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Make Home Field Happy Again

Mill Woods

Posted on January 8, 2020 16:07

1 user

Three of four home teams were eliminated last weekend in a historic NFL Wild Card Weekend that saw both Tom Brady and Drew Brees exit early. Now, we look ahead to those upstart, young QBs who lit so many fireworks in the regular season. Will home field advantage make a rebound?

Photo by Mike Morbeck (CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

Since last weekend's exciting games, Tom Brady has announced that he plans to play next season, Carson Wentz has talked about concussion symptoms, and new head coaches have been hired in more than one city. But the beat goes on. The NFL's biggest upstarts will soon take the field.

I think home field advantage will return this weekend. The Texans' epic comeback last week would be hard to repeat playing outdoors against the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes will likely be at the top of his game and Tyreek Hill is one of the few receivers more dangerous than Deandre Hopkins. I also like the Chiefs' defense over the Texans'.

The Titans made my week (and boosted my reputation) last weekend by eliminating the Patriots, but I don't think their excellent ball-control offense will be enough to cool off that monster Ravens offense. When Lamar Jackson is poised to hand the ball off to Mark Ingram — though everyone knows Jackson might keep it — defenses are never sure which is scarier.

The 49ers will need their one-week respite to battle the tough Vikings, who bring a fine balance of offense and defense to the field. I think the Niner offense is more complex and more creative than Minnesota's, and that will spell the difference.

And the banged-up Seahawks will not face an equally-banged-up team this time. They must tackle an energized Packers team in an even colder stadium than the last one. 

So, I am going with the home teams — Ravens, 49ers, Chiefs and Packers — to advance to the conference championships. I picked two of four games last weekend, and hope to win them all this time.

Now, a couple of final comments regarding last week.

Tom Brady is probably hanging on too long. But whether he continues or not, New England had better come up with some real wide receivers to replace those who are injured or have moved on. I believe that lack of outside speed was the same drag on the Eagles' offense this year. Having an excellent TE corps but nary a deep threat is not a recipe for beating top teams.

I also think that Carson Wentz will have to learn to protect himself better, if he is to have a future in the NFL. It's great to be a mobile QB, but diving head first is not how Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers have managed to thrive as scrambling QBs (for seven and ten years, respectively). Wentz (like Robert Griffin before him) needs to learn to slide, go out of bounds and, in every other way, avoid hits.

The fun is over for some fans, but remember, in the NFL, just making the playoffs is a major accomplishment. To advance to the Super Bowl, a team has to have all the pieces working well.

Soon enough, we'll know which two teams have it — and watching it all will be fun aplenty.

Mill Woods

Posted on January 8, 2020 16:07

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Source: USA TODAY

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