After an exciting and unpredictable Wild Card Weekend, the football world turns its attention to the Divisional Round as the Super Bowl draws closer
NFL Wildcard Recap
Last weekend marked the beginning of the 2019-20 NFL playoffs with four wild card games. These games produced one of the most exciting weekends in the NFL.
The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots lost their wild card home playoff game against the Tennessee Titans, 20-13. Derrick Henry, the menacing running back for the Titans, bulldozed the Pats’ defense for 204 yards and a touchdown. Henry’s record performance was the most yards gained by any player against the Patriots since 2000. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw for only 209 yards along with zero touchdowns and a pick-six.
The weekend was not only tough on the 42-year-old Brady, but it was also hard on all-time passing leader Drew Brees for the New Orleans Saints and back-up quarterback Josh McCown for the Philadelphia Eagles, both 40.
For Brees and the Saints, the game came down to overtime where Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a 4-yard fade pass to tight end Kyle Rudolph for the walk-off victory.
The pass to Rudolph was met with controversy after Rudolph pushed off the defender and caught the winning touchdown pass. The play was reviewed to see if the push-off was warranted a penalty, but the referees claimed they saw equal hand fighting which resulted in the Vikings victory. For the second year in a row, the Saints season ended on a controversial non-pass interference call.
More controversy ensued in the NFC during the Seahawks vs. Eagles game with officiating woes as Seahawks defender Jadeveon Clowney speared his head into Eagles starting quarterback Carson Wentz, giving Wentz a concussion. No penalty flag was thrown. Career backup Josh McCown entered the game and led the Eagles with grit but was ultimately defeated.
In the AFC, the Texans nearly edged out the Bills in overtime with a 22-19 victory in dramatic fashion. For both teams, many of the play calls and decisions in this game were a bit of a head-scratcher.
The Bills looked to tie up the game with 1:37 to play, facing a fourth down and 27 yards to go. Head coach Sean McDermott elected not to kick a field goal from 55 yards out even though their veteran kicker Hauschka made a 54-yarder during pre-game. Bills quarterback Josh Allen took a sack giving up even more field position for the Texans to end the game.
Then on the ensuing drive, the Texans drove down the field and instead of extending their lead to six with a field goal, they turned the ball over after getting stopped short on fourth down.
The Bills, now given life, drove down the field and kicking a game-tying field goal, forcing overtime.
With all the drama, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson took in the big moment and led his team to victory, throwing for a total of 247 yards and a touchdown.
This coming weekend marks the Divisional Round of the playoffs, with one of the best football slates of the year.
Divisional Round Predictions
Look out for upsets this weekend. The first game is at Levi’s Stadium on Saturday at 1:35 p.m. PST where the San Francisco 49ers will host the Minnesota Vikings. The underdog Vikings are looking like they may have pieces in place to give San Francisco a run for their money. Behind running back Dalvin Cook, who led them to victory last week against the highly favored Saints, the Vikings could be dangerous moving forward.
The next game is at 5:15 p.m. PST in Baltimore at the red hot Tennessee Titans come to town to take on the top-seeded Ravens. The Ravens look like the best team in the league, but they have a significant player banged up for this weekend’s matchup in running back Mark Ingram. He is currently listed as questionable with a calf injury. The Ravens offense thrives off the run and not just from record-breaking quarterback Lamar Jackson. If Ingram cannot carry the ball more than 25 times, it will put extra stress on their offense.
On Sunday at 12:05 p.m. PST, the Houston Texans will travel to Kansas City to challenge the Chiefs. This game features two of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes who will fight for a spot in the AFC Championship game. These two players, along with Jackson from Baltimore, are the future of the NFL. This game will have some of the most jaw-dropping plays of the weekend from the quarterback position. Look for the Kansas City Chiefs to claim the victory as they are peaking at the right time and are the more rested team, coming off of a first-round bye.
For the final game of the weekend, the Seattle Seahawks will travel to play the Green Bay Packers on Sunday at 3:40 p.m. PST. It is projected to be a frigid 16ºF and snowing in Green Bay. It will be tough for the Seahawks to go into this hostile situation and get the win. Their recipe for success is to get their running backs going. They’ll need Marshawn Lynch to go full beast mode in the snow to come away with the victory.