Tag Archive | "wild card"

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The chase begins for us in Miami

Posted on 02 January 2009 by joeflacco

I hope all of you had a great New Year’s celebration.  Mine was really low key.  I just sat around with a few of the guys and watched a lot of football.  We had practice on Thursday, so the main requirement on Wednesday was to get plenty of rest.

We’re looking forward to going down to Miami this weekend.  Looking at film this week, there’s no doubt they’re better right now than they were in Week Seven.  But so are we.  A lot of people have asked me if it’s important that we beat Miami earlier this season.  I don’t know how important it is right now that we won that game, other than to say we’re in the playoffs because we won 11 games and that win in Miami was one of them.

Having played in four playoff games last year at Delaware, I’m familiar with the “one and done” routine.  Obviously, the NFL is much different than college football, but the playoff system I played in isn’t any different.

We’re going down there to win a game, stay alive and keep chasing our goal of winning the Super Bowl.  I’ll be talking to Drew at 8:30am on Tuesday.  I hope you all have a fun weekend.

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Blog & Tackle: Wild Card round predictions

Posted on 02 January 2009 by Chris Pika

Four games, four opinions: Here is a quick look at this weekend’s NFL Wild Card round games with my gut feel for how each will go. Three of the four games will be competitive, with the Atlanta at Arizona game the lone exception.

In order of play:

Atlanta at Arizona (Saturday, 4:30 pm): Arizona was absolutely putrid over the final five weeks of the season with blowout losses to Philadelphia, Minnesota and New England. Atlanta went into the toughest indoor facility in the league, Minnesota, and came out with a key victory late in the season. But, the Falcons lost in a shootout at New Orleans and got everything they could handle in a victory over St. Louis.

The key stat here is that Arizona tied for the most points among the NFC playoff teams (427 with the Giants), but have given up 426 – the most among NFC qualifiers. The opposing offenses are ranked No. 2 (Falcons) and No. 3 (Cardinals) in the conference. Atlanta’s defense, led by Pro Bowl snub John Abraham (16.5 sacks), and the offense, behind offensive rookie of the year Matt Ryan and tough runner Michael Turner, will chew up yards and clock to make quick work of the Cardinals. Prediction: Atlanta 34, Arizona 14.

Indianapolis at San Diego (Saturday, 8 pm): This is maybe the best matchup on paper of the four games. The Chargers stopped the Colts’ attempt at back-to-back titles with a 28-24 victory in the division round a year ago. Indy QB Peyton Manning is the league MVP for rallying the Colts for 3-4 to 12-4. San Diego has basically played playoff games the last four weeks just to qualify, as the Chargers went from 4-8 to 8-8 to win the AFC West over slumping Denver.

Don’t let the Chargers’ 52 points against Denver last week fool you. They were held to 20 and 16 points in the final two losses to Indy and Atlanta just before the four-game win streak. The Colts beat the Ravens handily before the streak, and New England, Pittsburgh and San Diego during it. Throw out the preseason-style win over Tennessee last week. The only tendency is that they really haven’t blown out much-weaker teams (Cleveland, Detroit, Jacksonville), which makes them suspect if a good opposing defense can slow them down. The big number is that Indy is +9 in turnover margin. Also, if San Diego has both LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates on the shelf or if either/both are limited, the Chargers offense won’t be able to keep up with the Colts. Prediction: Indianapolis 23, San Diego 20.

Baltimore at Miami (Sunday, 1 pm): Miami is underrated as a playoff opponent, as the Dolphins have steadily improved since the Ravens beat them in Week 7. Chad Pennington is a veteran quarterback, and probable NFL coach of the year Tony Sparano will have his group believing they can settle the earlier score. Baltimore is playing as well as any playoff team right now, and John Harbaugh’s veteran-laden team will take nothing for granted or get caught looking ahead at Tennessee.

