Top Ten Takeaways From NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend
2014 NFL Postseason
The best weekend in football has come and gone. 8 teams. 4 games. 2 awesome days. Today, we break down the top ten takeaways from the NFL's divisional round.
1. The last team to repeat as Super Bowl winners were the 2004 Patriots. The 2015 Seattle Seahawks look poised to follow in their footsteps if they want to. The 'Hawks made the Panthers think they had a shot for 3 quarters, before giving the 12th Man a real show in the 4th. Russell Wilson & Co. seem to be clicking on all cylinders.
2. The Indianapolis Colts became the only underdog team to win all weekend (thanks in part to their sudden development of a running game with Boom Herron and Zurlon Tipton), stunning the Broncos faithful. You can imagine my excitement. Many see Andrew Luck's besting of Peyton Manning as a "passing of the torch," of sorts, which leads us nicely into today's next point.
3. There's a chance that we witnessed Peyton Manning's final NFL game yesterday evening. Among other factors, Broncos' offensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is likely to take a head coaching position once again, leaving Manning to deal with a brand new system. Personally, I think Manning getting beat by the Colts (if this was his last start) couldn't be more perfect.
4. It may have been a decade since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick last won a Super Bowl, but the duo are now advancing to their ninth AFC Championship contest. Credit where credit's due to a coach and a quarterback who have managed to remain relevant (and at the top of the league) a decade on.
5. Speaking of the Pats, we learned on Saturday that having Rob Gronkowski healthy is a massive factor for New England. Duh, I know, but after he missed the postseason last year, it's been thrown into sharp relief. Gronk had 7 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown. Am I already worried about how (or if) the Colts' D is going to cover him? You bet.
6. Seahawks' S Kam Chancellor had a mind bogglingly good game against the Panthers on Saturday. Chancellor literally jumped over the opposing O-line on two occasions, blocked two field goal attempts just before the half, and, oh yeah, delivered the longest score in Seattle postseason history with his pick six. I wouldn't want to be Green Bay.
7. The Dallas Cowboys have once again found themselves at the heart of an officiating controversy, this time involving WR Dez Bryant. Bryant was initially believed to have caught a 31 yard, 4th down bomb from Tony Romo. After further review, though, it was determined that Bryant did not hold onto the ball during the "entire process of contacting the ground." The potentially huge play was (rightfully, I believe) ruled an incompletion. Don't think you've heard the last of this one.
8. After last night's loss, Peyton Manning has racked-up nine one-and-done postseason appearances. You're right if you're thinking that's the same number of times that Tom Brady has gone to the AFC title game. It's a rough day to be No. 18, folks.
9. Watching the Dallas Cowboys' secondary go against the Green Bay Packers' receiving corps lived up to the hype. Normally explosive WR Jordy Nelson had just 22 yards, but WR Randall Cobb was able to rack-up 116 yards in his match-up against CB Orlando Scandarick. Packers' rookie Devante Adams also had quite a game, topped off with an impressive 46-yard touchdown reception. If nothing else, it proved that the Pack has playmakers other than Nelson for Rodgers to rely on next week against the Legion of Boom.
10. The Carolina Panthers, who made the playoffs with a 7-8-1 record, were actually playing pretty decent football going into Saturday night. The Seahawks, though, are not the injury ravaged Cardinals. Carolina simply got outplayed by one of the league's top teams. It bears noting, though, that QB Cam Newton was moving the ball decently until fairly late in the 4th, even getting Greg Olsen into scoring position when the Panthers were down by two touchdowns. No. 1 shouldn't be too maligned for this loss.