The National Football League is now into its’ second season and there is no shortage of great story-lines so let’s get to it.
Earlier this morning the inevitable came down from New York Jets’ Owner Woody Johnson. Both General Manager John Idzik and Head Coach Rex Ryan have been fired and now the Jets will have to bring in a whole new regime there.
Whoever comes in will have a quality front-seven to work with but a whole bunch of questions on offense especially on offense. I have to believe you’ll see the Jets look for an offensive-minded guy but there’s no guarantee especially when you’re talking about the Jets.
AFC Playoff Breakdown
The New England Patriots and Denver Broncos are your top seeds and have next week off. The Pats will play the lowest remaining seed from Wild-Card Weekend while the Broncos will host the higher one.
Rematches are the name of the game on Saturday and Sunday in the AFC. In primetime, the AFC North Champion Pittsburgh Steelers will host Baltimore. This will be the rubber match as the teams split earlier this season with both winning at home. The Steelers are currently listed as 3.5 point favorites.
The Sunday afternoon game features a rematch from earlier this season as the Indianapolis Colts host the Cincinnati Bengals. In week seven, the Bengals traveled to Indy and were crushed 27-0 in a game where their offense mustered just eight first downs.
The Colts are struggling though as the playoffs arrive. The running game is nearly non-existent and they have banged up receivers. For the Bengals, it always comes back to Andy Dalton who will make his fourth start in the playoffs and is still looking for his first win. The Colts have opened as six-point favorites.
NFC Playoff Breakdown
The defending champion Seahawks are your top seed in the NFC while the Green Bay Packers are the two-seed.
The first NFC game on Wild-Card Weekend will be Arizona traveling to Carolina. The Panthers blew out the Atlanta Falcons to win the NFC South yesterday and despite having a losing record, Carolina will not be an easy out. The defense is playing better and the running game is thriving behind Jonathan Stewart.
Obviously the issue for Arizona is the QB position. Drew Stanton is expected back from his sprained knee but will he be able to generate enough offense? This was the same place Arizona started their Super Bowl run in 2009. The Cards are a 4.5 point underdog.
The final game of the opening weekend features the Detroit Lions playing at the Dallas Cowboys. An interesting point here is that the Cowboys were unbeaten on the road this season. That means they went 4-4 at home in ATT Stadium.
The Lions come in with a struggling offense and a defense that is licking its’ wounds after Aaron Rodgers beat them on basically one leg. If Matthew Stafford can’t get himself right then this will be yet another one and done for the Lions in the postseason. Detroit is opening as a seven-point underdog.
What to Expect in the Playoffs
I don’t believe Seattle and New England are 100% infallible but they are clearly the favorites. Going in to either team’s stadium will not be easy but neither team was unbeaten at home.
If you’re looking for teams to cause trouble then go with the Panthers in the NFC and the Steelers in the AFC. The only issue with Pittsburgh is Le’Veon Bell who hyper-extended his knee and is uncertain for Saturday.
I think this is a season where chalk holds. Dallas at Seattle in the NFC title game and Denver and New England in the AFC Championship.