The key in this game is the quarterbacks. Chad Pennington has had his career reborn after some up-and-down seasons in New York. Joe Flacco is playing like an older veteran, and he improved each week during the regular season. The only carryover from the first meeting to keep an eye on is that the Ravens were extremely disciplined against the “Wildcat” offense and didn’t allow the Dolphins to make much headway.

If the Ravens impressive run game is on track, Flacco can settle into a rhythm with Cam Cameron’s playbook, and move Baltimore along. If the Ravens have a second-half lead, the run game will take over to finish off the Dolphins. Miami has to bank on their amazing +17 turnover margin that led the league, hope Flacco regresses (nine of his 12 interceptions came against playoff teams) and that Pennington (seven INTs) doesn’t find Ed Reed and Co. with errant passes. This game will be much closer than many think. Prediction: Baltimore 24, Miami 21.

Philadelphia at Minnesota (4:30 pm): Somewhere along the way, Philadelphia re-discovered the magic formula and battled its way into the playoffs. Minnesota finally took a weaker-than-expected NFC North over Chicago. The Metrodome is the loudest indoor facility in the NFL, but the game might not be a sellout and there will be plenty of Philly fans in the house, which will negate some of that advantage.

Adrian Peterson will probably get his yards against the Eagles, but Philadelphia’s relentless pass rush will rattle Vikings’ QB Tavaris Jackson. Donovan McNabb has been hot with nine TD passes and just one interception in the last five games. The Eagles’ run game has four 130+ yard games in the last five outings. This will be a lower-than-expected scoring game for both clubs. Prediction: Philadelphia 21, Minnesota 17.

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That’s Just The Way It Is…

Posted on 29 December 2008 by roblong

As I suffer through insomnia tonight, or this morning, I cannot help but notice the sympathy that’s going out over the national sports talk airwaves for the New England Patriots. The defending AFC Champions are causing a stir for their 11-5 record that didn’t get rewarded by a play-off appearance.

I have to admit, that’s an awful good record not to be playing in January, but last I checked, it’s not the NCAA Basketball Tournament. You don’t get an at-large bid. You play your way in. The rules are clear going into the season. If you win your division, you get one of the top four seeds. If you are among the best of the rest, you get either a five or six seed as a wild-card. That’t the end of the story.

I’m hearing folks from all over the country suggest, maybe, the NFL should change the way they conduct business. The fact that the Patriots, at 11-5, are going home, and a team like the San Diego Chargers could host a play-off game is almost criminal. “The Chargers went 8-8, they shouldn’t even be in the play-offs,” one caller suggested.

Sorry, I beg to differ. I think this is what makes sports so great. It always gives us something to talk about. Sports gives us something to debate. Somewhere along the road, the Patriots had an opportunity to go 12-4, instead of 11-5. 12-4 would have earned them a chance to go.

No, I’m not saying this because my team got in at 11-5. If the Ravens had been on the outside looking in, I would have brought up the two games against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the game against the Tennessee Titans. Those were three games in which they should have won, but they didn’t. The Ravens were fortunate to still get in.

I don’t know what the League could do to “fix” this problem. The Chargers won their weak division. Do you not let them into the play-offs inspite of winning their division? Do you change each conference to just two divisions and allow the four best teams into the play-offs as wild-card teams? That would be the only solution. Your argument could be that having four divisions in each conference allows for too many “champions.” Do we really celebrate our AFC North titles, anyway?

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What A Great Season…

Posted on 28 September 2008 by roblong

I know, it’s not popular to talk about MLB in Baltimore these days. Fortunately, I’m not worried about being popular when it comes to baseball. This has been a great season.

On the final day of the season, there are four very relevant games. The AL Central has yet to be decided and the NL Wild Card is still up in the air as well. And depending on who wins, the season could be a lot longer than we planned.

I’m glad the Ravens aren’t playing. This gives me the “green light” to watch more baseball today.

If you’re a sports fan, you’ve gotta love this. LET’S GO TWINS!!! LET’S GO METS!!!

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