18 thoughts on “2018-2019 NFL: Wildcard Round

  1. Some general thoughts:

    Colts-Texans
    My general impression is that these teams are evenly matched–although the Texans losing Demaryius Thomas was a big blow.

    Seahawks-Cowboys
    Off the top of my head, I’d say the battle of the trenches is going to decide this game. Which OL can avoid penalties, block well enough to get their run games going, and provide decent enough pass protection, especially in obviously passing situations.

    I’m kind of disgusted with the way the Seahawks have been playing; my expectations are kind of low.

    Chargers-Ravens
    I’m disappointed that these two teams have to play each other in the wildcard round. I think both could have gotten to the Super Bowl. The Ravens are interesting, in that, they are primarily run a college offense. The Panthers use of option running is important, but it’s not the core part of their offense. If I were the other AFC teams I’d be happy that one of these teams will be knocked out of the playoffs.

    Eagles-Bears
    I don’t have strong feelings. Yes, I’d prefer the Seahawks playing the Eagles in the playoffs, but I’m pessimistic about the Seahawks chances of going far. Because of that, a part of me prefers that the Bears advance, because I’d like to root for them against the other NFC teams, especially the Rams and Saints.

  2. Colts, Texans:
    I believe the Colts o-line can dominate this game. I don’t believe the Colts defense is great, but they are good. If the Colts can run the ball and give Luck easy third down conversions, I think they will win easily. I like the Colts in this one.

    Hawks, Boys:
    I said this last time, that I didn’t think the Seahawks were good enough to win, but I was wrong. The difference was that the Hawks was great in the red zone, and pretty much converted all red zone opportunities to TDs or at least the ones early on. If they are able to do that again, they can win, but that is a huge “if”. I like the Cowboys.

    Chargers, Ravens:
    As I stated before, I believe it’s really hard to beat a team twice in the same season. However, I thought the Ravens dominated the Chargers in the first one. If the Chargers cannot stop the Ravens from converting first downs, I don’t see them having a great chance again. The surprising thing, from the previous Charger, Raven game was the amount of times Lamar actually dropped back to pass. It was more than I’d thought. I like the Ravens.

    Eagles, Bears:
    I think the Eagles defense front is playing close to the way they were last year. It’s their DBs that are struggling. Can Trubisky make them pay? I doubt it. But I just cannot see Philly do much on offense. I will reluctantly take the Bears, and mainly just due to home field advantage.

    1. However, I thought the Ravens dominated the Chargers in the first one.

      The game is hazy in my mind, but I recall Rivers had two turnovers in this game, but the game was still close. If the Chargers turn the ball over again, then I don’t like their chances, but if they protect the football, this is going to be a good game.

      1. From my memory the Chargers struggled to get first downs or struggled to move the ball consistently, whereas the Ravens consistently got first downs.

        I think the game stayed close because the Ravens couldn’t get into the end zone. But yes till the end the Chargers had a chance to win, but I didn’t get a sense that they would. Lamar threw for more yards than Rivers and the only Chargers TD drive came after a fumble recovery which had them in the red zone (I think.).

        1. From my memory the Chargers struggled to get first downs or struggled to move the ball consistently, whereas the Ravens consistently got first downs.

          Yeah, I remember the Ravens running the ball well, extending drives. The Chargers may not have moved the ball as well, but they were in this game, and in a close game, two turnovers has to be significant. Did the Chargers have Gordon in this game? I can’t remember, but he would be a big factor. Indeed, I would the running game is the key to the Charger’s success–that is, how far they go will depend on the run game. And by this I mean, the run game has to be a threat, has to help create manageable downs–basically, enabling the offense to be two-dimensional. If opposing defenses only need to focus on the Charger passing game, I don’t think the Chargers will go very far.

  3. Seahawks-Cowboys

    First thing that comes to mind: Seahawks penalties, especially holding and unnecessary roughness call in Seattle’s second to the last(?) drive. Those two penalties killed the drive. There were other penalties on the kept Cowboys their last drive alive, too.

    Still, the Cowboys controlled this game, basically shutting down Seattle’s run game. They also did a better job of moving the chains.

    I think the Cowboys were the better team today. Seahawks needed to be perfect, but they weren’t.

    Colts-Texans

    Don mentioned the Colts OL having a chance to dominate. They did–or at least that was the biggest thing that stood out for me. The other thing was that the Texans really couldn’t run the ball, and they were largely one-dimensional.

    Colts can go do damage if their OL can play well.

  4. Chargers-Ravens

    First thought: Part of being a good ball control offense is being careful with the ball–i.e., having good ball security. The Ravens where sloppy with their ball handling for some reason and could have turned the ball over more than they actually did.

    The Chargers didn’t run the ball great, but they were able to move the ball enough to get field goals early on. The lack of great offense was less important because the Charger defense contained the Ravens run game all day. The Ravens sloppy ball handling didn’t help.

