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2013 NFL Wild Card Games!

The theme this weekend will be the weather. Outside of Indianapolis which should have Lucas Oil closed up, the weather will play significant roles. Consider the temperatures in each city at the time of the game:

Indianapolis: 70F (Lucas Oil will be closed; temp in Indy would match KC at 34F)
Kansas City: 34F

Philadelphia: 24F
New Orleans: 70F (Saints would play in the Superdome)

Cincinnati: 37F (snow expected)
San Diego: 72F

Green Bay: -2F (snow expected)
San Francisco: 63F

As you can see, homefield would make quite a difference in this week’s playoff games. Even with the weather, there is a lot to be excited about. The weather adds a HUGE amount of excitement to the games, but each game has significant storylines that make them all intriguing. The best part too is that it really does seem like each team going in has a chance to win & not just this week’s wild card games. You can make cases for each team to win a divisional game or even a conference championship game! I’m not sure Indianapolis, Kansas City or San Diego can get to a Super Bowl but the other 5 teams playing this week certainly could. Should be an amazing Wild Card weekend.

ROAD WHY IT IS MUST SEE! HOME
In case you were wondering, the Colts & Chiefs have met in the playoffs 3 times before with the Colts winning each contest. The first battle came back in 1995 when Jim Harbaugh, a.k.a Captain Comeback, led the Colts to a 10-7 win in Kansas City in the divisional round. The next game was another divisional game in Kansas City in 2003 where Peyton Manning guided the Colts to a 38-31 win. The most recent was in 2006 when the Colts hosted the Chiefs in the Wild Card round & beat them 23-8. The Colts would go on to win the Super Bowl! Oddly enough this is the one playoff game that weather shouldn’t play a factor as the snow in Indianapolis isn’t supposed to hit until Sunday & Lucas Oil will simply shut the roof to keep the cold temperatures at bay. As for the game itself, I’m not sure what to think as both teams haven’t shown themselves to be particularly dominant. The Chiefs are 2-5 in their last 7 games & 1-5 against current playoff teams. They are the epitome of a team that took advantage of scheduling quirks to improve from one year to the next. The defense is also going through a massive slump. In their first 9 games the KC defense allowed 12.3PPG. In their last 7 that number has increased to 27.7PPG! The Colts are dealing with the sames issues in a different way. Since Reggie Wayne went down, the Colts offense has struggled. They averaged 26.9PPG with Wayne & 22.7PPG without him. With Wayne Indy has beaten teams like Seattle, San Francisco & Denver. Without Wayne the Colts haven’t beaten a good team unless you count the win in Kansas City! I’m wary of good teams beating other good teams multiple times in a season so I think KC has the edge here. Vegas has the line as pick ’em! Should be a close one!
No crazy rivalry here but the teams have met a couple of times in the postseason before this year. Back in 1992 Randall Cunningham came into New Orleans and beat the 12-4 Saints 36-20 in one of the most amazing comebacks in NFL playoff history. Heading into the 4th quarter, the Saints were up 20-10 but Philadelphia scored 26 unanswered which included a Reggie White safety, a couple of Bobby Herbert picks with one going for a TD and a FG. The Eagles would go on to lose to the Cowboys 34-10 but what a game in NOLA! The other time was in 2006 in New Orleans as the Saints won 27-24 before losing to the Bears in the NFC Championship game. One thing that sticks out to me about this game is how the Saints have played on defense in the 5 games they lost on the road. In those games the Saints allowed 27.7PPG. In their other 11 games, the Saints have allowed 15.5PPG. DC Rob Ryan has done an excellent job in remaking the Saints defense into one of the better units in the NFL. That should actually help with the weather although even that is up for debate as the Eagles managed to score 34 in a blizzard against Detroit earlier in the year! Another key factor here is Drew Brees. Brees by all accounts is an excellent QB but there are some telling stats about him. He’s only 7-games over .500 on the road compared to 27-games over at home. For his career his 28-26 in Dec/Jan games, and most importantly Brees as never won a playoff game on the road! If there was a way to attack Philly it might be their defense but in their last 12 games Philly has allowed just 20.3PPG which includes the 48 given up to the Vikings. Given Brees’ struggles on the road in cold weather & a stiff Eagles defense, Philly has an edge & Vegas has them as 2.5point favorites.
