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4 DOWNS: THOUGHTS ON WILD CARD SUNDAY

Saturday was wild but Sunday proved to be even better as the Seahawks won improbably and the Packers took a half off before deciding to play football. Here are four thoughts from Sunday’s games.

1ST DOWN – BLAIR WALSH HAS TO MAKE THAT KICK!

On the brink of their first playoff win since 2009, Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard chip shot that would have given the Vikings a 12-10 win over the 2-time defending NFC champions and sent Minnesota to Arizona in the divisional round. It’s weird to say that Brett Favre was the QB the last time the Vikings won a playoff game, but that is where we are. Walsh pushed the kick left to the amazement of everyone in the world! Up to that point, Walsh had not missed a field goal since the end of November and had been perfect in FGs of 20-29 yards. Barring some miracle kick off return, the Seahawks were done, but divine intervention interfered and once again the Vikings are going home. Walsh’s missed field goal was the most stunning moment of the playoffs so far.

2ND DOWN – SEATTLE HAS TO GET THE OFFENSE SETTLED

Seattle’s offense boiled down to a couple of lucky offensive players. Doug Baldwin’s 1-handed catch in the middle of the field was amazing & it kept a Seattle drive going that looked stuck in the muck yet again. The other offensive play was the Russell Wilson missed snap that Wilson turned into a 35-yard reception to Tyler Lockett that set up Seattle’s only TD of the game which was the ONLY TD in the game by either team! What definitely stood out was that Russell Wilson was off his A-game by a mile and if not for his transcendent poise on the missed snap, the Vikings may never need Blair Walsh to kick that final FG & the Vikings would be moving on. Marshawn Lynch might have had something to do with the sluggish offense. Taking 1st team reps all week, Lynch informed the Seahawks he couldn’t play the day Seattle left for Minnesota. That put Seattle & backup RB Christine Michael in a bad spot. Michael still ran the ball fairly well against Minnesota, but the Seattle offense was clearly off & Lynch potentially could have alleviated some of that by informing team officials earlier that he was unable to play. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Lynch this week & if he plays against the Panthers. The Seahawks definitely need him out there. I hope we see him.

3RD DOWN – IS TEDDY BRIDGEWATER THE GUY?

A lot of twitter chatter during the game wondering if Bridgewater is a playoff caliber QB. Bridgewater has been a pretty good game manager so far in his 2 years in Minnesota & maybe there is more there than what we are seeing given that the Vikings are limited with the receiving weapons. Stefon Diggs looks like a HUGE STEAL from the 2015 NFL Draft, but the Vikings are in definite need of another WR to go with Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph. Minnesota will be an interesting test to see what came first, the chicken or the egg? Mike Zimmer is a Super Bowl coach just waiting to happen. You can see it. If the Vikings get another wideout then Minnesota will be dangerous with Diggs, Rudolph and the running game. I think Jurick McKinnon is a BEAST and the Viking are more than set at RB with McKinnon & Adrian Peterson. What’s interesting is that in all of this Bridgewater might be the weak link but with everything so good & in place, Minnesota could A LOT of games. Bridgewater will take credit as the QB, but the Vikings are a good case study in having an average QB with excellence all around him. It’ll be fun to watch because the Vikings aren’t going anywhere.

4TH DOWN – REDSKINS ARE GOING TO BE AROUND FOR AWHILE

The loss to Green Bay at home seems awful on the day after the game, but if you look at Washington as a whole, you see a team that is on the rise. Jay Gruden & the Redskins were 4-12 last season with a QB situation in complete disarray. Gruden went with Kirk Cousins at the beginning of the season and the result was a 5-game improvement in the win column along with a NFC East championship & a playoff appearance. That’s a massive turnaround. Washington was certainly exposed against Green Bay. Their O-Line is terrible, they didn’t react well to Green Bay’s hurry up offense, and Washington definitely needs a better running attack, but Cousins can play. With the NFC East going through a lot of turmoil with their coaching staffs and Dallas being Dallas, the Redskins have a lot of opportunity here. They need to extend Cousins for sure, but the offense is pretty much coming back in tact & the defense can get better too. Sure the Redskins wore down yesterday. Yes the 6-2 record in the 2nd half of the season was buttressed by quite a few wins over bad teams, but I saw a team on the rise, but like you saw with Minnesota. Sure the Redskins & Vikings walked away losers yesterday & that’s unfortunate, but their fans should be absolutely giddy about their prospects going forward.

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January 11, 2016 - Posted by | 4 Downs, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, NFL, Playoffs, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Redskins, Wild Card

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