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Sunday Wild-Card Open Game Discussion

Carson Wentz
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

With over 200 comments for Saturday's games, we've started a fresh thread for live discussion of Sunday's wild-card games: Minnesota at New Orleans and then Seattle at Philadelphia.

Comments

160 comments, Last at 06 Jan 2020, 2:17am

1 Smart move by the officials…

Smart move by the officials to overlook the false start on the Thielen fumble review. These fans have been through enough.

3 Diggs would've been much…

Diggs would've been much better-served to throw the ball away rather than take a 7-yard loss, but I guess he can't be faulted too much, given how rarely he has to make that decision.

4 A bit of a non-sequitur, but…

A bit of a non-sequitur, but the resemblance of the Vikings' shoulder stripes to a viking ship is my favorite uniform detail in the league.

11 I think he might be better…

I think he might be better than he used to be. The problem as much anything is pairing him with Joe Buck. Two guys who both speak in monotone doesn't work. You need at least one guy to occasionally sound like he's excited.

28 I think he's definitely much…

I think he's definitely much better this year. Whether that's the popularity of Romo making the powers-that-be more accepting of technical analysis and un-sugar-coated criticism, or that he DGAF anymore, it's very welcome.

9 #38 for the Vikings got…

#38 for the Vikings got under the pads of a Saints' gunner and absolutely launched him on that last punt. I'm hoping they'll show a replay of it after the commercials.

10 Is there a more versatile…

Is there a more versatile player in the league than Taysom Hill? He's what Tim Tebow could, and probably should, have been.

23 I assume guys like Lamar…

I assume guys like Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, even Josh Allen could all be better than Hill at what Hill does if they were used in that way.  It's just more valuable to use them as every-down QBs.

47 I'm not sure that most of…

I'm not sure that most of those guys have the heft to handle the special teams duties, occasional lead blocking, etc. that Hill does. But point taken that they could certainly contribute in more diverse ways than they do if they weren't so valuable behind center.

49 Heh, that's one way of…

Heh, that's one way of putting it. But Kordell, like some of the active players mentioned above, might not have had the frame to contribute in so many ways on special teams and as a blocker. If they're not good enough to contribute as an every-down player at a regular position, I think it's arguably more valuable for a utility player to have the ability to play Teams than it is to, say, be a marginally-more-talented WR or QB.

14 So was that weird, how the…

So was that weird, how the refs stopped the game forever, giving the NO defense a breather? Or was that standard and normal?

17 Trey Hendrickson has made a…

Trey Hendrickson has made a few terrific plays this game, I'm glad Aikman singled him out for praise in that goalline stand.

20 Strange play from Brees…

Strange play from Brees there going hurry-up on 3rd & 7 right before the two minute warning, then throwing a bomb into double coverage. Shouldn't judge solely on the outcome, but I would have thought clock control was the order of the day there.

22 I don't mind the playcall…

I don't mind the playcall too much, but that was a risky throw that needed to be located elsewhere if he was going to pull the trigger on it.

 

I do feel like QBs tend to be given too much of a pass for punterceptions, though. It's true that they can a bit less impactful than other picks, but I think it's much easier to surrender a big return on one of those than on a standard punt.

25 I'm rooting for the Saints…

I'm rooting for the Saints this afternoon, but I was hoping the last 20 seconds of the half would be less eventful because the puck was just dropped for the 3rd period of the Capitals-Sharks game.

30 Now that 3rd & 1 touch pass…

Now that 3rd & 1 touch pass was perhaps an example of Payton getting a little too cute, when a run up inside (plus possibly another on 4th down) could have easily gotten the job done.

32 Still a long way to go but…

Still a long way to go but if the Saints don't come back the third and fourth ranked teams by DVOA will have lost in consecutive games. Meanwhile the sixth ranked team didn't even make the playoffs.

33 Things getting a little…

Things getting a little desperate for the Saints, their regular offense has gotten absolutely nothing going tonight.

39 Yeah he's throwing darts…

Yeah he's throwing darts. But mannnn some of those were tight windows; not sure he'll keep getting away with it. With the way their defense is playing, though, he might not need to.

37 Davis for the Saints is…

Davis for the Saints is everywhere. Vikings offense has been good, I expect the Saints to make a comeback

42 I thought, if you coordinate…

I thought, if you coordinate the shot where you see that he's got the ball at about center chest before the guy stops his progress with the sideline shot that shows how his helmet is over the goal line when that hit happens, it can be inferred that the tip of the ball must have broken the plane. But I'd like a closer/longer look before saying definitively myself.

