The Wild Card Round of the 2012 NFL Playoffs didn’t just live up to it’s standards, it surpassed them. Except for one factor: The spotlight has been misplaced.
While ESPN, CBS, and even some our own Pro Sports Bloggers focus on Tim Tebow (not the Broncos, just him), I’ve decided to hand out the credit where it rightfully belongs. To the Giants’ defense, No.9′s arm, Arian Foster, the mid-postseason coaching carousel, and even a kid named TJ Yates (Tom Brady 2.0? You never know). Sunday night ended in the kind of fashion a sports fan (like us) wants to end, leaving the millions of spectators around the country on the edge of their seats. The defending AFC Champion Pittsburgh Steelers were shocked a mile above by the whole Denver Broncos team not just one player. Granted as a fan of the Cleveland Brown’s I downright hate both of the organizations with all my heart, and yet it felt as if time stood still, as if it was October again watching the Fall Classic and David Freese’s heroics spark magic in all homes (except Texas) in every city across America. I may despise Tim Tebow for unexplainable reasons, but at least he provides that one thing that get’s us away from our lives, even if it means pulling out your hair.
Starting with something I told you all last week, don’t place your bets on a man with the name of Marvin Lewis. Not only did the Bengals suffer another early exit from the playoffs, Lewis out-coached himself again by using both his challenges on plays your sister could’ve figured out. Lewis came to a conclusion (once again) after scoring the game’s first points, that he all of a sudden had an advantage. Think again, Marvin. Don’t try to tell me I didn’t warn you, because the Texans came to play in their franchise’s first ever postseason appearance. You may put down Yates as just your average 3rd string QB, but it proves that a mediocre guy under center with great surrounding talent can win some ball games. It’s not as if Yates is 0-6 in his starts this season, he’s 3-3 with a playoff win under his belt. With the help of Foster, Watt, and Johnson, Houston travels to Baltimore with some momentum as they eye the Conference Championship.
My MVP vote goes to Drew Brees, Rodgers could most likely receive the honors, but watching Brees play at the moment has almost been life-altering. Schwartz and the Lions didn’t stand a chance against the Saints, the aerial attack of New Orleans has been relentless all season and it’s not going to stop. Saturday night’s game actually was only a 3 point difference as the 4th quarter approached, yet if felt as if Detroit didn’t have a standing chance. New Orleans now travels to the west coast to face the 13-3 San Francisco 49ers who have been the surprise of the NFL season.
Once again the Atlanta Falcons have faltered in the postseason making them 0-3 in their last 3 playoff games all under Head Coach Mike Smith and QB Matt Ryan. The offense decided to not even show up last Sunday as the team only scored 2 points off of an Eli Manning intentional grounding call in his own endzone. New York’s defense has played terrific on all ends in the last 3 or so weeks, but now they head into icy Lambeau Field to face the one-loss Packers led by the arm and charisma of QB Aaron Rodgers. For Atlanta, I believe they have a very talented football team that just hasn’t been able to get the job done as inexperience has haunted them, maybe one-day Matt Ryan could bring this team into February.
Pittsburgh went into Sports Authority Field as the favorites by a longshot, but injuries and age played a bit of a factor in a game some of us won’t forget. Is Tim Tebow the kind of QB who could lead a dynasty? Absolutely not. Sticking behind my word that Tebow isn’t actually talented under center, but I can’t argue when he wins that games that matter (sometimes). Pittsburgh with the help of an ailing Roethlisberger completed a comeback to tie the game at 23-23 to head into an overtime playoff game with some different rules. As most of America relaxed on their couch getting ready for an overtime period, the game had already ended. The ball floated across the middle to only be caught by Thomas and then one broken tackle led to a GW TD as the stadium exploded and Bronco’s fans were back to Elway’s days.
With that, I welcome you to my NFL Playoff Preview: Divisional Round Edition
Last Week: 3-1
New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers (Jan. 14th, 4:30 PM ET, FOX)
Staying put with my Super Bowl pick of the New Orleans Saints, Jim Harbaugh may have brought the Niners very far from where they were and he’s shown he could be a wonderful NFL coach in the near future, but his team isn’t ready to play the experienced Saints. Momentum is key in the postseason, and New Orleans is coming off 9 straight victories in which they have controlled the tempo in every game. Plus, San Francisco has to able to get the job done in the redzone something they haven’t done all season, if they want to compete with New Orleans. I’m taking the favorite here and sticking with Sean Payton and No. 9.
Denver Broncos at New England Patriots (Jan. 14th, 8:00 PM ET, CBS)
You heard it first, this game will be a lot closer than the experts have predicted. New England obviously hold’s the advantage, but Denver is going to make this one hell of a game. John Fox has had this team ready to play all season, well maybe not all season, but you know what I mean. The Patriots will walk out of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro with an invitation to the AFC Conference Championship game as Tebow-Mania will officially come to an end (finally). Brady and Belichick are making possibly a final run at a Super Bowl Championship together and this very well could be the season.
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (Jan. 15th, 1:00 PM ET, CBS)
Wait, what’s that? The Houston Texans are headed to the AFC Championship, I believe so. This Baltimore team is very streaky and they can falter against any team in the NFL and the Houston story has to continue. Not only will their QB be TJ Yates, but injuries have been present in their locker room all season beginning with Mario Williams and Andre Johnson who is thankfully now back. The only way I see Baltimore walking out with a victory is if Flacco decides to shave that mustache/goatee thing on his face, it’s just hideous. I’m only kidding, but I’m putting my marbles on the Kubiak led Texans once again this week. I can’t explain it, just a gut feeling.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (Jan. 15th, 4:30 PM ET, FOX)
You have no idea how much I want to pick the Giants in this game, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Let’s take a look back at the 2007 Super Bowl; getting to the QB will give you a victory even against the heavy favorite, and that can happen again if New York gets to Rodgers who has an injury written O-Line. Greg Jennings will most likely be returning for this game after missing the last 3, just adding to the WR depth on this Green Bay roster. Tom Coughlin could do it again and I am so in-between on this matchup, yet I’ll stick with the Pack this week because who doesn’t want a New Orleans vs Green Bay NFC Championship?
I hope everyone enjoys the games this week, because they could make history.
About the Author
Written by Corey Rioux
A wise man once told me, "Sports are modern-day mythology." I tend to disagree. Proper grammar is optional. You can read my columns here: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/c_rioux23/ You can follow me on twitter at: @C_Rioux23 You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org