Box Score Weekend: Wild Card Round


- I've been a fan of the Houston Texans for some years now and I was glad to see them finally get a playoff birth and win a playoff game as they defeat Marvin Lewis' Bengals 31-10.
- If you needed any further proof why I ranked Lewis as the worst coach in the playoffs you need to look no further than the fact that he wasted all of his challenges (he didn't win any) before half time started. Plus, you could have looked at his nine year body of work.
- It's a shame Matt Schaub got injured because T.J. Yates absolutely did not pass the eye test. Pros: Yates did not turn the ball over and had a 97.7 passer rating. Cons: He only completed 55% of his passes for only 159 yards. And he made some terible throws and got lucky he was not intercepted a few times.
- To help make up for Yates's problems? The savior known as Arian Foster. There's no doubt in my mind Foster is the best running back in the game right now. He rushed for 153 yards (6.4 YPC) with two amazing touchdown runs. Ben Tate might be a #1 RB on many teams but is relegated to the #2 back (a la Michael Turner in San Diego) in Houston. Although he only got 9 carries he rushed for a damn fine 4.1 YPC.
- Kudos to the Houston defense- the second best defense in the league/the playoffs- to holding the Bengals to only 10 points and intercepting Andy Dalton three times. J.J. Watt's pick six was one of the best interceptions I've ever seen.
- To me, Andy Dalton looked like Peyton Manning before the Watt INT. Along with the three picks he had no touchdowns, completed 64.3% of his passes, and had a 51.4 passer rating.
- A.J. Green looked great in the first half but ended up catching only 5 out of his 12 targets (41.7% catch rate) for only 47 yards. It also looked like Dalton was forcing to Green in the second half which hurt both players' numbers.
- The Bengals only ran the ball 19 times with Cedric Benson leading the way with 7 rushes (2.0 YPC) but did get into the end zone. Cincinnati's leading rusher was Brian Leonard with 34 yards on 3 carries.


- In Detroit's first playoff game in over a decade they lose to the powerhouse that is Drew Brees 45-28.
- Drew Brees was just amazing. He threw for 466 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT, and completed 76.7% of his passes. While I will be really upset if he gets the MVP this year damn does he make the decision tough.
- My boy from Illinois Pierre Thomas makes me look good. Although he got less carries (8) than Darren Sproles (10) and Chris Ivory (13) he leads the Saints with 66 rushing yards (8.3 YPC) and a rushing TD. Sproles does everything: 51 rushing yards on 10 carries and 2 rushing TDs + 34 receiving yards, 5 targets, 4 receptions.
- I was talking about this with Cubsfan4evr1 today, this is the playoffs and Pierre Thomas is really good. Probably not the best decision to limit his carries. The playoffs is no time to be conservative with your players.
- Robert Meachum, Devery Henderson, and Jimmy Graham all catch a TD. Marques Colston leads all Saints with 120 yards (and caught all 7 of his targets) and he and Meachum get over 100 receiving yards. From what I saw in this game, the Lions secondary was more porous than a sieve. Saints receivers found the holes and were open all day. Meachum was WIDE open on his TD catch.
- If the Lions didn't get bounced from the playoffs Megatron (Calvin Johnson) might have had the post-season like what Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald had in 2009. He caught 12 out of his 15 targets (80% catch rate) for 211 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
- It's shame how one dimensional the Lions are. Yes they can pass it but it's really Calvin Johnson and no one else. They struggled heavily to run the ball. The Lions leading rusher was Kevin Smith: 6 carries, 21 yards, 3.5 YPC, and no touchdowns.
- Matthew Stafford needs to become a tad bit better at not turning the ball over- he had two interceptions in this game. Other than that he had an amazing game: 65.1% completion percentage, 380 passing yards, 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing TD.


