Red has never like the “Divisional Round” name for this spate of games. Yes, there are at least two division champions guaranteed to be playing in each conference. But this year, you have 3 wild card teams playing as well. Only the Texans managed to move on as a division champ while the other three flamed out last weekend.
Speaking of last weekend, Red was 3 for 4 missing out only on the Vikings surprising take down of the Saints. Red was not a believer in the Vikings to say the least, but here they are.
Texans were the walking dead for 43 minutes before coming alive to win in OT despite best efforts of Bill O’ the Clown to snatch defeat from jaws of victory. There were two situations where the Bills had third and long in Texans territory needing only a field goal to tie or win the game. Both times, the Texans lined up 3 defensive lineman and had 8 players hanging back 20 yards from line of scrimmage. A quick toss over the middle for some decent yards gets them within range for Hauschka. Not to mention the pathetic QB sneak that failed. The situation – about a minute on clock. It’s 4th and a long one. The box is stacked. The clock is going to stop anyway if you don’t get a first down. Why not try something different to actually win the game? Nope. And we get OT because of pathetic Texans defense and previously mentioned pathetic game management.
Red missed the Eagles getting Josh McCown some playoff action. He performed well enough for the Eagles to have won if not otherwise decimated by injuries. Seahawks were unimpressive.
And then there are the Titans. The Titans look capable of beating any team right now with good defense and a ball control offense. Putting a possible end to the Brady/Bellicheat era is enough for Red to have a soft spot in his heart for the Titans for the remainder of his football watching days.
On to Round Two:
Vikings over 49ers – At least one wild card team seems to make it to the Conference Championship game ever season. Red had the Vikings down as pretenders have beaten only one team with winning record all season. But taking down the Saints in New Orleans has changed the dynamic here. Plus, Red finally appreciates how good the Vikings’ receiving corps actually is. Meanwhile, Red still can’t figure out how the Niners managed to win so many games this season. Perhaps playing a plethora of pathetic or near-pathetic teams (Bucs, Bengals, Stealers, Browns, Rams, Redskins, Panthers, Cardinals) to start the season helped. After that the Niners did beat Packers, Saints and Seahawks, but still managed to lose to some weak sisters coming down the stretch. Niners feature running back by committee and two effective receivers in Kittle and Samuel. None of the RBs are much of a threat in the passing game. FB Juszczyk who had all of 3 rushing attempts is the good hands dump off guy. So this rests on the shoulders of Jimmy G. Will he rise up in his first real playoff game? Red thinks the Vikings experience overcomes the Niners. Minnesota 24 Santa Clara, CA 17.
Ravens over Titans – If any team can beat the Ravens it just might be the Titans if they D. Henry is on his game allowing the Titans to eat clock and keep L. Jackson and talented crew off the field for 38 minutes. But Red doesn’t see that happening. LJ just presents too many problems for most teams to deal with effectively. Plus, six players have caught more than 25 passes for the Ravens. Everyone on the field is a threat. But none more so than a QB who shattered rushing records this season while throwing 36 TDs against only 6 INTs. Double trouble, in the cauldron boil and bubble. Red thinks Titans are a coming force and will present problems for the Ravens, but he can’t bet against the best regular season team. Baltimore 28 Tennessee 17.
Chiefs over Texans – Texans’ defense was horrific on Saturday – until Josh Allen decided to try to do too much. A fumble and critical sack allowed the Texans new life and D. Watson did take advantage. Before that Allen was either throwing to wide open guys or pulling it down and running freely into the secondary. P. Mahomes and the vastly superior talent he has at his disposal will destroy the current Texans scheme which seems oddly designed to allow receivers to run freely into space. Moreover, Bill O’ the Clown is without a doubt the worst head coach left standing right now. Red wouldn’t trust him to coach in the lingerie league. The return of W. Fuller V certainly helps, but not enough. A. Reid wins the day here. He has balls and will pull all the tricks out of the bag if needed. Texans defense looks befuddled, but offense keeps them in the game for a while. Kansas City 45 Houston 35
Packers over Seahawks – The Pack is Back. Red didn’t believe. Seahawks could barely get past a horribly crippled Eagles team. Meanwhile in northern Wisconsin A. Rodgers gets to throw to 5 players who have more than 400 receiving yards for the season. Combine that with a quality RB and you have recipe for 5 game winning streak to close out season. Seahawks are good and having Beast back is terrifying. This one is the game of the week and down to the wire. Green Bay 27 Seattle 24.