What We Learned From the Seahawks Win, Plus a Playoff Preview and the Great NFL Coaching Purge

Will the record holder for most touchdown passes in a rookie season please stand up?

Russell Wilson continued to scribble out portions of the Seahawks’ record book, and the NFL’s for that matter, and write himself in. Wilson now has tied Peyton Manning for the most touchdown passes thrown in a rookie season. Not something people would have expected for a Quarterback who was selected after five other QBs, one of whom isn’t even starting (Brock Oswiler is Manning’s backup.)

It Doesn’t Come Cheap

(That sounds nothing like any kind of title, it’s mainly there to make my other bolded title look better by default.)

The Seahawks demolished the Cardinals, Bills and 49ers in recent weeks. Maybe you heard. Point is that another blowout probably wasn’t going to be beneficial, at least for the playoffs. The Seahawks had to work for this win. That will be nice when the playoffs roll around and teams won’t be losing by astronomical amounts.

Playoffs

“Playoffs? Don’t talk about—playoffs?! You kidding me?! Playoffs?!”

That would be Jim Mora talking about, you guessed it, the playoffs. Yes, the glorious playoffs are here. We all get to wait and see who delivers the play of the postseason. Last season it might have been Kyle Williams’ muffed special-team handling, maybe Mario Manningham’s Super Bowl catch. The year before that, gave us Marshawn Lynch’s brilliant touchdown run against the Saints. Hopefully this year someone will provide us with a play that belongs in the same breath as the Lynch run or David Tyree’s catch. Because frankly, as much as I just amped up the Manningham catch and Williams’ trouble holding onto the ball, those plays are summed up in one word: anticlimactic.

The playoffs are a different animal this year in the NFC and almost the same relative animal in the AFC. The “National” Conference returns only Green Bay, Atlanta and San Francisco from last years’ playoffs with Seattle, Washington and Minnesota as the newcomers. The AFC meanwhile has the exact same lineup (Houston and Cincinnati played in the 3-6 game last year and will do the same this weekend, they must love playing each other) with the sole difference being Indianapolis taking Pittsburgh’s slot.

In the first round of the playoffs, I think Andrew Luck is going to win many a playoff game in his career, but I can’t see the Ravens losing this game. Not with it being a home game, not with it potentially being Ray Lewis’ last game, not with it being possibly Lewis’ last home game period, win or lose. The Ravens will beat the Colts 33-21.

The Bengals will definitely be more competitive than in last year’s 31-10 romp. That being said, I don’t think the Bengals can keep up with the Texans top-ten ranked offense and defense. Houston wins 24-14 over Cincinnati.

Over in the NFC I like the Vikings to beat the Packers. The Vikings won last week over Green Bay, and nothing says momentum like beating a team and then playing them again. Adrian Peterson could very well have another field day. It will be a surefire win if the Vikings’ 9th-ranked pass defense can bottle up Aaron Rodgers, Bahia Verde’s (that’s Spanish for “Green Bay” for all you folks at home) 20th-ranked run offense could stick out like Clay Bennett in Seattle. Minnesota wins 27-21.

The Great Coaching Purge: NFL

It’s being dubbed “Black Monday,” but the day that a good portion of the league lost coaches was mainly due to lack of quarterbacks. Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Kansas City, San Diego and Philadelphia all made changes. All of those teams, with the exception of Chicago (Lovie Smith probably got fired for not getting it done in the postseason, or even getting there) and maybe San Diego, have serious long-term questions at the quarterback position.

I’ll check in next week with the divisional round preview. See you then.

NFL Championship Round Preview and Picks

Tebow Mania has been put to sleep for the offseason. The Texans came within a touchdown of beating a good Ravens team with their third string QB. The Saints lost to the 49ers in a whirlwind last couple minutes. And oh yeah, the defending champs got shellacked by the New York Giants.

Enough of last week, it’s now that great time of year when everyone looks an idiot for picking the two best teams to be in the Super Bowl, and as it ends up both are out by the divisional round.

And as the field shrinks by the week we still have the possibility to have the most boring Super Bowl in recent history, where more people tune in for the commercials than the actual game. Yes that’s right, we could still have a “Harbaugh Bowl”. Wouldn’t that be terrible? A dismal offense (San Francisco) against one that is OK (Baltimore), also a lot of big hits and a defensive showdown with probably a couple broken arms along the way (maybe I’m over exaggerating).

Or we could have the two better offenses (New England and New York) duke it out 2008 style.

This is probably starting to sound a bit like a Super Bowl preview. It’s not. The two teams aren’t determined yet. And frankly that’s why we play the game.

NFC

Alex Smith is a game manager. Just thought I’d get that into everyone’s head who doesn’t believe it. This isn’t a guy who racks up big numbers some games that are offset by bad games. Overall this makes his numbers “mediocre”, but his team gets it done, hence the “game manger” tag. This guy is not that (if that made any sense whatsoever), he’s a QB who isn’t relied on a ton by his team. This team relies on Frank Gore and because of Gore, the play action. San Francisco probably has and had the worst wide receiver core (remember Vernon Davis is a tight end) of any playoff team and maybe one of the worst in the league. Michael Crabtree is the only wide out who is going to make opposing coaches lose sleep. And that’s more of a wake-up-for-five-minutes-to-get-a-glass-of-water kind of lost sleep. And no one can stress the importance of their defense… yadda yadda yadda. If they struggle against Eli Manning it might be a long day for San Fran fans (corny, I know).

Prediction: New York Giants 24 San Francisco 49ers 20

AFC

Ray Rice needs the ball. Ray Rice needs to gash the Patriots front seven so Joe Flacco can thrash the Patriots porous defensive secondary. If Ray Rice can’t get it going and Flacco struggles. Ehh. Tom Brady will have some problems with Baltimore’s D early, but eventually will probably have his way with them as he does with all defenses.  Baltimore needs to slow down Gronk, Wes Welker and all of Brady’s other weapons in order to have a shot at winning. They also need to score points. 20 against New England probably isn’t going to cut it (if it does, joke’s on me).  If Joe Flacco can exploit the Pats’ D then the Ravens will have a very good chance to win this game. In the end, I think Flacco will respond to the criticism and have a good day. It probably won’t be enough to slow down Tom Brady and the Pats.

Prediction:  New England Patriots 35 Baltimore Ravens 17