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The first round of the 2011-12 Playoffs is all wrapped up, and, of course, it just would not be the National Football League without a little drama. Given the four games that were played this weekend, everything went as expected….all the division leaders win at home. Just like we all expected. Everything went according to script. NOT QUITE.


Winner: TEXANS
I learned that MORE ARIAN FOSTER IS ALWAYS BETTER. The Texans called a perfect game plan for rookie quarterback T.J. Yates: ARIAN FOSTER EARLY….ARIAN FOSTER OFTEN. This team has battled with injury all season and are still missing some key pieces, but they also have gotten some important pieces back in the nick of time. Their offensive arsenal is even more dangerous with the return of wide receiver Andre Johnson. They are definitely geared for a long run through the playoffs. As for the Bengals, we knew they were young and talented, and they showed that on Saturday. They have a strong, young QB at the head, and should only go up from here.

Winner: SAINTS
I learned that the SAINTS OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES ARE AN ECLIPSE. In other words, it just doesnt happen that often. Especially at home, they are the most dangerous team in football. They basically did what we expected them to do. As for the Lions, they have to feel good about their season. Their game against the Saints looked worse that it really was, because these teams were locked in a back and forth battle until QB Matt Stafford threw his first interception with 9:37 left in the game. Detroit has to feel good about getting their running game back next season, and if they can get some pieces in the linebacker and defensive back positions, this team could make the playoffs a common occurrence. Not to mention, even in defeat, wide receiver Calvin MEGATRON Johnson shows once again that no defense can stop him from reaching PAY DIRT. Sounds like a solid foundation to me.

Winner: GIANTS
I learned that the GIANTS JUST NEED THE RIGHT MOTIVATION TO BE GREAT. Not good…GREAT! As I watched their performance in week 13 against the undefeated Green Bay Packers, I felt like I was back in the 2007 season. The Giants lose a close, well-played game against the undefeated favorites. From there, they continue great play right through a Super Bowl victory. I dont know if they will win the Super Bowl, but I did pick them to eliminate the Packers from the playoffs 5 weeks ago, after witnessing their week 13 matchup. Heres their chance. As for the Falcons, they have several questions to ask themselves. Over the last four seasons, Atlanta has proven that they are more than just a young, talented team. They are now in the league of teams who are expected to go out and win in the playoffs. Atlanta still has not done that. Where do they go from here? You have a good, young QB in Matt Ryan, a great running back in Michael Turner, and an arsenal of good wide receivers. How do you explain not being able to score a single point on offense?

I learned that NO MATTER HOW THE MATCH-UPS LOOK ON PAPER OR ANALYZED IN THE PUBLIC OPINION, 22 MEN STILL HAVE TO LINE UP AND PLAY FOOTBALL. This was my only lose for the weekend. I expected Pittsburghs defense would be so disciplined and dominant against Denvers offense. Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has not looked good over the last three weeks, and I thought Sunday would be the same. I still dont think he is a great quarterback…..but he is a WINNER. Ive said it for years about the NFLs YOUNG GUNS. Many of these young quarterbacks dont need to go out and throw for four touchdowns each game. Many times, they simply need to manage the game with composure and smarts. Tebows confidence, persistence, and running ability gave him the ability to chip away at the best defense in the league. And just when Pittsburgh had fallen into the mistake of anticipating his next move, he elevated to a level of greatness that will have the Steelers defenders shaking their heads all off-season.


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