BY LAWRENCE EDWARDS
Week 17 ended in great fashion with an exciting finish with the Green Bay Packers taking on the Detroit Lions in the Motor City. The end of that game would determine who gets a home game against the Giants and who has to travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks and their 12th man. The Packers defeated the Lions last night 31-24 off of 4 Aaron Rodgers passing TD’s. That set the stage for a Giants @ Green Bay and Detroit @ Seattle NFC wild card weekend. This years playoffs should be very exciting as we have a few new faces to the party. The Raiders, Dolphins, Giants, Cowboys and Texans all missed the playoffs last season with everyone except the Cowboys and Detroit missing multiple years straight.
We kick things off this Saturday with Oakland traveling to Houston to take on the Texans and. The Oakland Raiders have had an outstanding regular season full of joy they haven’t experienced in over a decade, but it came at detrimental price. An MVP candidate before the injury, Derek Carr was playing some great football for the silver and black before breaking his fibula last week against the Colts. The Raiders have an OK backup QB in Matt McGloin but I’m sure losing Carr hit all the way to the soul. However, there is a silver lining for the Raiders this week, at least they don’t have to face a QB who could make it hard for the backup QB to keep up with scoring. Oakland’s defense will try to take advantage of the below average QB play from the Texans. Tom Savage is better than Brock and clearly more accurate but he isn’t a QB that would strike fear in you. Even with McGloin under center the Raiders have the better more proven QB heading into this game and if Tom Savage can’t get the job done I’m sure they have nothing to fear if Brock enters the game. Oakland will need to take advantage of a beatable opponent to at least advance to the divisional round. It won’t be easy however, they take on a Houston defense that ranks 2nd against the pass and 1st overall in total defense.
The Lions took the L to the Packers last night so they get to go face Seattle in Seattle, yikes! But not so fast, like we have seen all season the Seahawks aren’t exactly that team that strikes fear into their opponents like they used to do. First season without future hall of famer Marshawn Lynch in the backfield saw Russ struggle to run the ball like he usually does and somewhat saw the offense sputter at times and the defense has shown they can be beaten and give up points. This should be a great game here, The Lions offense can score with the best of them and they have plenty weapons to hurt Seattle, one of them being a former Seahawk, Golden Tate. I expect Seattle to do what they do best at home in the playoffs but I would not count out Detroit who could still be in the game in the 4th quarter. I do believe this game can go either way, a blowout win by Seattle, or a nail biter, whoever has the last possession type of game (which I am leaning closer to thinking will happen) Because the way Seattle has been playing up and down all season I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw an upset on Saturday night, a huge upset.
The Dolphins have shown everyone around the league why it is an outstanding idea to have a backup QB who can play just like or better than your starter. Tannehill was lost for the season with a knee injury after what has been a successful year for Miami. Matt Moore has been around the league for a long time and he has been with the Dolphins for the past 4 seasons. He was signed by Dallas in 2007 as an undrafted FA before spending 4 seasons with Carolina. Out of anyone currently in the playoffs – except for Dallas of course – The Dolphins may have the best backup QB situation in the playoffs. Your starter goes out and your backup comes in the Jets game to relieve you and throws 4 TDs. Then he goes to Buffalo and throws for 2 more in that W and threw another 2 TD’s with an overall solid performance yesterday against a very good New England defense. It’s a good sigh when your backup can play the final 3 games against division opponents and go 2-1 in that stretch. That being said, this game against Pittsburgh will be a great one and closer than anyone thinks. Remember the last time these two teams played? Jay Ajayi does, he killed Pittsburgh’s defense with 204 rushing yards. If the Dolphins want to pull off this upset against the Steelers, they will need Jay Ajayi to get going early and open things up for Matt Moore and the passing game and they will have a shot, however they also have to try and slow down Bell and AB because I’m sure the Steelers didn’t forget week 5 either and they will be looking for redemption.
Wild Card weekend will conclude with the Giants taking on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau. Everyone is saying “You don’t want to see Aaron Rodgers and the Pack in the playoffs” or “You don’t want to see the Giants defense in the playoffs” Well this week Aaron Rodgers gets to see the Giants defense and the Giants defense gets to see Aaron Rodgers, who prevails? This should be a great game, the Giants and Eli Manning are certainly no strangers to going into the “Frozen Tundra” in the post season and coming out victorious, they did it twice, once against Brett Favre and once against Bad Man Aaron and both lead to Superbowl wins, however for how great the defense has been the offense has been, well, meh… The Giants are the fist team since the 94 Chicago Bears to get at least 10 wins and in the post without one single 30 point game. If the Giants want to win then the defense will have to set the tone early and the Eli and the O will have to reward them by putting up points whenever they have the chance. Unlike other QB’s, if you don’t score enough and let Aaron Rodgers hang around long enough, he will do what he does best and find a way to rip the carpet right out from under your feet, this will make for a good game, playoff games between these two lately have been fun to watch.