Not the usual GBU, granted. So in that vein I will offer musings and observations vice an actual Good, Bad and Ugly. I only got to see three out of the four games. Missed out on the Giants-Falcons, but apparently there wasn’t much to see in that game.
The Lions defense just tired out. It was like they hit a wall at the sixty play mark. Once New Orleans ToP got to 32, 33 minutes, the Lions defense were toast –had nothing left in the tank. And when your best running play, when you absolutely positively have to have it, is a naked QB bootleg, that speaks volumes about how one-dimensional you are. And while you may be a playoff team, you have been doing it with smoke and mirrors. New Orleans played phenomenal offensive football in the second half when it mattered the most, and as much as that contributed, Detroit was also exposed as a one-dimensional team which also contributed to their downfall.
Cincy is a young team and it showed. They had their opportunities, but one lesson all young teams must learn is that when the ball doesn’t bounce your way, you have to fight through that and persevere. They didn’t. In fact, as an outsider, it almost appeared they gave up at the end. I think once they learn that you have to dig deeper than you thought you could possibly dig, they will win those games. And they have some obvious holes they need to fill. But with the two (frickin’ zombie Al Davis…) first round picks, the Bengals will have plenty of silly putty to fix some of those holes. I would be shocked if Cincy goes 0 – 4 against P-burgh and Baltimore next year again. I would not be surprised in the least bit if they at least split those four games and they may even sneak a third win out of the four next year.
The two Johnsons are just on another planet right now. They are both playing lights out and standing on their heads for their respective offenses. Where the heck was Calvin Johnson hatched? Because he was not born a mere mortal man. I do not relish the thought of “Dre” shagging fly balls down at M&T on Sunday. For a man his size, he runs some of the best routes of any WR, not just big men. Pacman is still looking for his shorts… And Calvin; it is almost unfair. Both Stafford and Yates, when in doubt, just chuck it up as high and as far as possible. Calvin will out jump/muscle/mere presence his way to the ball –with three(-!) defenders hanging in him. And Andre will make the best adjustments and has not a sixth but a seventh gear to get to the ball –with size to spare. Even with Yates throwing, AJ is still to be feared.
Unless Flacco lays an egg on Sunday, can we put some separation between “Matty Ice” (sounds like a Brady nickname) and Joe? Yes, their personal stats are pretty close, with Ryan having a slight edge. But when it matters the most, Joe has delivered far more than Matt and that is in the playoffs. O-fer now? Where are the calls for Ryan to be replaced? Jeez, if Flacco had gone O-fer in the playoffs, the torches and pitchforks outside The Castle really would make it look like a Frankenstein reenactment.
Finally, Tebow. It is almost heretic to say anything else. Suggs said (tweeted) it best: “I’m shocked”. The scary part is, at first it was just Tebow who believed. Now that whole frickin’ team believes… Sometimes faith and luck and belief that somehow you are destined for greater things can overcome a whole lot. With the Broncos, are they this year’s example of is it better to be lucky or good? Lucky in the sense that they caught a Steeler team that was about as banged up as a team can be, and still be able to board a plane for a road game. I would *love* to get a bit of the drug cocktail that they shot Ben up with, as at times he moved like… Tim Tebow-! (hope that wasn’t thunder I just heard…). Lucky in that even though they lost their last three games, they somehow get a home playoff game.
With Tebow, something didn’t square right with me. He won two national championships –no small feat, which means at times he actually had to pass the ball like a real quarterback. And he gets to the NFL and he is basically reduced to a side-show gimmick? I smelled a rat. Either this guy is one of the biggest first round busts in the history of the NFL or they aren’t comfortable with him sleeping through the night without a diaper on. Even Elway had had enough and chastised Tebow (and the coaching staff indirectly) by chiding him to let ‘er rip more often. And boy did Tebow and the Broncos do just that. The first quarter was about as bad as bad can be. It was almost as if Denver was lulling Pittsburgh asleep and then Tebow started to uncork it. There were some ugly young quarterback passes, but he also made some serious deep money throws –give him the quarterbacking credit he deserves, at least for one playoff game.
And now the Divisional round. TV executives just, umm, wet their pants with matchups for this weekend. Cincy and Atlanta (two NFL teams in BCS parlance who “don’t travel well”) are out; and Detroit is barely out of the grave in terms of shedding its moniker of futility. So three TV audience duds are out.
On the NFC side you got the #1 media market traveling to the Frozen Tundra. Should be a good game and probably closer than people think. Eli is playing the best ball of his career. Almost as if he trying to play for himself and his absent brother, at the same time. And you have arguably the best offense at arguably at the best defense so that game will draw heavy amongst the football purists. That, and San Fran is a large TV market and of course New Orleans is just a compelling story for many reasons which always draws well with third party viewers.
On the AFC side you have the Big, Bad Ravens hosting the “first trip to the dance” Texans. Texans will want to try to match the Ravens blow for blow and even though the Texans are from the AFC South, this game has the hallmarks of being a more traditional AFC North-type matchup: bruising, won in the trenches, blood on the jersey kind of game. The kind of game you put the women and children to bed because you don’t want them to bear witness to something that might harm their tender sensibilities. A Raven-Steeler game if you will. If I remember correctly, Schaub looked like he had aged about five years during the last time the Texans played the Ravens. Cannot imagine what we have in store for young TJ Yates.
And that brings us to the matchup that had all of Madison Avenue doing high-fives: a rematch of “The Chosen One” vs. “The Golden Boy”. The most non-statistical compelling story, playing at a big TV market that has a large national following; the pious plucky QB against the Star Quarterback who married the Supermodel. You can’t make this stuff up. The hype for this will suck all the oxygen out of the room for everything else. It is going to be treated like a SuperBowl. And the Broncos are just oblivious enough to pull off the unthinkable- knock off the Patriots on their home turf. I am not predicting an upset, yet, but crazier have happened already; this year even.