Brian Phillips hosts the morning show on the legendary independent radio station CD1025 in Columbus, OH. Tune in early and often.
Well there it goes... another NFL season gone into the ether. Last year is already long forgotten. Only two of the six NFC teams in the field were here last year (Seattle and Green Bay). While the AFC is more stable, the defending champion Broncos will not defend their title. Such is life in the NFL. The Patriots are good and the Browns are bad and we'll see about the rest. (Though the 49ers, Jags and Rams were pretty embarrassing too.)
Saturday January 7
4:30 PM - Oakland at Houston - ABC
Sadly for Raider nation Oakland goes into their first playoff appearance in 14 years without Derek Carr at the helm. He broke his leg week 15 and Matt McGloin left their season finale with a bum shoulder. Now Oakland turns to Michigan State's Connor Cook. No rookie in the Super Bowl era has been made a first time starter in the playoffs.
There is good news though for the Raiders. The Texans have their own quarterback problems. Late in the season Houston finally pulled the plug on free agent bust Brock Osweiler for Tom Savage, only to have Savage concussed against Tennessee in their season finale. Because of Osweiler's shortcomings I'm certain Houston would love to run the ball, but Lamar Miller is far from 100 percent. This country is filled end to end with fantasy players who's season was ruined after drafting Texans wideout Deandre Hopkins in the first round. If Osweiler could just throw him the ball where he could catch it.... Probably too much to ask.
The way forward for Oakland is on the ground as well. If Houston's top ranked defense has a relative weakness, it's against the run. Oakland will have to get something from Latavius Murray in this one.
This may be close to unwatchable for all moms and wives.
Houston 13 Oakland 10
8:30 PM - Detroit at Seattle - NBC
For the Seattle Seahawks this has been a weird year. A 9-3 loss in L.A. A 6-6 tie in Arizona. A loss at New Orleans. Falling 14-5 at Tampa Bay. Nearly losing to the hapless 49ers New Year's Day. And despite all that and more Seattle traveled to New England and beat the Pats back in November. They're hard to figure.
Cheers to long suffering Lions fans for getting into the postseason after the Redskins didn't bother to show up against the Giants January 1. With that result Detroit backs in on a three game losing skid.
Despite their recent struggles, if the Lions can mount any sort of a pass rush Saturday against Seattle's putrid offensive line, they have a chance. The Seahawks couldn't even protect Russell Wilson at San Francisco, nor could they get much of a running game going. Detroit will have to dial up the pressure early and often and look to make big plays on defense. If Seattle's Thomas Rawls struggles to run again it could be another long day.
For Seattle this game turns on their defense as well. Matthew Stafford needs to be harried and harassed all night. Zach Zenner gave Detroit's punchless running game a bit of teeth the final two games. They'll need some production from him again here.
Home field and that Seattle defense should be enough to get the Seahawks through this round. (The Lions are 0-10 life time in road playoff games).
Seattle 20 Detroit 13
Sunday January 8th
1:00 PM - Dolphins @ Steelers - CBS
Can you name the Dolphins starting running back week 1? It was Arien Foster and he's retired now. Against Pittsburgh in week 6 the Dolphins found their running game in Jay Ajayi who abused the Steelers 204 yards. With temps in the lower 20s Sunday and Miami a ten point dog it's a pretty simple formula. Look for Ajayi to get at least 30 carries. Quarterback Matt Moore gets the nod as Ryan Tannehill's balky knee isn't ready. I don't see this as much of an issue. Tannehill isn't that good, and Moore is one of the more capable number twos in the league.
After a week off the Steelers firm of Ben, Brown, and Bell are back. It's not a mystery as to what Pittsburgh wants to do here. Le'Veon Bell will get all the touches he wants as Miami's run defense was near the bottom of the league this year. The big plays will be there in the passing game for Pittsburgh once Bell gets established. I don't see this as much of a contest.
Pittsburgh 31 Miami 16
4:40pm - New York Giants at Green Bay - Fox
This is the toughest game of the lot to pick, but with the Packers winning six in a row to take another North title it's hard to doubt them. Aaron Rodgers was a cold blooded killer during that run and Jordy Nelson was all world. The mystery is Davante Adams. The kid can play, but has been plagued by a case of the drops. Ty Montgomery gave Green Bay a running threat they had been struggling until late in the season to find, but the Giants have been very stingy against the run (and not terribly giving against the pass for that matter). This game will ride on Aaron Rodgers, which isn't such a bad deal for the Pack.
Though they found a bit of a ground game of their own late in the year with Paul Perkins (a kid with a ton of potential) the way forward against the Packers is clearly through the air. That will be a huge challenge for the G-Men, especially with temps in the teens at kick off. Only the Texans averaged fewer points per game among the playoff entrants. If the Giants can pull of the upset they'll need Odell Beckham Junior to go off for something like 10/120 and two touchdowns. Eli Manning has been pedestrian all season, but don't sleep on the two time Super Bowl champ in January.
Green Bay 24 NY Giants 17