2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Here's the open thread for discussing all of this weekend's divisional-round action. On Saturday, we've got Atlanta at Philadelphia followed by Tennessee at New England. On Sunday, we start with Jacksonville at Pittsburgh, then New Orleans at Minnesota.

Comments

389 comments, Last at 16 Jan 2018, 11:07am

139 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

The inconsistency in forward progress is so annoying. Fournette ran into a scrum and initially got pushed back a yard, but nobody blew a whistle, so Jacksonville's entire offensive line came and pushed the pile five yards.

143 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Jacksonville looks like the clearly superior team so far. The wildcard is Bortles. That guy is a ticking time bomb for his own team. The problem for Pittsburgh is, the longer the Jags have a multi-possession lead, the more they can just keep handing off to Fournette and minimize the Blake-tanic's impact on the game.

151 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

It's not his baseline performance in 2017 I worry about. It's his wild swings...specifically his sometimes insane turnovers. He lost the Jets game single-handedly. And remember the Jaguars would have missed the playoffs if it weren't for the fact that the Chargers somehow couldn't close out the game after Bortles threw them TWO terrible interceptions after the two minute warning.

389 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

I'm not trying to argue that the Jaguars aren't a good team. They clearly are a very good team that belongs in the AFCCG. I was just pointing out that they have a clear weakness at quarterback relative to the rest of their team, and it came very close to sinking them.

144 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

A dream start for the Jags. But the way this latest drive is going for the Steelers, they aren't going to have nearly as bad a day on offense as in Week 5.

146 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Terrible play call by the Steelers on that 4th down. Big Ben probably could have just leaned over the center to pick up the 1st down.

156 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

I had just posted to Twitter a "There's lot of time left" comment before that fumble recovery/TD.

Steelers have a great offense and could certainly catch up. But they are not playing well at all. And as the minutes tick by, it will be harder and harder, as they have to pass against a great passing D with great corners and a great pass rush.

The Jags present a different kind of problem than than Steelers would. Given the Pats' record vs. Pittsburgh in recent years, the Jaguars might be a more credible obstacle. They have the kind of defense that could stop the Pats cold.

But then there is the Bortles issue...

155 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

If the Steelers get a TD before the half here, it's still far from over. Fournette getting injured could still prove to be very important.

160 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

I liked going for it on fourth down there, since it would be a long kick and down 21, a FG doesn't help you much. But letting that much time drain off the clock before calling a timeout was terrible. Of course it doesn't matter when you just go right for a TD anyway.

164 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Definitely not over. Even if Pitt don't score on the drive to open the 2nd half there is still plenty of time left but the offense would be helped by the Steelers stepping up and getting some 3 and outs. If Fournette doesn't come back into the game and they have to lean on Yeldon then that would be interesting although even if he does come back how good will he be now he's hurt? A turnover by the Steelers D would also flip this game. Can Bortles go the entire 2nd half without a killer mistake?

168 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Juju Smith-Schuster pushes Jalen Ramsey into out-of-bounds Le'Veon Bell. Officials flag Ramsey for unnecessary roughness.

This is the kind of call that underscores the need for _all_ plays to be reviewable.

171 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

This was already apparent in the first half, but the Jags aren't really stopping the Steelers except via turnovers. Otherwise Pittsburgh is going up and down the field pretty easily. Jacksonville's offense is going to have to keep scoring to secure this game.

172 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

The play-by-play guy was moved to tears by the beauty of that touchdown. He would change his tune real fast though if he knew how the refs were favoring New England in this game

174 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

All three of the Steelers touchdowns thus far have been thread-the-needle throws from distance (outside or just inside the red zone). It seems like they're trying to test their luck since the first interception (and 1 or 2 near misses) and it's playing out for them.

195 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Wow! What are the chances the Jax player on the defensive right stepped forward aggressively before the 4th down snap specifically to get Ben to give away the play? When he audibled it seemed obvious he was calling off a run

While this is probably an optimal strategy against Pittsburgh, let's hope they're smart enough not to try it in New England next week.

180 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Steelers have dominated this second half. But suddenly it's 7-7 in second half scoring and the Steelers haven't even made any progress in cutting into that 14-point lead.

193 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Couple of gigantic third down conversions. Bortles hasn't been exactly good, but I think he's played the role of game manager... Which seems weird to say about a QB for an offense that now, as I type, has scored 35 points.

205 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

“We’re going to play [the Patriots] again,” Steeler's safety Mike Mitchell told Sports Illustrated. “We can play them in hell, we can play them in Haiti, we can play them in New England. … We’re gonna win.”

But can he play them from his living room?

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2018/01/10/steelers-mike-mitchell-guarantees-playoff-win-over-patriots/

206 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Listening to, but not watching the game: how's the Jags pass rush doing at this point? Rushing 3 or 4 and playing coverage? Rushing 5 and not getting home? It doesn't sound effective.

208 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Onside kick was way overaggressive there. If they were down be 3 or 4, I would be okay with it. However, a Jacksonville FG puts the game away in this case.

211 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Most onside kicks don't result in the receiving team already being in FG range, so you don't anticipate that. You have to get a three and out either way, so might as well try for the onside. I think it's the right call. The big problem was only kicking it five yards.

