January 11, 2010

Wild end to wild card weekend

by Dan Bilicki In: Football, Picks

**Apologies for the late post. As my internet provider said: “There were major system difficulties.” **

Anybody could have easily predicted that the Cardinals-Packers showdown was going to be an absolute barn-burner, but a 51-45 game is about as over-the-top as it can get. Neither team could even come close to stopping the other as Kurt Warner and Aaron Rodgers both carved up their opposing defences. Then, in a game that ripped up some records for offensive output, the game was ultimately came down to a missed field goal and then an almost impossible “interception.”

So, how about these for records: 62 first downs combined and 96 points combined. Not to mention the 1,018 yards of offence in regulation, which has to be up there in the books.

The real question now for next week is how many points are the Cardinals and Saints going to rack up at the Superdome? If the over/under for Satuday’s game is set at 100, is that still too low?

A couple of other records were broken this weekend; some good and some bad. Yesterday’s poor showing by the Patriots was the team’s first post-season loss in New England since 1978. It was also Bill Belichick’s first playoff-opening loss as well as Tom Brady’s. The QB also had four turnovers to match a career high.

From the first snap of the game, it was clear that Baltimore was going to be the more dominant team. The Patriots weren’t going to stop the Ravens’ greta running game and Brady wasn’t going to keep his team close with the inaccurate throws and poor decisions he was making.

How much the team missed Wes Welker really showed as Julian Edelman was barely servicable as safety-valve receiver and Randy Moss was back to his route-jogging routines after not getting a single target in the first quarter.

I wouldn’t call the Pats’ dynasty over, but there needs to be some rebuilding in several areas for next year if the team wants to keep its’ stranglehold of the AFC East.

Saturday’s games weren’t all too dramatic but served as good jumping-off point for the playoffs. The Jets and Cowboys were both highly effecient in their easy wins over teams they had beaten the previous week, showing that maybe being the better team on the field can make up for showing a few more cards and plays in earlier matchups.

Where was Chad Ochocinco on Saturday? Oh yeah, Darrell Revis was covering him, which essentially means that he wasn’t taking part in the game.

And how about those Jets rookies? Mark Sanchez sure did an alright job of managing the game and not making any mistakes — which apparently too much to ask for when some people picked against him — and Shonn Green made everyone regret picking Thomas Jones in their playoff pools. Whether they can repeat their performances against a much better San Diego team remains to be seen, but at least for this week, they’re winners.

How about those streaks that were snapped on Saturday night? Tony Romo won his first playoff game; Wade Phillips won his too; the Cowboys won their first playoff game in more than a decade and Andy Reid lost his first playoff opening game.

The Eagles offence just couldn’t get going and Donovan McNabb looked flustered at times and Reid’s play-calling was seriously off. It seemed that they were always passing and looking for a deep play, but it never worked. How about trying to run the ball occasionally or try a screen pass or two to get the chains moving? In fact the only decent plays that Philly made all game were Mike Vick’s TD pass (where Mike Jenkins fell in coverage) and a big gainer on a screen caught by Brian Westbrook (his only touch of the game). Maybe it’s time for someone else to call the plays in Philadelphia.

Finally, best of all for NBC, the game on Saturday night ended in perfect time for SNL. Too bad they had to run local news before getting to Charles Barkley’s hosting duties.

This week: 2-2
This playoffs: 2-2
Regular season: 138-101-4

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