- I know the Giants were favored in this game but it felt to me that everyone was picking the Falcons to win. Not me. I don't like how the Falcons are built and I'm not the biggest Matt Ryan fan (Although, when I say that, I believe he's the 12th best QB in the game right now. But still, overall I'm not a fan). That defense is piss poor at rushing the passer and the offense is way too conservative. As TBO once texted me this year: "Maybe another receiver wasn't the problem. Probably the QB" (or something along those lines). I firmly believe that to be the case. I also like how the Giants are constructed. They are amazing at rushing the passer (which helps makes up for their awful secondary) and I've completely changed my mind on Eli. He was an elite QB this season with help from Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. It turns out my hatred of the Falcons and my like of the Giants paid off. I predicted the Falcons to lose and they did 24-2.
- Gotta love a game where a team's only points comes from a safety- in this case a mistake made by Manning.
- Matt Ryan only had a 58.5% completion percentage, 199 passing yards, a 71.1 quarterback rating, a 36.9 QBR (out of 100), and an atrocious 4.9 YPA. Hey, at least he didn't turn the ball over.
- In three postseason appearances, Matt Ryan has never won a game. In 2010, the Atlanta Falcons were dominant all season, couldn't lose at home, and rightfully earned the #1 seed. They were bounced in the playoffs by the 6th seed. Granted, that 6th seed was the World Champ Green Bay Packers, but they still lost and did so in an embarrassing fashion (Plus, at the time of the game, the Packers did not even remotely resemble the team you know and see today). This year, they were the 5 seed facing the 4 seed and, like I said earlier, many people predicted this "upset". They again lost in embarrassing fashion.
- I'm not saying the Falcons should draft another QB but Matt Ryan has done nothing to convince me that he's even remotely elite and that he's a franchise quarterback. From an outsiders perspective and one who doesn't watch very many Falcons games (so obviously take this opinion with a grain of salt) I would first overhaul the offensive system. I think if they ran a spread offense like something the Saints or Patriots do and not be so run heavy then Ryan would excel. Maybe. If I were a Falcons fan I think I would like to see that happen and then if that doesn't work either 1) start creating a Superbowl championship team a la the 2000 Ravens or 2) start seriously considering a new QB.
- Have I mentioned that I am not a Matt Ryan fan?
- A lot of the reason I would first consider changing the offensive philosophy is because I predicted every single first down the Falcons were going to do- run it with Michael Turner. I'm a casual fan and even *I* figured that out. It was obvious the Giants figured that out as well. Turner ended the day with only 41 rushing yards on 15 carries (2.7 YPC) and was stopped on every single first down he ran.
- As mentioned earlier, before this season started I was not an Eli Manning fan. He changed my mind this season and he was really damn good in this playoff game: 71.9% completion percentage, 3 TDs, 0 INTs, 277 passing yards, and a 8.7 YPA. Sure, a lot of Eli's stuff came because Hakeem Nicks is a beast (6/9, 115 receiving yards, 19.2 YPR, and 2 TDs) but hey, I like Eli this year and going forward in the playoffs.
- Mario Manningham was the second NYG receiver in this game (4/5, 68 receiving yards, TD) but I still like Victor Cruz (2/5, 28 receiving yards, 0 TD) for the rest of the playoffs and going forward.
- The New York Football Giants finally got their running game going. Brandon Jacobs: 14 carries, 6.6 YPC. Ahmad Bradshaw: 14 carries, 4.5 YPC.

If the Giants play this well next week they have a chance to defeat the Green Bay Packers. I'm not saying they will and I will predict the Packers to win in the GOI Pick 'Em game but this Giants team is built to defeat the Packers as they almost defeated them in the regular season. The Giants can rush the passer effectively with their front four which also allows them to keep seven to defend against the plethora of receivers, and Eli can score and keep pace with Rodgers. If I'm a Packers fan I'm super upset that both the Giants (as well as the New Orleans Saints who can also definitely keep pace with Rodgers) won this weekend.


- The Denver Broncos at home stun the world by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-23 in OT.
- Big Ben was obviously not healthy for this game. He could not scramble and that clearly affected his entire game. He finished the game with a 55.0% completion percentage, 289 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, and a 75.9 passer rating.
- I knew Isaac Redman would be fine to replace Mendenhall considering what a down year the Illini RB had but I never expected Redman to be this good: 17 carries, 121 rushing yards, and 7.1 YPC. Mike Wallace stole the rushing TD though with an end around.
- My boy Mike Wallace gets ten targets but only catches 3 passes. Emmanuel Sanders: 6 for 8, 81 yards, Antonio Brown: 5 for 7, 70 yards, Heath Miller: 5 for 7, 60 yards, and Jerricho Cotchery: Receiving TD, one target.

- Tebow looked really good in this game and made some great passes. I though the Steelers defense played terribly as well and left some wide open gaps for the Denver's sub par receivers to get through (especially on the one play in OT) but I'll gladly give credit where credit is due. Even though Tebow completed less than 50% of his passes (47.6%), he threw for 316 yards, an amazing 15.0 YPA, 3 touchdowns (1 rushing) and no picks. Plus, he had a 97.3 QBR (best is 100). He had a 125.6 quarterback rating to go along with his 50 rushing yards on 10 "carries". Plus, a win over the vaunted Steel Curtain.
- Surprisingly there are other players on the Denver Broncos than Timothy Dalton Praise-the-Lord Tebow (I know, shocking, right?). One of these players is starting running back Willis McGahee. I don't trust McGahee to hold up throughout these playoffs. He had a measly 3.2 YPC today. Seriously, I want to see more Lance Ball.
- Demaryius Thomas did his best Megatron impression: 4 for 7, 204 receiving yards, and a game wining 80-yard TD in overtime.

- Besides fellow gamblers and everyone in Colorado, no one is a bigger fan of this win than the New England Patriots and their fans.

See y'all next week. And we... are... OUT!