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NFL 2010 Playoffs, Round 1
by Tony Medley
If the NFL were Dickens (God,
what a thought!), theyíd think this year was the best of times and the
worst of times. It was the best of times because everyone seemed so
even. Anybody could beat anybody else (Cincinnati excepted). It was the
worst of times because there were so few good teams. How many did you
see this year? I saw two, New England and Pittsburgh.
I havenít written since the
opening week because nothing I said in that article has changed much
(except Houston sucked swamp water after they looked so great on opening
day). Now weíre down to the playoffs and I have put off writing this
because most of the games are pretty hard to figure. I say ďmostĒ
because anybody who plays Seattle can just mail it in. In this case, the
lucky winner is New Orleans. But New Orleans is probably the only team
who can give Seattle a chance because there isnít another quarterback in
football that has the Bret Favre stupidity of Drew Brees. These two guys
throw the dumbest passes in football history (last year Favreís latest
idiocy allowed New Orleans to win the game sent them to the Super Bowl,
a game that was totally lost by the Saints until Favre threw his pass).
But even if Brees performs down to his Favre possibilities, it seems
unlikely that New Orleans could lose to Seattle, even if their only
running back is SCís Reggie Bush because they lost their two real
running backs, Chris Ivory and Pierre Thomas. Bushís effectiveness as a
pro has been as catching swing passes out of the backfield, enabling him
to do some broken-field running. When he takes a handoff out of a set
backfield, heís much less effective.
So letís talk about the other
game on Saturday, Indianapolis vs. the Jets. Thatís the only game I
didnít pick correctly last year because I was rooting for the Jets. This
year the Jets stunk the place out. They thought Antonio Cromartie gave
them the two best corners in the league. Think again. Most of the
criticism has been about the SC Quarterback, Mark Sanchez, but Sanchez
has gotten a bad rap, even though he still canít throw an out. In the
first place his highly regarded receivers, Santonio Holmes and Braylon
Edwards, have dropped key passes all year long. Edwards dropped a game
winner and he also dropped at least one crucial first down pass on third
down. Holmes was equally butter-fingered. Those drops arenít the fault
of Sanchez. Worse, the Jets didnít let Sanchez throw the ball downfield
enough allowing the defense to bunch up and easily defend his short
passes. If thereís a villain for the Jets' horrible offense, itís
offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, not Sanchez, for his
uninspired, conservative play-calling.
As for their defense, itís
much weaker than last year. Their front four hasnít been able to put
pressure on the passer and their blitzes have been easily defended,
thanks in some part to Cromartieís ineffective coverage. But the entire
defense has been inept.
That said, Indy isnít in much
better shape. Although their running attack has picked up, the offensive
line sucks. Peyton Manning gets rid of the ball fast, but heís missing
his three best receivers, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, and Anthony
Gonzalez. Thatís the key. If the subs canít make the catches, the Jets
On Sunday, Baltimore plays at
Kansas City. Iím not a big Baltimore fan. Hereís another team with no
offense and an overrated quarterback (Joe Flacco) that relies on its
defense. Kansas City has been the surprise of the season and Matt Cassel
has had a fine year at quarterback, mainly because he only throws short
passes and can rely on his teamís fine running game. So the question is,
is Kansas Cityís offense good enough to beat Baltimoreís defense? I
doubt it, although I hate to pick Baltimore. But I
must admit I havenít seen much of KC, so any judgment there is mostly
The last game is Green Bay vs.
Philly. Green Bay was devastated by injuries (losing six starters for
the season), has no running game and not much of an offensive line.
Philly actually has a pretty well-rounded team, even if the only thing
everyone thinks about is Michael Vick. I donít think Aaron Rogers can
beat Philly all by himself. However, Green Bay has a good defense and if
they can keep Vick from rolling out to his left (something at which
other teams havenít been very successful even though it seems like it
shouldnít be that difficult), heís much less effective, although he is a
much better pocket passer now than heís ever been before.
I wrote this pretty fast
because of the apparent evenness of all the games. Unlike last year,
when I had serene certitude, this year I think any of the games can go
either way. I wouldnít put any money on any of these games, and if I
turn out to be 0-4 Iím not going to take it very seriously.