Wild Card weekend proves why NFL's 'just get in' motto fits

Wild Card weekend proves why NFL's 'just get in' motto fits
January 5, 2014, 8:00 pm
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The way the first two-plus quarters played out, the Colts were as good as "done" Saturday.

The Superdome Saints have never been that super on the road, in cold weather. This time, they were facing a team that was as hot as any down the stretch of the regular season in the Philadelphia Eagles.

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The Chargers needed a perfect scenario last weekend to sneak into the playoffs, including taking care of their own business. That California team went into cold, rainy Cincinnati and kept Marvin Lewis' Bengals in a continuing first-round bind. Is Lewis that town's longer-tenured version of Dusty Baker, who got the Reds into the playoffs — but never any farther — before being dismissed after the most recent October fade?

Finally, the other Cali team in action this weekend — the better, much more well-rounded 49ers — took their hot streak into Frozen Tundra and finished off the Aaron Rodgers comeback story by putting together a clock-eating, game-winning field goal drive on the road, like the Saints the night before.

Wild Card Weekend in the NFL again turned into just that, further proof that seeds planted from your regular season standing, home-field advantages and weather conditions are often overemphasized.

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Drew Brees wasn't at his best against the Eagles, but made the plays when he needed to upon gettng the ball back following the home team's go-ahead touchdown with less than five minutes remaining. He'll need to be even better next Saturday in Seattle in a rematch with the NFC's top seed that held him and his offense to just 12 first downs and 188 yards in a 34-7 loss on Dec. 1st.

Those Saints handed Carolina its only loss since its 1-3 start. Everyone took notice that the Panthers were suddenly for real when they went into San Francisco in the midst of their eight-game win streak and edged the Niners 10-9. Now the Panthers get a rematch in their house next Sunday, with the visitors looking to stretch their current win streak to eight, and potentially an NFC West rubber match with the Seahawks.

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Speaking of which, that's what it'll be for two of the three AFC West teams that made the party when the Chargers go into Denver next Sunday. Each won in the other's building in the regular season. San Diego's Mike McCoy became the lone first-year head coach to move on to the second round after leaving the Broncos a year ago. Maybe his work with Phillip Rivers has made him the more accomplished "Quarterback Whisperer" this season than Marc Trestman with Jay Cutler. But he also has a better defense he's working with.