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From the Press Box: Wildcard Weekend and Wild Coaching Decisions

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From the Press Box: Wildcard Weekend and Wild Coaching Decisions

Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh by Mike Dinovo—USA TODAY Sports.

Detroit Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh by Mike Dinovo—USA TODAY Sports.

We’ve made it through the regular season and now ... it’s playoff time.

While the Green Bay Packers are off and resting up for next week, there is plenty of NFL action to keep an eye on anyway.

But before we delve into that—what is up with successful teams jettisoning coaches who have been winning?

First we have the whole Jim Harbaugh/San Francisco 49ers divorce. Harbaugh, who took a team which was an also-ran despite oodles of talent to three straight NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl before a bad season this past year, is now the coach at the University of Michigan.

It’s insane to think one bad season and some ripples between a G.M. and a coach could result in said coach’s ouster, but here we are. If it were my team I’d have sat the two men down and told them to sort it out and stop acting like infants. And if they couldn’t and had to stick with someone, it would probably be the coach, although it is very hard to bring in a new G.M. without a new coach.

But fine, so Harbaugh is such a jackass they couldn’t stand him even though they were winning.

Now we apparently have the same issue in Philadelphia with Chip Kelly potentially on the outs. You’d think it couldn’t happen but the resounding silence from the team says a lot. It’s allegedly another coach/GM issue as well.

As if that nonsense isn’t enough, rumor has it that former Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone quit when the team wouldn’t extend his assistant coaches and were monkeying around behind the current G.M.’s back.

Listen, I’m keenly aware nobody is asking for my input but this is the stupidest way to make decisions, which has resulted in a stupid decision or two.

It is awfully hard to find a good coach—just ask Oakland, the Jets, Tennessee and Jacksonville. So why in the world would you cut one loose over a spat with a G.M.? Or anyone else?

This is how bad franchises stay bad by the way. There may be a reason that the Eagles have only been successful in fits and starts, or that the Niners and Bills haven’t been consistently successful in a long time.

It will be interesting to see what happens if Kelly leaves Philly as well as how fans react to new coaches in Buffalo or San Francisco, especially if those coaches do not instantly replicate the success their predecessors had.

 

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers

The assumption here is that the Steelers will not have Le’Veon Bell, which could be a real problem. Sure, the Ravens have been inconsistent at best defensively this year, but Pittsburgh was really leaning on Bell. He brought in the defense, which freed up Antonio Brown and made life easier for Ben Roethlisberger. Without him, it’s just plain old going to be tougher.

I still think, at home, Pittsburgh wins this game. Their defense should fluster Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense, while the Steelers offense should still be able to move the ball well, if not as effectively as they had with Bell in the lineup.

 

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts

This is a perfect setup for the Bengals to finally get the monkey off Andy Dalton’s back and win a playoff game. The Colts have no real running game, a mediocre offensive line, a shaky defense and one receiver (1 and ½ if you like Reggie Wayne).

They also have Andrew Luck, which means they always have a chance to win.

On the other hand, the Bengals have Dalton who has found ways to implode in far too many "big" games. I can’t trust him (he is, after all, a ginger) and I feel as though—while it may be unfair—I believe he will find a way to underperform.

I’ll take the Colts at home in this one.

 

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers

Somehow, Arizona coach Bruce Arians just keeps finding ways to win with a laundry list of average at best quarterbacks. That he’s been successful at it probably means he should be fired by the current logic of the day, but he looks like a grandpa and you can’t fire grandpa.

It’s hard to imagine this team finding a way to overcome a Panthers team that has been good defensively over the last few weeks and that is quarterbacked by Cam Newton, playing some very good football despite fractured vertebrae.

Especially in Carolina.

Still, this is a good Arizona offense and a solid defense so it’s no sure thing that the Panthers will win. I lean that way, but it wouldn’t shock me if Arians found a way to pull this one out. This is the one away team I feel has a better than average chance of winning.

 

Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys

With Ndamukong Suh back in action, this becomes a fascinating game to watch. As good as the front seven is for Detroit with or without Suh, against one of the best offensive lines in the league, I suppose it would have been great anyway.

It’s the immovable object against the unstoppable force up front, but the real test will be Dez Bryant and Tony Romo against the Lions secondary. The Lions secondary has played well this season, but less so the last few weeks. If they have cooled off, it’s going to be an awfully long game.

Of course, DeMarco Murray, his broken hand and the Lions run defense should also be entertaining to watch, but the Packers showed last week that the Lions can be beat on the ground. Dallas features a better running attack, so it’s hard to imagine Murray struggling.

On paper, this could be fairly evenly matched—we’ve barely talked about the shaky Dallas defense versus the dynamic Lions offense—but as it’s in Dallas, I’m going with the home team again.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (9) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

Arizona does NOT have a good offense Garda. The did have a decent one. Until Palmer got hurt. With Lindley it's just pathetic.

Which leads right into another favorite rant of Packer fans this month: WHO have the Seahawks played since their winning streak? NO ONE. Mayyybe the Eagles post-inevitable-Sanchize-meltdown. But that's it.

GB's got a real shot at dethroning the champs in their house in 2 weeks.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah I tend to agree with you. Seahawks haven't played anyone very good. If the Rams had a decent QB they could have had a shot at winning that game.

I also agree that Green Bay has a real shot at beating the Seahawks, but that all depends on Rodgers calf.

Otto's picture

I read an article about how cheap the 49ers are. They took away free beverages (coffee, bottled water, etc) from their employees. The employees would have to pay for the drinks they used to get for free and the money went to the owners.

Evan's picture

The Lions offense is "dynamic"?

Otto's picture

Dallas
Carolina
Pittsburgh
Cincy

If Carolina wins in Seattle the following week, it's 1996 all over again. Pack/Panther NFC Championship game and Pack/NE Super Bowl.

Otto's picture

You had one job, Pittsburgh!

Otto's picture

And this, friends, is why I don't gamble.

4thand1's picture

Defense still wins championships. Ravens got a shot at making it all the way. Packers are going to have to play their best defense now and score just enough to make it to the SB. I wouldn't say the Panthers were all that great, they didn't have to play a team with a QB. That was brutal Cardinals.

Tundraboy's picture

Agree on Ravens. Either way we need to play our best D and come out on fire and jump on teams. Not worried about Dallas. Can not imagine the team being unprepared and they will want to put this one and done nonsense out of the way. What better way to face Seattle, assuming of course they make it to the title Game.

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