Despite the untimely elimination of both the Carolina Panthers and San Diego (Super) Chargers from the playoffs last weekend, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about today’s conference championship matchups. For the NFC, we’ve got the Philadelphia Eagles traveling to Arizona to play — yes — the Arizona Cardinals. In the AFC, the Baltimore Ravens visit the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Ketchup Tundra. I’m going to attempt to analyze the games, but I have to tell you: almost nothing has gone to plan this postseason. (Except, of course, the whole “Chargers-don’t-have-a-chance-against-the-Steelers” meme.) Call this a shot in the dark.
This weekend marks the second round of the NFL playoffs. I’ve got a lot of personal pride and fandom running on this weekend (no money, though) as the Chargers and Panthers both play. Here’s hoping they’re not conspiring to make this weekend one gigantic heart attack. (Perhaps I should have rented a defibrillator for this weekend.) Without further ado, here’s what I think of the games. (Yes, I’m paying more attention to the teams that I’m rooting for — this isn’t supposed to be unbiased sports journalism, after all. :) )
The NFL regular season has concluded, so that means a fairly unhappy New Years’ Eve for a few underperformers. The shakeup begins — where else? — in Miami: general manager Randy Mueller is Bill Parcells’ first casualty in what promises to be a tumultuous offseason for the 1-15 Dolphins. Brian Billick, the coach of the Ravens who lost to the Dolphins, found out what happens when you lose to a 1-15 team enroute to a nine-game losing streak: you lose your job. Billick didn’t have a chance; the Ravens were undisciplined and sloppy the last few weeks of the season. Meanwhile, many believe coach John Fox and GM Marty Hurney are on the hot seat in Carolina. Fox expects to be back, but owner Jerry Richardson hasn’t decided yet. I say give Fox another run at it with Jake Delhomme or Matt Moore at quarterback, but by all means, fire Hurney. The Panthers have had a few substandard drafts (no more USC receivers, please!) and the David Carr signing turned out to be an atrocious $6 million disaster.
The Patriots had no business winning tonight. They had no answer for Willis McGahee. Their offensive line was no match for Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan’s overload schemes. The Ravens had Tom Brady dazed and confused (haha, how appropriate for ESPN’s Led Zeppelin theme they had going tonight) for 59 minutes. And in that last minute…chaos, self-destruction, disorder…put simply, the Ravens gave them the game. Stupidity like they exhibited at the end of that game — which they had won — gets coaches fired mid-season. I’ve never seen a kickoff from the receiving team’s 35 yard line before. Inexcusable. (And yet, what would people think if Kyle Boller’s ball landed two yards farther into Mark Clayton’s hands?)