If I am not mistaken, I went 13-3 for the last week of the regular season. I do not think I have ever chosen that well. Now, we are off to to the post season. Just a random question here, but do any of you think that this system of the playoffs could be used on the collegiate level? Ok, we will debate that on another day. Just wanted to see where everyone’s mind might be on that topic.
There are two wild card games today. This will kick off the playoffs. It was a struggle for some. A few missed it by a hair. Nonetheless, the teams are set and seeded to see which two teams will ultimately play for the Lombardi in February.
AFC WILD CARD
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS vs HOUSTON TEXANS:
Who would have thunk it? The fact that the Indianapolis Colts would be in the playoffs, that is. Andrew Luck comes back after being out an entire season. Luck had a passer rating of 98.7 and a completion percentage of 67.3. Both stats are season career highs for the quarterback. He has also passed for 863 against the Texans this season which included six touchdowns. That is the third most yards against a single team in a season in NFL history. Protecting him is an offensive line that has only allowed for him to be sacked 18 times. In comparison, Deshaun Watson for Houston has been sacked 62 times. In addition, T.Y Hilton, Luck favorite target, has 314 yards receiving against the Texans. That is the most yards received against a single team in 2018. Darius Leonard on defense with his 111 tackles and 7 sacks on the season will give Watson a run for his money. This is the reason why Indy has been on a 9-1 run since starting out 1-5.
Houston has a superstar in Deshaun Watson, who like Luck, is coming off of injury last year as well. He has managed to be the first player in NFL history to reach 4000 passing yards, 25 passing touchdowns, 500 rushing yards, and 5 rushing touchdowns in a season. Unfortunately, J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney play on the defensive side of the ball, so protecting Watson has been a bit of a challenge. DeAndre Hopkins will be the force the Colts defense will need to stop. Indy managed to do so in the week 14 meeting. Limiting him to four catches for 36 yards. Over the two games versus Indy, Hopkins has only 14 receptions for 115 yards.
The Colts have split with the Texans this season. In Week 4, the Texans won 37-34 in overtime. That was the first win of the season for the 0-3 starting Houston team. In week 14, the Colts won in regulation 24-21. That game ended the nine game winning streak that Houston was on. It will come down to turnovers and who is more focused. Such a tough game to choose. Indy is the Cinderella at this dance. They will not lose their glass slipper just yet.
NFC WILD CARD
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS vs DALLAS COWBOYS:
Here is another story of a Seattle team that was not exactly poised to be a playoff team. They were “rebuilding” after a team overhaul. Quarterback Russell Wilson has been nothing short of the magician that everyone is calling him. He has reached personal bests in touchdowns thrown (35) and a passer rating of 110.9. Even though Wilson is a mobile quarterback and is always a threat, Seattle also keeps the ball on the ground with the emergence of running back Chris Carson. He has 1,151 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on the year. There may not be a Legion of Boom any more, but the current defense is not too shabby. With DE Frank Clark and DT Jarran Reed leading the team in sacks and LB Bobby Wagner leading in tackles with 138, the Dallas offense will have a bit of a time trying to get pass them.
There was some question as to whether or not Dallas could even smell the playoffs earlier in the season. They put together a string of wins to make a claim to the fourth seed on the NFC side of the draw. Dak Prescott does not boast as high a passer rating as his opponent, but has a team around him that has performed to make up for it. Ezekiel Elliott has rushed for 1,434 yards and six touchdowns and had 77 receptions for 567 yards. The newest addition, Amari Cooper, already leads the team with 725 yards receiving. Let’s not forget Cole Beasley adding 672 yards with 65 receptions. To match up defensively with Seattle, Dallas has DeMarcus Lawrence leading with 10.5 sacks and rookie Leighton Vander Esch with a season high 102 tackles. Do not count out Sean Lee who is the veteran leader on defense for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are great at home this season. What will that mean against a Seahawks team that has just as many playoff wins in the last three years? Nothing. Dak is not talented enough under pressure to command his team. Cracking under pressure is just not something you see too much from Russell Wilson. It would be ideal for Dallas to get a win here, but the experience of Wilson and Coach Carroll is unquestioned.
For the first of the games of the playoffs, this is how I saw it. Anything to add? Who do you have moving on? It is so exciting to be getting to the post season already. This is the time when the stars will truly shine. Good luck to your teams and picks!
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