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FOOTBALL FREAK: Wild-card games do not disappoint

['John Turner']
['John Turner']

Predictions on this weekend’s divisional matchups

It’s called “Wild-Card Weekend” for a reason, and the four weekend games lived up to their name!  
All the games came down to a final drive in the fourth quarter, which is exciting.
In the Titans-Chiefs’ game, Tennessee came back from a 21-3 deficit, and had some wild plays in the win. Believe it or not, Marcus Mariota threw a touchdown pass to himself – his pass deflected off a Chiefs’ defender into his hands – to get the momentum going for the Titans. How often have you seen this?  
The Freak remembers back in 1999 when Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson did the same thing. Why do I remember this?
Johnson was my fantasy football quarterback.
What about the ref in this game blowing the call on a Mariota fumble that his forward progress had been stopped?
He was going backwards on the sack! Of course his forward progress was stopped, it should have been a fumble and recovery for the Chiefs.
How about in the Bills-Jags’ game, and the terrible quarterback play?  
Both quarterbacks couldn’t hit the side of a transport truck on the side of the road. Blake Bortles ran for more yards than he passed for, and Tyrod Taylor gets injured on the final drive and back-up Nate Peterman comes in on a fourth-and-three and gets the first down. However, two plays later he throws a pick, which is typical for him.
There was a strange play call by Saints head coach Sean Payton, who went for it late in the fourth quarter on fourth-and-two at mid-field only ahead by five points. Drew Brees ends up throwing an interception on the play, which was another mistake by defender Mike Adams, who should have easily knocked down the ball and it would of been a gain of 16 yards for the Panthers.
And how about the Rams?
It was youth versus experience, and the Rams just couldn’t rise to the occasion with too many miscues, including two fumbles on punts by Pharoh Cooper that led to 10 points by the Falcons.  
Wonder what will happen this weekend in the divisional games?

Stat of the week:
Only Bortles and Mike Vick had more rushing yards than passing yards in NFL playoff history. Something doesn’t seem right comparing the running abilities of these two!

Falcons at Saints
It’s hard to believe that, for the first time in NFL history, a sixth seed is favoured over the first seed. But the Falcons are favoured over the Eagles.
Philly has the best run defence in the league, and will shut down the Falcons’ running game and make Matt Ryan and the passing game beat them, which he can easily do.  
However, the game is going to be played outside in the cold, and this is always a big problem for a dome team in January.
Nick Foles does enough as the Eagles pull off a home upset.

Saints at Vikings
The Vikings pounded the Saints in the opening game of the year. Since then a lot has changed on both teams as Sam Bradford was the quarterback and Davin Cook was running wild for the Vikings while some guy named AP was the running back for the Saints.  
Minnesota is tough at home, and the Saints can now beat you with the run or pass. So what will give here?
Minnesota’s defense, and home-field advantage, will be the difference. Take the Vikings!

Titans at Patriots
Apparently there is a controversy in Pats Nation with the coach, quarterback and owner, but Tennessee will need more than this distraction to beat the Patriots.  
The Titans want to make this an ugly game. If they can keep it close going into the second half, they have a chance with their running game, which can chew the clock.
In the end, the Pats will still prevail with pretty boy Tom Brady.

Jaguars at Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger wanted a rematch with the Jaguars, and now he has it. After losing to them in the regular season, the Steelers will need to play a clean game and score touchdowns in the red zone.  
Jacksonville, otherwise known as “Sacksonville,” has a great D, which will make this a very competitive game. But Bortles is the issue as he can’t make enough plays on a cold day in Pittsburgh. Take the black and yellow in an old-school defensive battle.
Last week: 3-for-4.
Season: 92-for-122.

John Turner is a Summerside school teacher and coaches youth football. His column appears every Thursday during the NFL season. Feel free to e-mail questions and comments to ssidespartansfootball@yahoo.ca.

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