The NFL didn’t exactly wow the average sports fan with the opening round of the playoffs. Three of the four games were not close with those winners being ahead by double digits at the end. Luckily for the league, Dallas and Detroit put on a good show. Actually it should have been a lopsided game also, but Detroit decided to get conservative which let the Cowboys get back in the game.
All this is not a big deal. It’s not like NFL fans are going to find something better to watch on TV next weekend in lieu of the second round of the post season. And two of those lopsided games really weren’t as bad as people are claiming. The Cincinnati and Indy game was a three point affair at the half. I never felt like Pittsburgh was truly out of the game with Baltimore until Big Ben threw that last pick after getting whiplash. The Arizona versus Carolina game was not a banner game for the league obviously. The only star power was Cam Newton in the entire game and he played so-so for the most part.
For those who don’t follow the NFL like a religion, they may be unaware of the reasons for the lopsided games. The Steelers were without their best offensive player in Le’Veon Bell. This guy was responsible for a huge chunk of the Steelers offense and he is the brightest star on the rise at running back in all of the league. The Ravens were at a big time advantage, even playing on the road, not having to deal with Bell’s production in the running and passing game. The guy had 83 catches during the year for Pete Rozelle’s sake.
Arizona was of course down to their third QB so they had little chance in their game. Third string corners or linebackers have a shot at holding their own at times. Emergency quarterbacks, which is what a third stringer is, just do not have a prayer as there is such a falloff in talent. Amazingly they actually led their game at the half with the Panthers by a point.
The Bengals may have fared no better had they had A.J. Green back from his concussion. But I have to believe they would have put up a fight a bit longer. Cincinnati has been awful in the past four years once they reached the playoffs. Their offense has simply been non-existent. A.J. Green in the lineup may not have pushed them past the Colts, but it certainly would have made a difference in their competitiveness.
The Dallas comeback ended the Wild Card Weekend on a high note, except for Detroit fans. I saw a couple of headlines claiming that Tony Romo came up clutch in this game. This is the furthest thing from the truth. He got lucky toward the end of the game, but the guy played like he always has in the playoffs, badly. He took sacks when he could have easily thrown the ball away. He missed open receivers repeatedly. He was the same old Tony Romo and if my guess is right, Aaron Rodgers is going to make him look really bad next week in comparison. Really, really bad.
Hopefully next weekend’s games will be a bit better overall. I have seen tons of blowouts in the playoffs and in Super Bowls over the years. I have also seen some of the best games and individual moments during those years. That’s what keeps football fans coming back for more, the possibility of great games and epic performances. I just hope injuries don’t play a role the rest of the way.