NFL Playoffs

NFL+Playoffs

Matt Sweren, Staff Writer

The NFL playoffs were in full spring this past weekend while 8 teams played to make it to the divisional round. With only four succeeding, here are the highlights from each game.

Oakland Raiders vs. Houston Texans

14- 27 Houston

With Derek Carr breaking his fibula in the second to last game of the regular season, it was all up to backup quarterback Matt McGloin to finish the season in the playoffs. But in the last game of the season he also got injured, so it was all up to the second-year third string quarterback out of Michigan State. Having that Derek Carr already clinched the playoffs for the Raiders, it was Connor Cook’s first start. He was actually the first quarterback to ever make their first career start in the playoffs.

The Texans defense had been carrying the team all year, even with JJ Watt out for the season. Jadeveon Clowney, who had previously been a first overall pick and injured the past two years, was suspected to be a bust, but he turned into a force to be reckoned with this year, making it a real challenge for tackles in the NFL. And everything else on that defense molded together. While the offense struggled with a bad overpaid quarterback, defense wins championships.

Houston got on the board first with a field goal and the train kept on rolling. Scoring 27 points total, the Texans came out on top, and will go on and play the red hot number one seed New England Patriots.

 

Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks

6-26 Seattle

The Lions squeezed into the playoffs this year in a wild card spot. This was the first time in a while that the Lions had a legitimate chance to win a playoff game because the other teams in the NFC have ruled the conference for so long. And they always ending up losing to the powerhouse Green Bay Packers for the division and also competing with the Vikings for that spot. But even without legendary receiver Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford wiggled his way into the playoffs.

Due to the elite defense, the Seahawks won their division by no surprise. Offense came together also with Russell Wilson having a great year and receivers Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin both having great years. Their running game was slowed down significantly by the lack of offensive line help, but Thomas Rawls pushed through there and had a solid year at running back.

Seattle continued to dominate defensively only allowing two field goals total and the scored 26 points with some great receiving and some questionable refs. They held it together and will play number 2 seed Atlanta Falcons, who had a stellar year on both sides of the ball. If anybody can shut down the Falcons, it’s the Seahawks.

 

Miami Dolphins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

12-30 Pittsburgh

The Dolphins having some unfortunate luck the past couple years with Ryan Tannehill and their defense, they finally had a good year. They put things together after years of rebuilding and draft picks and numerous free agents they got in the wild card spot, because the patriots have owned that division since the early 2000s.

The Steelers started off the year not too hot, with star running back Le’veon Bell serving a four game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy. But while he wasn’t the Big Ben, he still found a way to compete. When Bell came back, he rocked Pittsburgh, breaking records everywhere, eventually winning the division title over the Ravens.

Bell continued to break records by rushing for 167 yards and two touchdowns; he led the Steelers to a divisional win over the Dolphins. They will go on and play the Chiefs, who were a surprise out of their division this year, and test Pittsburgh’s offense with their stellar defense.

 

New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers

13-38 Green Bay

The Giants have had a stellar year beating the powerhouse cowboys twice. To a year where there weren’t that high expectations, Eli Manning had multiple targets to get the job done: Victor Cruz,who had been injured the past two years, and rookie Sterling Shepard, who proved he is going to be a stud in the future,  the best receiver in the NFL Odell Beckham Jr., who had a stellar season and led the team to their wild card birth.

When you think of consistent teams in the NFL, the Packers are probably one of the teams that come to mind. The team is getting old though. They have had to fight for the last couple division titles. With pretty much everybody on their team over 30, the Packers will soon have to rebuild the whole team, but for now they will continue to be competitive the next couple years.

The game started looking like the Giants were going to control the game being the only team to score in the first quarter. But that was very untrue; you can never leave Aaron Rodgers out. He scored 24 points in the second half they ended up destroying the Giants and will go on and play the number 1 seed Cowboys facing the amazing defense and platinum offense.

 

Divisional Round

Seattle Seahawks vs. Atlanta Falcons

20-36 Falcons

Coming off a bye, the Falcons were the favorite to win the NFC this year after the regular season due to the Cowboys having little to no playoff experience. The Falcons made this year possible with the fall of the Carolina Panthers having a bad year, with injuries and loss of free agents. Atlanta was a dominant force on both sides of the ball with Matt Ryan having an MVP season and Julio Jones having a great year as well. Vic Beasley also blew up on the NFC defenses having a fantastic year.

Seattle struck first scoring ten points in the first two quarters, but the Falcons came back in the second quarter and scored 19 unanswered. That made it hard for the weak Seattle offense to compete after the Seahawks’ secondary gave up that many points. Atlanta will advance to play Green Bay in the NFC championship.

 

Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots

16-34 New England

With Tom Brady out for the first four games due to suspension, the Patriots had a big burden on their shoulders. However, highly touted backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo got the job done until he was injured in the end of the second game of the season. Third string quarterback Jimmy Brissett had to step in, winning their Monday night football game against the Texans but got blown out in the his second start. Then Brady came back and only lost one game for the Patriots, making them the number 1 seed in the AFC.

By no surprise the Patriots scored first and blew out the Texans; their amazing offense was too much for the elite Texans’ defense. What the Patriots do with schemes on both sides of the ball is almost an art form. With no big super star on the defensive side of the ball, they always get the job done. Patriots will go on to play the Steelers in the AFC championship.

 

Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys

34-31 Green Bay

As the Cowboys are the #1 seed in the NFC, it was no question they were the team that all eyes were on due to so many people just not liking them. With Tony Romo hurt in the pre-season and no real runningback before the draft, the Cowboys took their number  4 pick and spent it on Zeke Elliott running back out of Ohio State; Jerry Jones is happy. They ended picking the possible best running back in franchise history with having won the rushing title this season. With Tony Romo out it was up to now starter to backup quarterback Dak Prescott, who was drafted in the fourth round of this year’s draft. With losing the first game of the season, the Cowboys season was under doubt and people were already waiting for Romo to come back. But Dak proved himself to be great leading the team to a 13-3 record and made Romo the backup quarterback which was a surprise to many.

The Packers looked to take an early command to the game by going up three scores, which was the biggest deficit the Cowboys had all season. They ended the half 21-13. Green Bay ended up scoring another touchdown in the third quarter and the Cowboys had a scoreless third quarter, but the Cowboys came back to tie the game in the final minutes giving the best quarterback in the NFL a chance to win. All it took was one big throw and a kick by Mason Crosby to seal off the game for Green Bay. They will go on and play the Falcons in the NFC championship.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Kansas City Chiefs

18-16 Pittsburgh

Kansas city was relieved to hear that Peyton Manning retired. It was now time for the Chiefs to reign again in the AFC West with them being contenders the past years but never quite making it. They have a stellar offense and defense having a great draft class and drafting Tyreek Hill. They had a new great receiver and he was a big contributor to the success of the chiefs

The game stayed pretty steady the whole game, but the game came down to the field goals, because the Steelers didn’t score a touchdown all game while Chiefs scored two. Chris Boswell pushed the team into the AFC championships, where they will play the powerhouse Patriots.