5 Big Stories Following the Wild Card Weekend
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are smoking hot, Odell Beckham Junior and the Giants WRs can spend as much vacation time in Miami as they want this week, and the Divisional Round of the Playoffs has some awesome matchups. Meanwhile, the also-rans of the league continue their search for new head coaches.
Here are “5 Big Stories around the NFL” we’re watching this week:
Mike Roemer via AP
The Pack is Back…and heading to AT&T Stadium for the Divisional Round
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw 4 touchdown passes (including a Hail Mary to Randall Cobb on the final play of the 1st half) as the Packers put a hurting on the Giants, 38-13, in a Wild Card playoff win at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
Now the attention turns to Sunday afternoon in Arlington when the Cowboys host the Packers in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
These two teams met at Lambeau earlier this season, a Cowboys’ convincing 30-16 win. But that’s before Rodgers and the Packers went on a roll, winning their final 6 games of the regular season, plus the lopsided win over the Giants in postseason.
Kickoff on Sunday, January 15th at AT&T Stadium is 3:40pm central.
Odell Beckham Jr. & Giants WRs Have Their “Cabo” Incident, Face Long Offseason
Say “Cabo” to Cowboys fans during the postseason and they will tell you about Tony Romo being criticized for going to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico during the Cowboys’ bye weekend in the 2007 playoffs with then-girlfriend, Jessica Simpson.
The Cowboys suffered an upset loss in the Divisional Round of the playoffs the subsequent week, and Romo was unfairly blamed for spending time in Cabo rather than preparing for the next opponent. Teammates Jason Witten & Bobby Carpenter and their wives were also on the trip, but didn’t suffer the same criticism as Romo and his celebrity squeeze.
Matt Ludtke via AP
Well, the NY Giants receivers, namely Odell Beckham Junior, had their own ‘Cabo’ incident this week. Except it was Miami, not Cabo.
Last week, during their players’ day off, Giants wide receivers went to Miami and took pictures of their group, shirtless, on Justin Bieber’s yacht. The image went viral and, of course, caused an internet sensation as Giants fans questioned the group’s judgment as well as their dedication to prepare for the Wild Card game at Green Bay.
The Giants lost to the Packers. Beckham dropped a pass and was unable to haul in a couple of other throws. That has put OBJ and the receivers in the crosshairs of fans/media. And the fact that ESPN has Tweeted a photo of a hole in the wall of the room used by the Lambeau Field grounds crew – reportedly made by OBJ’s fist – heightens the attention.
Did the receivers’ trip to Miami have anything to do with the Giants’ loss? No, of course not. But it will be a very long offseason for OBJ and the other players who went to Miami. It’s a question they’ll be answering a long time (nearly 10 years in the case of the Cowboys who went to Cabo).
Stephen Brashear via AP
NFC Divisional Round Preview
The Packers-Cowboys game is not the only intriguing playoff matchup in the NFC this weekend, and it’s not the only rematch from the regular season.
The #3 seed Seahawks are heading to Atlanta to play the #2 seed Falcons on Saturday afternoon at 3:35pm central.
The Falcons, led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan, are the highest scoring team in the NFL and average more than 33 points per game. The Seahawks defense has earned the reputation as one of the best in the league. They mauled the Lions in their Wild Card game, 26-6.
When the Falcons & Seahawks met in Seattle in October, the game ended in controversy. The Seahawks won 26-24, but a non-call in the closing minute of the 4th quarter, on what everyone (except the Seahawks) thought should be a pass interference call, marred the results. If the Falcons had gotten the call, they may have won the game.
As it stands, the Falcons still finished the regular season 11-5 and won the NFC South. They take on the NFC West champion Seahawks. Thomas Rawls, the Seahawks running back, led a ground attack that gained 177 rushing yards in the win over the Lions. The Seahawks will want to continue to run the ball well and keep the football away from All Pro QB Matt Ryan, All Pro receiver Julio Jones, and the rest of the high-flying Falcons offense.
AFC Divisional Round Preview
Wow, just like the NFC, there’s a terrific matchup in the AFC this weekend…and then there’s the Texans.
Saturday night the top-seeded Patriots host the Texans at 7:15pm central. The Texans defense was dominating in their Wild Card win in Houston this past Saturday over the Raiders. Of course, the Raiders were led by QB Connor Cook, a rookie making his very first NFL start. Still, Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney and the defense were relentless, and they’ll pose a challenge for Pats QB Tom Brady.
Eric Gay via AP
Will the Texans, led by QB Brock Osweiler, be able to score any points against the stingy Patriots defense? Ummm…I’ll take the ‘under’. But hey, if you like defense, this may be a really fun game to watch.
The really intriguing matchup in the AFC is Sunday at noon in Kansas City when the #2 seed Chiefs host the #3 seed Steelers.
The Steelers looked great in their 30-12 Wild Card win over the Dolphins in Pittsburgh. Steelers RB Le’Veon Bell set a team playoff record with 167 rushing yards, and WR Antonio Brown caught TD passes of 50 yards and 62 yards…in the 1st quarter!!!
Yes, the Steelers have an explosive offense. They scored 43 points against the Chiefs when these two teams played each other in Pittsburgh back in October (a 43-14 win). But that was an off day for the Chiefs, especially on defense. For the season as a whole, they allowed an average of only 19 points per game this season.
Man, I can’t wait to watch this one. Actually, I’ll tape it because we’ll be broadcasting our live Cowboys Radio pregame show prior to Cowboys-Packers…but I can’t wait to get home Sunday night and watch the recording of this game!!!
Seth Wenig via AP
Former Cowboys assistant coach Anthony Lynn is a hot prospect
Anthony Lynn was the Cowboys running backs coach for two seasons (2005-06) during the Parcells era in Dallas. Right now, Lynn is arguably the hottest prospect among coaches interviewing for vacant NFL head coaching gigs.
Lynn finished the season as the Bills interim head coach after Rex Ryan was fired in Buffalo in late December. Since then, he’s interviewed with multiple teams including the Chargers (on Monday).
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is also a hot name. He interviewed last week during the Patriot’s bye weekend of the playoffs.
The six open head coaching vacancies in the NFL (as of 1/9/17) are the: 49ers, Bills, Broncos, Chargers, Jaguars, and Rams.