1) I went three for four in my predictions over the weekend, with my only miss being with the Pittsburgh Steelers win in Kansas City. Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid was taken to task for his time out usage down the stretch, but I didn’t see a problem with him taking his 2nd time out with only 3:39 left in the game. The Chiefs faced an important 4th and 2 play and they wanted the extra time to ensure they had the right call on and that everyone was on the same page.
The Chiefs picked up the 4th down try, then scored on the next play. They didn’t get their 2 point conversion, but there was still 2:38 on the clock, and K.C. had one time out.
I was even OK with them not going for the onsides kick, because there was going to plenty of time on the clock had they stopped Pittsburgh on the next possession.
The game came down to a 3rd and 2 play from the Steeler 12, with 2 minutes left on the clock. Had the Chiefs made a play and forced a punt, they would have had about a minute to get into field goal range, which is plenty of time for an NFL offense to get in position for the win.
The only last minute coaching decision I didn’t like was the Chiefs dropping OLB Justin Houston into zone coverage on the biggest play of the game.
1a) This is so sad...
Poor Chiefs fans. They were so despondent they just abandoned their grills after last night’s loss https://t.co/Q6fL9LNHvH— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) January 16, 2017
And yet it makes me smile at the same time.
2) The Steelers now must travel to New England to face the favorite Patriots in what should be a very good match-up. While New England knocking off the Houston Texans on Saturday night didn't come quite as easy as many expected, they still ended up with an 18 point margin of victory. I’ll take the home team in the AFC Championship Game, N.E. 27, Pittsburgh 23.
3) Even though I picked the Atlanta Falcons over the Seattle Seahawks, I didn’t expect them to win so convincingly, 36-20. The only team this year to put up more than 36 points on the Seattle D was the Green Bay Packers. Atlanta has a very well rounded offense, but quarterback Matt Ryan is playing such smart football this year. We’ve talked about how great Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has played down the stretch, but did you realize in Ryan’s last 5 games, including the playoff win, he has thrown 11 touchdowns to no interceptions? He’s also completed 74.3% of his passes, while averaging 283 yards per game, with a 133.7 passer rating.
4) But speaking of Rodgers and the Packers, that was a really fun game to watch from a football fans perspective. I did find myself conflicted however, as I obviously always cheer against the Packers, but since I picked them to win the game, a part of me wanted to be right.
I’m expecting a shootout in Atlanta with the Falcons taking the NFC Championship, knocking off the Packers 37 to 34.
5) One more quick Rodgers nugget.
Cobb said the final play was not an actual playcall. Rodgers just told each receiver what to do, like a kid drawing in the dirt. Seriously.— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) January 16, 2017
In the biggest moment of their season, Rodgers is just out there making things up on the fly.
6) With a great offensive line, and rookie Pro Bowlers at QB and RB, the Dallas Cowboys are built to last. They just have to shore up the defensive side of the ball a little and I would expect many NFL experts to make them one of the favorites for next year’s Super Bowl.
7) One player that won’t be in Dallas next year is soon to be 37 year old Tony Romo. Head coach Jasson Garrett said that they “certainly want the best for him, whether he is here or whether he is somewhere else." Romo has a cap hit next year of about $25 million, so a trade may be problematic. My best guess is the team cuts him loose, even though they’ll get hit with almost $20 million in dead cap space.
Jerry Jones chimed in this morning.
"I don't have to get into that at all and I'm not," team owner and general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. "As a matter of fact, there are several cards to be played. Don't think for one minute if you see something written or something said about what and where Romo is going to be relative to our team that there's any credibility to it."
Said Jones: "There's only one that can make that decision and there's been no decision made."
I would expect Dallas to address the situation with their all time leader in both passing yards and passing TDs as soon as possible with the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans as likely landing spots.
8) I like what the Rams and Broncos have done with their coaching staffs. Both hired young first time head coaches, and both have started to assemble a veteran staffs around them.
Los Angeles went with soon to be 31 year old Sean McVay as head coach, with Wade Phillips as his defensive coordinator and former Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry as his DB coach.
The Broncos hired 44 year old Vance Joseph to be their next head coach, with ex-Chargers’ head coach Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator and former Raiders’ play caller Bill Musgrave, as their new quarterbacks coach.
9) The San Diego Chargers to L.A. is a done deal, and the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas is almost a reality.
I wonder if the Raiders were paying attention to the marketing fiasco that surrounded the Chargers? They put out a “new” logo, then announced it wasn’t the new logo, then changed the new logo, then changed it again.
So wait, in two days, the Chargers have changed their logo three times? pic.twitter.com/LnwYoKBOgJ— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) January 15, 2017
10) In case you missed it, last week the Chicago Bears’ Jordan was named to the NFC Pro Bowl squad, replacing Arizona’s David Johnson. Howard not only said it was his first All Star game at any level, but he was also very complimentary of his teammates for him making the Pro Bowl. He praised the blocking of his entire team for helping him amass 1,313 yards as a rookie. Howard also said he plans to work out with Steelers’ Pro Bowl running back Le'Veon Bell this offseason.