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simon

NFL divisional round was deceiving



Don't be fooled by what you saw in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs this past weekend.  The quarterback play was rather pedestrian.  The four winning quarterbacks combined to complete 62 of 107 passes for a not so impressive 57.9%.  They averaged a mere 181 passing yards with Peyton Manning's 230 yards being the best of the group.  The quartet accounted for only three touchdown passes.

 

That shouldn't make you believe anything other than quarterback being the most critical position on the field.  If you want to make the playoffs and have success in the post season, you need a top level signal caller.  Take a look at those four winning quarterbacks who are still alive.  Its almost like you have the "legends" bracket on one side and the "young guns" on the other. 

 

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, two of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play in the NFL, will meet in the AFC Championship game.  Two of the top young QB's in the league, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, will be on display in the NFC title game.

 

Despite the fact these four did not put up eye popping numbers this past weekend, their body of work should remind you the Bills remain a quarterback away from returning to the post season.  Whether E.J. Manuel turns out to be the guy who changes that, remains to be seen.

 

Here are some random thoughts from the four playoff games:

* What in the name of "you aren't the Tennessee Titans" was Marques Colston thinking?  Down eight with time running out in Seattle, the Saints wide receiver caught a pass from Drew Brees and easily could have stepped out of bounds inside the Seahawks 40 yard line to stop the clock with six seconds left.  That would have left Brees enough time to try a Hail Mary or whatever else the Saints might have had in mind.  To the amazement of anyone watching, Colston  opted to lateral the ball.  Only he threw it forward.  Penalty. Game over. Season over for the Saints.

 

*On the former Bills watch, Marshawn Lynch was in "beast mode", rushing for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the win over New Orleans.  Donte Whitner, who briefly referred to himself as Donte Hitner earlier this season, got an interception in the 49ers win at Carolina.  And for those of you freaking out about Da'Rick Rogers, making it sound as if the Bills cut a future Hall of Fame lock, he had as many catches as I did in their loss to New England. ZERO!

 

* The games were unbelievably boring.  It would have been hard to top wild card weekend with two games being won on game ending field goals and one game featuring one of the greatest comebacks in NFL playoff history but there was no drama in the divisional round.  The closest thing was the end of the Saints-Seahawks game since New Orleans had the ball with a chance to tie.  But they would have had to go 59 yards in 26 seconds with no timeouts and after getting a touchdown, hit on the two point conversion.

 

*You have to be impressed with the work Jim Harbaugh has done in San Francisco. In each of his first three seasons with the 49ers, they have advanced to the NFC Championship game.  The last time the Niners appeared in three consecutive conference title games was 1992-94 with Hall of Famer Steve Young at quarterback.

 

*I don't want to come off as old, stodgy guy but there was way too much trash talking going on in that Niners-Panthers game.  I'm not a big fan of trash talking to begin with but this was way out of hand.  I'll use a hockey analogy to explain how I feel.  I don't mind the occasional scrum after a whistle during a game but if guys are in each other's face after most of the stoppages, it becomes annoying and tiresome.  That's how I felt watching players from Carolina and San Francisco constantly exchange verbal barbs.  Shut up already and just play the game!

 

*Don't get me wrong, I love Andrew Luck and wish the Bills had a guy like him.  But after throwing just nine interceptions in the regular season, he was picked off seven times in the two playoff games.  In his three career playoff games, Luck has been picked off eight times and fumbled twice. 

 

*Congratulations to New England(it hurts to type that) on making it to the AFC Championship for the eighth time in Tom Brady's magnificent career.  Now let's see how you do in a playoff game away from Foxboro.  Sunday's game in Denver will be the Pats first road playoff game in seven years.  They are 3-2 in road post season games  in the Brady era. 

 

*Since the Patriots last Super Bowl victory, they are 9-7 in the playoffs.  8-5 at home and 1-2 on the road.  Bill Bellichick's defenses have given up 28 or more points in four of their last eight playoff games going back to the 2009 season. 

 

*Since that last Super Bowl win, the Patriots are 8-5 in the playoffs against lower seeded teams and just 1-2 when meeting a higher seed.  New England is the two seed in the AFC and Denver is the top seed.

 


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