The wild card round is now over and only 8 teams are left with a shot at the Vince Lombardi trophy. The divisional round is thought by some to be the best football weekend of the year as the 4 games across two days showcase the best at football’s highest level.
To recap, in the first game of the wild card round, former Knight Tom Savage (concussion protocol) was passed on for Brock Osweiler to start at quarterback for the Texans hosting Oakland. The Raiders behind Connor Cook subbing for an injured Derek Carr never got it going until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter, falling 27-14. Houston was ineffective on offense despite winning so Osweiler will likely be the backup to a healthy Savage. The Raiders look to be a team on the rise and will surely be out for revenge with a healthy Carr next season. The Raiders were also on the wrong end of our Knights in the Pros flashback below.
Savage has now been medically cleared and will likely start as the Texans will travel to face Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty, and Duron Harmon in Foxboro. The game 8:15 EST Saturday on CBS is predicted as a blowout by many, and the 16 point spread is the highest in a quarter century. Beware though, the last time the Patriots were favored this much in the playoffs; 2010, when a 14-2 Patriots team (eerily familiar) hosted the New York Jets in the divisional round having beat them 45-3 in the previous meeting (sound like this year’s Pats defeating Houston 27-0 this year with a backup QB?). The Jets shocked the world that day, but I doubt the Pats will let that happen again ... right?
After their loss a week ago, Michael Burton and Steve Longa’s Lions made the trip to Seattle. Burton was a healthy inactive, but that couldn’t have been as frustrating as Detroit’s offense who mustered only six points in Seattle. A twenty point road wild card loss is not what the Lions had in mind after a 9-4 start when just one more win would have locked up the division title. Expect something to change in Detroit, who hasn’t won a division title since 1991.
Seattle’s win sends them on the road to Mohamed Sanu, Julio Jones, and Matt Ryan. The game is the first of the round Saturday at 4:35 PM EST on FOX. Atlanta has the NFL’s highest scoring offense, but as we know from that Pats anecdote earlier, sometimes rest means rust. Look for a competitive game, but if Atlanta can get in a grove or pressure Russell Wilson, the home team should get the W.
Leonte Carroo and Miami traveled to Pittsburgh. Carroo, like Burton ended up being a gameday inactive. The Steelers big three of Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown were too much for the Dolphins to handle, even though Miami kept getting into scoring range in the second half only to falter before the end zone. Matt Moore completed 80% of his passes, but not enough in the red zone. Miami was a big play offense all season, so as they look for ways to improve near the goal line in 2017 why not figure out how to leverage the Knights all time receiving touchdown leader?
Pittsburgh will go to Kansas City to play the Chiefs. This game is expected to be the most competitive as a great offense will play a great defense Sunday 1:05 EST on NBC.
The local New York Giants finished the round in Green Bay. A much hyped game started competitive before Aaron Rodgers simply took over. The final score of 38-13 is not indicative of how close this game was in the third quarter. The turning point was a Hail Mary at the end of the first half to Randall Cobb.
Green Bay, the dark horse choice of many for the Super Bowl is in Dallas this weekend in the final game of the round. 4:40 PM EST on FOX. In his last 7 games, Rodgers has thrown 18 touchdowns and ZERO interceptions. Wow.
Season complete: Jeremy Zuttah’s (Ravens), Clark Harris (Bengals) and Tyler Kroft (Bengals) Jason McCourty (Titans) Andrew DePaola (Bucs), Brandon Coleman (Saints) Marcus Cooper (Cardinals) Kenny Britt (Rams) Quentin Gause (Broncos): Injured Reserve (Jonathan Freeny - Patriots, Tim Wright - Lions, George Johnson - Bucs).
Knights in the pros FLASHBACK ... Wild Card: Deron Cherry 1991 playoffs.
December 28, 1991. The Chiefs had not won a playoff game since 1970 in Super Bowl IV when they laced em up for a wild card playoff game. Their defensive leader who had played his entire career with the franchise, Deron Cherry, had 50 regular season interceptions, but none of them were likely as big as what he was about to do. The Raiders started their prized draft pick Todd Marinovich, but the rookie was intercepted twice in the first half by Cherry rattling him. This article describes 80s All-Decade performer Cherry’s strategy going into the game. The Chiefs ended up picking him off 4 times and also forcing a fumble from the QB, winning in ugly fashion 10-6. The performance also may have been what put their defensive coordinator over the top, who if you read closely, will realize became himself a legendary NFL head coach beginning the following season.
Despite another INT by Cherry, the following week KC was demolished by the defending and subsequent AFC champion Buffalo Bills 37-14. The Chiefs would remain a consistently good team for the next few years, battling with the Raiders, Broncos, and surprising San Diego Chargers. Cherry though would retire after the season, finishing his career with 3 INT in his last two games (both playoffs).