peripateticblogger.com

Playoff Football Thoughts

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 14, 2020

Typically, this weekend is my favorite for NFL football. Four games among the eight best teams, win or go home incentive. I was surprised, therefore, to see so much poor football this weekend. An exceptional number of penalties, myriad inexplicable dropped passes, many muffed punts and kick-offs and head scratching coaching decisions. (The referees didn’t particularly distinguish themselves, either.)

After the fourth game of the season, I picked the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens to make the Super Bowl and the Ravens to win it. This weekend, I considered Saturday’s games the only meaningful ones, and Sunday’s games superfluous (They probably still are). So much for my predictions. The 49ers did their part, dispatching the Minnesota Vikings handily, but the Ravens, who seemed to me to be the best NFL team this year, did a complete collapse.

Lacking imagination, I suppose, I could not conceive that the Ravens team could play as badly as they did in their game. They stunk on ice. The Tennessee Titans wiped up the floor with them.

Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh will be savagely second guessed, and possibly fired, for resting his starters in week 17th, with the result they hadn’t played in three weeks and were rusty as a tin can in the city landfill. Harbaugh looked stunned and clueless on the sideline.

The theory of resting players that long is controversial. Sometimes, coaches get away with it; sometimes, like Saturday, it bites.  San Francisco used its one bye week to rest and heal. The Ravens rested two weeks and rusted.

I can understand why coaches might want to do it, but I wouldn’t. The risk of getting stale is greater than the risk of a major injury. I thought the Ravens were just too good for this to happen to them, but I was wrong.

Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson, who will probably be league MVP this year, stunk up the place this day: interceptions, a fumble, two fourth and one stuffs, and by the end of the game he had lost his composure. His receivers (except for the two from OU – Andrews and Brown) were less than no help. They dropped the ball like it had herpes.

I still think Jackson is, and will be, the same guy he was three weeks ago, but he clearly needs more seasoning. He lost his cool in the big game. Jackson made great progress this year. I assume he will make good use of his painful off-season.

For a while, the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans looked like it was going to be a repeat of the Ravens v Titans game. For the first quarter, the Chiefs couldn’t hit the floor with their hat. Dropped passes and other misfeasance put them behind 24-0. But once they awoke and got going, they dominated and won the game 51-31.

The Chiefs got some help from the Titans’ coach who had a chance to put a nail in the Chiefs’ coffin, potentially, but blew it with two calls that were, how do I say this diplomatically, intellectually inconsistent, by which I mean stupid.  (How do some of these coaches get their jobs, and why do teams fill coaching positions with retreads and deputies when Urban Meyer is sitting at home?)

Once the NFL season has begun, two things are the best predictors of success:  quarterbacks and injuries. Great quarterbacks are precious and rare. Injuries are an X factor that is unpredictable but often decisive.

This year, there were a lot of injuries, and two teams were especially hard hit: the Philadelphia Eagles and the Seattle Seahawks. Remarkably, both got to the playoffs, Seattle with a truly great quarterback and Philadelphia, due to the utter ineptitude of my Dallas Cowboys.

The second game Sunday between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers turned out to be a terrific game, when it could have been a blowout. Green Bay was healthy and has a great quarterback – Aaron Rodgers. Seattle has Russell Wilson – but also has so many injuries it could hardly field a team.

Green Bay took a big lead, but Seattle came back in the second half and made a game of it but lost 28-23. Wilson carried his team by the scruff of the neck as far as he could, but it was not enough to beat the Packers with so many injuries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.