That’s right, we’re talking about playoffs.
Wild Card Weekend is finally upon us. And luckily, we get to watch 3 backup QBs show us what they’ve got on the national stage. There’s a lot to get into, so let’s do it.
Oakland Raiders (+3.5) @ Houston Texans
You may have to pay for the whole seat in Houston but you’ll only need the EDGE. Connor Cook vs Brock Osweiler is the matchup we need to kickoff Wild Card Weekend. In a tradition as old as time, the Houston Texans are hosting the 4:25 slot on Saturday afternoon in a rematch of that unforgettable Week 10 matchup in Mexico City. Now, these are two very different teams than they were only 8 weeks ago. While Brock started that game, he has since been benched for Tom Savage, only to be reincarnated after Tom took a Savage AF blow to his head. On the other side of the coin, Derek Carr broke his leg in Week 16, opening the door for Matt McGloin. All signs were pointing towards McGloin taking on his old Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien this weekend, until McGloin injured his shoulder in Week 17. Which means…..
Connor Cook was the Raiders 4th round pick in this year’s draft. He was a 3 year starter at Michigan State University and he went 34-5 during that span. Unlike his predecessor Kirk Cousins, Cook didn’t have a man named Le’Veon Bell in his backfield to make his life easy. Cook worked with current Bears RB Jeremy Langford and current Dolphins CB Tony Lippett (played WR in college) to only lose 5 games over 3 years, while amassing over 9,000 career yards, 71 TDs, and 2 Big Ten Championships. Connor Cook was a proven winner in college, and I liked his professional potential more than many QBs taken before him in the draft, including Paxton Lynch, Christian Hackenberg, Jacoby Brissett, and Cody Kessler. Quite frankly, Connor Cook was a steal in the 4th round. Now, he has a chance to prove himself in the pros as the 1st QB to ever make his first career start in a playoff game. He has a pair of 1,000 yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree at his disposal, as well as the three headed dog of Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington (1,746 yards between them) at RB. Connor Cook plays with a swagger that not a lot of QBs have, and in college he would lower the shoulder against defenders and even completely turn his back on the defense before throwing a pass.
Meanwhile, the Houston Texans are begrudgingly trotting back out their $18 million man in Brock Osweiler. They have a hobbled RB in Lamar Miller that is coming back this week, but still won’t be 100%. Brock has made WR DeAndre Hopkins a non-factor this season, which is a massive disappointment after what he was able to do with Brian Hoyer the year before. He has completely disappeared in some games and only put up 4 TDs this year.
I’m putting blind faith into my guy Connor Cook and I
expect want the Oakland Raiders to win straight up.
Detroit Lions @ Seattle Seahawks (-8)
Here’s the tale of the tape:
Matthew Stafford’s hand/finger injury has taken this team into a downward spiral. The Detroit Lions have an atrocious defense, and they have relied on Stafford to keep them in games with some late 4th quarter heroics. However, this injury has really bothered Stafford and he hasn’t been able to make the plays that he was making earlier this season. Plus, his main security blanket in RB Theo Riddick has been placed on IR. Riddick was a decent running back, but he was a great pass catcher with 10+ catch upside on any given day. That, plus the descent of Marvin Jones is just a recipe for disaster for the Lions.
For Seattle, they’ve been hit with the injury bug a bit themselves. Speedy WR Tyler Lockett suffered a leg injury and was placed on IR. The Seahawks signed veteran Devin Hester to take his spot. Hester started off Super Bowl XLI with a kick return touchdown for the Chicago Bears, and the Seahawks hope that he has another one of those left in the tank. With the loss of Lockett, the Hawks are going to need to find somebody other than Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham to get the ball to. The Seattle run game has yet to get themselves going since they released Christine Michael, and WR Jermaine Kearse has only caught 41 out of the 90 passes thrown his way. If Seattle wants to make a run, I think that 3rd year man Paul Richardson will have to step up.
I think that Seattle dominates the time of possession in this game and the Legion of Boom creates a couple of turnovers to seal the deal. Richard Sherman and the boys are hungry and want a shot at redemption for the Super Bowl, and they might eat the Lions alive at home to get a shot at Atlanta next week.
Miami Dolphins @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-10)
The Killer B’s are back in town. Big Ben, Bell, and Brown all took a week hiatus and should be fully locked and loaded to take on a Miami Dolphins team that I don’t think is very good at all. The Dolphins defense is an atrocity; they’ve allowed 4,101 passing yards this season as well as another 2,247 on the ground. Le’Veon Bell must be licking his chops. The Dolphins also were lit up last week by the New England Patriots, who were playing for nothing. Julian Edelman set a career high in receiving yards and exploded for a 77-yard TD in which Michael Floyd may have killed CB Tony Lippett on a block. You know a guy on the Steelers that is essentially Julian Edelman on steroids? Antonio Brown. He might as well set up camp in the end zone because he’ll be living there this week.