  5. Indy, Houston:
    Indy’s offensive line is very good and it showed and I thought Indy would be able to run and they did. Reid also thought the o-line was very good in pass pro. This Indy team is a Super Bowl quality team. They play well on both sides of the ball.

    Ravens, Chargers:
    I should have stuck to my “hard to beat someone twice in one year” theory, because the Chargers changed it up defensively, and the Ravens couldn’t do anything on the ground. The Chargers played their dime and nickel packages almost exclusively. Counter to conventional wisdom, by playing smaller guys against the run, but it worked. That was the huge difference in the game, because the Chargers struggled to get TDs on offense.

    Bears, Philly:
    Foles was great in the last drive of the game and seemly decent for most of the game, but I understand Trubisky was good as well. I didn’t watch very much, but if you told me Trusbisky would play that well, I would have thought the Bears would have won in a rout. I have been hearing that Philly’s o-line and has been much better down the stretch and in the last drive they were great against a very good Bear’s d.

    Seattle, Cowboys:
    Cowboy’s dominated in terms of total first downs and TOP, but Wilson was good if not great and he really could have won the game by himself offensively. Because if Seattle didn’t give up that long run to Zeke right before the half that led to Dallas’ first TD, the game could have been really different. That being said, Seattle’s defense played well. Seattle can get pushed around a little bit, but their defense is fast and are up there in terms of tackling. Seattle pass rush was non-existent for good portions of the game however. I would have thought they should have tried and blitz a little more just to get Dak to make a mistake.

    I thought on Seattle’s last TD, that Seattle should have kicked the extra point. They needed to get Dickson experience and hopefully confidence, because Seattle’s best chance (at least I thought their best chance) to win would be to kick a field goal after recovering an onsides kick. It didn’t end up mattering, but that’s what I thought at the time.

    1. This Indy team is a Super Bowl quality team.

      Are you saying the Colts are one of the best remaining teams? For me, I really don’t have a good sense at this point. All the teams seem relatively equal to me. On a good day, any of the teams can really good. I suspect matchups will be a big factor as well.

      The Chargers played their dime and nickel packages almost exclusively. Counter to conventional wisdom, by playing smaller guys against the run, but it worked.

      Yeah, that was interesting. In some ways, doing this to neutralize misdirection makes sense. But the really surprising thing to me is the way the Chargers got penetration. That’s not something I’d expect with more DBs.

      That was the huge difference in the game, because the Chargers struggled to get TDs on offense.

      It was, but I’d also add turnovers–namely the Ravens had several and the Chargers had none. (Or did they have one?)

      …but if you told me Trusbisky would play that well, I would have thought the Bears would have won in a rout.

      I didn’t watch the entire game, but my sense is that Trubisky didn’t play all that well. He had a couple of big strikes at the end of the game, that looked more like bad defense than good offense. Still, your point stands–if Trubisky hit on those plays, I would expect the Bears to win. And really, they should have won.

      Bottom line, though, is the Bears defense didn’t really look dominant. I mean, they did early on, but not when it mattered.

      That being said, Seattle’s defense played well.

      I’m not comfortable saying this. The offense really didn’t do their part to help the defense. In the past, the defense was good enough to withstand this at times, but the current defense is not. (All year, if they didn’t get turnovers they would not have been a very good defense in my opinion.)

      The Seahawks OL lost in the trenches, and I think a lot of the loss comes down to that. In my view, if the Seahawks stick with Schotty, they will have to build one of the better OLs in the league. And if they don’t do that, their defense has to become dominant. Those are viable two paths to a Super Bowl.

      1. Seattle was able to hold Dallas to three points in the first half and it would have stayed that way if when Dallas shifted their WR inside on Zeke’s long run, Seattle didn’t counter with a similar shift leaving the whole outside open. It was a mental mistake that cost Seattle’s D seven points. If wasn’t for that run Zeke would have ended well under 100 yards.

        The last Cowboy TD drive, I agree, Seattle’s D hurt themselves. They had two pass interference calls that hurt, but overall they let Dallas maintain possession and ultimately gave up the TD. But outside of that, I was impressed with how Seattle’s D played, overall. To me Seattle had a chance to win this game, and it was because of Wilson and the defense. Seattle’s D failed on Zeke’s long run and Dallas’ final TD drive. For me it’s hard to nitpick the defense on that.

        1. Seattle was able to hold Dallas to three points in the first half…

          Maybe I’m being unfair. The mental error that lead to the Elliots run could have happened even the 2013 Seahawk defense.

          Seahawks defense played 65 snaps and to the Cowboys 45, I believe. That says a lot. Some of this is due to performance of both defenses, but the way each offense played also plays a huge role in this as well.

          The last Cowboy TD drive, I agree, Seattle’s D hurt themselves. They had two pass interference calls that hurt, but overall they let Dallas maintain possession and ultimately gave up the TD.

