NFL Takeaways – Divisional Weekend


Often, I like to start my columns with a sense of “…huh?”  Anyone who has read them before knows this.  But even for those familiar with my style, I think it’s important that in this case, I take a second to promise that the coming round-about metaphor will connect to football.  It will.

The funniest thing I’ve ever heard was said to me by a friend while he described his life as a parent.  He sighed heavily before answering my question, then said with no expression at all: “on a scale of one to 10, my life is a series of ones and an occasional 10 that makes the rest of it worth living.”

It was every bit as depressing as it sounds, but it was ten times funnier, and a line I’ve been thinking about during these NFL playoffs.

I promised you it would connect.

Before Sunday, the closest game of this year’s playoffs was its first, a 13-point snooze-fest between a quarterback who was benched just weeks before, and a third-stringer making the first start of his NFL career.

The games, in short, had been awful.

But then the Cowboys took on the Packers, and Aaron Rodgers dueled Dak Prescott to the wire, and a series of ones got its 10, and we remembered why we watch.

Falcons 36-20 Seahawks: Earl Thomas is the ‘Legion of Boom.’  With the hard-hitting safety patrolling the Seahawks’ secondary, that back-seven is the dominant force we’ve come to know, respect, and fear over the last few years.  Without him, they’re burnable, and Matt Ryan took advantage on Sunday. The MVP candidate went for 338 yards passing with three touchdowns, no interceptions, and only 11 incompletions.  Atlanta’s defense still has questions to answer, but their offense will keep them in the championship game next week, and should be fun to watch.

Patriots 34-16 Texans: They were never in any real danger of losing, but if you come out of this Patriot game without thinking they are in danger of losing their next game, I don’t know what you were watching.  New England was sloppy and their defense was, at times, porous – given the competition.  Against a better team, one with a real quarterback, the Patriots would be on the golf course by now.

Packers 34-31 Cowboys: I’m still not going to tell you that Dak Prescott is the best quarterback on the Cowboys, but I’m done talking about it.  Dallas didn’t play well through much of the first half, but none of it was Prescott’s fault, and in the third and fourth quarters, he was spectacular, and led three scoring drives to tie the game with just 30 seconds left.  It’s not his fault the Cowboys drew into the best quarterback in the league playing the best football of his life.

Steelers 18-16 Chiefs: The Steelers are going to have to get some touchdowns if they want to keep playing past Sunday.  Seven times the Steelers drove into scoring range against Kansas City, and came away with six field goals and an interception.  That won’t cut it in New England.  But with Pittsburgh’s defense continuing to improve – with Alvin Dupree and James Harrison rushing from the edges – if Ben Roethlisberger and his weapons can find the end zone a few times, the Steelers will be heading to Houston for the Super Bowl.

Author: Joseph White

Joe Bianchino is a writer, producer, and radio host located in upstate New York. He is a life-long New York sport fan, Chelsea supporter, and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBNTS. Email him at