Wild Card Weekend has come and gone, and it certainly was an exciting couple of days of football. Based on our weekly picks that Mike, C.J., and myself did and will continue to do each week of the playoffs, I came out on top this week with a 3-1 record so thus I get an “open forum” of sorts here to reflect back on the weekend that was.
Three of the winning teams this weekend had what I would deem “young quarterbacks,” with the Jets (Mark Sanchez), Ravens (Joe Flacco), and Packers (Aaron Rodgers) all going into hostile environments and coming away with road playoff victories. All three were first round picks that have emerged as solid to great NFL quarterbacks.
As Vikings fans, that is our hope / dream for the next few months, right? To use the Draft to acquire a young quarterback with a high draft pick that can emerge as our Flacco / Rodgers / Sanchez. We all hope that Joe Webb can be the long-term answer, but it’s not often quarterbacks taken that late in the draft (6th round) from a small school (UAB) pan out. So if Webb can’t be the answer, the Vikings will have to look towards the Draft, which will take place on April 28-30.
Sanchez, in only his second year in the league, now has three road playoff victories to his credit. Granted, he hasn’t been asked to do much more than not screw things up in those games, and certainly the Jets are built around a great running attack and one of the best defenses in the NFL, but it says something about the young signal caller that he holds a 3-1 career playoff record at this point in his career. Things could certainly get rocky for Sanchez and Co. this weekend as they travel to New England, but Sanchez is 2-2 in his career against the Patriots and revenge will certainly be on the minds of the Jets after the 45-3 beatdown the Pats put on them in early December.
Flacco, who is in just his third year in the NFL, also has an impressive playoff resume to his credit. He was brilliant on Sunday in leading the Ravens to a 30-7 win over the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, one of the toughest places to play in the NFL. He finished the day going 25-34 with 265 yards, two touchdowns, and no turnovers. Last year in the playoffs, he led his team into Foxborough and despite the fact he threw for just 34 yards, the Ravens won 33-14 and he didn’t do anything to screw it up. In 2008 as a rookie, he took his team to both Miami and Tennessee in the postseason and came away with wins before the Ravens lost 23-14 at Pittsburgh in a classic game. Those two teams will have at it again this weekend in the Steel City.
The weekend of course ended with Aaron Rodgers winning his first ever playoff game as the Packers rolled into Philly and topped the Eagles by a 21-16 score. A-Rod was on top of his game on this day as he posted a 122.5 quarterback rating in throwing for three touchdowns in the win. Granted the Packers defense had a lot to do with this win (as did the Vikings for that matter, since they hobbled Mike Vick and exposed the Eagles defense in the week 16 victory) but Rodgers didn’t have that “melt down moment” that has hampered him at times over his young career as an NFL starter.
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