Fantasy Football News

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ranking the Season's 10 Postseason Games

Now that we have figured out the two representatives for Super Bowl 46 and I have given my recap of the Conference Championship games, we must wait two weeks to see the action unfold and crown a winner.

So, to pass the time why not give a brief recap of each of the 10 postseason games by ranking them, No. 10 being the least exciting to watch, and No. 1 being the most exciting. Here's how I have ranked them, feel free to add your opinion in the comments section:

10. AFC Divisional Round: Patriots 45, Broncos 10

Anyone and everyone outside of the New England area had become a Broncos/Tebow fan for the day as the Broncos went in to Foxboro, MA looking to stun Patriot nation. After Tebow had torn up the No. 1 pass defense in Pittsburgh the week before, it looked as if Timmy would have another solid day against one of the league's worst pass defenses. Instead, Tom Brady and his Patriot offense blew Denver out of the water before they even had a chance.

What did it make for? A record-setting day for Brady (5 first-half TD passes) and a boring second half. Although Tebow did play his heart out and it was later found out that he had been playing a majority of the second half with a bruised lung. Either way, a 35-point blowout doesn't exactly make for an exciting playoff game.

9. NFC Divisional Round: Giants 24, Falcons 2

Coming in to the game, Atlanta's signal caller Matt "Matty Ice" Ryan had been one of the league's hottest quarterbacks. But he was forced to travel to New York and take on one of the league's hottest front 7 units led by the returning Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. The end result is a lone safety being Atlanta's only points as the offense was held scoreless.

The Falcons made history by becoming the first team in NFL history to score just two points in a playoff game. Not exactly the history they were looking to make, and Ryan has fallen to 0-3 in the playoffs with just three TDs and four interceptions.
8. AFC Wild Card Round: Texans 31, Bengals 10

This was one of the matchups I was most looking forward to in the Wild Card round, I believe. It was the first time in playoff history that two rookie quarterbacks were squaring off against each other. One of the said rookie quarterbacks (Houston's T.J. Yates) had a great day, throwing for 159 yards and a TD, while the other (Cincinnati's Andy Dalton) threw three interceptions and was sacked four times.

Houston's top five defense took the game over, basically ending the game at the end of the first half with a 29-yard INT returned for a TD by rookie J.J. Watt. They held Cincinnati scoreless in the second half on their way to a 21-point, blowout win in the franchise's first-ever playoff appearance. Cincinnati is now 1-4 in the playoffs since 1990.

7. AFC Divisional Round: Ravens 20, Texans 13

Unfortunately Yates' good fortune only lasted a week, as his inexperience in big games caught up to him against the Baltimore Ravens' top-tier defense in the Divisional round of the playoffs. Yates managed to lead the Texans' on three first half scoring drives, putting up 13 points, but they were held scoreless in the second half.

Houston's Arian Foster became the first running back to gain 100 yards on Baltimore's defense in a playoff game, but his 132 yards and one TD didn't make up for Yates' three interceptions and Jacoby Jones' fumble on a punt return. Houston's turnovers gave easy scoring chances to Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense, making it an easy win for the Ravens despite just a seven-point victory.

6. NFC Conference Championship: Giants 20, 49ers 17 (OT)

Miscues littered this game as well, but mainly on San Francisco's part. Like I said in the previous post, WR and return man Kyle Williams, in just his second season, would love to forget this game. However, his two miscues on punt returns isn't the only thing San Fran messed up on. Eli Manning did fumble once, and they Niners were unable to take advantage and recover the ball, and they also dropped two easy INTs because of collisions between defensive backs.

Eli Manning played a tough game, but the Niners' failure to capitalize when they needed to most is probably the big storyline in this one. But the fact that Manning was able to overcome six sacks and drive the team down the field to take the lead halfway through the fourth quarter shows me his guts. Coughlin put the ball in his hands and gave him a career-high 58 attempts, and he did what he had to do to win: capitalize on turnovers and SF misfortunes.
5. NFC Wild Card Round: Saints 45, Lions 28

This is what fans love to see (not sure why, I love seeing smashmouth running games and hard-hitting defenses): shootouts between gun-slinging quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford. Passing yards were galore in this Wild Card game, and the final score of this one doesn't tell the whole story. There was plenty of controversy between the fumble that Detroit's defense had picked up and run back for a touchdown. But because the officials blew the play dead they were unable to return it. They retained possession, but had to start from where they recovered. They didn't score.

