Taking a closer look at the wild card round: AFC

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Is everyone done talking about Ray Lewis now? Lewis is an all time great, will be a lock for the hall of fame and has done great things on/off the field even after a tumultuous past but I don’t need every NFL show spending half the show on it. There are playoff games (playoffs?!) this weekend and I want my previews dammit! Alright, here’s my take on the AFC wild card round from what I feel are the most important aspects that will determine who wins and who goes home:

Key match ups: For the Texans-Bengals game it’s going to be the defensive lines and how much they can pressure the other team’s QB. Everyone knows that JJ Watt is going to lead the way for the Texans but who else on that defense is going to step up and make big plays. This Texans team needs a big play on defense with the Shaub and Foster led offense struggling heavily as of late. The Bengals defense will be trying to pressure Shaub but at the same trying to keep Foster limited so watch out for that.

The Colts-Ravens game is going to come down to the the QBs and how well they perform under the circumstances. Can Andrew Luck and the Colts keep coming back late in games? Remember, he’s still a rookie and going up against an experienced team on the road is never an easy task. Luck has been turnover prone and I can see him throwing an interception early to give the Ravens momentum. For the Ravens, can Joe Flacco (self proclaimed “elite”) actually come through in the playoffs? Baltimore can give Rice his carries but Flacco is known to carve up bad secondaries like the Colts currently have.

Prediction: If the past couple of years have shown NFL fans anything it’s that momentum always follows into the playoffs and for that reason alone, I can’t take the Texans. How can a team that has been struggling for a month suddenly turn it on? Andy Dalton takes the next step and the Bengals edge out the upset pick of the wild card round. Also learned from the past is to not take rookie QB in the playoffs, especially on the road. Luck will have a great career but this is growing pains for him going into Baltimore where the Ravens are so tough. Oh yeah, extra motivation with the Ray Lewis retirement hanging around. Ravens blow the Colts out.

NFC tomorrow.

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7 comments
Gabbo
Gabbo

There's nothing to suggest that momentum going into the playoffs means or is worth anything. That's just some media head talking point clouding reality. Take the Texans and Ravens because the public won't.

As for the Fletcher/Lewis argument, Fletcher has generally been good, but not great over the course of his career. I'm not sure which stats you're checking out @McP , but Lewis is ahead of Fletcher in pretty much every category. As for the support team matters point, if anything, the rest of the team being dominant downgrades Lewis's stats.

McP
McP

Fact:  London Fletcher's career has been every bit as impressive as Ray Lewis's (really, check the objective stats).  However, Fletcher's underrated because he's not prancing, preening, and running his mouth all the time.  And he's never killed anyone.

skilligan
skilligan

Ravens beat up the Colts because of 2 Luck interceptions (he will win a SB in his career so they will be forgotten).

skilligan
skilligan

@McP 2 defensive player of the year awards matter. He also did more winning.

bryanzee
bryanzee

@McP 


Considering individual accomplishments I agree that Fletcher is very under appreciated and overlooked. But all of Ray Lewis' effects aren't measurable by individual statistics. He was the captain/leader/teacher of arguably the greatest defense of all time, and I'm pretty sure his teams have never slipped out of the top 5 in total defense/scoring defense.

McP
McP

@skilligan @McP Supporting team matters.  Fletcher is just as good individually.  Put him on the Ravens, let him beat his chest and run his mouth, kill somebody, he probably would get all the same accolades.

skilligan
skilligan

@McP no he wouldn't. Fletcher has made one pro bowl, not every pro bowler acts like ray lewis, in fact only 1 does. Solid player, never great. Curtis Martin was the most quiet player ever and made 5 pro bowls and the Hall of Fame. Urlacher is not as good as Ray Lewis but always better than Fletcher. He will make the hall of solid and good.