The Packers put up a pair of quick scores to end the first half. After a stupid coaching decision by Mike McCarthy (he’ll lose a game or two with his coaching, but overall he’s very solid) made it a 1-point game, the Packers offense hammered away for the game’s final 24 points. The second half was an exhibition of MVP-caliber Aaron Rodgers as he picked apart the game’s best secondary. The Packers will draw the NFC’s top seeded Dallas Cowboys in a battle of two offenses playing secondaries besieged by injuries.
Overall, it was probably the most boring Wild Card weekend as the games were predictable and repetitive. There was very little drama in these games as they were all long over before the final 5 minutes of the game. The road teams were very unprepared with the Raiders playing with their 3rd string QB, the Lions playing as poorly as they did after Matthew Stafford dislocated his middle finger on his throwing hand, the Dolphins never showing up in the cold Pittsburgh weather, and the Giants failing to bury the Packers before the Packers woke up and buried the Giants. If there is one thing we can take solace in, there won’t be a fluky throw by Eli Manning beating the Patriots this year.