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FOOTBALL FREAK: Best weekend of NFL season


The NFL playoffs are here, and it’s a totally different monster than the regular season. 

Journal Pioneer NFL columnist John Turner.

The speed and intensity goes to another level, and every play is crucial in determining whether your team moves on in the tournament. Unlike other North American professional sports leagues, there are only 11 games in the NFL playoffs. With so few games, there is no margin for error. 
This isn’t hockey, basketball or baseball, where you can have a bad game and come back and play Game 2. This is win or go home, which makes the NFL post-season arguably the best tournament in the world.
This year’s teams feature the usual cast of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks in Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Russ Wilson and, returning after a five-year absence, Eli Manning. Also, we have quality signal-callers in Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, Dax Prescott and Alex Smith to go along with three back-up quarterbacks. 
Be assured that the two teams who will play in the Super Bowl in Houston on Feb. 5 will be from two of the nine teams who have a quality starting quarterback. 
Enjoy the wild-card games as it’s usually the best and most exciting weekend of football.

Stat of the week:
The NFL lacks quality quarterbacks and due to injuries and job auditions for next season, here were some of last week’s starters – Tom Savage, RGIII, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Landry Jones, EJ Manual, Matt McGloin, Matt Moore, Matt Cassel, Matt Barkley and Trevor Siemian.

Bonehead play of the week
Buffalo kick returner Mike Gillislee allows a bouncing kickoff by the New York Jets to roll all the way into the end zone without picking it up to run it out, or for a touchback. The Jets jump on the football for the easiest touchdown imaginable, with the television announcer shouting, “What are the Bills doing?”

Wild-card picks
It’s the “Battle of Backup Quarterbacks” as the Raiders visit the Texans. Oakland needs to run the ball against the tough Houston defence, and the quarterback who turns it over the least will win. 
It’s nice to see the “Silver & Black” back in the playoffs, but being on the road and with a third-string quarterback in Connor Cook will be just too much to ask. Take the Texans in a low-scoring game, 17-13.
Seattle isn’t the dominant team it once was, but they are very tough at their wet and windy house. Detroit hasn’t won an outdoor game all season. 
Detroit can exploit the ‘Hawks’ terrible offensive line, but will need to contain Russ Wilson.
Think it might be too much to ask Detroit to win in Seattle. The Seahawks win a close one, 24-20.
All you need to know is Pittsburgh rested Ben Roethlisberger, Le’veon Bell and Antonio Brown for this home game against the Dolphins, who also have a back-up quarterback in Moore. A back-up quarterback, a warm-weather team and a cold road game is a recipe for playoff disaster. The Steelers beat the Fish 31-17.
In the best game of the weekend, the Giants travel to cold Lambeau Field. Both teams are hot, with the Pack winning six straight games while the Gmen have won nine out of 11.
Aaron Rodgers and Eli Manning have played in big playoff games before, and the winner of this game will be a big threat moving forward. 
New York’s defence has been dominant the last half of the season, and will need to play their best game of the season to cool off the red-hot Rodgers. That’s easier said than done.
However, if the Giants’ defensive ends keep him in the pocket, with middle pressure from Snacks Harrison and Jonathan Hankins, to go along with one of the best secondary’s in the league, it can be done. 
“Playoff Eli” and the offence cannot have turnovers.
The Giants upset the Packers 20-17.
Last week: 5-for-7.
Season: 81-for-119.

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

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