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Brian Eller

A look back at the Wild Card games


I hope you enjoyed this weekend's Wild Card games and I certainly hope you fared better with your predictions than I did. Thanks to an unforeseeable upset (Seattle), Nick Folk's pesky foot and Michael Vick's late gamble, yours truly went a dismal 1-3 with the game picks. It's not something I'm proud of. Then again, how in the heck should I know who's going to win the games? If anyone out there really can see the future, please tell me one thing. Will I ever be able to grow a handlebar mustache? Please, I'm dying to know whether I need to stock up on wax. As I twirl my imaginary facial hair, here's a look at this past weekend's games.

New Orleans at Seattle

I would imagine this one caught most of you by surprise, too. New Orleans entered as one of the most talented Wild Card teams in history, while the Seahawks limped in with a 7-9 record. Still, I have to give coach Pete Carroll credit for an inspired day. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck looked like a young boy Saturday, tossing four touchdowns and making a slight believer in me that he can repeat that performance in the Windy City this weekend. To complement his day, running back Marshawn Lynch may have given us the highlight of the entire playoffs, with his game-clinching touchdown run in which he broke off three tackles, pushed another defender aside then burst into the end zone, much to the 12th man's chagrin.

The Saints, meanwhile, played OK. Drew Brees was fine and his numbers on most days were enough to win the game. The defense, however, was less than inspired. Missed tackles, poor coverage and little to no success from the front four allowed the Seahawks to come away with the upset. Well done, Seattle. My hats off to you.

New York Jets at Indianapolis

It was a little surreal watching Peyton Manning bounced from the playoffs in the first round, especially to a team not named the New England Patriots. Still, Manning and his fellow Colts are done, thanks to a game-winning field goal from Jets kicker Nick Folk. I applaud coach Rex Ryan for having the gusto to keep the offense on the field for a closer try at a field goal, rather than risk a nearly 50-yard kick from an older foot.

The one prediction I can bask in was I thought this would be the game of the weekend, and while you could make a strong case for Seattle's win or the Packers', I thought this was the most exciting one of them all.

Baltimore at Kansas City

Guess who picked Baltimore? Me. I'm so smart, I know everything. Here's the one game I got right this weekend, and it shouldn't be a surprise to most of us. The Chiefs had some life when Jamaal Charles burst for a 42-yard touchdown scamper, giving the Chiefs a 7-3 lead. But Sunday was too much Baltimore for quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel threw three interceptions and faced constant pressure from Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs. And after surrendering just 14 turnovers all season, Kansas City had five in the loss to the Ravens. Yikes.

The Ravens, meanwhile, still leave me worried. Sure, 30 points is a nice day for any offense, but there were a couple of stalls in the red zone which led to three points instead of seven. That worries me, especially with a trip to Pittsburgh looming, a matchup that's been decided by just three points the last three meetings. Hopefully they can remedy that before Saturday, because I just plain don't like the Steelers.

Green Bay at Philadelphia

Remember when I said I usually do that thing where everybody is picking one team, so I try to rebel and pick the other, when all along I should've picked the team that everybody was picking? Yep, that happened here. Forecasters thought Green Bay had the upper hand in this game, but I thought Michael Vick and DeSean Jackson would quiet some of the boo birds in Philly. As it turns out, the fans did plenty of booing, most of it directed at kicker David Akers (what happened, buddy?).

Aaron Rodgers finally got his coveted playoff win and the Packers now travel to Atlanta, which should be a great matchup to watch. If A.J. Hawk and Clay Matthews can put as much pressure on Matt Ryan as they did on Vick, Green Bay might just have a shot at moving on.




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