Sunday Wild Card Preview
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
If ever there was a team coming into these playoffs under the radar, the Falcons are that team. Although the Giants are only tepid three-point home favorites, the coverage and media adoration would lead you to believe it’s a whole lot more one-sided than that.
The Falcons were upset as the No. 1 seed a year ago and they know it was an opportunity lost. Think back to the Packers of 2009 and how they lost at Arizona in the playoffs. Many Packers players have stated that game was a catalyst to last season and this season’s success. The Falcons know what’s in front of them, and they will be ready.
The question all year has been about the Falcons’ identity. When you mortgage the franchise for a player like Julio Jones, you’re expected to throw the ball around and this has been to the detriment of the Falcons all year long. In the Packers game early in the year they had us on the ropes and then for some unforeseen reason, the Falcons completely abandoned the run. Michael Turner carried the ball three straight times to start the second half, then saw only three additional carries the rest of the game, much of which the Falcons led or trailed by one score.
Instead it was Matty “freaking” Ice back there acting like Peyton Manning in the shotgun, with only one problem. Well, two problems actually. Number one, Matty Ice ain’t Peyton Manning and number two is RUN THE FREAKING BALL! It seems like some teams are more interested in being the Packers than beating them and the Falcons are first in line.
The Falcons win this game if Brent Grimes can control Victor Cruz after the catch, and Michael Turner gets 25 touches. If you stop Victor Cruz, the Giants are a lot less scary.
The Giants have been inconsistent most of the year and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of them laying a massive egg.
Falcons 20, Giants 17
Pittsburgh Steelers at Denver Broncos
Tebow! Tebow! Tebow! Tebow! Oh someone please make it stop! Here’s an 8-8 team that supposedly has been throwing in packages for Brady Quinn this week because they’ve all lost the faith. Yay-es! Yay-es! Can I get an amen from the congregation? Yay-es!
Look, I like Tim Tebow. I think he’s a good guy who happens to love God and isn’t shy about telling people about it. I get it. But look, I’m just tired of it, okay? I honestly believe his teammates are probably tired of it, too. That’s why I think they’re going to lay down and lose. The Broncos defensive players are so scared of winning a 10-6 game and then having to endure another week of hearing how great Tebow is because he made three plays out of 60 opportunities, that they’ll give up a late drive that puts Pittsburgh up by two comfortable scores, thus eliminating all drama and the end of Tim Tebow’s season. Oh and the Broncos season, too. But no one cares about them anyway.
The Steelers are always a team to watch in the postseason, but man are they beat up. Big Ben has been limping around for weeks, they just lost Rashard Mendenhall for the year, and just like last year’s Super Bowl, All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey is out with a high ankle sprain. Despite all that, one would have to believe the veteran leadership and experience in big games will benefit the Steelers in what promises to be a Sunday afternoon snoozer.
Steelers 17, Broncos 8
Andrew Chitko is a Packer fan who enjoys the mental and mathematical side of football just as much as the action and excitement on the field. "Cerebral Football" will focus on key coaching decisions, situational football, and other NFL-related topics deserving deeper analysis.