214 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Even if it went 10 yards, the Jaguars would only need 7-8 yards to get into makeable range.

I wonder if anyone has studied the probability of recovering an onside kick vs getting a 3 and out on defense. I'd be shocked if the latter weren't more likely.

227 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

I think it's rare for onside kicks be recovered at exactly ten yards. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like most recovered onside kicks are not in a position where a few yards will set you for a FG. Not to mention it's in Heinz Field, where FGs are difficult.

274 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

But they would have had to start from inside their own 5 yard line, which is a much different proposition than receiving a kickoff. I can see kicking when you're up by 4. But anything less, and you're still allowing a touchdown to beat you.

375 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

If the Eagles don't score there, the Falcons need just 60 yards to have a legit shot at a FG to win the game. By kicking the FG, the Falcons have to drive ~75 yards for a TD. As we found out, scoring a TD is a lot more difficult than kicking a FG. There's no way you can go for it in that situation and risk a FG beating you. Especially when you consider that the longest TD drive Atlanta had on the night was about 20 yards after a muffed punt. They hadn't been moving the ball at all. Give the defense a little more margin for error and let them seal the deal.

385 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

It's especially funny given that Atlanta ended up in roughly the same spot 4th and Goal from the 2, and didn't make it. It was probably 50/50 if the Eagle score or turn the ball over on downs if they go for it. And it seems like it has become fairly common for teams to move into FG territory in ~30 seconds at the end of a game. Hell, the Eagles did it themselves at the end of the 1st half.

243 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

If you think any Bill Belichick coached team is going to be "not concerned" about any opponent, I don't know what planet you're from. The Patriots could be playing a peewee team and Belichick would still require his team to focus like they were a squad of all pros.

219 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Darth Brady and Emperor Belichick lurk in their fully armed and operational homefield advantage, daring Jar-Jar Bortles and Qui-Gon Fournette to make a trench run.

235 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Once they got to the five so quickly, the only real obstacle should've been the onside kick. Quick throws to the end zone leave plenty of time on the other side for a completion or two to set up a field goal, but instead it's hold and hold and hold the ball leading to a 10-second runoff, then an inexplicable screen and failure to get out of bounds and, presto, like 45 seconds have disappeared in the space of two plays. Unreal.

226 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Hey Steelers,
Maybe overlooking the Jags and looking forward to next weeks rematch against the Pats was not a good idea eh??
Way to prepare your team Mike Tomlin!
Oh and loosing to Blake Brothel! Wow

232 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

I think Jacksonville has a better chance of beating NE than Pittsburgh ever did. Honestly I can't really see either of them pulling it off, but Jax is more of a wild card. They match up strength/strength and weakness/weakness; if Jax's weakness plays like they did today, we'll have a close game on our hands. If Jalen Ramsey has a Richard Sherman-esque coming out party, we'll have a Jax vs. [Minn/NO] Bowl!

Jacksonville's deficiencies are more difficult to exploit. You can force B.Roeth into making mistakes, but you can't force Bortles into doing anything. You also don't *need* to, he'll make mistakes all on his own. But maybe not!

233 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

I know recovering the onside kick and returning it for a TD has to be like a 0.001% probability, but maybe try it because it’s your only shot? The squib kick makes no sense...the Jaguars player was so far away from anyone that even if he fumbled it he’d have had all the time in the world to recover.

Talk about terrible coaching by Tomlin in the last few minutes.

234 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

More interesting than another Steeler's matchup for Pats. More of a test for Hoodie to play an unfamiliar opponent that has scored 45 and 10 points in the playoffs.
McCourty was on the injury report for yesterday's game and he got hurt again yesterday. I thought he looked hobbled. Would be a big blow to Pats secondary if he was out.

237 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

My opinion is the winner of this game is the team best suited to beat the Patriots. I’m so sick of the Pats that this Packers fan would cheer for the Vikings if it came down to it!

238 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

I'm just soooo glad that the Jags have saved us from having to hear James Harrison's name mentioned a million times (even if he didn't play a snap) next week.

245 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

CBS guys are really ripping Tomlin for the onside kick. But really, I question how they let the Jaguars score 45 points!!

Blake Bortles is now Dan Fouts??

252 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

I think Steelers with Antonio Brown would have beaten the Pats, even in Foxboro but I'm glad that matchup isn't happening so we have a chance to have a different team representing the AFC in the Superbowl. It's hard to take what we saw today and apply that to the next matchup because NE and Pitt are so different.

272 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

I don't disagree. Since the Wentz injury, the Vikings have been the best coached and most complete team in the NFC.

The Pats beat the Saints back in September. Both teams are better now, but I would still give the Pats the advantage there.

The Vikings are more physical and match up well with New England. And they'd be playing at home. Though given how the NFL distributes Super Bowl tickets, that would be far less of a home field advantage than they have today.

256 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Even though the Jags are good, I cannot see B.B. losing to the Brothel. However, the Vikings and Saints have me worried. Not so much the eagles without Wentz.

271 Re: 2018 Divisional Discussion Thread

Vikings looking strong early up 10. I think they will have quite the conundrum on their hands as to which QBthey will sign for next year.