Wednesday Morning QB (Wild Card Weekend)

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Wild Card weekend didn’t quite make sense this tie around and that is not a new issue for the NFL.

This weekend saw the first round of the playoffs as teams that barely made it into the playoffs took on division winners to take another step towards the Super Bowl.

The Wild Card weekend is always an interesting one as the wild card teams are the ones who couldn’t win their division and scraped into the final two spots.

At least that is what the wild card was made for but it seems like that is becoming less of a story every year.

The story is increasingly becoming about teams who are forced to slog through the travel of a wild card team despite their impressive records.

The playoffs were set up to reward teams who won their division while still allowing second place teams to compete.

That makes complete sense if all divisions were created equal as the best teams would win their divisions while everyone else competed for the wild card.

That is essentially what happened in the NFC where the division winners were truly the best four teams in the conference.

Meanwhile, everyone else competed for the wild card, a battle that Philadelphia and Seattle won.

It set up the matchups that were always supposed to be set up, teams that rose to the top of their division and teams that fell just short.

Even then though the rankings were not entirely perfect with Seattle and NFC East champion Dallas holding the same record at the end of the season.

That is not necessarily supposed to be the way things go as the division leader should be the better team.

When it came down to it though the NFC was set up in exactly the way it was intended with the better teams taking the home games.

The AFC was entirely different though as the best teams were not necessarily the team hosting the wild card games.

That is because the Los Angeles Chargers were one of the best teams in the league yet had to settle for the wild card.

If it wasn’t for the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chargers would have easily taken the AFC West with a 12-4 record, the same as the Chiefs.

Those 12 wins were just not good enough to beat the Chiefs though and so instead of heading into the playoffs as one of the best teams, they would be a wild card team.

The Chargers may go down as the best wild card team ever as a 12-4 record usually gives a team Super Bowl talk and home field advantage.

It did for one but the other 12-4 team was forced to the bottom of the layoff standings forcing them to play on the road the entire way.

There aren’t many wild card teams who have been able to make that journey but that is usually because they have struggled throughout the season and are playing better teams away from home.football-sidebar

The Chargers are in a much different situation and they showed that against the Baltimore Ravens.

They travelled to Baltimore and took on the Ravens and actually were the better team heading into the game.

Los Angeles took the win moving on to the Division round in what is going to be the most challenging stretch for the team.

After flying to Baltimore the Chargers flew back to the west coast and now will head back to the east to take on New England.

It is a travel schedule that nobody wants but this team seemed to know what was ahead of them throughout the playoffs.

They are the best road team in the league setting them up to perfectly to make this run through the playoffs as a wild card team.

The Patriots are no easy task though as they continue to be one of the best teams in the league behind Tom Brady.

It is going to be a challenge to go to Foxborough and take home a win but the Chargers are in a better position than anyone else to make that run as a wild card team.

The playoffs were always set up to reward the teams who could come through the division but that also means that some teams get punished for no reason.

There is no reason for the Chargers to have to play from the wild card as they are better than all but one team in the conference.

Still, the set-up creates a great story and something to watch throughout the playoffs as they continue their run this weekend.

 

Fifth Quarter

Positions Filled

The first week of the playoffs also led to a number of coaches being available for those eight open positions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a bit of a disaster over the last few years so they reached out to a no-nonsense veteran in Bruce Arians who will reportedly take the reigns next year. Arians former team, Arizona will go with an offensive guru in Kliff Kingsbury who is one of the leaders of the offensive revolution in college football and will try to replicate that success in the NFL. Finally, the Green Bay Packers decided on Matt Lafleur who has a tendency to get the best out of quarterbacks and will try to do the same with Aaron Rodgers. It leaves five openings left as the coaching carousel is well underway with fewer and fewer coaches available.

Open Market

Tensions in Pittsburgh seemed to have reached their peak and the dynasty that never was is beginning to fall apart. With Le’Veon Bell very unlikely to return next year after sitting out thanks to the insistence of the Steelers to franchise tag him they lost one of their best playmakers. Now they seem to be willing to move on without their other major playmaker after issues between Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger reached a boiling point in the final week. The market seems to be open as the Steelers are looking to trade one of the top deep threats in the NFL. There will be plenty of teams interested in his talent but the price will likely keep many away.

When Kickers Fail

The Chicago Bears seemed to be built for a deep run with the best defence in the playoffs and a home game for their first round. That home advantage seemed to slip away against the Eagles but they fought to stay in the game. They did just that and at the end of the game had a chance to win and avoid the upset. It all came down to a kick from Cody Parkey and after making one kick that was blown dead due to a timeout he hit the upright and then the crossbar on his next attempt. It is one of those legendary misses and Bears fans were not happy with their kicker bringing out the ugly side of NFL fandom. Everything could change as it was revealed later that the Eagles got a hand on the ball turning it into a blocked field goal and potentially providing him a bit of a relief.

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