The two teams have met just one time before, way back in 1981 when Cincinnati hosted the Chargers in the AFC Conference game & beat San Diego 27-7 behind Ken Anderson’s 2TD passes. The Chargers committed 4 turnovers including two picks thrown by Dan Fouts which pretty much thwarted their efforts for a chance to lose to Joe Montana & the 49ers in the Super Bowl! I think the Bengals are a real sleeper team here in the playoffs. The 11-5 record doesn’t look fantastic, but Cincinnati has a “best” care record of 15-1. When they were 6-2, they had a real shot to rip through their remaining schedule & really contend with Denver for the #1 overall seed. Instead they lost back-to-back road OT games to the Dolphins & Ravens which had people wondering if they could hold onto the division! Sometimes teams are just unlucky in those games. Cincinnati also sports a 4-0 record against current playoff teams & is 8-0 at home. The defense is a load even without Geno Atkins. In the 9 games Atkins suited up, Cincy gave up 18.4PPG. In the 7 games Atkins has missed, Cincy has given up 19.9PPG. Slightly worse but insignificant. There is obviously a lot of momentum for Cincinnati heading into this game. On the other hand, it’s impossible discount the Chargers. Winners of 4 straight & 5 of their last 6, EVERYTHING had to break right for San Diego to get into the playoffs so who is to say that luck won’t keep? Cincy has a great defense but San Diego faced 3 top 10 defenses according to DVOA & they won all 3. Vegas has the Bengals by 6.5 which makes sense & I think the Bengals are too strong at home although I love what Mike McCoy is doing with Chargers. San Diego might not have enough defense yet & the Bengals biggest mistake will probably be not securing homefield advantage throughout the playoffs!
If you are looking for historical rivalries this weekend then look no further. The final game of the weekend put two of the most storied rivals in NFL history against one another in what should be the best Wild Card game of the weekend. These two teams have met in the playoffs 6 previous times including 4 straight years from 1995-1998! These were the Brett Favre v. Steve Young wars with Favre winning 3 of the 4. Steve Young was actually at the height of his career having won his only Super Bowl in 1994 but the upstart Favre would show there was a new king in the NFC. The Packers would beat SF in 1995 before losing to Dallas. In 1996 the Packers beat SF in the NFC title game before winning Favre’s only Super Bowl. The Pack would win again in 1997 but SF would win on a late 4th QB pass from Young to Terrell Owens in 1998. The Packers won again in 2001 when Favre beat Jeff Garcia 25-15 in the wild card. The 49ers sort of fell off the map for awhile but now they are back there is a legitimate chance that the Favre/Young battles of the mid to late 1990s could turn into the Rdogers/Kaepernick battles of the mid 2010s! It started last year with SF’s 45-31 win in the divisional round! The Packers are 2-0 at home in the playoffs against SF & this year the weather could make this the coldest playoff game ever! That works in Green Bay’s favor but at some point the cold is so bad it hurts both teams! Vegas has SF by 2.5 which I think makes sense. No team is hotter than San Francisco right now. They’ve won 6 straight & are 11-2 in their last 13! The team is healthy & the defense is playing at a nasty level. By all accounts the 12-4 49ers shouldn’t have an issue with an 8-7-1 Packers team that essentially back doored their way into the playoffs but Aaron Rodgers is the wild card here along with the weather. Is that enough to keep Green Bay’s season alive & add to the legend of Aaron Rodgers?
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January 4, 2014 - Posted by | Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Playoffs, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Wild Card

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