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NFL Playoffs Continue

January 14, 2016

The wildcard round of the NFL Playoffs gave us some exciting and controversial games. History was made as all four road teams won (I predicted this last week in these pages). Much was made of how Cincinnati self-destructed late against Pittsburgh. Did this really surprise you? The Bengals have now lost seven consecutive playoff contests. Seattle survived in frigid conditions in Minnesota as Blair Walsh missed a 27-yard field goal as time expired to break the hearts of Vikings fans. The other two games were decided when the fourth quarter began. Green Bay pulled away from Washington and Kansas City won its 11th straight game with its shutout at Houston.

Here is how I see this weekend’s action. Let me start with the Saturday games.

Tom Brady

No. 5 Kansas City (12-5) at No. 2 New England (12-4)....I am going to go totally against conventional wisdom here. Who in their right mind picks against Tom Brady and the Patriots when they are at home? I am basing my decision on two factors. The last time these two teams got together, the Chiefs destroyed the Pats by a 41-14 count. In New England no less. The game was early last season and it truly served as a wake up call for New England as it went on to win the Super Bowl. I also like the fact that Kansas City truly has a defense that can slow the Patriots down. Brady is playing behind an injury-riddled offensive line and will be running for his life against a fierce Chiefs’ pass rush. Question is, can Kansas City find enough offense. I say they do, but it will be close.

No. 5 Green Bay (11-6) at No. 2 Arizona (13-3)....I will go with conventional wisdom here. Back in Week 15, the Cardinals blew out the Packers 38-8. They did so with a devastating defensive effort that harassed Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. In fact, Arizona returned two Rodgers’ fumbles for touchdowns in that game. Prior to last week’s victory, Green Bay had only won four of its last 10 games. The Pack looked terrible against teams with a pass rush and with above-average cornerbacks. The Cardinals have both. Arizona will win by 10 or more points.

Aaron Rodgers

Here are the Sunday games.

No. 6 Seattle (11-6) at No. 1 Carolina (15-1)...I must admit, I have a bad feeling for Carolina in this one. These two teams are almost mirror images of each other. Both have top-five defenses and both have quarterbacks who can be unstoppable at times. They met in week 6 and Carolina pulled out a last minute 27-23 victory in Seattle. It will likely be another close one but Seattle is playing its best football of the season while I feel the Panthers peaked about a month or so ago. The Seahawks should be loose because they know they should be watching the playoffs on TV. I still can’t believe the Vikings missed that 27-yard field goal. Meanwhile, there is always some pressure on the number-one seed playing at home. I see Seattle ruining a storybook season for Carolina.

No. 6 Pittsburgh (11-6) at No. 1 Denver (12-4)...The winner of this game could come down to which quarterback is standing at the end of the game.

Ben Roethlisberger

I find it ironic that even though Peyton Manning’s body has been falling apart for almost six months now, he might not be the most beat-up quarterback in this game. Ben Roethlisberger is dealing with a right shoulder injury that prevented him from throwing any deep passes during the fourth quarter of the Steelers’ win over the Bengals. If Roethlisberger can’t throw deep against the Broncos, I do give the Steelers a chance in this game. The Steelers will also stand no chance if Roethlisberger re-injures his shoulder, which isn’t out of the question because he’s probably going to get hit a lot on Sunday. The Broncos defense led the NFL in sacks in 2015 with 52. If the Steelers were healthy, I would take them. But I cannot take a team who will have a seriously banged-up quarterback who will likely be without wide receiver (Antonio Brown) and running back (DeAngelo Williams).

Clemson Comes Up Short

The National Championship Game on Monday night will go down as a classic.

The top-rated Clemson Tigers came into the contest as a seven-point underdog against an Alabama program that everyone is calling a dynasty. Clemson held its own but came up five points short, falling to the Crimson Tide by a 45-40 count.

The Tigers matched Bama from start to finish. In the end, Clemson lost because of three reasons. It forgot to game plan for Alabama’s O.J. Howard. They lost the special team’s battle and they did not play well with the lead.

O.J. Howard

Let me start with Howard. The Alabama tight end came into the game having not scored a touchdown since 2013. He also had under 400 receiving yards for the season. Howard roamed free at key moments in the game and ended up with five catches for 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Special teams got the Crimson Tide back in the game and helped them keep on top. Alabama recovered a surprise on-side kick in the second half and took a two-possession lead. The Tide also had a kickoff return for a touchdown late to virtually put the game away.

Lastly, the Tigers offense did not play well with the lead. This has actually been a trend for Clemson against good teams as Notre Dame and North Carolina almost rallied to beat the Tigers after falling behind early.

Deshaun Watson

It happened again on Monday. Three times in the game, Clemson got possession of the ball when it had the lead. The results of those drives made things difficult later. The three drives totaled 12 plays and 22 yards while netting no points.

