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NFL Takeaways – Wild Card Weekend

 

The 2007 Patriots may be the greatest team ever assembled – in any sport.

One of only two Super Bowl-era teams to go through the NFL regular season undefeated, the Pats set nearly ever record there was to set that year, becoming the most potent offensive force in the history of the league.  You could make the case that they were so dominant, that perhaps only the ’85 Bears, those undefeated ’72 Dolphins, and the ’27 Yankees deserve more praise than those Patriots.

Except those Patriots didn’t win the championship, so their season was a failure.  Because in the NFL, one playoff game, and the guillotine that comes with it, can erase everything that came before it.

Texans 27-14 Raiders: The Raiders had a great season – the best season its had since 2003.  But it’s hard not to remember it for the last two games, when without their quarterback, they no-showed against the Denver Broncos in week 17, then played its worst game of the season in the playoffs, against one of the softest division winners in recent memory – a team playing a quarterback that had been benched two weeks earlier.  And so the season becomes a disappointment, when it is really an overwhelming success, and a building block upon which this young, talented team should make a big future.  In Las Vegas.

Seahawks 26-6 Lions: Remember when the Lions played everything close then came on strong at the end and won? They did the opposite, here, and while it may not be the lasting memory of their season, maybe it will make clear that even if you have a winning record, trailing in every fourth quarter you played isn’t a positive statistic.

Steelers 30-12 Dolphins: In week six, one narrative was written in Miami – one about a Dolphins team running roughshod over a Steeler squad with a struggling defense and an offense that hadn’t quite clicked.  In the playoffs, it was the opposite story, and it ended Miami’s season.  The Steelers played maybe their best game of the year on Wild Card weekend, telling a new tale of a feisty, flying defense and a potent, three-headed offense – a force with which to be reckoned, maybe the best in the conference.

Packers 38-13 Giants: Odell Beckham Jr. is not the best wide receiver in the league.  He’s not even close.  The stud wide receiver was no where to be found in his team’s biggest game of the season, with more than a few drops.  Much will be made of his Monday trip to Miami, and the criticism is to be expected, but the drops can’t be blamed on South Florida, because the drops aren’t new.  The flashy catches and the yards that came after them got the headlines, but Beckham dropped passes all season, more than the best wide receiver in the league does.  This game just served to drive that point home, and should be the lasting the memory of his season, because no matter how great he is, he needs to be better – and so does the entire offense, which was the problem throughout 2016.

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 Joe@noticketsports.com.