NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend Recap: 5 Things I Think
1- Experience at quarterback is overrated . . . . apparently
One of the biggest story lines heading into the weekend was the disparity in playoff experience at QB in each of the four match ups, but it certainly didn’t have the impact many expected. Blake Bortles, Case Keenum, and Nick Foles will still be playing football next weekend while Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Matt Ryan will not. It’s pretty remarkable when you think back to the status of these players in the preseason. Bortles was in serious jeopardy of losing his job to Chad Henne because he had some mysterious dead arm condition while Keenum and Foles were preparing for a season of carrying a clipboard. My how things change!
2- Maybe Tom Brady really will play till he’s 45
Of course “the more things change, the more they stay the same” and in the NFL that means that Tom Brady’s New England Patriots will be playing the AFC Championship game for the 7th straight year. Where his fellow veteran signal callers failed, Tom was his steady self and it was predictably way too much for the Titans. I very genuinely do not like the Patriots and can’t wait until the tyranny ends, but the run they have put together wasn’t even supposed to be possible in the modern NFL so I’m sure the time will come when the hatred has subsided enough that I can admire what they have done. No matter what happens they just keep going. Personnel changes, media drama, injuries, you name it.
3- Coaching in the NFL is cut throat stuff
If I was Mike Mularkey, I would send a box of elephant crap to Seth Wickersham for making sure the Patriots showed up angry and focused. Mularkey and the Titans “mutually parted ways” on Monday despite a generally successful season in which they won nine games, made the playoffs, and beat the heavily favored Chiefs on the road. That’s one more playoff win than Marvin Lewis has in 15 seasons at the helm for Cincinnati and he just got a two year renewal. Tennessee was a mess when Mularkey took over during the 2015 campaign and he guided them to winning records in each of his two full seasons, but it looked like Mariota regressed in 2017 which is likely what led to the split. Early indications are that Patriots’ OC Josh McDaniels is the leading candidate for the job despite his questionable track record as a head coach. McDaniels is just 41 so it’s no real shock that he’s being considered for head jobs again, but the guy drafted Tim Tebow.
4- Shame on the Steelers for looking past Sack-sonville
The week before Christmas the Steelers and Patriots played a tremendous game that everyone immediately hailed as an AFC Championship preview. The Pats won 27-24 because Big Ben made a horrible choice and threw an interception in the end zone, but most people blamed the officials. That damn Jesse James play, ugh. The way that game ended left us wanting more and, for the last month, we kinda assumed we were going to be getting it next weekend. Instead of focusing on that loss to New England, the Steelers should have paid more mind to the other loss they suffered at home in the regular season, a 30-9 beatdown administered by the Jaguars back in October. It sure looked like the lack of respect was on the mind of the Jags who ambushed the sleepy Steelers and held on for a shocking road playoff victory.
5- We’re just a few weeks away from Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis
For the longest time the NFL avoided selecting cold weather cities to host the Super Bowl, but the more dominant recent trend is that if you build a new facility, you get to host the big game. US Bank Stadium opened in July 2016 and the Vikings have already started making new memories there. Chief among them so far has to be the Diggs TD reception from yesterday evening. If the Vikes can figure out a way to win at Philly next Sunday, they will become the first team ever to make the Super Bowl in the year they are hosting it. For the record, temperatures on February 4th in Minneapolis are historically between 9 and 24 degrees.
In case you haven’t seen it, below is the video of snow collapsing the roof of the Metrodome a few years ago.