Playoff time is exciting within itself, the intensity is ramped up another 20% and an additional 5% each round.
With that let’s look at this weekend’s matchups.
In one conference, the NFC things are pretty quiet, while in another the AFC, there’s been more bulletin board quotes in one week to last a season. Rex Ryan got the ball rolling during the Wildcard week with his comments about Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
How Manning’s success stems from him running his own show and calling his own plays, to Brady’s success coming from the input of coach Belichick. Belichick attempted to persuade his team not to take the bait, but Brady responded to both Ryan’s comments and Cromartie’s finger pointing accusations.
Some of Brady’s teammates have commented to support their QB, but nothing bulletin board worthy.
It is a foregone conclusion that a team takes on the identity of its coach, but with the likes of Darrelle Revis on the other side and the way the Jets got torched the last time these two teams met, Cromartie should be the last bird chirping.
It’s obvious that there’s no love lost between the Steelers and Ravens. These two teams are so evenly match that if you don’t like defense you may want to skip this one………not!! This will be an all out brawl. Arguably the two most physical teams in the NFL, they meet for the rubber match of the season, splitting the two previous meetings.
While the Ravens are getting their talk and swagger on early, the Steelers haven’t said much at all. Harbaugh’s comment about his pleasure in Roethlisberger’s pain and Suggs dirty birding the Steelers makes the week interesting. These two teams know each other well and respect each other, but respect has nothing to do with liking each other, it’s safe to say that they hate each other.
On the NFC front we haven’t heard a word out of either team. It’s almost like, let’s not give our opponent any motivation, like they need it anyhow. So the only thing we have to go on here are the facts. Atlanta against Green Bay: the Eagles achilles heel was their young defense, you can run in the regular season but you can’t hide in the playoffs. James Starks is no longer a surprise and the Falcons will be ready to address him.
Starks makes these two teams similar in the fact that with a running game like Michael Turner provides for Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers will benefit from real play-action passing and an open playbook.
With that being said both defenses and special teams will probably be the focus. Field position and turnovers are usually the deciding factors when teams are evenly matched. Whose will can be imposed and ground game controlled will be the defining factors.
Mums the word out of Chi-town and Seattle as well. Neither team is known for talking too much, although Da Bears bring some serious defensive swagger to the field. I get the sense that the Seahawks are pinching themselves to see if it’s really real that they’ve won a division with a 7-9 record and won a Wildcard game all in a two week span.
Can Seattle bring their Northwest game to the Midwest?
Their short quick passing game bodes well in keeping QB Matt Hasselbeck upright and healthy, but Da Bears corners will get up and challenge recievers to throw off the timing. Marshawn Lynch, after a monster game last week could be a huge help to Hasselbeck, but don’t count on it, the Bears D is one of the best vs. the run, and trust me they know how important it will be to make Seattle one dimensional.
The most interesting matchup in this game will be Chicago’s offense against the Seahawk defense and both special teams. Jay Cutler has been on a roll lately, newly revitalized under Mike Martz. But how will he handle playoff pressure, will he revert or have the habits taken hold?
No doubt continued success on the ground with Matt Forte and Chester Taylor are sure to ease the burden, but how will he react if he has to put it up 40 times under duress? The Seahawk D played hard and fast last week, and with little playoff experience and playing at such a high emotional level last week, can they rise to the occasion once more?
Lastly the X factor for both teams will be the return game, if I am Seattle, Devon Hester doesn’t see a ball unless Cutler throws it to him. Leon Washington garners similar respect. In the playoffs you make offenses earn their points, do not allow the game to fall into the hands of your special teams on a return.
While one conference is selling wolf tickets, the other is hoping to sneak up on their opponent in silence. If fired at sometimes it can be hard to hold your peace, even in such an emotional situation as this, but sometimes it’s best not to write a check your @#$ can’t cash.
Oh I’m sure the depositor believes he can cash it, but having to eat crow on the largest of stages can be humiliating, sometimes it’s best to just line up and play and let the chips fall where they may. Those who have to eat crow, always wind up with pie on their face.