You're Not Even Supposed To Be Here... Part 1
The first round of the NFL Playoffs are here. It’s that wonderful weekend of games where the winners get to jubilantly move forward to the second round, against the high seeds, the best of the best. But, we can reminisce about such second round mismatches like the 1999 game between Jacksonville and Miami that ended 62-7 next week. For now, let’s turn our eyes to the present where eight teams have hope, and hope is a good thing.
Oakland Raiders at Houston Texans
When: January 7; 1:35pm on ESPN
Where: Houston, TX
Excitement Level: Getting socks for Christmas when you are a kid.
Unbelievably, this Texans team is probably going to win a playoff game. An idea that would’ve seemed impossible just a few weeks ago when the Oakland Raiders were red hot and in 1st place in their division. But, when you are a franchise that has had ten double digit loss seasons since you last made the playoffs, horrible things are going to happen to you. Their intrepid leader and MVP candidate Derek Carr, first breaks his finger, then breaks his leg, and now Connor Cook of all people is going to be starting a playoff game. He joins such luminaries as Todd Collins, Joe Webb and Gus Frerotte as quarterbacks who stumbled into starting playoff games. Has there been a worse quarterback matchup in a playoff game?
Despite the fact that Oakland is the better team across the board, and that they have a powerful offensive line and running game, I just do not see the Connor Cook winning a road playoff game.
Detroit Lions at Seattle Seahawks
When: January 7; 5:15pm on NBC
Where: Seattle, WA
Excitement Level: Seeing a movie you were excited for that gets panned by critics.
It wasn’t so long ago that Matt Stafford was channeling his inner Bobby Layne and carrying the Lions and the reanimated Jim Caldwell to a division title with dramatic victory after dramatic victory. It also wasn’t very long ago when the Seahawks went to Foxboro and beat the Patriots, announcing that they were once again ready to embark on their late season annihilation of the rest of the NFL. Now, Stafford has a broken finger, his running game is punch less and his defense keeps running out of bullets at the end of games. The Seahawks lost Earl Thomas for the season, Russell Wilson is likely far more hurt than he is letting on, Tyler Lockett suffered a compound fracture, Richard Sherman is threatening reporters, and the Seahawks offensive line vacillates between a sieve and utterly average.
Detroit will start fast, their blitzing defense giving the Seahawks fits. The Lions running game will start fast as well, and Detroit will take an early lead. In the second half, the Seahawks will pick up the blitzes, the Lions running game, which gets far worse as the game goes on, will disappear, and the game will come down to Wilson and Stafford. This game will likely come down to the final drive.