I’m not going to sugar coat it, the first weekend of the NFL Playoffs was close to unwatchable.
Of course, we all watched — you don’t watch 17 weeks of football — some good, most bad — and not watch the playoffs.
And while yes, the first round of the postseason isn’t the main event — it’s more like a prelim fight — this prelim fight was so bad it almost gave me no interest in watching the rest of the card.
In a weekend where the average margin of victory was 19 points and the best game of a four-game slate, according to the scoreboard, was Texans-Raiders (or, in other words, Brock Osweiler vs. a rookie making his first NFL start in the Raiders biggest game since 2002 — good luck kid!) there was still plenty to be parsed.
Maybe, I don’t know. I’m going to have a hard enough time explaining why I neglected friends and family and baseline adult responsibilities to watch Matt Moore try to beat the Steelers.
Here’s what we do know about Wild Card weekend:
USA TODAY NETWORKThe Post-Crescent-USA TODAY Sports
Texans 27 - Raiders 14
A lot of people really enjoyed blaming the calendar for the last 12 months. And instead of self-evaluation, many seemed keen to just put everything bad into a box named “2016” that they attempted to throw out around Christmas.
Surely those problems wouldn’t carry over into 2017 — it's a whole new year!
But that’s not how things work. All those terrible things that happened in 2016, they have repercussions and tentacles that extend into 2017 (and 2018, and 2019, and 2025).
It wasn’t the calendar’s fault, it was ours, and I have the strange feeling that 2017 isn’t going to be any better.
How do I know this? Simple: Brock Osweiler won a playoff game in the year 2017.
Yes, the $72 million man, benched a few short weeks ago in favor of Tom Savage, who is more likely a down-on-his-luck backup quarterback character from a movie who was somehow traded to the real world, went out and did what only Matt Schaub and T.J. Yates had previously done — won a playoff game for the Houston Texans.
And here’s the crazy thing: he didn’t look all that bad… at least by his own standards.
Yes, there were hilariously misplaced balls and a handful of deflected sidearm throws from inside the pocket, but he also helped the Texans put 27 points on the board.
Houston’s exceptional defense played a major role in the whole ordeal — Osweiler led a touchdown drive of four yards to essentially put the game out of reach early in the first quarter — but Osweiler did have something to do with the victory.
I’d like to see Tom Savage go 14-of-25 for 168 yards a touchdown and no interceptions against a bottom third defense…
On the flip side, Raiders rookie Connor Cook never stood a chance. Not when Oakland’s once-formidable offensive line was, in fact, three guys stolen from a soon-to-be-defunct USFL reincarnation and, well, he had never started a game in his NFL career.
Cook was poor, but I assure you that Matt McGloin, his injured backup (who was Derek Carr’s backup before the injury) would have been worse.
After Oakland fell behind 10-0, the game was effectively over and it became all about getting the kid experience.
There were times when he looked pretty damn good. The Raiders went into a K-Gun offense to score their first touchdown (perhaps they should have continued that, defensive fatigue be damned) and then late in the contest when it was over and the Texans decided to stop blitzing.
It wouldn’t have mattered which non-Carr quarterback was in for the Raiders, they weren’t going to win that game with a backup quarterback. At least this way they know they can let McGloin walk in free agency with impunity.
The Texans’ defense is exceptional, by the way, it’s a shame that Osweiler has already peaked this postseason.
(Also, celebrities die every year, and a Twitter eulogy is self-indulgent nonsense, so get over it.)
Troy TaorminaTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Seahawks 26 - Lions 6
The Seahawks were always a much better team than the Lions, who had a one-dimensional offense and the worst defense in the NFL, per DVOA. That’s to say that this result wasn’t unexpected.
There has already been some revisionist history where Lions fans claim that Paul Richardson and Doug Baldwins’ ridiculous catches shouldn’t have counted and that the Seahawks were gifted 14 points by the referees.
