Saturday Update – #NFL #AFCWildCard

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Burflict

Well, this certainly put the “wild” in Wild Card.

For the first three quarters of the Steelers-Bengals playoff matchup Saturday night in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh was in control with a 15-0 lead going into the fourth. It was a tough contest, to be sure, with both Pittsburgh’s and Cincinnati’s defense coming on strong in inclement weather. And it was as tense as predicted, with the two teams combining for 11 penalties for 104 yards in just the first half alone. In the end, the Steelers prevailed 18-16.

But it was the late fourth quarter infractions that ended up killing the Bengals. And Vontaze Burfict. And the rain. And pure stupidity. And and and …

Continuing Reading: Nobody’s Burfict: Bengals implode, Steelers advance.

+ Read Big Ben’s “Willis Reed” Moment: Big Ben came back to lead Steelers to victory.

  • Bengals come back but still lose
    • The Bengals, who trailed 15-0 after three quarters, came all the way back to take a 16-15 lead before dropping a heartbreaking 18-16 decision to the Steelers. Cincinnati became the sixth team to erase a fourth-quarter deficit of 15+ points in a postseason game. Just two of the six eventually won the game: the Cowboys (at San Francisco) in December 1972 and the 49ers (vs. the Giants) in January 2003. The teams that, like the Bengals, fell short, were the 49ers in January 1984 (at Washington), the Steelers in January 2008 (vs. Jacksonville), and the Seahawks in January 2013 (at Atlanta).
  • Boswell scores four three-pointers
    • Chris Boswell kicked four field goals, including the game-winner with 14 seconds remaining, in the Steelers’ 18-16 win at Cincinnati. Boswell, who made his NFL debut in October, is the first rookie or first-year player to score four field goals in a postseason game.
  • Lewis falls to 0-7 in the playoffs
    • The Bengals fell to 0-7 in the playoffs under Marvin Lewis. Lewis is the first head coach in NFL history to lose seven consecutive postseason games.

ChiefsTexans

When the game is pretty much settled within the first few seconds of a game, you know you’ve had a rough day.

The Chiefs opened up wild card weekend in Houston with a 106-yard kickoff return, and it only got worse from there for the Texans, who were booed off the field at the end of first half. Kansas City won, 30-0. And it wasn’t even as close as that.

You have to wonder where the Texans defense went after holding the Chiefs to 13 points in the first half, but it was quarterback Brian Hoyer — and by extension, Bill O’Brien’s decision to try and get by with mediocre talent at QB — that ultimately was Houston’s undoing.

Hoyer had four picks — and should have had six — but O’Brien stuck with him for the entire game (not that he had tons of better options).

Of course, you need to credit the Chiefs defense, which served the first playoff shutout since the Panthers blanked the Giants in 2006. Kansas City dominated every……

Continue Reading: Chiefs blank Texans and move to divisional round.

  • Chiefs score in record time, coast to shutout win
    • Knile Davis returned the opening kickoff 106 yards for a score 11 seconds into the Chiefs’ 30-0 win at Houston. That was the earliest scoring play in NFL postseason history. No team had pitched a shutout after scoring a touchdown on the opening kickoff in an NFL game, regular-season or playoffs, since November 12, 1939. On that day, Washington won 42-0 in a regular-season contest against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field after Andy Farkas took the opening kick to the house.
    • Three of the four previous teams that scored a touchdown on the opening kickoff in the postseason went on to lose that game: the 49ers in December 1972 (Vic Washington TD), Dolphins in December 1974 (Nat Moore), and Bears in Super Bowl LXI (Devin Hester). The only other team to win a playoff game after returning the opening kickoff all the way was the Giants, against the Eagles in January 2001 (Ron Dixon TD).
  • Kansas City’s blowout-shutout
    • The Chiefs’ 30-0 win represented the third-largest margin of victory by a road team in a postseason shutout. The Bears won 73-0 at Washington in the 1940 NFL Championship Game, and the Colts won 34-0 at Cleveland to capture the 1968 NFL title before losing Super Bowl III to the Jets.
  • Reid finally keeps his opponent off the scoreboard
    • Kansas City’s 30-0 win was Andy Reid’s first shutout as a head coach in either the regular season or playoffs. Reid’s 272 regular-season games are the most in NFL history by a head coach whose team never blanked its opponent.
  • Hoyer’s rough playoff debut
    • Brian Hoyer threw four interceptions in his first postseason game Saturday. Hoyer is the third player in the last 30 years be picked off four times in his playoff debut, and the Chiefs have been involved in all three. The Raiders’ Todd Marinovich threw four interceptions at Arrowhead Stadium in December 1991, and Kansas City’s Mark Vlasic, in relief of starter Steve DeBerg, was picked off four times by the Bills a week later (Jan. 5, 1992).

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Coached Up

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Trying to figure out or rank the NFL’s coaches is a difficult task because so many X-factors exist in the determination of success and failure. Sometimes an average coach is in the right environment and he thrives and sometimes a good coach is in a toxic environment that even the best couldn’t dig their way out of. One thing is for sure, though, the better your head coach the higher the chance you’ll have at winning. Below is a smattering in no particular order:

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

Belichick is on a legen…(wait for it)…dary path and while discussing 32 coaches is difficult, agreeing on who is #1 is not. Belichick has been AP Coach of the Year three times, won four Super Bowls, and been to the playoffs 12 out of 15 seasons.

Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs

Reid’s run in Philadelphia was a very good one but more impressive perhaps is how quickly he turned the Chiefs into a playoff team. Anytime you can do that in multiple environments, you’ve shown your abilities. Injuries bit the Chiefs last year, as well as the allergic reaction his WR’s had to the endzone, lead an expectation that Reid will lead his team to a rebound year.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

Last year’s meltdown was hard and it would be quick to condemn both Payton and the Saints based on one bad season. The Saints rebounded from their post Bountygate season to make the playoffs and in 2009 they rebounded from 7-9 to win a Super Bowl. Payton is likely the best offensive mind in the game. His offense has been in the top five every year except for one since he coached the Saints and they were #1 in the NFL last season. He’s been AP coach of the year and led his team to the playoffs five times in eight seasons.

John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

Any coach that survives the retirement of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to maintains this level of success, deserves credit. He’s been to the playoffs 6 times since 2008 and he has won a Super Bowl.

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers looked like they might be falling apart, before we saw a big resurgence from Ben Roethlisberger last year in part thanks to the explosion of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Make no mistake, Tomlin plays a huge part in keeping this team competitive despite the big drop off defensive talent and the hole now left by Lebeau . He’s been to the playoffs 5 times with a Super Bowl title since 2007.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

His player friendly style has worked wonders both at USC and in Seattle. While anyone could win with the talent he’s assembled he deserves a lot of credit for cultivating and maximizing those players. His run the last two years with two Super Bowl trips and one title has been dominant.  Maybe next time he’ll run the ball.

Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts

He brings a certain level of toughness, and the Colts seem to be on the verge of really big things.  But it seems we have seen this movie before with the previous QB era.  Jury is still out until we see more besides just Andrew Luck.

Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams

Fisher is a fantastic coach that knows how to assemble a roster and get the most out of his players. His Achilles heel in St. Louis remains his inability to get consistent healthy quarterback play. Maybe Nick Foles can bring consistency and change that; and if he can the Rams are a team to take very seriously.

John Fox, Chicago Bears

Fox has had successful stops in Carolina and Denver. The Bears are elated to have someone of his quality and he should be able to turn things around quickly, but the ceiling is always low.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants

His improbable two Super Bowl title runs have kept him in New York much longer than anyone expected. He knows how to get his squad up for the most important games, that’s for sure.  Remember, his Jaguars still have more playoff victories than the Cowboys in the last 20yrs.

Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals were a Super Bowl contender before the injury of Carson Palmer. Arians has done a fantastic job there after being a very successful assistant coach for a long time. He deserves that job based on how he filled in for Pagano in Indianapolis.

Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers

One could argue McCarthy has underachieved a little bit considering his quarterback is Aaron Rodgers. He’s still an excellent offensive mind, though, and there’s no question his 94-49-1 record speaks for itself.

Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions

He’s a disciplinarian that runs a tight ship and has Super Bowl experience with the Colts. His first season in Detroit was promising.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

He catches some heat and he’s been fortunate to hang on to his job as long as he has but he is a premiere defensive coach. Unfortunately he’s never had enough talent, under center, to really take this team to the next level, but he’s still an above average coach.

Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers

The Panthers defense has been dominant the last couple of years and Rivera has greatly benefited from a weak division. He’s been a gutsy coach that seems to have a great feel for the game.

Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans

His turnarounds of both the Texans and Penn State are nothing short of remarkable. But can he compete at the top?

Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers

The Charges have been ok under McCoy, but he’s been a bit of a disappointment and hasn’t really shown that he’s an upgrade over Norv Turner.

Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills

Ryan is a good coach who had success in New York for a while despite poor quaterback play, but can he turn around a team in Buffalo with the same exact problems?

Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders

Will he be able to succeed where it seems like everyone else fails? He’s got a good history as a defensive guy, but for this team to win Derek Carr will need to develop and Del Rio will need to stay out of the way.

Gary Kubiak, Denver Broncos

This is a good fit for a prolific offense. His stint in Houston was mediocre at best but he’ll be working with more talent.  It is now or never to show what he is capable of.

Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles

The jury is still out on Kelly but he certainly seems to have blown up his roster. And as explosive and exciting as his style has been at times, the team still hasn’t won a playoff game in two seasons with him. A lot of talk without results. It’s hard to see the Eagles being better this year unless Sam Bradford can stay healthy and productive.

Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons

Quinn seems as solid as it comes in terms of coaching defense. The Falcons will need it as they were 32nd overall last season. We’ll see how he does as a head coach, though, there are a lot of unknowns.  Lucky for him he has Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to help him figure it out.

Mike Pettine, Cleveland Browns

A solid effort to get the Browns to 7-9 last year but with Hoyer gone it could be worse this year.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys

Garrett has underachieved and like Romo he cannot get it done in the postseason.

Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings

He did an admirable job last season considering the Adrian Peterson situation. It remains to be seen if he’s the right man for that job, though.  Having Norv Turner is going to help.

Todd Bowles, New York Jets

He’s had a couple good years with elite talent as a defensive coordinator in Arizona. A lot of unknowns exist on how he’ll do as a head coach in a new environment.  Alot hinges on the growth of Geno Smith.

Lovie Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

His credibility took a big shot as the Bucs regressed last year. The future of his head coaching career now rests on the arm and head of Jameis Winston. I’d be nervous.

Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins

He’s 23-25 since 2012 with no trips to the playoffs. He’s a mediocre coach for an average football team.

Ken Whisenhunt, Tennessee Titans

Last season was a disaster in Tennessee. He’ll be looking for a new job soon if results don’t improve.

Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins

Not only was Gruden’s team a disaster on the field last season, there were issues off the field surrounding the management of RGIII. I’m not sure any coach could succeed in this environment, many have tried.

Jim Tomsula, San Francisco 49ers

Really have to question his qualifications here and based on the offseason he’s really set up to fail.

Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars

7-25 since 2013 speaks for itself, unfortunately, but there is talent and they play harder than most teams.