If there was one word to sum up the 2017 NFL Wildcard Weekend it should be chalky. Every team expected to win, did win. This includes the woeful Houston Texans who found themselves up against a Raiders’ squad without QB Derek Carr. It includes the Seattle Seahawks who miraculously rediscovered their rushing attack. It even included the Green Bay Packers who proved that they’re probably the team to fear in the NFC.
Keep reading for a rundown of this NFL 2017 Wildcard Weekend recap of the Games!
NFL Playoffs 2017 Wildcard Weekend Recap
Oakland Raiders 14, Houston Texans 27
The Raiders might want to do something with Connor Cook. For a rookie that hadn’t played all season long, Cook wasn’t that bad. He faced, statistically, the best defense in the NFL this past Saturday. Sure, he ended up throwing three picks and only completed 40% of his passes. But, he kept the Texans to within two scores in the fourth quarter. That should mean something.
Cook could develop into a viable starter in the NFL. That makes him a solid piece for the Raiders to work with come April’s Draft. If the Las Vegas Raiders’ starting QB returns at 100%, and they can pick up a viable defensive linemen to take pressure off terrific DE/LB Kahlil Mack, Oakland could be the team to beat in the AFC later this year.
Tom Brady is right. Houston isn’t an easy out. As I expected, one of Houston’s starting QBs stepped it up. During Wildcard Weekend, it was Brock Osweiler who only completed 56% of his passes. But that’s all he needed to complete. Osweiler was the epitome of a QB in charge on the football field. Instead of forcing the football on a key play, he even rushed it in for a score.
The Houston defense was, as to be expected, in bend but don’t break mode. It’s going to be interesting to see what Houston does, if anything, to contain QB Tom Brady in this. The last time that Houston faced the mighty Patriots, way back on September 22, they allowed an alarming 27 points off 185 rushing yards.
Detroit Lions 6, Seattle Seahawks 26
More was expected from the Detroit Lions than only 6 points. Blame falls on both the Lions’ offense and the Lions’ defense. The one Detroit player that doesn’t deserve any blame is quarterback Matthew Stafford. Don’t let his 75.7 QB rating in this game fool you. There were plenty of on the mark passes that Lion receivers dropped.
Particularly bad was tight-end Eric Ebron who couldn’t find a way to hang onto the football. The talented TE caught only 2 of 6 Matthew Stafford passes. At least 3 of the remaining 4 passes were catchable. 2 of the 3 passes ended up in Ebron’s hands where he subsequently failed to make the catch. It wasn’t all Ebron’s fault. But if Ebron makes all the catches, Detroit could have changed how Seattle played in this game.
Seattle rushed the football. When Seattle has success rushing the football, it’s over. The Seahawk offense wore down Detroit’s front seven. Thomas Rawls broke Seattle’s playoff rushing record with 167 yards from 27 carries. Rawls also scored a TD. He was exceptional. But, a lot of Rawls success had to do with Detroit failing to make tackles.
The Lions’ defense plays hard. It’s missing a piece or two that could make it one of the better defenses in the NFL. Eventually, any offense can get to the Lions’ defense. But, Detroit fans should be excited about the direction the team is headed. Before the season started, most football blogging analysts, including me, thought the Lions might be the worst team in the NFC. Not only were the Lions not the worst team in the NFC, it took Week 17 for NFC North favorite Green Bay to win the division. Detroit should be tough again come this fall.
Miami Dolphins 12, Pittsburgh Steelers 30
Miami made too many mistakes to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. I’ll admit that about the Dolphins’ performance this past Sunday. But, I can’t be the only person who didn’t see how incredibly one-sided the referring was in the first half of this game, can I?
One truly bad call forced me to leap out of my seat and practically jump through the television screen to give the refs my two cents. Pitt LB Bud Dupree leveled Miami QB Matt Moore in a major hit in the second quarter. The refs threw the flag. But, so what? The refs needed to kick Dupree out of the game. He targeted Moore with the crown of his helmet. To make matters worse, the refs threw a flag that resulted in an unsportsmanlike penalty against RB Jay Ajayi.
Miami had their chances. Don’t get me wrong. The Dolphins lost the game versus the Steelers. But if the NFL is so hell-bent on protecting players’ safety, they must be consistent. Moore was out of the pocket and Dupree used the crown of his helmet to blast Moore in his face. If that isn’t targeting, what is?
With that being written, Pittsburgh has the ultimate weapon in RB Le’Veon Bell. I’ve written that Bell is easily the best all-around football player in the NFL. Nobody comes close in my opinion. What he did to Miami’s defense, even though it was to be expected, still gave me chills. Bell rushed for 167 yards from 29 carries. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry. He scored 2 rushing TDs. That’s not to say that wide receiver Antonio Brown wasn’t brilliant. Brown scored 2 TDs and amassed 124 yards off only 5 catches.
New York Giants 13, Green Bay Packers 38
What a disappointment. My “A” bet to win the Super Bowl, the New York Giants, appeared ready to shock Green Bay. In the first half, NYG had a sweet 6 to 0 lead. They controlled the game on both sides of the football. Then, suddenly, the Giants forgot how to play defense.
It was weird to watch. In less than three minutes in the second quarter, the Giants gave up 2 touchdowns. One of the touchdowns was a 42-yard Hail Mary pass to Randall Cobb. The Giants’ D had no business giving up the Hail Mary to Cobb. That, more than anything else, changed the direction of this football game.
Suddenly, instead of being down by a point going into halftime, NYG was down by 8 points. In the second half, Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers did what he almost always does. He got hot. Even though WR Jordy Nelson ended up out of the game and into the hospital due to a legal hit on his ribs in the first half, Rodgers had no issues in the second half of this game. He threw the ball to both Davante Adams and Randall Cobb in the second half.
Cobb scored 3 TDs. Adams scored a TD and caught 8 of 12 Rodgers’ passes for 127 yards. Cobb ended up with 5 total catches for 116 yards. If you’re a Packer fan, what really had to excite you was how RB Christine Michael ran with authority. Michael only rushed the ball 10 times. But, he acquired 47 rushing yards against one of the best rushing defenses in the NFL.
Michael’s continued emergence could be huge for Green Bay’s chances of upsetting Dallas in the NFC Divisional Playoffs this weekend. For the Giants, the loss shouldn’t sting that much. The Giants have a young defense, one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, and a rushing attack that should get better. Don’t surprised if NYG’s real Super Bowl run happens this coming season.