Quick Reaction to NFL Wild Card Weekend

What a weekend of NFL football! The wild card is usually pretty interesting because it’s always a battle for who will lose in the second round of the playoffs. A wild-card team hasn’t won the Super Bowl since the Ravens did it in 2012, and that team had an actual murderer on their defense, so I’m not sure if that win even counts.

Regardless, the teams that played this weekend don’t have the best chance at making it to the Super Bowl, but they still provided us fans with some great entertainment. Every matchup was pretty even, which made for some very exciting football.

I’m getting antsy, so let me just dive right into these dank matchups.

The Bills and Texans game was one for the ages. Josh Allen and the Bills got off to a hot start in the first half, and at one point in the game were up 16-0 in the third quarter. Everything went right for Buffalo in the first half as they even had their QB out there catching touchdown passes.

A lot of credit goes to the Bills D for the hot start as well. Tre White held DeAndre Hopkins to zero catches in the first, which is insanely impressive. That’s like flying on an airplane for six hours without taking a piss. Just keep contain.

The whole Bills Mafia has been spectacular all season long. I was unfortunately out with my family for the first half, so I didn’t get to witness any of the Bills’ dominance. I must have been the good luck charm for the Texans though, as they seemed to storm back immediately once I started watching.

The second half was an entirely different story. Once the Texans scored their first TD in the third quarter, you could tell their was some panic on the Bills’ sideline. I think the large shift in momentum was partly due to the Texans finally getting Hopkins involved, and Deshaun Watson became a different animal in the fourth quarter.

Miraculously, after two touchdowns, two successful two point conversions and a field goal, the Texans stormed all the way back with 19 unanswered points to take a 19-16 lead late in the fourth. The last two or so minutes of this game were absolutely insane. You could just tell that the moment was too big for Josh Allen. The second year QB made some terrible decisions down the stretch. Whether it was the intentional grounding penalty, taking a 19 yard sack on 4th down, or pitching the ball to absolutely nobody, Allen made some Shaqtin’ a fool type plays in this one. The only positive for the Bills in that second half was the defensive stand on their own 30, and then the last-minute drive that tied the game at the end of regulation.

The Hauschka game-tying field goal created a little momentum that I thought would help the Bills going into overtime. This clearly was not the case, as Deshaun Watson decided to go complete beast mode in overtime. Watching him avoid that double sack was probably the first time I’ve seen someone perform witchcraft on a football field. I don’t want to hear anything about Aaron Rodgers or Russ Wilson being the “Escape Artists of the NFL.” That title belongs to Deshaun Watson. The Texans play the Chiefs next week, and Houston will need Houdini to show up again on Sunday.

The Patriots vs Titans matchup was the upset that almost nobody was expecting. This is the game where I was most confident betting on, so it’s a good thing I didn’t put any money down.

In hindsight, the Patriots offense had really been struggling as of late. New England had a lot of trouble putting up point in the second half of the season, and you figured there was only a matter of time before the lack of offense would create problems for them. With the loss of AB and Josh Gordon, their best receiver was Julian Edelman, who is more of a slot guy anyways. James White lead the team in receiving yards on Sunday, and that’s never a great sign when your running back is outshining the receivers. Brady couldn’t get much going through the air, and a crucial third down drop from Edelman in the fourth put the Pats in a desperate position. The game ended with a Tom Brady pick six, and it’s possible that it could have been his final pass attempt as a Patriot.

From what it sounded like in his postgame press conference, Brady doesn’t want to go anywhere. And just from watching him, he seems to have a decent amount left in the tank. He can still make good throws, he reached 1000 yards rushing for his career this season, you can tell the man still wants it. He’s still here. But at this point, it’s up to Belichick and the Pats management to see if it’s worth it to keep Brady. I think he could play at high level until he’s at least 45. But that’s just my take.

As awesome of a game it was for the Titans, they will face off against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens next Saturday. And just a warning for the Titans: Lamar moves a little bit quicker than Brady.

You like that!