It had the potential to be a 7- or 14-point swing, but either way Detroit wasn't able to capitalize on that turnover and Brees took the game over. New Orleans' running game had actually taken over the final quarter, scoring two of NO's three fourth quarter TDs and putting the Saints ahead for good. Lots of scoring in this one, despite Detroit's tough defense. Fans love seeing 30, 40-plus games and the Lions put up a good fight with the young Matt Stafford at the helm.

4. AFC Conference Championship: Patriots 23, Ravens 20

Again, Baltimore had two shots at the end but were unable to pull ahead (Evans' dropped pass in the end zone) or tie it and send the game to overtime (Cundiff's missed 32-yard FG with 11 seconds left). Baltimore's defense made Tom Brady uncomfortable for quite a bit of the game, forcing two errant passes that turned in to turnovers. Flacco out-passed Brady, strangely enough, for 306 yards and a couple of TD passes, and put his team in position to win at the end of the game.

We can't be disappointed with the way the passing game for Baltimore went, he did look better than the previous week against Houston. But what does disappoint me was that Ray Rice was a non-factor. He was given his fair share of carries, with 21, but he ran for just 67 yards (3.2 YPC avg.) and made no impact in the passing game with one catch for 11 yards. Had he been more of a factor there's no doubt Baltimore would have had an easier time winning this one.
3. AFC Wild Card Round: Broncos 29, Steelers 23 (OT)

Denver owned the second quarter of this game, putting Pittsburgh's aging and banged up defense to shame with 20 points on their way to a 20-6 halftime lead. Pittsburgh, dealing with in-game injuries to D-lineman Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel, safety Ryan Clark missed the game as well, failed to get any pressure on Tim Tebow. The result? A career-high 316 passing yards and the game-winning touchdown toss to WR Demaryius Thomas from 80 yards out on the first play in overtime.

But this game is ranked so high up because of the gutsy play from Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. He fell to 10-4 in the playoffs, but injured ankle-and all Roethlisberger went up against the odds of a miraculous comeback and led the Steelers' offense to three second-half scoring drives (17 points) as they came back and tied the game up at 23 to send it to overtime. The stunning first-play score in overtime just adds to the greatness and the ups and downs of this remarkably played game by both quarterbacks.

2. NFC Divisional Round: Giants 37, Packers 20

A 17-point victory makes top two? I know, I know, seems kinda strange. But the fact that Manning once again was able to knock off the heavily-favored 15-1 Green Bay Packers on the road in the blissful Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field against Aaron Rodgers is quite fascinating. I, of course, called this upset happening, unlike most fans and Green Bay "bandwagoners" (trust me, I know plenty of them).

I feel as though I've mentioned how much Eli has impressed me far too often on this blog, but it's true that I feel he has proved himself to be a better postseason quarterback than his older brother. The Giants put up a great effort against the Packers in this one with 17 fourth quarter points and limiting Green Bay's offense to 20 points.
1. NFC Divisional Round: 49ers 36, Saints 32

There's no question which game has been the best of the postseason. I don't think another game comes close to San Francisco's shocker over Drew Brees, who finds himself sitting at 1-2 in the playoffs since his Super Bowl victory in February of 2010. In head coach Jim Harbaugh's first year as a professional football head coach, he turned the lowly Niners in to Super Bowl contenders with a nasty defense and a draft bust-turned gun-slinger.

It was Alex Smith's first career playoff game in six seasons and he managed to out-play the four-time All Pro and Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees. In the final four minutes of play there were four lead changes. Smith rallied his troops to re-take the lead with two minutes left with a 28-yard TD run, but less than a minute left Brees threw a 66-yard TD bomb to TE Jimmy Graham and successfully converted a two-point conversion. What does Smith do? He simply orchestrates a seven-play, 85 yard TD drive in a minute and a half which is capped with a 14-yard strike to his TE Vernon Davis.

This one had it all. Lots of points, lots of yards, big plays and excitement. I was literally jumping up and down at the end when Smith hit Davis in the end zone with :09 to play, and I'm not even a fan of either team. An emotional Davis/coach Harbaugh interaction on the sideline after the play was the icing on the cake.

Photo credit
Matt Ryan: Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Darren Sproles: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Von Miller: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
Vernon Davis: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

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