The Divisional playoff round is one of my favorite weekends of sport all year round and this year exemplified why. The Denver/Baltimore game and the Atlanta/Seattle contest provided extreme drama. The San Francisco/Green Bay game, which is the one I was not able to watch, introduced Colin Kaepernick as perhaps the league’s next great quarterback. And the Patriots/Texans game … well, nothing is perfect.
I was pretty surprised only by the results of the Ravens’ double overtime win over the Broncos. I had started to feel, like many, that Denver was the best team in the NFL. But the result, I think, does lend some credence to the possibility that the one downside to Peyton Manning’s selection of Denver as his later-career home is the potential for cold playoff games. No matter what anyone says, that could play havoc with his neck issues.
Nonetheless, the Ray Lewis retirement party carries on for one more week and I think the AFC Championship game rematch between his Ravens and the Patriots should be a fascinating game.
The NFC game also presents plenty of intrigue, with a rough, physical defense from San Francisco going up against the 2010s’ version of the 49ers of yesteryear, the Falcons. I’m already looking forward to it.
Can we hold off on Tebow talk?: I was tuning in Saturday morning to NFL Network for pregame information and before I got any information at all about the games coming up in mere hours, I was subjected to two segments on Tim Tebow’s future as an NFL quarterback.
I have nothing against Tebow. I think he’s probably a legitimately good person who will do great things with his life. However, this continued fascination with his football career really throws me. First off, he’s a member of the New York Jets at the moment, a team which finished playing football two weeks ago. So Tebow is irrelevant to what is going on now.
Second, he remains an ordinary quarterback. I had a brief Twitter exchange with someone who told me the reason Tebow is still in the news is because “last year was not fluke rather glimpse into future [SIC, assuming the punctuation and grammar issues are related to the 140 character limit].”
Okay, fine. If that’s the case, let’s save it for after the season ends, when Tebow ultimately is likely to find himself on a third team in four years.
Furthermore, if the 2011 season was a glimpse into the future, a statement of which I am not convinced, then Tebow better look for a home on a team with a good defense, a great running game and a coaching staff that is flexible enough and smart enough to play to the skills he does have. Because like it or not, Tebow was, at best, the third or fourth reason why the Broncos managed to win the AFC West last season at 8-8.
There were actually folks on Twitter Saturday night celebrating Denver’s loss and arguing that the Broncos would have been better off with Tebow. Newsflash, folks. Denver doesn’t go 13-3 and earn top seed with Tebow at the helm this season.
Again, I wish him no ill will. He seems like a good guy. But he’s no Peyton Manning as a quarterback.
AP voting overblown: Another story that got overblown this weekend was Tim Ryan’s selections for the Associated Press All Pro team at wide receiver.
Pro Football Talk got its undies in a bunch because Ryan voted Calvin Johnson to the AP’s second team, not its first team, preventing Megatron from getting selected unanimously.
I disagree with Ryan’s vote. I think Megatron is, far-and-away, the best receiver in the game today. But Ryan told The Sports Xchange he voted for AJ Green from Cincinnati and Brandon Marshall from Chicago because those teams won more games.
Again, if I had a vote, it would definitely have gone to Johnson. But voting for Green and Marshall hardly shortchanges the award. Green didn’t have the yardage totals Calvin did, but he had 97 catches, 1350 yards and 11 touchdowns. Marshall even bested that with 118 catches, 1508 yards and 11 scores.
I’d feel differently about Ryan’s vote if he had picked Danny Amendola or Mike Thomas or Andre Roberts or Danario Alexander. But there is a legitimate case to be made for Marshall, who was also named to the first team, and for Green, who made the second team.
Demonizing Ryan for this selection is ridiculous.
Television announcers had rough Sunday: I occasionally watch games with the sound off and today’s games illustrated part of the reason why. In the early game on FOX, Brian Billick repeatedly struggled with aspects of the game as simple as adding up the score. I wasn’t taking notes, but at one point in the game, he indicated that if Seattle kicked a field goal, it would make the contest a two-score game. It would have cut the deficit, if memory serves, to 17 points.
Billick, earlier this season, drove me nuts because he referred to a referee having the choice between calling a five-yard facemask and a 15-yard facemask. The five-yard version of that penalty was eliminated in 2008.
Phil Simms matched Billick during the Patriots/Texans game Sunday evening, struggling at several points throughout the day. He capped his performance by noting with less than a minute left in the game that Houston should get close, kick a field goal and go for an onside kick in order to give themselves a chance to tie the game.
That would have given them a shot at 10 points, 11 if they converted a two-point conversion. The only problem was that Houston was down 13 points at the time.
Brittiot wanted for questioning: It can be a shame when young, talented athletes mess up their careers with a couple run-ins with the legal system. It’s an even bigger shame when those first couple run-ins don’t teach said athletes anything.
Nobody is accusing Kenny Britt of anything at this point, but the Tennessean notes that New Jersey police wanted to question the Titans’ wide receiver because they believe he was present at an incident where his brother got stabbed, according to the paper.
He dropped his brother off at a hospital, but was uncooperative when police wanted to ask him questions, according to the story.
Britt is remarkably talented. He had a down year this season, a year removed from ACL surgery. But he scored nine touchdowns on 42 catches in 2010 and generally has been regarded as someone who could break out, if he can keep himself on the field.
Until he does, however, he’ll be nothing but an extremely talented jackwad with a history of injuries and run-ins with the law. Hopefully he grows up and figures it out before it’s too late.