Divisional Round Takeaways

I felt good about the Falcons, Patriots (obviously), Chiefs and Cowboys (gulp) going into the weekend, and after Saturday I felt strong about going 4-0 on the weekend. Sunday was a nightmare, and my Cowboys’ season couldn’t have ended worse. But, that’s football, and I’m ready to swallow it and offer some thoughts on the games anyway.

Falcons 36, Seahawks 20

  • Seattle couldn’t have started this game better. They went on a long, clock-killing opening drive that resulted in 7 points. That’s exactly what they needed to do all game; keep Matt Ryan’s offense off the field, control the tempo and score touchdowns. Ultimately, they just couldn’t sustain that success and the Falcons’ high-powered offense took the game over.
  • Even though it doesn’t matter now, I want to point out how remarkable it is that 34-year-old Devin Hester came off the couch to do what he does best. He had two returns in this game that showed flashes of his old self (one called back for holding), and it proved to be a good call for the Seahawks despite the result of the game.
  • This just wasn’t Seattle’s year, and it was very obvious after Earl Thomas went down that this defense wasn’t capable of stopping the Falcons on the road. I’m not sure anybody can stop them, you have to outscore them, and Seattle’s offense just isn’t built to do that right now.

Patriots 34, Texans 16

  • The Texans actually made this watchable for football fans in the first half, and bettors were definitely tuned in to the final whistle. To no one’s surprise, the Patriots ended up pulling away and covering the 15-point spread. Some thoughts:
  • There’s not much more one can say about Brock Osweiler’s disastrous season; I don’t think the Texans can go into 2017 with him as the undisputed starting QB, and that’s a problem considering the contract they just gave him. The bright side, though, for the Texans is that their defense is a serious force, and when JJ Watt comes back, they will have one of the best defensive lines in the league with him, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus.
  • The Patriots are definitely beatable, and this game is further proof of how fortunate the Patriots have been in terms of scheduling. Here’s the list of quarterbacks Tom Brady has played this season: Carson Palmer, Ryan Tannehill, Brock Osweiler, Tyrod Taylor, Charlie Whitehurst, Andy Dalton, Landry Jones, Tyrod Taylor, Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jared Goff, Joe Flacco, Trevor Siemian, Bryce Petty, Matt Moore and Brock Osweiler again in the playoffs. Their only loss? To Russell Wilson, the clear best QB of this bunch, and in Foxboro.
  • To sum, the Patriots haven’t really been tested. That should change Sunday when they face the trio of Ben Roethlisber, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.

Packers 34, Cowboys 31

  • The Cowboys came out so flat and undisciplined after basically 3 weeks of rest and preparation, and that has to fall on Jason Garrett’s shoulders. Too many early drive-killing penalties on offense, and drive-sparking penalties on defense for the Packers to continue drives that ended up as touchdowns instead of punts.
  • Despite the slow start, it’s pretty remarkable Dallas fought their way back. They had a serious chance to win this game, but I knew once they settled for a field goal and left time for Rodgers, it was over.
  • The three most important players (disregarding offensive line) showed up: Dak, Zeke and Dez all showed up, and they will be the foundation of the Cowboys for years to come.
  • Aaron Rodgers is simply too good. He’s the best quarterback on the planet. No disrespect to Tom Brady, but no one can physically do what he can on the field.

Steelers 18, Chiefs 16

  • What a complete stinker of a performance by the Chiefs. I mean come on. They win the division in week 17 to secure a first-round bye (where Andy Reid dominates historically), hold the Steelers’ high-powered offense to field goals only, and can’t win the game. I’ve tried to defend Alex Smith, but he missed too many throws in this game that would have changed the outcome.
  • No words can describe All-Pro Travis Kelce’s performance. Dropped passes, a horrific penalty, and a bozo post-game interview suffice. He displayed a complete lack of accountability and just simply didn’t perform at a high level in a huge game. He makes the Chiefs’ offense go, but completely held them back in this game.
  • Six field goals won’t do it against the Patriots (obviously). The Steelers need to find a way to get in the end zone; it’s inexcusable not to score when you have the type of players they have on offense.

 

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