In contrast, here are the numbers from the six drives Clemson had when it was trailing. They also scored on each of these possessions for 33 total points.

Apparently, this team thrived on urgency.

Special teams and developing consistency on offense. Two items for the Tigers to work on for next season. And next season could be as special as this one as quarterback Deshaun Watson will be returning with a several key returnees. Experts actually spoke of next year being Clemson’s year. Watson will be the Heisman Trophy favorite as he became the first player in FBS history with 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards. The title game was a coming out party for Watson as he finished with 405 passing yards and four touchdowns against the best defense in the nation.















NFL Wildcard Playoff Matchups

Panthers Did What?

Bowling For (fill in the blank)

Rose Still Outside Looking In

College Football Playoff Pairings

Be Careful What You Ask For

Cam Getting Some MVP Play

NFL Thoughts

Who Would Have Thunk It?

Relentless Royals

Another Week, Another Win

Panthers Gain Credibility

Pitfalls For USC

Panthers Got Defensive

Panthers Are Rolling

Panthers Win Again

Panthers Win Ugly

Can Panthers Three-Peat?

College Football Preview

Just What The NFL Needed

UNC Delaying Tactics

Some Refreshing News

Deflate-Gate Revisited

The Smoltz Story

Ty Lawson Needs A Wake Up Call

Florida State Police Blotter

World Cup Win For US Women

Hornets Select Kaminsky

Goodell/Brady Have Their Meeting

LeBron & The Cavs Fall Short

ESPN Taking Heat

NBA Finals

Edwards Back In Winners Circle

NFL To Change Football Rules

Deflate-Gate Hits Pats Hard

NFL Draft News

What’s Up With Deflate-Gate

What? Tebow Again

Get Used To Spieth

Duke Claims Title

The Familiar Four

NCAA Tournament Continues

March Madness

Tark The Shark

Duke Is Gearing Up For March Madness

I Don’t Get It

Yankee Hypocrisy

Honoring Dean Smith

Common Sense

Get Your Mind On The Game

NFL Championship Sunday

Panthers Eliminated

Panthers Move On

Panthers Playoff Bound

Sid’s 2014 Bowl Predictions

Kobe vs. Michael

Where Did That Come From?

Goodell Takes A Hit

Fragile Cavs

RG III Needs To Look In The Mirror

Heels AD Still Has Williams’ Back

Bumgarner Saves The Giants

Optimism Abounds With The Hornets

An Unlikely World Series

Winston Off Field Turmoil Continues

Panthers Rebound

October Baseball

Panthers Facing New Questions

Reality With Rice

Panthers Win, Panthers Win 

Carolina Panthers Preview

College Football Preview

When Will Manziel Show Some Poise?

A Tragic Racing Moment

NCAA Football Talk

Got Off Easy

ACC Football Preseason Poll Is Out

LeBron Changes Image

LeBron Still Undecided

Game Effort By USA

The Decision II

Spurs Claim Dynasty Tag

Sour Grapes

Heat Make NBA Finals Again

Cavs Win Lottery (Again)


Panthers And The Draft

Not So Sterling

NBA Playoff Action

Phelps Diving Back Into It


Final Four Fodder

NCAA Hoop Madness

March Madness, 2014 Style

One and Done

Heels Heating Up

Setting The Record Straight

Martin And Incognito

Bobcats Appear To Be Moving Forward (This Time)

A Super Letdown

Super Bowl Preview

Broncos and Seahawks Reach Super Bowl

Panthers Were Not Ready

Seminoles End SEC Streak

2013 In Review

Sid’s Bowl Picks

Mack Brown Resigns

BCS Gets It Right

Did You See The Classic?

ACC Hoop Preview

NFL Coaching Hot Seats

Panthers Are The Talk Of The NFL

Ravens Not Flying So High These Days

A Jeff Gordon Sighting

World Series Preview

Craziness Within College Football

Dissension In Tar Heel Land

SEC Football Rules

Nickname Controversy

Panthers And Rivera Lose Another Close One


NFL, 2013 Style

Panthers Are Cam’s Team

Heels Sticking With Hairston

NCAA Hypocrisy

Does NASCAR Need Young Talent?

Crash & Burn?

PHIL-thy Good

An All Star Night

Charlotte Signs Jefferson

NBA Free Agency And Charlotte

LeBron vs. Michael

Major Problem For Tiger

Police Blotter Hits Tar Heel Hoop Program

NBA Finals Are Set

Irish Eyes Are Not Smiling

NBA Final Four

Tiger May Be Having His Best Season Ever

NBA Playoff Action

No Draft Buzz With The Panthers

NBA Playoff Preview

Tiger Should Have Been DQed

Baseball Is Back

Final Four Fodder

Sweet 16 Madness

March Madness

He’s Back

Kelly’s A Hero

Who Said Girls Can’t Race?

Danica Is On The Pole

King James

Flacco & The Ravens Hang On



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