FULL reaction to Wild Card Weekend on tomorrow’s show and podcast.
1) Saints are becoming scary
I mean really, I said coming into this game that their offense might be unstoppable and this did nothing to shake my confidence in that. They didn’t even have close to their best game today offensively, though Drew Brees did, and still scored 30+ points in their sleep. Brees, Michael Thomas (one of the best WRs in the NFL now), Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram are going to be a lot for even the best defenses in the league to stop.
My concern remains with their defense that gave up 26 points to a not-even-close-to-healthy Panthers’ offense. Their secondary still looks very susceptible and their run defense today was average. What happens when their offense has a down day?
For now, the Saints have certainly surprised me and have a very interesting matchup next week which I’ll talk about shortly.
2) Don”t blame Cam
Listen, I get blaming Cam Newton for a lot of things, I am usually right there with you, but this game is not that. He fought through injury at the end of that game and his team’s secondary got exposed for large portions of this game despite making the Saints one dimensional by virtually stopping their running game. And plus, the Saints were favored and most people picked them for a reason, sometimes you just get beat by a more talented team and on first glance that’s what happened today.
3) Sacksonville is corny, but real
As awful as the name is, it’s true, this Jacksonville defense is the real deal. Their front seven was good today (Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, Malik Jackson and Myles Jack), but their secondary was even more impressive. A.J. Bouye and one of, if not the, best CB in football at this point, Jalen Ramsey, owned the Bills’ passing game like they should have. And while I am in the process of praising Ramsey, let me do it once more. Not only does he have a peak-level trash talking in every game, he backs it up. This was the eighth game in which he allowed 30 yards or less: elite.
Blake Bortles and company should be thanking their lucky stars for that defense because without it (and against a better opponent) they would have lost if not embarrassed fashion. This is the first and only time they will win in the playoffs with Bortles having more rushing yards than passing (not a typo) and Leonard Fournette being held in check.
It’s a good story that they have gotten this far, thanks to their defense, but the nice story will likely end next week in Pittsburgh.
4) Cinderella loses her slipper for good
Buffalo was the story everyone in football loved. A team making their first postseason berth in 17 years and against a beatable opponent had people buying in. At the end of the day, Tyrod Taylor missed way too many open receivers again and while their defense showed some long-term upside today, their offense is going to need to be reworked for them to go beyond just a playoff berth.
What Bills fans should be looking back on is in the first half they had the ball at the one yard line and didn’t run it once which led to them settling for a FG. Inexcusable, but at the end of the day the talent beat the feel-good story.
5) Divisional Round looks good, not great
The Divisional Round will go as follows:
Falcons at Eagles – 4:35 PM ET – NBC
Titans at Patriots – 8:15 PM ET – CBS
Jacksonville at Steelers – 1:05 PM ET – CBS
Saints at Vikings – 4:40 PM ET – FOX
At first glance Sunday’s games are way better than Saturdays, but as we all know, anything can happen. Overall though, what in many people’s minds in the best NFL weekend of the year, looks to have some disappointing matchups outside of the amazing New Orleans/Minnesota game.
-Article by Nick Friend
Tomorrow: FULL Wild Card Weekend reaction – SWN Show and podcast
Already released today: The SWN Show
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