Now, what about Week 6, when the Miami Dolphins beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 30-15 in Miami? I’ll tell you about Week 6. Big Ben suffered a torn meniscus in that game and decided to play through it, and ended up throwing for only 189 yards and 2 INTs. Numerous Steeler defenders were also violently throwing up on the field due to the hot and humid weather. Jay Ajayi took advantage of this and ran for 204 yards and 2 TDs. But now, the tables have turned:
How many times have we seen Big Ben light up the scoreboard in freezing temperatures? Need I bring up his home/road splits again?
10 points is a lot, so I can’t blame you if you take the Dolphins +10, but I could see the Steelers Le’Veon a Prayer and having him go for 3 TDs. Oh yeah, backup QB Matt Moore will be playing for the Dolphins, also.
New York Giants (+5) @ Green Bay Packers
First off, this is worth mentioning:
The similarities between the 2007, 2011, and 2016 New York Giants are uncanny. They are all built around strong defenses which included a formidable defensive line. 2007 had Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck, and Robbins. 2011 had Osi, Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Chris Canty. This year, while JPP is hurt (he’ll return next week if New York advances), the Giants still boast Snacks Harrison, Olivier Vernon, and new favorite Romeo Okwara.
All 3 teams obviously had Eli Manning running the show. You live by the Eli, you die by the Eli, and all three teams hit their stride at the right time at the hands of some excellent talent. 2007 had Plaxico Burress, Amani Toomer, and Jeremy Shockey. 2011 had Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham. This year still has Cruz in the rotation, with Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard rounding the team out.
One position that was strong for the Giants in 2007 and 2o11 was running back with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. The Giants may have found their guy for the postseason in rookie Paul Perkins. However, their secondary is light-years better this year than in either of their previous Super Bowl seasons. While Giants fans may shudder at the thought of Aaron Ross, Corey Webster, or Prince Amukamara, this year’s team has one of the best units in the league in Landon Collins, Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Eli Apple.
If I’m a Green Bay fan, I’m shaking in my boots. I think this game comes down to how the QBs pick apart their opponent’s secondary. The Packers have been exploitable all year through the air, and they just lost another defensive back, Quentin Rollins last week. Meanwhile, the Giants boast one of the best secondaries in all of football. DRC is coming off of a 2 INT week, Janoris Jenkins has been resting the past couple weeks, and Landon Collins is in the discussion for defensive player of the year. However, Aaron Rodgers has been playing like an absolute madman over the past 6 weeks. With the odds stacked against him, he led the charge to run the table and win the NFC North. Jordy Nelson is finally back to being himself on the field coming off of his ACL injury. Davante Adams has become one of the best #2 guys in the league, replacing Randall Cobb. And now all of a sudden big man Geronimo Allison is hitting stride with Rodgers. Add in a healthy Jared Cook and the Packers can now spread the field with 4+ weapons. The key for the New York Giants is to not allow Aaron Rodgers to hold the ball and pick apart their secondary. They’re going to need to apply pressure with Snacks and Vernon while dialing up a few blitzes along the way.
On the other hand, Eli Manning has the most electric WR in the league in Odell Beckham, a budding star in Sterling Shepard, and a guy who catches the ball and falls down in TE Will Tye. The secondary that he will be going up against is one of the most exploitable and inexperienced in the entire league. Eli Manning will either have a 300 yard game with 4 TDs, or a 150 yard game with 3 INTs. Playoff Eli Manning is either lights out amazing or “lets draft a QB in the 1st round next year” level bad.
I am totally bought into the Giants repeat hype train and I think that them being 5 point underdogs is criminal. If they lose this game, I don’t think it’s by any more than a field goal.
Also, can we stop talking about this?
The Giants receiving core flying to Miami to celebrate during an off day is a NON STORY. I’m sure they were drinking and doing some fun stuff, but at least their hands are empty in this picture. The alleged joint in this picture is being held by none other than rapper Trey Songz. There was even a video that picked up Sterling Shepard in the background telling a woman that he couldn’t take adderall because he plays football. The only thing criminal about this picture is the fact that half of these guys are wearing jeans and boots on a boat in Miami. These guys having a good time on a day off 6 days before a game should be applauded. I don’t see how this can be an issue while baseball and basketball teams can pop champagne and pound beers on national television when they have a game within the next couple of days. People getting up in arms about this makes no sense. A group of guys from the same team are spending time together having fun. Back in my day that was called team bonding. Even Eli had a joke about his teammates:
This is a non story and people’s reactions only tell me that they are nervous about the New York Football Giants. They’ve seen this movie twice in the past decade and are praying that the Green Bay Packers knock them out before they really get their eyes set on the Super Bowl.
End rant. Exit stage left. Call me the Giants receiving core because we’re about to fly down to Miami with all of our winnings.
P.S. Take Alabama -6.5 if you know what’s good for you and your wealth.