WILDCARD WEEKEND. THE TIME HAS DAWNED UPON US. WIN OR GO HOME. LET’S GO.
Colts @ Texans: Texans
The division rivals meet for their third matchup on the year and this time it’s for all the marbles. At the end of September Houston was just a meager 0-3, going into Indianapolis for what seemed to be a do or die game for the Texan’s season. The Texans won a nailbiter in overtime by a final of 37-34. The Texans never looked back, until they played the Colts again, in Houston. The game was sealed for the Colts on a late Jadeveon Clowney offsides, as they won the game 24-21, keeping the Colts’ playoff hopes alive and snapping H-Town’s nine-game winning streak. Indy finished the season 10-6 going 9-1 in their last ten games after starting the season 1-5, an incredibly improbable comeback led by Andrew Luck. Darius Leonard is heading a surprisingly credible defense in his rookie campaign, and he is to be held accountable for the improvement. I commend the Colts for an A+ draft scoring an all-star cornerstone on defense for years to come. The addition of Eric Ebron didn’t hurt either, with 66 receptions on the year, 750 yards, and 13 touchdowns, it looks like Luck finally found a perfect target to compliment the T.Y. deep threat. The O-Line is playing inspired ball during Andrew Luck’s hot streak, Marlon Mack is showing us he could have real consistent value in this league, the offense is firing on all cylinders.
First-year head coach Frank Reich should be right at the top of the voting for coach of the year award with Nagy (well deserved). This Colts team could do some serious damage in these playoffs if they had a home game, unfortunately for them, that’s not the case. Watson and Hopkins have been an unconscious tandem this year. Seriously, if I lined up across from Deandre I might throw up the white flag before the first snap. The man is a walking pair of hands, he had ZERO DROPS THIS ENTIRE SEASON. THAT IS UNHEARD OF. MONUMENTAL. The fluidity and consistency between Deshaun and Deandre is truly startling, Coutee and Lamar Miller finish the puzzle for this offense right now. The QB-WR duo in Houston is foreshadowing the future of offense in the league. Watson’s mobility will be too much for Indy this weekend.
J.J. Watt and Clowney want greatness, Tyrann Mathieu wants it, the entire Texans team does. Their linebackers and secondary are absolutely nothing to play with either. I’ve been high on the Texans since pre-season and I’m sticking to my guns. The team will also be playing inspired in wake and anger of the senseless and cruel murder of 7-year-old Jazmine Barnes. They’re playing for a massive cause and the team has more than a couple members who are very active in helping the community. Hopkins is going as far as donating his playoff check to the family, and the people trying to track down her killer. I don’t see the Texans losing to the Colts at NRG stadium twice this season, especially when they still have the taste from that last home L in their mouths. Houston Texans move onto the divisional round.
Seahawks @ Cowboys: Seahawks
Ahh yes. A rematch of the classic Tony Romo fumble game, and it’s at the oh-so-cursed Jerry World. The Cowboys have a phenomenal roster that can and will do damage in years to come, but I feel their talent takes a backseat to the playoff experience of DangeRuss Wilson and Pete Carroll. Since taking the reins in Seattle in 2011, Pete has led the team to ten playoff wins, two NFC titles, and a Lombardi. On the other hand, Jason Garrett took over in Dallas in 2010 and has brought them one single playoff win since. Dak, Zeke, and Amari are a mean trio with a solid O-Line. The Seahawks MUST contain Zeke at least somewhat in order to get a win. If they don’t, all bets are off because when Zeke’s on, Dak gets hot.
Earlier in the season, I thought neither of these teams would make the playoffs if I’m being completely honest, but both rosters showed true grit all year especially in the second half of the season when the going got tough. Seattle’s young defense is coming into their own much quicker than anyone expected following the legion of booms’ departure. The Griffin bros have made their presence felt, helping fill holes on a once-dominant defense led by captain Bobby Wagner, who’s playing like he’s in his prime. This defense could be right back to dominant sooner than later with an offseason acquisition or a good draft pick.
The Cowboys have a good secondary, but the speed of Lockett mixed with a healthy Baldwin is just too fatal when Russell Wilson is QB. I might actually think the Cowboys would have a better chance if the game wasn’t at Jerry World. AT&T stadium does not provide the home field advantage that Jerry paid for, sometimes oddly enough, it does just the opposite. The pressure is on at home for them after winning the East, and they know it. The mentality for the boys must be confident, not fear, and sometimes
I think this roster is so young that the fear is still too strong. America’s team has the most pressure always, and I’ve yet to see Dallas prevail through it in my lifetime. They have the right pieces, but they need to study the picture of the puzzle on the box more. Jason Garrett has spent a long time in Dallas but doesn’t have the accolades to show it, especially for such a storied franchise where historically; winning is the expectation. If the Seahawks emerge victoriously, it will most likely be Garrett’s last year in Dallas. Although rookie Leighton Vander Esch is playing out of his mind, Chris Carson’s raw ground consistency should be a nightmare paired with Seattle’s passing attack.
The Cowboys are lacking speed in areas on defense, and no rookie (nor any one man) can make up for all the missed opportunities. I don’t see this game getting away from either team, I imagine the score stays somewhat low, and the game stays neck and neck throughout. In some ways, I believe the Cowboys are currently the better team, but in this showdown, I predict it all comes down to coaching. A game of chess if you will, and Pete Carroll is a MASTER at chess. Hawks move on.