Look for home teams to enjoy success this weekend

John Turner
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Wow, wasn’t wild-card weekend fantastic?

Entertaining football might be an understatement for last weekend, which featured great drama, a historical comeback, last-second wins and upsets! Here are some of The Freak’s reflections:

- The Freak felt bad for local Chiefs’ fans Kevin H., Andrew D., and Jaker as KC blew a 28-point second-half lead in a heart-breaking loss to the Colts. KC hasn’t won a playoff game in 20 years, and Chiefs’ fans must have been thinking early in the third quarter that we are finally going to win one.

But you have Andy Reid as coach and he knows nothing about time management, allowing the big lead to evaporate as he preferred to throw the ball instead of milking the clock.

Indy showed all day that they couldn’t stop the run, even without Jamal Charles as the Chiefs’ offensive line was blowing the Colts’ defensive line off the ball. Reid did this all the time in Philly. When will he learn? 

Cleveland must be laughing about the Trent Richardson deal now!

- As mentioned in last week’s column, San Diego could upset the Bengals if Andy Dalton continued throwing the football without any disregard of the consequences. This is the playoffs, it’s very difficult to get into this tournament and take care of the football.

Turnovers cost Cincy the game while the Chargers, with Phillip Rivers, played smart offensive football and made great adjustments at halftime. Here is another franchise that will have to wait over 20 years for a playoff win.

– One common theme was the lack of production by some of the top offensive players in the NFL such as Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson and Bengals receiver AJ Green.

We know defensive co-ordinators are going to key on these players, but isn’t it the offensive co-ordinators job to try and have formations, patterns and perhaps a hurry-up offence to give these offensive players opportunities?

– Coach Harbaugh let Colin Kaepernick be himself versus the Packers, and it paid off as his legs won the game for the 49ers. He looked like the quarterback we saw in last year’s playoffs.

– Coach Harbaugh, did you really need Ric Flair of all people to fire up your football team? It seemed to work. How about the Hulkster next?

– After missing seven weeks to injury, Aaron Rodgers was unbelievable the last two weeks.

– The Saints finally won a road playoff game in cold weather by running the football. Can they win two in a row, and in Seattle of all places?

– There is a bit of a trend for the remaining teams. In the NFC, there are three really good defensive teams (Carolina, San Fran, Seattle) left that like to run the football. In the AFC, all the teams aren’t great defensively but can score points.

– Tell me the NFL isn’t nervous about what the weather might be like for the Super Bowl in New Jersey on Feb. 2, considering the brutal weather on the East Coast to date.

– Three road teams won last weekend, which is a rarity in the post-season. Generally, the home team wins close to 72 per cent. With only one home team winning (Indy), it shows the league’s parity, and it proves it really doesn’t matter where the game is played. 

The Freak thinks the trend will be reversed this weekend, and three home teams will win. But all the teams are so equally matched that one or two plays will be the difference in who wins and loses.

– This weekend’s movie will star the “Young Guns” (Wilson, Kaepernick, Newton, Luck) – the new generation of quarterbacks – versus the classic drop-back quarterbacks (Manning, Brady, Rivers, Brees).

Chargers – Road: 5-4

Broncos – Home: 7-1

Head to Head:

Week 10 – Broncos 28 at Chargers 20

Week 14 – Chargers 27 at Broncos 20

The Chargers were the only team to beat the Broncos at home, and they did it by controlling the clock with the running game and keeping Peyton Manning on the sidelines. 

Problem this time around is running back Ryan Matthews is in a walking boot, so Danny Woodhead will need to have a career game. Also, the Broncos are coming off a bye, which will help some of the older players on the team like Manning, Welker and Champ Bailey. 

Denver lost last time without Welker, who doesn’t stretch the field like Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, but catches those tough balls in the slot on third down that keeps the chains moving.

Manning still scares The Freak in cold weather, but a week off should really help that old arm. Broncos beat the Chargers 31-21.

Colts – Road: 5-3

Patriots – Home: 8-0

Head to Head:

Did not play.

Doesn’t Andrew Luck remind you of Tom Brady, where no game is over until the final whistle? 

One thing for sure, the defences aren’t going to win this game in Foxboro. It will come down to which offence has the ball last.

The Colts couldn’t stop a Chiefs’ team that didn’t have Jamal Charles, and the Patriots have a lot of starters out with injuries. This could be a statement game for Luck – a playoff game on the road versus Brady.

In a very exciting game, Luck makes a big mistake on a critical late drive, giving the Patriots a 38-35 win.

49ers – Road: 7-2

Panthers – Home: 7-1

Head to Head:

Week 10 – Panthers 10 at 49ers 9

The intensity and speed between an NFL regular-season game and playoff game is like drinking decaffeinated coffee and then switching to caffeinated coffee.

This will be Cam Newton’s first career playoff game and experience, especially at the quarterback position, is huge in the post-season. Kaepernick, who is no playoff veteran by any means, has played enough and has an impressive 3-1 record in tournament play. 

Carolina has a great front seven, but its secondary is not great and the 49ers will try to exploit this. Don’t be surprised if Carolina loosens the reins on Newton and you see him with designed quarterback runs and the return of the read option offence.

This should be a great NFC battle, but the 49ers’ playoff experience pays off as they win on the road 27-10.

Saints – Road: 4-5

Seahawks – Home: 7-1

Head to Head:

Week 14 – Saints 7 at Seahawks 34

The danger for Seattle is to become complacent because they hammered the Saints in Week 14.

If they come out flat and Drew Brees gets off to a fast start, there is a good chance for an upset. However, the Seahawks are great at home and have the NFL’s best D, which should be the difference.

Russell Wilson manages the game well for being only a second-year quarterback, and has a solid running game to lean on with Marshawn Lynch. This should be an entertaining game, but The Freak can’t see New Orleans winning back-to-back outdoor games on the road.

The ‘Hawks win 30-17, and host the NFC Championship game next Sunday.

Last Week: 2-for-4.

Season: 77-for-113.

John Turner is a Summerside schoolteacher. His column appears every Saturday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to ssidespartansfootball@yahoo.ca.

Organizations: Chargers, NFL, Bengals Seahawks

Geographic location: Seattle, Cleveland, San Diego New Jersey East Coast Denver Foxboro New Orleans Summerside

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