Monday, January 09, 2017

NFL Playoffs Division And Conquer

The NFL's playoffs are off and running and already we've had two football diva moments -

First Odell Beckham Jr. is doing nothing but make the case that he is a liability to the NY Giants.   He came up small yet again in a big game - and one cannot remember one time where Beckham ever raised his game even marginally in any kind of big game.   Beckham's sideline and postgame tantrums are getting worse, notably with a reported blowup after his Giants got smoked by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.   

Beckham's marketing endeavor has by now all but surpassed his on-field production and the conclusion one can only draw now is he is not a serious football player, he is a self-marketed brand name irrelevant to winning.
Even worse is Beckham was part of a party cruise several days before the Packers game with several teammates, a sign of a lack of discipline on the part of Giants coaching apart from the awfulness of the Giants' overall performance against the overrated Packers, where they had the Packers manhandled for much of the first half and couldn't score, and couldn't stop Aaron Rodgers from yet more desperation heaves that he keeps getting away with - his overall game more and more is becoming streetball - based on freelancing and overreliance on athleticism and arm strength to get out of situations - rather than the kind of smart quarterbacking that today is personified by Tom Brady.


The second diva moment came when Steelers coaching assistant Joey Porter - a former linebacker with the Steelers - was arrested outside a bar following the game.   Porter's history as a player was one of instigating fights, so getting arrested would seem to be par for the course for a guy who's not worth a damn anymore than Odell Beckham Jr.  


The Steelers' win over the Dolphins was one of several curious revenge bowl games that permeated Wildcard weekend, as the Steelers avenged their earlier slaughter at Miami, while the Houston Texans manhandled the punchless Oakland Raiders - as for the first time a Houston pro football team defeated the Raiders in the playoffs after losses by the Oilers in three such contests - and the Packers got a measure of revenge over the Giants after the two playoff losses (2007 and 2011).  

Divisional round weekend offers more such opportunity.

Falcons over Seahawks -  This is a rematch of 2012's playoff stunner at the Georgia Dome and one recalls this 2012 meeting remains Matt Ryan's only career playoff win.   In Seattle's victory over the Lions, former Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren served as the color analyst on Westwood One's radio call, and it is doubly fitting as the Seahawks enter this game having reverted to the distinguishing characteristic of Holmgren's time as Seahawks coach - poor performance in road games (3-4-1 on the road this year).   The Seahawks even at home against a Lions team that has once and for all shown no ability to beat a quality opponent didn't play all that strongly.     It's a key game for Ryan as he has never proven he can elevate his game when it matters.

In 2015 the Patriots faced JJ Watt - and Watt was invisible.

Patriots over Texans -  The Texans managed the win over the Raiders who didn't have a capable quarterback.   It the short history of the Texans they've won once against the Patriots and the losses to the Patriots have been almost invariably embarrassing.    The Patriots enter this game with the deepest receiving corps they've had in years and the top scoring defense in the league; Houston's defense has also been strong, but Houston's seven losses speaks to that defense not being as good as the numbers might suggest.  

Steelers over Chiefs -  A lot of people are awed by Antonio Brown of the Steelers and in yet another rematch from the regular season the Steelers get a Chiefs team they annihilated in Week Four.   The caveat here is the Chiefs have forced 23 turnovers since then (plus-six in turnover differential over the Steelers in that span) with ten wins in their last twelve games, plus the way the playoffs have gone the home team enters Divisional Round weekend unbeaten.   

Cowboys over Packers   - We mentioned Aaron Rodgers' style of play - streetball, just freelancing and relying on athleticism and arm strength instead of smart quarterbacking.   The Cowboys play smarter football and have already manhandled the Packers in their own building this season.    The match between these two that will get a lot of recall is the Dez Bryant catch in 2014 that was overruled.   Dakota Prescott has shown Russell Wilson-esque calm in tough situations and the result has been Dallas' 13-3 surge.

So we thus await Odell Beckham's next meltdown and Divisional Weekend.

No comments: