Divisional Results — Defense Rules!!

16Jan12

Well the Divisional playoffs have concluded and, after watching nearly twelve hours of football, I learned two valuable lessons.

1)      I’ve got the AFC dialed in really well.  The NFC…..not so much!

2)      A team with a powerhouse offense and a mediocre defense needs to be on top of their game to beat a good defense.

Let’s talk about lesson #1 first.  I prognosticated (I know, big word) fairly accurately that Baltimore and Houston would play a brutal, hard-fought, defensive minded game that would not be settled until the final five minutes, with Baltimore coming away the victor.  As it turns out, I was slightly off on this one.  The game wasn’t decided until the final eleven seconds!!!  The rest of it, I was on the money.

In the other game (and I use that term loosely), I predicted that New England would destroy Denver in a game that was going to be painful to watch, especially for Bronco fans, with the Patriots winning by 31 points.  As it turns out, it wasn’t even that close, as New England brought home the victory by 35 points.  Just imagine if they’d played as well in the second half as they did in the first half, where they held a 35-7 halftime lead!

Okay, on to lesson #2.  A great defense will beat a great offense!  How many times have you heard that before, not just for football, but for any sport?  It’s been one of the most heated arguments of all time, with plenty of data to argue both the pro and con sides.

However, this weekend ended all debates on the subject, at least as far as the NFC goes this season.  First, San Francisco comes out of the gate (no, not the golden one!) and punches New Orleans in the mouth, in the form of turnovers, not once but four times in the first half, with three of those coming in the first quarter that turned into ten points for the 49ers and some certain squandered points for the Saints.  For the sake of argument, let’s call it a 13 point swing in the 49ers favor.

The Saints picked right up where they’d left off to start the third quarter, turning the ball over again, leading to another three points.  Now we’re up to a 16 point swing for the 49ers!   The two teams then exchanged a couple of punts to close out the third quarter before turning on the jets to finish the game out.  The last four minutes of the game saw four touchdowns between the two teams, the last coming on a Vernon Davis catch with nine seconds left to give San Francisco the victory.

Just think what would have happened if that 16 point swing earlier on didn’t happen.  I know the Saints will be thinking about that for the next six or eight months!

Let’s move on Green Bay, home of the most dangerous offense in the league!  Yeah, well someone better wake them up and tell them that they missed the game Sunday.  I mean, if the game plan was to serve up this game to the Giants on a silver platter, they couldn’t have come up with a better strategy than the one they used on Sunday.  At last count, there were eight dropped passes and three turnovers, not to mention tackling that would have gotten a high school player benched.  (Seriously guys, try reaching an arm out there once in a while.  Big strong wide receivers tend to bounce off you and keep on going when you just throw a shoulder into them, as Hakeem Nicks showed!)

I really felt sorry for Aaron Rodgers.  I could only imagine the conversations going on in the Packers’ huddle.  “Hey Jermichael, you think maybe you could grab one of those passes, just for old time’s sake?  Jordy, why don’t you show him how?  Oh, never mind.  I’ll just run with the thing myself!”  I’m sure there were a view more adjectives used, but you get the point.

Okay, so now we move on to the final four.  We’ve got the two teams I expected to see in the AFC final and two teams I expected to be on the golf course next weekend in the NFC final.  I think I’ll hold off making any predictions for now.  Check back with me later this week to find out which teams are the locks to win….well, are pretty certain to win…..okay, to see whether heads or tails comes up!!!

See ya’ then!

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