40 Tough call for the Saints on…

Tough call for the Saints on that TD, I think the call on the field would have to stand no matter what the call on the field was. Given their performance at the goalline throughtout the game, it's plausible that they actually would've held up with the ball at the 1-inch line.

The Saints are in real trouble now!

43 Saints convert a fake punt,…

Saints convert a fake punt, only to have it called back because one of their players wasn't set at the snap. That's a shame, because who doesn't want to see more successful fake punts?

45 While engaged with a blocker…

While engaged with a blocker, Demarrio Davis rips the ball out of Cook's hands as he's trying to catch a screen pass. That was a heckuva play.

46 I usually hate give-up draws…

I usually hate give-up draws, but I don't mind that one on 3rd & 17 for the Vikings with the offense seeming in disarray this set of downs.

53 Why would Payton put in this…

Why would Payton put in this gimmicky package with Brees when their regular offense with Hill is moving the ball so well?

J/k, of course :-)

55 Oh wow, that might be the…

Oh wow, that might be the game there. Brees's pocket awareness has seemed kind of shaky all day, but the fumble could not have come at a worse time, killing their best drive dead.

56 The ball pops straight up…

The ball pops straight up into Vonn Bell's hands as Cook is spun down, but this should be reversed on review. Kudos to the refs for letting the play go, though.

57 Boy, if you ever needed…

Boy, if you ever needed proof of how pointless the chain "measurement" is, they ran the dumb things clear across the field and put the "official" one clearly six inches short of the stationary one on the other side.

58 OMFG what is this game

OMFG what is this game

UPDATE: Okay he was correctly ruled down. That would've been too awesome.

60 Smart play by Cousins to…

Smart play by Cousins to take the sack there. Still, not a good look for the Vikings to be driven backwards on three consecutive plays. Saints will get the ball back right after the two-minute warning with one timeout.

61 Was that seriously a…

Was that seriously a designed QB draw with Mr. Huge Guaranteed Contract on 3rd and 19?

66 Yeah, I think the latter. It…

Yeah, I think the latter. It would be helpful to have a replay from another angle to know for sure, but I thought Cousins just chose to eat the ball when he couldn't get rid of it quickly and saw Jordan closing in.

62 Presented with a tremendous…

Presented with a tremendous opportunity to close the game out, the Vikings inevitably retreat into their offensive shells (and almost manage to cough up a turnover anyway). A run on 2nd & 17, honestly?

71 Agree

That was not a play well-designed to allow the Vikings to earn a first down.  To my observation too many coaches in that situation fail to play to win the game; they play not to lose, to run down the clock and hope the defense can stop the opposition.

68 Lutz makes up for his miss…

Lutz makes up for his miss from 43 yards before halftime with a 49-yarder to send it to OT. The kick looked pretty shaky but it counts nevertheless.

69 That kick looked awful in…

That kick looked awful in the air.

Now we get to see overtime, where the rules are still bad and winning a coin flip still provides a massive advantage.

74 I at least get the logic of…

I at least get the logic of pure sudden death. And I get the logic of each team getting a chance to possess. But the logic of "FGs aren't enough, until they are" does not make sense to me at all.

70 Really odd decision-making…

Really odd decision-making by the Saints. I didn't really get not spending the timeout to keep the 10 seconds, but even given that they did, when the Kamara screen didn't work there were still 7 seconds left, they could've tried either a shot to the endzone or a similar quick play to get it closer.

72 Even worse, they should have…

Even worse, they should have used it after the Cousins sack.  Instead, the Vikings ran the ball to 2:11 before they punted, and the punt return took them down to the two minute warning, but the clock would have stopped anyway.  So they lost the two minute warning by not taking it earlier, too.

91 remember they gained 15 secs because of refs

Instead of the Vikings being able to run the clock down 39 secs after the Cook play, because it was reviewed after initially being ruled a fumble, they only got 24 seconds.  Basically the NFL now has a system that penalizes the offensive team trying to kill the clock if the refs blow/refuse to make a call... Typical...

81 Wowwwwwwwww game appears to…

Wowwwwwwwww game appears to end on an absolutely perfectly thrown fade by Cousins to Rudolph, but now they're reviewing for OPI.

