Wild-Card Weekend In Review

Sorry; I misspoke last week.  Actually, I miscalculated when I said that I would be in transit today; tomorrow is the day of transit and the lack of a rant.  So, let me take a moment here to review the NFL Wild Card games from the weekend.

There were some interesting times over the weekend, but none of the games were “epic” or “games for the ages”.  Frankly, that is not all that surprising because there were too many flawed teams on display to allow for that.  The Jags/Bills game would be a perfect example of what I mean here.

  • The game was always in doubt.  On every possession by each team for the full 60 minutes, the team with the ball had the opportunity to tie the score or take the lead.  Normally, that keeps me “on the edge of my chair”; in this game it made me wonder what the team with the ball would do to avoid scoring any points.

The Saints/Panthers game was sort of the reverse of the Jags/Bills.  These teams showed the ability to move the ball and to play enough defense to prevent the game from becoming a travesty.  If you watch both games, you will clearly recognize the difference in quarterback competency demonstrated by the Brees/Newton tandem as compared to the Bortles/Taylor tandem.

The Titans/Chiefs game featured a furious comeback win by the Titans – – or a typical choke-it-away loss by the Chiefs at home in a playoff game depending on your point of view.  The game featured some injuries that took key players out of the contest for significant parts of the game and it featured some strange officiating decisions.

  • The TV execs and the NFL folks who focus on TV ratings are looking at next weekend’s games and are praying for certain outcomes.  It is possible – although not likely according to the oddsmakers – that the AFC Conference Championship game could be a Jags/Titans pairing.  I think we might all agree that the ratings for that struggle would be a tad short of the ratings for Steelers/Pats Redux.
  • At this point in the week, the Jags are anywhere between +280 and +300 on the Money Line to beat the Steelers next weekend and the Titans are anywhere between +650 and +750 to beat the Patriots.

The Falcons/Rams game looked to me to be a game between one team that had seen playoff pressure before and another team that had not.  The Rams did not embarrass themselves with a ton of silly unforced errors – – except for a couple of special teams plays – – but the Falcons were clearly the more poised/under control team on the field.  The game did generate a question in my mind:

  • Why was the field so treacherous?  Los Angeles is not in a climate zone where grass goes dormant – or dies – starting November 1; how could there have been such bad footing all over the field in the LA Coliseum?  I thought the NFL had some “turf gurus” in the fold; if anyone anointed with that label had anything to do with that field over the weekend, he/she needs to turn in his/her trowel.

The two best teams I saw over the weekend were the Saints and the Falcons.  Having seen the Eagles and Vikings several times this year, it would not shock me to see the Saints and the Falcons play for the NFC Championship.

Last week, I wrote about a chat I had with a former colleague about how XFL 2.0 might differentiate itself from the NFL in some meaningful ways.  Early this morning, I opened an e-mail from my colleague; here is the essence of his missive:

“Why do you always look to find the most complicated way to solve a problem.  You are like the engineer who designed a ten-pennies (sic) nail with five moving parts … You gave me a simple way to discourage long field goals and a complex way and you chose to write about the complex way … Just stick to the simple stuff.”

OK, he is right; I did – and still do – have an idea for XFL 2.0 that will discourage long field goal tries and put more “real football plays” into the game action.  Indeed, it does not require any modifications of the scoring system.  Here it is:

  • In the NFL, the goal posts are 18 feet and 6 inches wide and the crossbar is 10 feet high.
  • XFL 2.0 should narrow the goal posts to12 feet wide – a reduction of 35% – and it should raise the crossbar to 20 feet high – an increase of 100%.

So, there is the simple suggestion to minimize the number of long field goal tries in a football game.  Please note that this change would not have any effect at all on PATs because you should recall that I would outlaw them entirely and require teams to go for 2-point conversions after touchdowns.

I have comments to make about the Raiders’ signing of Jon Gruden to be their “Coach for Life” and the reports of a “rift in the Patriots hierarchy” but I do not have the time or space to do it here.  Barring some extraordinary news in the next 48 hours, those will be focal points for a rant on Wednesday or Thursday this week.

Finally, leave it to Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times to uncover an incident in an Italian fourth-division soccer game and make a snarky comment on it:

“Italian fourth-division soccer player, Giovanni Liberti, has been suspended five games for urinating toward the opposing ream’s fans.

“What, no yellow card?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “Wild-Card Weekend In Review”

  1. I saw the Falcons open as a 2.5 point favorite versus the Eagles. I wonder if a #1 seed has ever been an underdog on its home field. Against a Wild Card team?

    1. Doug:

      The #1 seed has never been an underdog in the Divisional Round of the playoffs either against a Wild-Card team or one of the other division champs.

  2. It seems they think that Wentz cannot be replaced by Foles. Keep in mind that Foles already knows the offense and has had two weeks to get in sync with the team. I can’t see the Falcons having as easy a time with the Iggles’ D.

    1. Rugger9:

      Foles’ performance is the question mark here. The Falcons were 6-point dogs to the #3 seed (Rams) last week. Now they are 3-point favorites against the #1 seed. That is a 9-point swing in the lines that makes no sense other than the perception of the “Foles/Wentz substitution”.

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