With the National Football League Wild Card round of the postseason behind us in what was a parade of lackluster blowouts, we move ahead to a hopefully much more competitive round of playoff football. All home teams won last week, I went three-for-four in my predictions, the Seattle Seahawk offense looked good and Houston earned the right to get blown out in New England (foreshadowing).
In my Wild Card predictions, I focused on the quarterbacks for each team, but this week I will talk running backs – starting with Thomas Rawls of the Seahawks who FINALLY had a game I was expecting him to have all year. The ‘Rawls Royce’ stepped up for 161 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown. Shedding tacklers all game long, he played fast, he played durable and definitely looked healthy after dealing with several injuries all season long.
After a 106-yard effort against Carolina in week 13, Rawls ended the season with very underwhelming yard totals of 67, 34, eight and 14, respectively. His outburst in the playoffs was much-needed for the Seahawks and if he can continue that effective running, a trip to Houston may be in his near future.
They face the Falcons this weekend who have MVP front-runner Matt Ryan (Sorry Tom Brady, but you know I won’t pick you anyway), wide-receiver Julio Jones and their running back Devonte Freeman. Freeman finished the year with a very respectable 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve watched a Falcons game all year, so I don’t know much about him. He seems fairly average. I call him the ‘default running back’, because someone has to play the position, so by default he gets carries.
I give Rawls the edge in the running back category.
HOUSTON PREPARES FOR BLOWOUT
In the other Saturday match-up, the Houston Texans travel to New England preparing for hoodies, deflated footballs, cameras in weird places and who knows what else the Patriots have in store this season. Maybe their football cleats will have little, tiny knives in them or they will figure out a way to implant nanotechnology into the footballs and remotely control where the ball goes. Anything is possible, but none of it will be necessary.
LeGarrette Blount finished the year with 18 touchdowns and 1,161 yards – not a huge fan of Blount, but his numbers are impressive. Most of his touchdowns are probably of the ‘inside the 5-yard line’ variety, so that adds an asterisk, but it still counts.
Lamar Miller of the Texans played pretty well throughout the season – one of my lone bright spots on my fantasy football team that finished in last place. He had a couple really bad ‘Disappearing Acts’ – eight carries for 20 yards in Minnesota, and 14 carries for 22 yards at Green Bay to name the significant ones.
Weird, both were on the road to teams up north…He knows he’s playing IN New England Saturday, right? Sorry, bro, Blount wins and I don’t even like him.
PITTSBURGH LOOKS TO DISAPPOINT KC FANS
It has probably been a while – and I don’t feel like looking it up (I need a stat/research guy) – since Kansas City hosted a playoff game. Playing against a hot Pittsburgh team this weekend will not be a good look for them! (Think Steve Carrell voice in 40-year Old Virgin, then re-read that sentence.) Le’Veon Bell will destroy them. He’s way better than what the Chiefs have defaulted to with Spencer Ware. Ware put together a solid season in the time he’s been the lead guy, but a healthy Jamaal Charles would make this a much more fun match-up.
DALLAS HOSTS THE PACKERS IN A TOSS UP
For the second week in a row, the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers (NOT Jordan…sorry it’s still funny) play in a game that the NFL would probably prefer it to be the NFC Championship game. They disposed of the Giants on Rodgers’ heroics and now they get Ezekiel Elliott and the Dak Prescott show – with Tony Romo watching…kind of in a creepy way.
The Packers have converted wide-receiver, Ty Montgomery as their running back, which although it is creative, it basically says to everyone they play, ‘we don’t give a crap about the run game, but figure out how to stop us anyway.’ They picked up Seattle castoff Christine Michael – who still is the Seahawks leading rusher this year (awkward if both teams win this week) – to help the run game, but it’s nothing like what Dallas can do with Elliott.
He’s a rookie, but rookie running backs are usually good. The learning curve to understand the position when you transition from college to NFL is much easier, and they have younger, fresher legs…just ask Adrian Peterson. Plus, Elliott has an awesome o-line and a poised quarterback. Will Romo see the field if Dak can’t handle the pressure of a home playoff game?
I kind of spoiler alerted all of these, but here we go. I only lost one last week, and that is a rare victory for me, so let’s see how this week goes.
Seahawks 27, Falcons 20
Patriots 41, Texans 10
Steelers 31, Chiefs 17
Packers 40, Cowboys 38
I think there is some value in playing in the Wild Card game. You can pull an Odell Beckham Jr. and take some free time to party on a boat or whatever he did WITHOUT a bye week (stupid) or you can plan, prepare and actually play a game. Brady is used to having weeks off before he plays…zing…yeah, I went there, but the other home teams this week haven’t played in two weeks. I think that factors into what happens this weekend. Let the Rawls Royce loose again and go Seahawks!