Playoffs? Playoffs???! – 10 things about Week 17 in the NFL

January 3, 2012One Comment

Here goes the run down for Week 17:

  • Do the Broncos have any magic left?
    • The Broncos are the AFC West champs. Unfortunately, they limp into the playoffs on a 3 game losing streak. Tim Tebow and the Broncos offense has been out sync for much of the last month and the Pittsburgh Steelers only figure to make things worse. It seems like a mismatch on paper with the 12 win Steelers coming to town, but then again don’t forget about last year when a 7 win Seattle team beat the defending champion New Orleans Saints during wild card weekend. If any team can pull an unlikely upset it’ll be Tebow and the Broncos.
  • Baltimore sweeps the AFC North.
    • The Ravens book ended their season with wins over the Steelers in the season opener and the Bengals in the season finale. In between those games the Ravens swept the AFC North and claimed a first round bye that figures to give them a leg up on the rest of the teams in AFC. It’ll be interesting to see if the Ravens are as good at home as they have been on the road in the playoffs the past three seasons.
  • Are the Patriots paper tigers?
    • After securing the #1 seed in the AFC with a 49 – 21 shellacking of the Bills the Patriots get a week off to rest and see who their next opponent will be. For all of their regular season success in the past three seasons, the Patriots haven’t won a playoff game since 2007. Kind of crazy when you realize how good Brady has been, but football is the ultimate team game and major flaws tend show up a lot larger when the postseason begins. Can the Patriots fix the flaws in their defense?
  • Giants Cruz into playoffs.
    • The Giants beat the Cowboys on Sunday to capture the NFC East crown and host the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday. Victor Cruz was a major contributor adding over 170 yards and a touchdown. His presence as a big play threat has allowed the Giants offense to be even more dynamic with Hakeem Nicks on the other side. The Giants could end up being the team no one wants to face if they get out of wild card weekend against the Falcons.
  • Texans and Bengals are both struggling.
    • The Texans and Bengals face off in a wild card match up this Saturday that will likely be viewed as the ‘That’s nice these teams got into the playoffs’ Bowl. Both teams are struggling to score points consistently and the winner will likely be cannon fodder for whoever they take in the divisional round. On a positive note both of the teams made huge strides because not many expected them to be playoff contenders when the season started.

  • Who needs Aaron Rodgers?
    • Of course, the Packers need Rodgers. But I think the real question is how many teams need Matt Flynn? In his two starts Flynn has been very impressive and on Sunday his 6 touchdowns and 480 yards passing forced the division rival Detroit Lions to have to travel to play New Orleans rather than the New York Giants on wild card weekend. The Packers are still the favorite to repeat especially when you consider Greg Jennings should be back in time for their first playoff game.
  • End of Peyton?
    • Black Monday firings were pretty much run of the mill (Raheem Morris, Steve Spagnoulo) until the Colts announced the firings of Bill and Chris Polian. The dismissal of the Polians brings up speculation that this could be the end of the Peyton Manning era in Indy. A new GM would likely not be as attached to Peyton Manning and would probably like to build a new legacy. After all, Bill Polian has been with the team since 1998, when they drafted then rookie quarterback Peyton Manning.
  • Are the Saints for real?
    • The Saints are 8 – 0 at home and almost unstoppable in the Super Dome. Despite the greatness of the Saints offense and Drew Brees I think they can be beaten outdoors. The Saints only three losses were on the road and they looked like a different team outside the confines of the Super Dome. It won’t matter this week though, since the Detroit Lions are traveling to New Orleans for wild card weekend.
  • Atlanta could be dangerous.
    • Atlanta is the one team no one is talking about but that’s probably ok with them. The Falcons have a strong offense when Michael Turner is in sync and Matt Ryan is continuing to become one of the better QBs in the game. The Falcons have the kind of team that can travel because of their style but I question whether or not their lack of playoff experience will keep them achieving postseason success.
  • The 2011 season was one to remember.
    • Remember the lockout? No Peyton, no Randy Moss, and no T.O. 2011 was a strange season that saw some great players potentially exit the game for good as well as a brand new crop of stars emerge (Gronkowski, Graham, McCoy). Quarterbacking seemed to be at its highest level while defenses seemed to struggle mightily with all the rule changes. In the end, I am glad we has football in 2011. I think I speak for all of the readers when I say I don’t know what I would do without it.

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