No time for a fancy intro today, so I'll just get to the games.
Winners in Bold
Cincinnati at Tennessee
I am really looking forward to this game.
In Cincinnati, you've got a young team with an explosive offense loaded with playmaking talent. Tennessee is a win-in-the-trenches type of team, very physical up front on both offense and defense.
Cincy's receivers will have to win battles early, so that Joe Burrow doesn't have to hold onto the ball for too long. Joe Mixon will be integral, because if Tennessee doesn't have to respect the run game, then Burrow could be in trouble.
Much has been made of the return of Derrick Henry, and if he can even approach the level of play he was at pre-injury, his presence will be huge. Tennessee doesn't necessarily need Henry in order to win, however. In Henry's absence, the run game performed very well. The team is rested, thanks to a first-round bye, which is a tremendous advantage for a team that employs such a physical style. Those factors, plus the availability of AJ Brown and Julio Jones should be a boon to Ryan Tannehill.
Ultimately, I think that rest, and the presence of AJ Brown, will be the deciding factors in this one.
San Francisco at Green Bay
Since Green Bay won it all as a Wild Card in the 2010 season, Aaron Rodgers has QBed his team to nine playoff berths in 11 seasons. Of those nine berths, Green Bay has had a first round bye five times, including this season. They've lost four NFC Championship games, including the previous two seasons (after securing a first round bye).
These are just facts. They don't necessarily mean anything.
San Francisco began the season highly-touted, but struggled throughout much of the season due to injuries. Towards the end of the season, the team got healthier, and as result, were able to put on a push that got them into the playoffs via a win over the West Division winners the LA Rams in their season's final game. The 'niners followed that up with a win over Dallas in the Wild Card round that was not as close as the score would indicate.
When these two teams met in September, their lineups were basically the same as they are now. The main difference was that San Francisco's emerging star Deebo Samuel wasn't being used much in the run game. Since then, Samuel has become one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in the entire league.
Green Bay led throughout most of that game, with San Fran taking a late lead, before the Packers pulled out the victory via a last-minute 51-yard Mason Crosby field goal.
The Packers had a great season, securing the number one seed in the NFC. Rodgers had a great season as well, statistically. The team is rested, relatively healthy, and loaded with talent. They should probably win.
Aaron Rodgers has always cultivated an enigmatic image, saying little, keeping relatively private, making humorous remarks and commercials. The sycophantic media has, for the most part, portrayed him as a "cerebral athlete." This season, Rodgers took all that and chucked it out the window. With his words, his actions, and his associations, he has shown himself to be selfish, dishonest, and willfully ignorant. In other words, an idiot.
Rodgers also has a reputation as a clutch performer, with all the big-time stats, the MVPs, the comebacks, the "Hail Marys." Has he earned it, though? Look at his playoff record.
Just facts. Doesn't necessarily mean anything.