As was expected this weekend, the NFL Playoffs produced some lackluster games due to the lack of overall talent on playoff teams. A season starting with so much promise and so much potential devolved into a number of playoff games involving teams inadequately suited for deep postseason runs.
Carolina, despite its 7-8-1 record, hosted Arizona and came up with a 27-16 victory at home. Poor record aside, the Panthers were all but expected to move forward with the Cardinals running out of steam due to injuries.
In the latest chapter of their heated rivalry, Baltimore went into Heinz Field and knocked off Pittsburgh, 30-17. Joe Flacco won his 10th playoff game by throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns, cementing his current legacy as a guy capable of winning in the playoffs. That reputation is important to note since only one quarterback went ahead of Flacco in his draft class—Matt Ryan.
The Boston College-heavy Indianapolis Colts throttled the Cincinnati Bengals in Ohio as Andrew Luck threw for 376 yards and a touchdown. One of the highlight reel plays was a 30-yard run by Dan Herron behind lead blocker Anthony Costanzo, a first round product of O-Line U. Head coach Marvin Lewis fell to 0-6 in playoff games while the Bengals lost their seventh straight playoff game dating back before any of the current Boston College students were even born.
In the final game of Wild Card Weekend, Dallas came from down 14-0 after the first quarter to defeat Detroit, 24-20. It was the first time since the 1957 NFL Championship Game that the Lions led someone by 14 points after the first quarter. The result was vastly different, however; the Lions beat the Browns in that NFL title game by 40 points.
That leads us into the weekend known as the "Greatest Weekend of Football" all season. The four best teams in the league take to the field to host teams battle-hardened by opening round wins. Each of these teams earned a bye by being elite at something, so let's look within the matchups and see who you should be rooting for if your team isn't still alive for the Lombardi Trophy:
6) Baltimore Ravens at 1) New England Patriots
Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 4:30 PM
As the lowest seed in the AFC Playoffs, the Raven victory assured us of a third Baltimore-New England playoff game in the last four years. In 2012, the Patriots won the AFC Championship when Billy Cundiff shanked one of the worst field goal misses in playoff history. The next year, the Ravens physically imposed their will over the Patriots in the AFC Championship, beating New England en route to the Super Bowl championship. Now they meet again, in Foxboro. If Baltimore wins, they're on the road for the AFC title as the lowest seed, but the Patriots have the comfort of playing at home as long as they're playing.
Neither the Patriots nor the Ravens have an active player on their roster. The Patriots, though, have a couple of guys with anti-BC ties. Director of Pro Scouting Bob Quinn went to Connecticut. Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo played at Boston University and coached at both BU and UConn. That should make you dislike him if you're an Eagles fan, but bear this in mind: he was also the O-Line coach in 1991 and 1992 at BC. He assisted in the rebuild of BC and in his second year, the nationally ranked Eagles went to the Hall of Fame Bowl. The next year, the first after Guge was at The Heights, the Eagles finished as a top 15 team and demolished Virginia in the Carquest Bowl.
That's the best I can come up with, and while I'm sure an accusation of being a Pats fan will dog me here, I'm telling you to root for New England. Rooting interest: New England
5) Indianapolis Colts at 2) Denver Broncos
Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 4:40 PM
We have well-documented the ties to the Colts. Anthony Costanzo, Gosder Cherilus, and Matt Hasselbeck all dress for Indianapolis, and I mentioned earlier about the great block the left tackle threw as part of a key offensive play.
Denver, meanwhile, has no BC ties...just in case you needed any more reason to not root for them. Rooting interest: Indianapolis
4) Carolina Panthers at 1) Seattle Seahawks
Saturday, January 10, 2015 at 8:25 PM
This is a tough call between extremely likeable linebackers with BC pedigrees.
Kevin Pierre-Louis settled into a nice role with the defending Super Bowl champs, proving he had the adaptability shown during his time at Boston College. But KPL is on Injured Reserve and won't appear in this game.
That's a tough call, especially since they're going up against the Panthers. Throw the record out the window—before the season, prognosticators thought Carolina would be a tough draw with reigning Defensive Player of the Year Luke Kuechly. A couple key additions to offense have the Panthers primed to go to the Pacific Northwest and maybe, just maybe, rattle some bones.
Kuechly finished the season as one of the NFL's best tacklers. I have a feeling he'll receive some more hardware for those efforts when the NFL names its individual award winners. Rooting interest: Carolina
3) Dallas Cowboys at 2) Green Bay Packers
Sunday, January 11, 2015 at 1:05 PM
As mentioned last week, the only connection for Dallas is practice squad offensive lineman John Wetzel. The Packers, meanwhile, will boast no active Eagles on their roster, but who can forget that BJ Raji plays for them. Raji hasn't suited up all year after being injured in the preseason.
A win puts Green Bay in the NFC Championship, and with a Carolina upset, the game could be played once again at Lambeau Field. Green Bay hasn't appeared in an NFC title game since 2010. As for Dallas? Their last appearance was 1995 under Barry Switzer. Both times the teams went onto win their respective Super Bowls.
As for this game's rooting interest? SHOW ME WHAT YOU GOT RAJI:
Rooting interest: Green Bay
As always, if your team isn't one of the NFL's final eight, use us as your rooting guide and GO PACKERS/PANTHERS/COLTS/PATRIOTS! And, of course, GO EAGLES!