Saturday, January 26, 2008

January 7th: Wild Card Round

Some thoughts on the NFL playoffs:

Before we get to the NFC games, I’d like to make a comment about the other Saturday game. I don’t know how many of you tuned into Jags/Steelers. If you did, though, you saw a team that would never had won that game a year ago come to Heinz Field and win. What was the difference?

David Garrard.

Would Byron Leftwich ever have made that great run at the end of the last Jaguars possession to get the Jags into field goal position? Absolutely not. Byron Leftwich would probably still be running, and in the meantime, his ligaments would have shredded, and his arm would be hanging by a piece of flesh. But he has great leadership skills!

So, on to the NFC games: I guess Eli Manning has arrived. We were all waiting for him to make the leap. It seems he finally has. I’m just as surprised as the next guy.

I really don’t think Eli is going to live up to his brother. Eli’s lowest passer rating for a season has been 55.4. Peyton’s worst was in his rookie year, when he posted a 71.2. It’s been stratospheric ever since, with, of course, the 2004 season there, with it’s NFL-record 121.1 rating.

It is still nice to see another good quarterback in the NFC, for a simple reason. The more good quarterbacks there are, the better every other team gets.

Consider what a baseball GM said this past offseason. His unspecified NL team was close to making a deal this past offseason, but the deal fell through. His reason was simple. He was basically quoted as saying, “Why? Our team can win the division without any major improvements. Why bother?”

The AFC has had to keep pace with the Patriots and Colts since 2000. Those teams have been so dominant that if you have only a half-decent team, you’re done. Don’t believe me? The Ravens would have been a playoff team in the NFC, easy. In the AFC? They were 3-13.

In the NFC, you can mostly get away with an OK team. The Eagles were bad, and they posted an 8-8 record. The Cardinals looked okay, and they were running light at QB all year. The Vikings, with no quarterback, almost made it to the playoffs. There’s no way any of those teams would have competed in the NFC.

So, in other words, the more consistently good teams there are in the NFC, the better the rest of the conference has to be. If Eli Manning plays well, the Giants are better. The better the Giants are, the better the Packers have to be. The better the Packers have to be, the better players they go out and get, the better coach you have, and the better they play in crunch time. Simple as that.


Speaking of the Seahawks, I’m really hoping that Matt Hasselbeck does the coin toss again for the Packers. I mean, he wants the ball, and they’re going to win, right?

This, at long last, is playoff football. Win or go home. Here’s where we see how good of a coach is Mike McCarthy. Is he a Marty Schottenheimer-type, that can only get you to the playoffs, but can’t get you the elusive ring? Or is he the real deal? I’m psyched to find out.


What more can I say about the Bucks? They seem listless. They just beat the Bobcats, but who hasn’t beaten the Bobcats?

If the Bucks don’t do that great this year, though, I don’t think Coach Krystiak (remember, he middle letters have been revoked) should go, nor Larry Harris. Harris went against the grain and picked a contender for Rookie of the Year, while delivering an international star to Milwaukee. Krystiak needs time to implement his system, whatever it may be. He’s supposed to be a good coach.

However, I reserve the right to change my mind if they continue collapsing throughout the season.

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