This weekend produced an excellent group of NFL games that proved just how exciting playoff football can be. We saw a 28 point comeback, two game-winning FGs, and a “weak” 6th seed dismantle an AFC favorite. The lower seed won 3 of the 4 games, which just further proves how unimportant seeding and records become when the playoffs come. Records were being broken left and right and it created a wonderful four games of football. And better yet, it created four new brilliant matchups for next week.
(6) New Orleans Saints 26, (3) Philadelphia Eagles 24
I already wrote my full recap for this game, but I’ll summarize it here. I really thought the Eagles could win this one, but I think the playoff inexperience of Nick Foles showed itself and that’s ok. This was valuable experience for everyone on the team and they performed much better this season than expected. The Saints outplayed the Eagles on both offense and defense and they were 2 points better by the end of the game. The Eagles don’t have any other excuse other than the lack of offensive production and inability to stop the run, two strengths of the team during the regular season. The Saints proved too that they can both win on the road and in the cold, something they’ll have to repeat to win next week.
(5) San Francisco 49ers 23, (4) Green Bay Packers 20
This was one of my two correct playoff predictions so far, and my score was actually just a point away from being exactly correct. This is exactly the way I thought this game would go, although I think the 49ers played a little shakily at times. Their use of timeouts was terrible in the beginning of each half and they’re lucky it didn’t come back to haunt them. Also, they had multiple opportunities to punch it in for a TD but only ended up with a FG. I thought that their defense played excellent though and Colin Kaepernick really stepped it up, passing for 227 yards and rushing for another 97. Michael Crabtree also had a great game, grabbing 8 catches for 125 yards. I think it was just too soon in Aaron Rodgers’ comeback from the injury to be placed in a high-pressure playoff game and he couldn’t produce well enough.
(6) San Diego Chargers 27, (3) Cincinnati Bengals 10
This was by far the most surprising outcome of any of the playoff games. I thought the Bengals were one of the more complete teams in the playoffs, but neither their offense nor defense was effective at all. Andy Dalton continued his postseason woes and turned the ball over 3 times, preventing the Bengals from getting much going offensively. Giovanni Bernard and A.J. Green were also pretty ineffective, and Bernard even fumbled inside the red zone on a drive that turned out to be the turning point in the game. And on the flip side, the Chargers looked great, playing great defense and running the ball very well, something that’s led to their recent success. As long as Ryan Mathews can stay healthy throughout the postseason, they are a real contender despite their 6th seed tag.
(5) Kansas City Chiefs 44, (4) Indianapolis Colts 45
This game was the most exciting of the bunch in my opinion, featuring the Chiefs overcoming the odds of losing their star RB Jamaal Charles on the first drive of the game and powering to a 31-10 lead at halftime. They even made it 38-10 at one point, but the Colts miraculously came back with the heroic help of Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton. Luck threw for 443 yards and 4 TDs, and about half of that was to Hilton, who had 13 catches for 224 yards and 2 TDs. And this is all despite the excellent performance that Chiefs QB Alex Smith put on, throwing for 378 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs, by far his best performance of the season. Much to my surprise, the Chiefs defense failed to stop anything on the Colts offense even after 4 turnovers. I still don’t understand how the Colts won that game, but I think I’ll just chalk it up to a miracle and some amazing play from the Colts’ team.
Well, three of my score predictions were way off, but I still got out of the weekend with a 2-2 record. There will be another 4 games next week for the Divisional Playoff Round as the amount of teams vying for the Super Bowl has decreased from 12 to 8. I assume next week will bring yet another week of amazing football.