One can’t grieve forever Patriots fans. The NFL playoffs will continue with its Divisional Round games starting Saturday in the Bay Area. The Wild Card round was intense from start to finish and the second round should be just as good.
San Francisco vs. Minnesota
The 49ers have been living life like it was the 90’s. The team is enjoying the top spot in the NFC for the first time since 1997. The defense led by players like Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and AFC Championship game scape goat from a year ago Dee Ford have helped the Niners average the fifth fewest passing yards allowed this season (169.2)
San Francisco has a QB that Patriots fans may remember in Jimmy Garoppolo. The QB has sparked new life in the offense including some heroics with four game winning drives within the 6:00 mark of the 4th. With weapons including George Kittle, Emmanuel Sanders, Matt Breida and others, Minnesota’s defense will have to force Jimmy G to move. Pocket presence is important for a young quarterback, especially one that is playing in his first playoff game, so watch for the Vikings to use the blitz a decent amount on defense.
Kirk Cousins won his first playoff game against the Saints in the Wild Card round game that ended with a lot of controversy. As expected, Dalvin Cook got a lot of usage including 130 all-purpose yards and two rushing touchdowns. Cook could see the same workload with receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs injured and sick respectively.
On 3rd down offense, the Vikings were 10-18 while the 49ers ranked second, only behind the Patriots allowing a 3rd down conversion 33% of the time.
The Vikings are a cool story with success coming the way of Cook and Cousins but Jimmy G has explosive and HEALTHY playmakers so look for the San Francisco 49ers to continue their steamroll of a season.
Green Bay vs. Seattle
Russell Wilson gets to go home, kind of. The former Wisconsin Badger is looking to get his Seahawks back to the NFC title game for the 5th time in franchise history and 3rd time in the past 10 years. The offense of the Seahawks is ranked 8th in the NFL but their performance in the Wild Card game against the Eagles left a lot to be desired. A 3 and out, missed field goal and field goal looked ok against Philadelphia because their team was a M*A*S*H* unit, but against an NFC north team that won’t work. D.K. Metcalf is a player I believe the Patriots will kick themselves for passing on. An explosive tall receiver is what Russell Wilson will need to aim for. Add in Tyler Lockett who has 8 TD receptions and you can see the passing game is the Seahawks goal to winning. The Seahawks are 8-1 on the road after their win against the Eagles last week becoming the 6th team in NFL history to accomplish the feat. (01 Rams, 07 Giants, 07 Patriots, 14 Cowboys, 16 Patriots) The Rams, Giants and Patriots at least made the Super Bowl. To accomplish the same feat, the “road warriors” will have to take down Aaron Rodgers and co.
Rodgers had 4,000 passing yards this season and a quarter of the went to Davante Adams (83 Rec. 997 yds, 5 TD) Add in the production from Aaron Jones who had 1,084 yards and 16 TD and Green Bay has a fairly high scoring offense. Where could this game be lost by the cheese heads is with depth offensively. Adams has nearly 1,000 receiving yards but the next player with the most is Allen Lazard with 477 yards, and on the ground, Jamaal Williams follows Aaron Jones on the rushing yardage list with 460. If Clowney gets to Rodgers, he’ll have some more time to film State Farm commercials. This will come down to plan C and D on the depth chart and some way somehow I think Pete Carroll can pull another one out setting up a rubber match between the San Francisco and Seattle.