Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Playoff Potpourri

It's amazing how quickly opinions change. One game and much of what we thought goes out the window leading to a whole new list of questions. The Jets made the unstoppable Patriots offense look pedestrian. How did the Pats actually beat them 45-3 on the same field less than two months ago? Aaron Rodgers was ridiculously good and carved up the Falcons so easily it is hard to believe the Pack is the sixth seed while the Falcons were the first. We questioned whether the Seahawks should even be in the playoffs and then they beat the defending Super Bowl champs. This week we remember why we wondered if they should be in the playoffs. The Steelers-Ravens matchup is perceived to be a great rivalry, but the Steelers have won the last seven games that Ben Roethlisberger has started. It just shows how little we actually know. In the NFL the edge can be very slim and change very fast.

*During a six week stretch of the regular season the Patriots beat the four teams playing in the Conference Championship Games by a combined score of 151-63.

*The Patriots were 12-2 before Spygate and are 2-3 since. Tom Brady has now lost his last three playoff games, recording a combined passer rating of about 75. Brady had thrown 335 passes without an interception coming into the Jets game, but he threw three picks at home in the Pats loss to Baltimore in his last playoff game and has thrown 13 INTs in his last nine playoff games. His legacy isn't tarnished, but it's nicked.

*I credit Bill Belichick for not killing Patrick Chung for making the call that led to the botched fake punt at the end of the first half. I also think it's a bit of results-based analysis to kill the Pats for the call. But I do have two problems 1.) If BB thought it was a bad call in hindsight, he has to do a better job of communicating with his special teams coach and players as to when they can audible into that call. 2.) The Pats defense can't let the Jets roll into the endzone, even with a short field. That did more damage than the failed fake itself.

*We've seen Brian Westbrook, Peyton Manning go down when they could have scored at the end of games. Shonn Greene should have gone down rather than go into the endzone with a 1:40 left in the game. Highly unlikely the Patriots win either way, but that would have been a better choice as the Jets could have taken a knee and run out the clock.

*Where are all the sanctimonious writers who ripped Rex Ryan after "Footgate?" Seriously. So many killed Ryan for his style of coaching, his bombastic and self-confident, even arrogant approach. It would be nice to see just one writer issue a mea culpa. Instead the story now is about how great it is that he has the players' backs and puts all the focus and pressure on himself. Ridiculous. Ryan has never changed. Love him or hate him, he's been consistent. Only the media flips back and forth.

*Joe Flacco had a 4-2 career playoff record, all on the road, coming into this past week's game in Pittsburgh. His four road wins tied an NFL record for most career road wins joining Len Dawson, Roger Staubach and Jake Delhomme. Sunday Mark Sanchez raised his career playoff record to 4-1, all on the road. This week it's his turn to go into Pittsburgh looking for his fifth road win. Let that settle in. If the Jets win this week, Mark Sanchez will have won more road playoff games than any quarterback in NFL history.

*If the Jets are able to go into Pittsburgh and win, they will also have beaten the winning quarterback in six of the last nine Super Bowls on their road to Dallas.

*Steelers-Ravens is a rivalry in name only. The Steelers are 7-0 in the last seven games that Ben Roethlisberger has started and Ben is 6-0 career against Joe Flacco.

*In the third quarter the Ravens had four possessions. They ran nine plays which netted -4 yards and they turned it over three times.

*The four remaining teams were 4th, 11th, 22nd & 24th rushing the football during the regular season, but were 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 18th (Packers) in rush defense.

*None of the four remaining quarterbacks was named to the Pro Bowl.

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