          They failed to tackle Prescott on a significant run (on 3rd down I believe).

          But ultimately I think the blame goes to the failure to run the ball. And you gotta give credit to the Cowboys defense for that as well.

          By the way, Seahawks fans are grumbling about sticking with the run too long. Did you agree? Do you think they should have passed more?

          I’m uncertain about this. A part of me feels like they should have, at least for some drives. They could have tried different type of constraint/trick plays too perhaps, but that hasn’t been Schotty’s MO all year. I do think if they had one of the Shanahan’s the offense would have been significantly better–they would have extended drives a lot more at least. Maybe that’s obvious, but the larger point is that I do think Schotty is limited. In my view, if the Seahawks want to win next year with Schotty, their OL has to be one of in the top five. He seems to put a lot of weight on out executing the opponent. The style can be almost unbeatable if you have the right personnel, but if you don’t, the approach is really limited.

          For me it’s hard to nitpick the defense on that.

          Yeah, especially since the offense didn’t do well at extending drives.

          1. I thought Seattle led the NFL in rushing this year? Am I wrong? That’s far from where they were last year. Is Schotty (You act like he’s your best friend.) not supposed to get any credit for that? Is that credit more due to Carroll?

  6. I thought Seattle led the NFL in rushing this year? Am I wrong? That’s far from where they were last year.

    Yeah, but here’s my thinking: You gotta be able to run against the best defenses. It doesn’t matter if you can pound the rock against mediocre defenses (and there are many, especially against the run), but can shutdown against the better ones in the playoffs. You agree with that, right?

    (You act like he’s your best friend.)

    When I talk to Seahawks fans, he’s mentioned a lot, and typing out Schottenheimer is a drag.

    1. I forgot to address something:

      Is Schotty (You act like he’s your best friend.) not supposed to get any credit for that?

      I think the addition of Fluker and Sweezy were big reasons for the improvement, but I definitely think Schotty deserves credit as does Mike Solari, the new OL coach. But here’s my sense of Schotty. He’s a competent coach that is heavily dependent on the talent around him. You can say that about most coaches, but some aren’t that way. For example, think the 49ers, after loosing their starting QB and RB, would have been far worse without Shanahan. I think if the Seahawks had Kyle or Mike Shanahan, the Seahawks would have been Super Bowl contenders.

      I will add that I think Schotty is a little more dependent on talent–mainly because his approach relies so much on execution and being more physical than other coaches. On one end of the coaching spectrum you have coaches that like to win via cleverness and on the other hand, you have coaches that like win by execution and superior talent. Schotty strikes me as pulling towards the latter, maybe more than most coaches. And I say that based on the plays and play calling. For one thing, I don’t feel like his play calling is really unpredictable. It’s not just in terms of running or passing, but the type of runs and passes. Additionally, he doesn’t use constraint plays all that much–e.g., jet sweeps, reverses, flea flickers, etc. I think this can work, but you better have great players–e.g., one of the best OLs in football.

        1. I think this is fair, although let me ask you: if you could choose between Garrett/Linehan and Schotty, would you not have a preference?

          1. I know nothing about Schotty. Who did he coach before Seattle? Regardless, at this point I would take that chance. I would definitely get rid of Linehan for Schotty. I don’t think I would give him Dallas head coaching job, so I would have to find Garrett’s replacement. I would like to chance McCarthy. But if he sucked like Rodgers says, maybe that is taking a step back.

  7. Who did he coach before Seattle? Regardless, at this point I would take that chance.

    He was OC with the Jets (with Sanchez and he might have been there when Favre went over) and Rams (when Fisher was the coach; I think Bradford might have been gone already). He didn’t have much to work with, but he seemed really simplistic and predictable. I like running, but change up your runs–attack all sides of the field, use constraint plays. (It could be that he uses different type of blocking schemes and that’s where the variation comes in.)

    By the way, I think I’ve come around a little with moving on from Garrett, or at least the idea of moving on from a long time coach, even though he’s not primarily to blame for the lack of success. What made me think this is Marvin Lewis’s firing. He seemed like a competent coach–strong roster and his teams do well, weak roster and they don’t. Even if this is true, a part of me understands why the Bengals may want to move on. At the same time, I have to be fairly confident the new guy will be an improvement or at least someone I’m willing to stick with for a while. I can see something similar with Garrett. But in both situations, you shouldn’t move on just to move on. And with the Cowboys, my concern would be that the problem isn’t the head coach, but the owner.

    By the way, if Jones fired Garrett last year, and I had the choice between Schotty or Garrett, I would have leaned toward Garrett. Several reasons for this: 1) I saw Schotty’s offenses. The one caveat is that he didn’t have a great roster, especially at QB; 2) Garrett seems to have had more respect as an offensive mind in the past. He was Parcell’s OC for example, and I put a lot of stock in that; 3) I suspect Jones could be the bigger problem. What would Garrett’s offense look like under a good HC and owner?

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