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Wild Card Weekend Game Recaps


Remember the 2016 playoffs? That strange stretch of time last year where people said things like "you don't need a quarterback" and "an elite defense will get you there if you have even a decent RB?"

It seems like so long ago, especially after 2017's wild card weekend. Look at the quarterbacks who advanced.

Aaron Rodgers - Super Bowl champion, regular season MVP

Russell Wilson - Super Bowl champion, came one boneheaded playcall away from having a "2x" in front of that phrase

Ben Roethlisberger - 2x Super Bowl champion

Brock Osweiler - One of these things is not like the others, one of these things played Connor Cook

It was an emphatic return to "if you don't have a QB, start crying" form for the NFL, wherein the average margin of victory was something like 19 points. And with Tom Brady, Matt Ryan, and rookie star Dak Prescott still waiting in the wings, quarterback play will be critical in the divisional round. But before we look ahead to the divisional, let's look back at the results of this weekend's games.

 

Wild Card Weekend - What Just Happened

Houston Texans 27, Oakland Raiders 14

Questions abounded before this game - Would the Raiders be able to rely on someone not named Derek Carr apparently Matt McGloin Connor Cook, for real, dude was like a fourth round draft pick? Would Brock Osweiler finally stop metaphorically crapping his pants on the football field?  Would that be because he started literally crapping his pants on the football field?  Was it true that Texans' GM Rick Smith forced head coach Bill O'Brien to start Osweiler?  Is this the worst playoff quarterback matchup in recent memory?  Is it the worst playoff QB matchup, stretching back to antiquity?  Why, dear sweet merciful God, why?

Well, in order: no, no, sadly no, who knows, definitely, quite possibly, and because sometimes bad things happen to good people.

Cook threw three picks against the Texans' defense, one on an athletic deflection/second deflection/catch combo by Jadeveon Clowney on an ill-advised screen.  The Raiders' rushing attack didn't fare much better, mounting only 64 yards on 21 carries.  Ultimately, it was a disappointing showing in the Silver and Black's first return to the playoffs since 2002, but with star QB Derek Carr still recovering from the broken fibula he suffered in week 16, it is an understandable one.

However, that doesn't diminish what Houston accomplished this week.  The defense played impressively, keeping Cook to 161 yards passing on 45 attempts, and stonewalling the Raiders' RBs.  The offense did its part, and while it was no 600-yard fireworks display, they managed to put points on the board and avoid turnovers en route to a comfortable win.  Houston will advance to get eviscerated by play against the Patriots in the divisional round.

 

Seattle Seahawks 26, Detroit Lions 6

Hey, Seattle remembered how to offense this week!  The Seahawks reminded everyone how scary they can be when their offense gets rolling, putting a 20-point beatdown on a very good Lions team (albeit one that has suffered after the injured finger Matt Stafford sustained during the regular season).  Thomas Rawls dropped 161 yards on Detroit, Russell Wilson had an efficient outing, and Seattle's receivers made some spectacular circus catches during their 26-6 cruise to the divisional round.

This being the Seahawks, however, refereeing controversy arose after Paul Richardson's 2-yard circus TD catch over Lions CB Tavon Wilson - while Wilson was interfering with Richardson's path to the ball, Richardson clearly had a grip on his facemask during the catch but got away with it.  Pretty typical "the refs missed one" stuff, but for some reason I've had to hear more about the referees' incompetence swinging this game than I have any other game that isn't referred to by the phrase "tuck rule."  (Sorry again, Raiders fans.  Please don't stab me to death.)  Which would be all well and good if the Lions didn't lose by three possessions.  Look, I get it - the Seahawks' fan base has been ever more insufferable year by year as their parents extend their bedtimes past 9 o'clock, but the refs did not spot them 20 points.  The Seahawks advance comfortably to face the Falcons in Atlanta.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Miami Dolphins 12

The Steelers made us all remember why we should be very very scared of them these playoffs.  With Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown healthy, and Ben Roethlisberger "healthy," the Steelers' offense scored quickly and scored often during their 30-point fireworks show.  Antonio Brown scored his first career postseason touchdown in the first quarter on a 50-yard screen pass, and then proceeded to score his second postseason touchdown in the first quarter on a 67-yard catch-and-run in which he made the Miami Dolphins' secondary look less like "insanely athletic human beings who are paid millions to prevent wide receivers from doing whatever they want on the football field" and more like "rubber-legged and noodle-armed tackling dummies thrown on the field for peanuts to make wide receivers look cool."  It worked, by the way.

After the first quarter, Antonio apparently decided he'd hogged enough of the spotlight and graciously allowed Le'Veon Bell to rush for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns of his own.  The Steelers' offense fired on all cylinders, moved up and down the field at will, made it look easy, and any other sports cliché we use when we're feeling too polite to say "clowned on some fools."

Also, during the course of the game, Bud Dupree hit Matt Moore so hard that somewhere, somewhen, Matt Moore's firstborn son started screaming as he watched himself fade from existence.  Moore was hit with the sort of violent impact usually reserved for ICBMs.  Dupree visited such devastation on Moore that whiplash got an erection.  Impressively, though, once Moore peeled himself out of the Matt-Moore-shaped crater he'd left in the turf, he passed the concussion protocol and returned to the game.  Big ups to him, although usually the only people who can survive nuclear detonations and pop right back up are Ghouls.  Someone check at Bethesda to make sure they haven't made Fallout a real thing.

 

Green Bay Packers 38, New York Giants 13

This was quite honestly the most surprising result of the weekend.  The Giants' defense had shut down the Cowboys' rolling Death Star juggernaut offense mere weeks ago, and the whispers of "3li" and the Giants' 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl runs starting in the Wild Card started gaining traction.  In a playoff field where every team is beset by some sort of glaring question mark, the time seemed ripe for another magical Giants run and subsequent Patriots dream-murdering.

Then Winning Streak Aaron Rodgers showed up, dropped yet another Hail Mary TD, and told all those whispers exactly where they could suck it.  (His dick.)  Rodgers threw for 362 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Giants, and that was after Jordy Nelson left the game with a rib injury.  Also, the Packers almost spotted the Giants an entire half of scoreless football - they were down 6-0 until the 2:30 mark in the second quarter.  Of course, Aaron Rodgers being Aaron Rodgers, the first touchdown the Packers scored came after Rodgers spent roughly one Lord of the Rings movie evading pass rushers, only to casually throw a perfectly accurate cross-body touchdown pass on the run to Davante Adams, because we all forgot Aaron Rodgers is not a human person because human people cannot do things like that.  You could suspend a mother's child over a pit of molten lava, play the highlight reel for her, and say "do that or the baby gets dropped," and she still wouldn't be able to do it.  She would lift cars or fight lions to the death, but there are just some hard limits to what the human body can accomplish.

Then, of course, Aaron Rodgers threw a Hail Mary with time expiring to give the Packers a 14-6 halftime lead because he knows everything I just typed is true, but he wants to make sure everyone knows.  The Giants did manage to score a TD in the third to make it a one-point game, but that only served to amuse Rodgers 2.0, and he then rattled off 24 unanswered points to set up a rematch against the Cowboys next week, and to prompt Odell Beckham Jr. to take up interior decorating.