NFL

Saturday’s NFL Wildcard Observations

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Saturday evening featured a pair of NFL playoff games which featured less intrigue than many of us hoped for.  We’re going to give our observations about each of the four teams that competed.

Houston 27, Oakland 14

  • Texans quarterback Brock Osweiler wasn’t great, but he did just enough for the team to secure a victory.  Osweiler was careful with the football, which was really all that the team needed.  He’s going to have to actually be a playmaker next week, regardless of whether Houston has to travel to New England or Kansas City.
  • The Texans ran the ball 44 times and threw it just 25.  That was the exact recipe for a victory against a team that had virtually no chance of scoring.  It’s not likely that they can keep that same ratio next week, but if they do they’ll be in position to win.
  • The Houston defense was excellent, and Jadeveon Clowney linebacker/defensive end continued his ascent.  More of that likely had to do with the Raiders missing left tackle Donald Penn than him being unblockable, but a similar performance is necessary.
  • Derek Carr should be the NFL’s MVP.  We learned a lot over the last two weeks about just how dependent the Raiders are to their quarterback.  They were a house of cards and it all came falling down without Carr.
  • It was still a very good season for Oakland.  Not only did they post their first winning season in 15 years, but they showed that at full strength they are a real contender in the AFC.  It was unfortunate that Carr was hurt and they couldn’t play a playoff game with all their pieces. The future looks bright.

Seattle 26, Detroit 6

  • The Seahawks showed us a lot of what we already know, they’re a dominant team when playing at Centurylink Field.  They are undefeated at home in the postseason in the Pete Carroll era, and if they didn’t have some dumb losses earlier this season (Los Angeles, Arizona x 2, New Orleans), they’d be playing another game at home instead of having to travel to Atlanta where they will likely be underdogs.
  • The Seattle defense is still pretty impressive, even without Earl Thomas.  They dominated the line of scrimmage and Richard Sherman allowed exactly zero receptions.  The challenge ahead of them in Atlanta will be significantly tougher, as the Falcons have better weapons and an actually balanced offense.
  • Thomas Rawls had a career game against Detroit, and that is one of the things that’s replicable next week.  Seattle’s best chance of winning is playing some “Ground and Pound,” while shortening the game and keeping Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on the bench.
  • Russell Wilson has won a playoff game in five consecutive seasons.  He joins Joe Flacco as the only quarterbacks ever to accomplish that and he’s heading down the path of a Hall of Famer.
  • The Detroit Lions ultimately were a fraud.  They finished the season losing four straight games and they didn’t have any real quality wins.  It’s likely not head coach Jim Caldwell’s fault, they just don’t have enough depth or offensive line talent to compete with the best teams in the NFL.
  • Detroit may have had a fighting chance if Matt Stafford were completely healthy, but he had a finger injury on his throwing hand and wasn’t the same player since suffering the injury.
  • We suggested prior to the season that the Lions best chance of winning was going to have to be running the football after Calvin Johnson’s retirement.  Not having a true No. 1 wide receiver eventually caught up with the team and they need to figure out how to become more balanced this offseason.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.