NFL Wildcard Playoff Matchups
January 7, 2016
The NFL Playoffs begin this weekend with the wildcard round. Carolina Panthers fans will enjoy their team’s bye as the Panthers are the NFC’s number-one seed after posting a 15-1 regular season record. Carolina will face the lowest remaining seed between #3 Minnesota, #4 Washington, #5 Green Bay, and #6 Seattle.
Here are my picks for this weekend’s games. I will start in the NFC.
I like No. 6 seed Seattle beating No. 3 seed Minnesota in Minnesota. I saw the Seahawks blow the Vikings out, 38-7, just over a month ago and expect a similar result this time around. I seem to recall that Minnesota’s seven points in that game did not even come from it’s offense. Seattle is playing better now than it has all season and it’s quarterback Russell Wilson has put up numbers over the last half of the season that Cam Newton would even enjoy matching.
I will also go with the visitor in the No. 5 Green Bay matchup at No. 4 Washington. Though the Packers have struggled of late, I like their experience over the Redskins. Aaron Rodgers will be the difference as he will be facing the NFL’s 28th-ranked defense. Some say this will be the closest game of the weekend. Not me. Let me throw this “did you know” at you. Did you know that Washington played three teams in 2015 that finished with a winning record. In those three games, the Redskins went 0-3 and were outscored 105-46. The Packers had a winning record.
The close games will come within the AFC games.
I see another home team losing in the No. 5 Kansas City matchup at No. 4 Houston. Due to injuries, the Texans are down to their fourth quarterback of the season in Brandon Weeden who was with Dallas just a few months ago. Kansas City has a top-five defense and Weeden will struggle. This will be the Chiefs first playoff win since 1994.
I am taking another road team in the other AFC matchup. Yes, No. 6 Pittsburgh will edge out No. 3 Cincinnati in Cincinnati. These are the same Bengals that are 0-6 in their last six playoff games since 2005. And the Steelers have the best two players on the field in QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown.
NFL Kickers Struggling (at times) with the PAT
I have to wonder if placekickers in the NFL like the new rule of extra point attempts now being 33 yards.
According to the NFL, placekickers missed 71 PATs this season, compared to 37 of their last 6,153 kicks between 2010 and 2014.
It certainly has made what used to be the most boring play in football different. The league wanted to add some drama to what had become one of the most automatic plays in all of sports. It is obviously working.
After touchdowns, those of us watching at home made a kitchen or bathroom run. Or we channel surfed. Not so much anymore. Especially in Jacksonville where kicker Jason Myers has missed seven extra points this season. Seattle fans likely stay in their seats as their kicker, Steven Hauschka, has missed more PAT’s (three) then he has field goals.
The rule change has led to more two-point conversion attempts. Last season, there was 59 tries for two. This season, the league is closing in on 100 attempts for two.
Just in case you are interested, the success rate on two-point attempts this season is identical to last season (47 percent)
Something else to think about now that the playoffs are here.
What Happens In Vegas...
We have always heard that what happens in Vegas usually stays in Vegas. Not for Johnny Manziel.
In case you missed the latest with the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback, he is back in the news for his exploits off the field.
Reports by USA Today and ESPN had Manziel in Vegas last weekend. It is a story because Johnny Football was in concussion protocol and he was supposed to meet with a member of the team’s medical staff on Sunday morning. However, Manziel never showed up.
Then came a Manziel sighting by A USA Today reporter in Las Vegas. Even though Manziel took steps to not be discovered as he was in disguise. According to the ESPN radio affiliate in Las Vegas, Manziel was “wearing a blonde wig, a fake mustache, glasses, and a hoodie” when he went out on Saturday night. Manziel was also allegedly introducing himself as “Billy,” presumably so people wouldn’t know it was him.
Johnny or “Billy” allegedly partied in the VIP-area of a Vegas club until 3 a.m. At the end of the night, Manziel asked the club to comp his drinks because he didn’t want to put the tab on his credit card. When the club turned him down, Manziel ended up putting the tab on his card.
The Browns are reportedly done with Manziel and could potentially get rid of him after they hire a new coach.
More Cleveland Brown News
It has been a tough week for Cleveland Brown football fans. They ended the season 3-13 after losing to Pittsburgh on Sunday. Their quarterback was in Vegas. They fired their coach and general manager on Monday and then hired a baseball man to run team.
Yes, Cleveland hired Paul DePodesta away from the New York Mets. I said “Mets,” not “Jets”
Instead of spending valuable FOCUS space, let me just illustrate the idiocy of this move by listing DePodesta’s career path.
Cleveland Indians: Advance scout (1996-97) and assistant GM (1998)....Oakland Athletics: Assistant GM (1999-2004)....Los Angeles Dodgers: GM (2004-05)....San Diego Padres: Special assistant for baseball operations (2006-08) and executive vice president (2008-10)....New York Mets: Vice president of player development and amateur scouting (2010-15).