Random Thoughts From NFL Divisional Round

17 Jan

After taking a full day to fully absorb this weekend’s action (and fully recoup from the debauchery of yesterday/last night), a few things have become apparent. First of all, big thanks to all that have followed the live blogging, both this weekend and last. It’s been really fun drinking and being able to write about the greatest sport on earth for kicks, with no censors and nobody looking over your shoulder. Like I mentioned before, we will continuously post throughout the week as well (which we…uhhh…forgot to do last week). So without any further ado, here are my quick hits from the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs:

–   Don’t look now folks, but the Patriots might have lost their swag. For good. And we might be witnessing a shift of power in the AFC. As Tom Brady (and Peyton Manning for that matter) keeps getting older, his window continues to shrink. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not to say the Patriots won’t be competitive, but I don’t expect the type of dominance they exhibited throughout the better part of the 2000s. This one loss against the Jets might have been the clincher. To combat the Jets outspoken nature and aggressive shit-talking, the Pats opted for the snarky and snide remarks courtesy of Wes Welker and Tom Brady, as if they were above it all. This has always been their m.o. They don’t start anything and then they come out and let their play on the field do the talking. Everyone, myself included, expected this to happen Sunday evening. It didn’t. It started with the David Harris interception off a TERRIBLE throw by Brady, and the Jets never let up. The Patriots were out-coached, out-played, out-hustled. And kudos to the Jets and their coaching staff. You won’t hear me say many nice things about them, but it’s hard not to after the performance yesterday. I have a gut feeling that this loss will not only linger in the Patriots minds all offseason, but will do some irreparable damage to the “dynasty” they’ve created. Losing to a rival in the playoffs could do that to you. Did I mention they’ve lost their last three playoff games? Hmmmmm

–   Taking the first point a step further, if you look at the final four teams left, they all have one thing in common: they can apply pressure on the QB. Really fucking well too. The two best examples of this are the Steelers and Packers, who utilize the 3-4 to perfection with masterful play at the OLB position. The Jets also play an aggressive defense that is predicated on making the opposing QB uncomfortable with different looks, and the Bears acquired Julius Peppers in the offseason with the hopes he could have the impact that he did against the Seahawks, a game in which he controlled the line of scrimmage all game long. It’s no coincidence that the Colts, Patriots, and Saints were all sent home early while these four teams march along. Which brings me to my next point: we might be exiting the era of the QB’s and entering into an era in which defenses are dominant. Counter-intuitive I know considering all the rule changes that favor the offense, but if you look at the teams that are in the upper echelon (Steelers, Ravens, Jets I guess, Packers) and teams that are on the rise (Bucs, Chiefs, Lions, Rams), they either have or are putting together very solid defenses. Of course, it helps when you have players on the other side of the ball like Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers, but the championship matchups show us that you can go far with an elite defense. Just ask the 2000 Ravens.

–   Speaking of quarterbacks, I feel as if one of the most important revelations of the shitshow I partook in after the games yesterday was the consensus that we came up with as to who are the top QB’s in the league. The question arose as we debated where to put Big Ben. It’s hard to put him in the ‘elite’ category, but it became apparent to us after discussing, he has to be in the top five. Especially after another magnificent performance Saturday night against the Ravens. In fact, these playoffs  I think cemented the top five, as we all agreed upon last night:

5. Big Ben – 9-2 record in the playoffs? Are you kidding me? The thing that sticks out about Ben is not that stats or even the success in the playoffs, but that he’s a warrior. How many times has the Pittsburgh O-line left Terrell Suggs or any other player completely by untouched into the backfield, and Ben tosses them off his back, scrambles around, and finds an open receiver? You gotta feel confident if Big Ben is your QB even if he does look like he’d be better served playing some beer pong and listening to O.A.R. Edges out Vick and Rivers and it really isn’t that close.

4. Drew Brees – Even with a joke of a running game for the better portion of this season, was able to get the Saints into the playoffs singlehandedly pretty much. Top three in accuracy and loves to spread the ball around, he’s become the face of the Saints rejuvenation. This year didn’t end up the way he would’ve liked, but he’s done a masterful job all season long.

3. Aaron Rodgers – This was his year. When I think back on the football season, the emergence of Aaron Rodgers and his leap into this category is what sticks with me. Considering the injuries that team has sustained, he’s put that team on his back (pun intended) and has turned them into favorites to represent the NFC in the big game. Anyone who doubted his skills should not look further than Saturday’s game against the Falcons, in which he set the playoff completion percentage record after going 31 for 36. And his scrambling abilities are probably behind only Vick and Big Ben. Possibly the most complete QB in the league. If you’re a Packers fan, you can’t ask for anyone better to replace The Old Dongslinger.

1A and 1B – Peyton Manning and Tom Brady – Bit of a cop out here, but I’d probably give the edge to Manning. But you can debate this one to death.

The other revelation I had last night was my brain is akin to an old catcher’s mitt. Years of abuse has weathered it, but it still remains dependable and durable. Pretty solid night.

–   The Marshawn Lynch Run will almost be quickly forgotten in a few years, especially considering the way this weekend went. If the Seahawks would’ve pulled off the upset in Chicago, it would’ve set up a showdown against Green Bay in the NFC Championship game…in Seattle. And we’d still be talking about those pesky Seahawks. Instead, the Seahawks are just another team that was not able to achieve the ultimate goal. Except now, they have a lower draft pick and higher expectations for next year (if we do have a football next year). I expect the Seahawks to have a disappointing year next year and the Lynch Run will be an isolated moment in time. And those don’t tend to stand the test of time.

–   Are there two better rivalries right now than the Steelers-Ravens and Jets-Patriots? Two unbe-fucking-lievable games.

–   I had never been a fan of his until this year, but now that I am, I’m one of his biggest supporters and am proud to say it: I absolutely love Peter King. Shit, it looks even weirder when I type it. But I find his takes on the league refreshing and I constantly find myself reading his tweets, no matter how useless they may seem. He’s also a beer connoisseur, which I fully advocate. I dunno, maybe this means I’m getting old and boring, liking Peter King and all. But let the record show, his Super Bowl prediction before the season: Steelers and Packers. Sure, he also predicted the Panthers to take the NFC South, but you can’t win ’em all (for the record, I am now 6-2 with my playoff picks).

–   Best moment of the playoffs so far

–   Early prediction for this upcoming weekend: Steelers and Packers take it, although the Jets have this look and I had this feeling about them dating back to their string of miracle wins. But for now, I’ll stick with the Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Official predictions will come later this week. I will say this, as a football fan you can’t ask much more than Steelers-Jets and Packers-Bears. Championship Sunday is always one of my favorite days of the year, and I’m sure this year won’t disappoint.

Bonus Random Thoughts

This new season of Jersey Shore is incredibly mediocre so far. Possible, actually it’s probable, that this show has jumped the shark. I blame the masses. This was a much better show when it first came out and the only ones who followed it were select groups of college stoners (i.e. me and my friends) who had nowhere to be Thursday nights.

Congratulations to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for winning the Golden Globe for the Social Network score. I can’t fully begin to explain the amount of respect I have for him as an artist and the job he did with this movie was unreal. One of my favorite movies of the year and probably David Fincher’s most consistent film

–   As always, keep us bookmarked as we continue to update and get this thing off the ground. I promise we won’t disappoint. It’s a work in progress and I can’t wait to see this blog take shape.

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