I went 3-1 this week in the NFL Playoffs, picking all home teams same as last week. Peyton Manning didn’t advance, but really did that surprise anyone, let it begin.
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots
What I Thought was Going to Happen: It was going to be a hard-fought game, but the Pats would hold off Baltimore and move on to face the Denver/Indianapolis winner.
What Actually Happened: New England won 35-31, but the Ravens did not make it easy. Baltimore got out to an early 14-0 lead, and another 28-14 one before the Patriots stormed back with a Tom Brady touchdown pass and a surprise Julian Edelman throw to Danny Amendola. Who knew that guy could throw.
What I Learned: The Ravens are still a force to be reckoned with. A Hail Mary at the last second fell short for Baltimore, but we need to pencil in Joe Flacco as an elite NFL quarterback. He threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns on the day. New England is still their typical great self, but the Ravens aren’t going anywhere.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
What I Thought was Going to Happen: The Seattle Seahawks would move on the NFC Title game and beat the Panthers easily by double digits.
What Actually Happened: Carolina didn’t make it easy in the first half, but the Seahawks were able to pull away thanks to a 25 yard pass from Russell Wilson to Luke Willson and a Cam Chancellor interception return for a touchdown. The Panthers made it close on a last second Kelvin Benjamin reception to make it 31-17, but it was too little too late as Cam Newton and the Panthers came up short.
What I Learned: The Panthers are a good team and maybe adding a skill position player or two might help them get better as a team. They have a lot of talented athletes on that roster and they look poised to make the jump to the next level. As for the Seahawks, another repeat certainly isn’t out of the question.
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers
What I Thought was Going to Happen: The Packers would get a statement win over Dallas and head on to Seattle for the NFC Championship game.
What Actually Happened: Well Green Bay got a statement win, but not what you might think. Trailing 26-21, the Cowboys Dez Bryant caught a 31 yard pass from Tony Romo for a first down at the Packers one yard line. However, video evidence overruled that call, and the Cowboys turned the ball over on downs.
Was it a catch or wasn’t it? Was this payback for the pass interference call that went against Detroit? Will the NFL change the possession rule once the 2015 offseason commences? Only time will tell.
What I Learned: Green Bay has a great offense, but Dallas came to play, and they will definitely be a contender for the 2015 season. Their talent is finally starting to come together. The Cowboys will not fade away after this season.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
What I Thought was Going to Happen: The Broncos would win and we would get another Brady-Manning matchup for the AFC Title.
What Actually Happened: Flipping the script, Andrew Luck threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns. Nursing a 14-10 halftime lead, Luck threw for another second-half touchdown to Hakeem Nicks, and pulled off an improbable 24-13 upset.
What I Learned: Peyton Manning might be done. He threw for 211 yards and only one touchdown on the day. Manning overthrew a lot of receivers, and the championship window may have closed on Denver. John Fox is now with the Chicago Bears, and as a result we may see a new quarterback sometime in the near future. The Colts meanwhile look like the team of the future. They have improved every year since Luck was acquired, and they will be top dogs in the AFC in no time at all.
Well that’s all for now. I will post a conference championship review tomorrow, and an NBA article later in the week. I also may be posting some college basketball stuff too (but that depends on how Kentucky does, who could be in for a major upset or two).
Stay Classy Everyone!