Perhaps that’s the case, but a team that doesn’t score a touchdown doesn’t get to complain about being robbed.
The Lions better hope that no team decides that offensive coordinator and real person Jim Bob Cooter is head coaching material this offseason because if he leaves, that team is screwed.
If you want to find something to blame for the Lions’ poor performance down the stretch, blame the fact that Matt Stafford’s right middle finger was marginally attached to his hand.
I’m not a doctor (though I will play one in a bit) but that seems like it would make it difficult to throw the ball more than 20 yards.
The Seahawks bet on that going into the contest (though this doesn’t differentiate much from Seattle’s normal game plan) and the Lions, who were hoping they would just play soft zone all game, could only tip their hat — the jig was up. Detroit didn’t even bother trying to exploit the Seahawks over the top, save for one incredible throw to Marvin Jones in the second quarter.
But it’s OK, because Jim Caldwell, who I would like to remind everyone was fired after going 26-63 at Wake Forest and then inherited Tony Dungy’s team in Indianapolis and in three years got them the No. 1 pick, maintained his stoic impression the entire game.
He’s the “This Is Fine” meme of coaching.
Kirby LeeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Steelers 30 - Dolphins 12
I’m just happy that Matt Moore is alive after Bud Dupree broke the fabric of space-time in an effort to lay the Dolphins quarterback out with a vicious and ejectable target.
Regardless, this game was child’s play for the Steelers, who were so impressed with themselves and their ability to roll over the worst defense in Miami Dolphins history (look it up), that they decided to test fate by playing their starters late in the fourth quarter of a won game.
You know why players are pulled with 24-point, fourth-quarter leads in the playoffs? So they don’t do anything stupid and get injured, hurting their team’s postseason chances.
You know, like what Ben Roethlisberger did Sunday.
The Steelers might have looked really good Sunday, but the Kansas City Chiefs are markedly better than the Miami Dolphins.
The Steelers might have the best running back and wide receiver in the postseason, but instead of rolling into K.C. with confidence, they’re going to be hoping that Roethlisberger’s ankle is markedly better.
Charles LeClaireCharles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Packers 38 - Giants 13
I don’t take many days off — I’m too insecure for that —but on my last day off, let’s just say that I did something far more detrimental than flying to Miami and hanging out on a yacht in Timbs. (Did they go directly from the airport to the yacht? Did they forget proper boat attire? I have questions.)
Odell Beckham, a head case and the most impactful player in the NFL, had a bad game Sunday, and it wasn’t because he went to Miami on Monday — but somehow that, and not the spectacular performance of Aaron Rodgers or the fact that Eli Manning is worthless without OBJ will be the main topic of conversation going forward from this game.
I think I know the answer to this, and it makes me sad, but why is it that so many seem personally offended by OBJ? He seems like a nice enough kid. He’s clearly a bright guy. He has style, something to say, and is a godsend to beat writers who need things to write.
Why is he getting the Cam Newton treatment where he’s somehow an affront to all things good and holy? (While we’re at it, why the hell does Cam get that treatment?)
Again, I’m pretty sure I know the answer, but hopefully presenting this rhetorically can point how ridiculous it all is.
In the meantime, I will not glance over how awesome Rodgers has been — 70 percent passing, 19 touchdowns, 0 interceptions in his last seven games awesome – or how meh Manning was in this contest.
Yes, Eli threw for almost 300 yards, but was there a single moment where it felt like he had control of the contest? Did you ever utter — "uh oh, here comes Eli?” like you did for A-Rod Sunday? Of course not — he’s the Robin to OBJ’s Batman and when Batman takes the night off, the Giants stand no chance against a good team.
With that being the case, Beckham deserves scrutiny for his performance Sunday. Three drops and four catches in a game of that magnitude is unacceptable.
But don’t blame what he did on Monday for what he did on Sunday. That’s lazy.
I don’t blame the bad sandwich I had a week ago for this hack column.