Kirk Cousins came up big time for the Vikings on Sunday, proving that he is one of the few elite quarterbacks in this league. Cousins has taken a ton of criticism over the years for not playing well in primetime matchups. And to be fair, some of the criticism is warranted given that he is 0-9 in Monday Night Football games. But here’s the thing: the playoffs aren’t played on Monday nights, meaning Captain Kirk was ready to steer the ship for his Vikes. The future hall of famer had nearly 250 passing yards to go with the game-winning touchdown in overtime. Dalvin Cook also deserves a ton of the credit, as he has been electric all season. He’s definitely in my list of the top five NFL running backs, which I might turn into a separate piece for Sportland.

As for the Saints, this loss came as a bit of a shocker, a Jeremy Shockey that is. Aside from the terrible Falcons loss, New Orleans had looked great all season. But similar to the Pats, it was one bonehead loss for the Saints that kept them from getting a first round bye. That loss to the 1-7 Falcons didn’t look like a huge deal at the time, but now we know just how big that was for this team. As a result, they found themselves playing in a wild card game against Minnesota, a game where still the majority of people had their money on New Orleans. But what happened? This Vikings defense stood its ground. And Brees couldn’t get the passing game going. The Vikes did a good job at keeping Mike Thomas in check. Turns out you can guard Mike. And the Saints just volunteered to take Kamara out of the game? You’ve got a top running back in the league and you give him seven carries? Meanwhile Minnesota was out their feeding Dalvin with 28 rushes.

The Saints fans have their annual playoff loss excuse as the game-winning touchdown by Kyle Rudolph was reviewed for offensive pass interference, which created that small glimmer of hope. Ultimately, the refs decided to leave it as a no-call. And although, it wasn’t as blatant as last year’s no-call against the Rams, you could argue that Rudolph used his hand to create some space. In general, offensive PI needs to be called way more often. The cornerback is already at a disadvantage not knowing the route, and now you’re going to let the receiver get away with a push-off? As a former defensive back, I can’t fuck with that.

Regardless, the Vikings got a big win on the road and they’ll have their hands full next week in the Bay Area.

The Seahawks and Eagles game was our final matchup of wild card weekend, and as predicted, this one was more of a snooze fest.

This game had one of the more controversial no-calls that I have seen in recent memory. Probably the biggest since that no-PI call in the Saints/Rams game last year. Early in the first half, after a short run, Wentz dives on the turf , clearly giving himself up on the play, and Clowney just comes in at the last second, helmet first. Regardless of whether it was intentional or not, (it was) the play was a helmet-to-helmet hit, and should have at least warranted a targeting call. Clowney is clearly head down on this play. Dude went head first into the turf. And sure, in the moment it might have been hard for a ref to see. But you at least have to review that shit. Roger Goodell always tries to preach player safety, but then refuses to take action when shit like this actually happens. If I can be serious for one second, I want to point out that participation in high school football is on a large decline, and a big part of it is due to concussions and brain damage that come as a result of playing this brutal game. Goodell isn’t helping his case when he refuses to penalize the players who make this sport so dangerous.

Aside from the horrendous missed call, it was the hit itself that made it so much worse for Philly. Wentz left the game with a concussion, and the Eagles had no choice but to play Josh “No Fap” McCown for the remainder of the game. As much as I rag on Ginger Jesus, I felt bad for him on this one. He finally made it through an entire season without getting hurt, and then he immediately goes down in their first playoff season. A lot of people were giving him shit for being soft or injury prone, but I think anyone would have gone down after taking that hit. Especially some 15 year old cowboys fan on twitter.

The Seahawks were able to capitalize on the injury and held on for the close win. D.K. Metcalf had a monster game with seven catches and 160 yards receiving and the Seahawks actually gave Marshawn the ball on the goal line. Great to see all the progress that Pete Carroll has made as a coach. Experience truly is the best teacher. When you experience the feeling of looking like an idiot, it makes you reconsider your choices the next time around. And that’s what we saw from perfect Pete.

The Seahawks play the Packers next Sunday, and I think that might be the closest game we’ll have for the second round. Green Bay hasn’t proved much this season, so hopefully Seattle can steal one on the road.

If you have made it this far, thank you for giving my article a read. I will be back again next week to talk about the second round of these NFL playoffs. Like Best Buy, we’ve got some exciting games in store. Ok I’ll stop.