(IMO there definitely is but holy crap I can't imagine calling that at this time)

UPDATE: Well it's officially final. Saints fans are going to be livid. Maybe we'll get congressional hearings about this one too.

84 It sounds like it may not…

It sounds like it may not have been reviewed, after all.

 

In any case, it sure looked like OPI to me, but the severity of the interference was low enough that it's common to not see that called. Even so, given their recent history, I can understand if Saints' fans are salty about it.

83 Well, that's a one and done…

Well, that's a one and done playoff format for you. The Saints were unlucky to even have to play this week at 13-3 but now they are out. Green Bay now gets either the banged up Seahawks or the not particularly good Eagles instead of a team significantly better than them. How lucky for the Packers.
Meanwhile Minnesota will be underdogs again, but not by as much as they were today. I would certainly pick the 49ers to win, but hey, they lost at home to Atlanta a few weeks ago so an upset wouldn't be a total shock. The 1. seed in both conferences will get a tougher opponent than the 2. seed.

99 If the Saints were really…

If the Saints were really significantly better than the Packers, they wouldn't have lost to the Vikings at home in a game in which they were behind for much of it. The Super Dome is supposed to be a tough place to play. The Vikings didn't get the memo. 

Drew Brees is also 4-7 in games below 40°F. The Saints played their first game in temps below 50° since 2014 this year. Philly has already beaten the Packers in Lambeau and the Pack's history against Russell Wilson is filled with Packers lowlights. As it is, the 49ers now get to play a wildly inconsistent team at home where they destroyed the Packers just before the Packers walloped the Vikings instead of playing the Seahawks (who've already beaten them at home) or whichever Eagles team shows up. 

86 Nice little pushoff that…

Nice little pushoff that Rudolph got away with at the end there. But it seemed inevitable after that throw to Thielen. I guess Cousins is finally earning his oversized paycheck.

90 DVOA-- Down for the Count??

I applaud FO for trying to measure this wacky, often unpredictable sport. I understand how sample size and the rub of the green can change a given result on a given day in given circumstances.

That said, what DVOA made FO experts conclude was:

1/ Buffalo is the better team. (To be fair, they did say neither result would surprise them

2/ They saw no way Tannehill could lead a comeback win at Foxboro and thus the Titans were bound to lose. (He didn't have to)

3/ The Vikings could only prevail in a shootout-- with 30+ points. Instead they held the Saints to 10 pts for 3 Quarters and, but for Taysom Hill, absolutely stoned Brees, Thomas, Kamara and the vaunted Saints offense.

To which I say just throw DVOA out. Baltimore, KC and the 49ers will all be big favorites next weekend-- at least a TD in two of those games, I suspect. And I full well expect to see at least one of them, if not more go down. DVOA will probably skeptical about GB against either SEA or PHILA-- as it should-- but the Packers will probably win more impressively than any of the other three.

I think this is more of a crapshoot than people are willing to acknowledge and that season-long metrics have much less value than people think, whatever their quality.

92 The randomness you are…

The randomness you are identifying is something supported by analytics. Trends are accurate over long periods. Of course it's all pretty random over a single game. If you're using DVOA as anything more than a pretty good guess over a single game, you are doing it wrong.

By the way, I don't know why you think the game we've seen this weekend are particularly good examples of the principle that sports are hard to predict. Are you aware of what happened between Miami and New England last week? That was a 17-point favorite losing there.

98 Nope

I think the Packers are every bit as mediocre as DVOA says they are. I just don't think it matters all that much. I can't see them beating SF there-- but I can see them beating Philly or SEA, and the Vikings beating SF, and then having to win a 3rd game against MINN for the right to go to the Super Bowl-- because none of this makes sense....

100 Ha, fair enough. I do think…

In reply to by oaktoon

Ha, fair enough.

I do think your original post conflated what DVOA said with the subjective opinions of the writers doing the previews.  DVOA, for example, has Tannehill as the fifth best QB in the league this year, so DVOA would definitely think he's capable of a road comeback in the playoffs.  It was the writer, who was taking into context things DVOA doesn't know - Tannehill's history, the pressure of the playoffs, etc. - that made the statement.

103 Yes, but

Tannehill was probably the least important factor in the Titans win. The Patriots sputtering offense, Brady's lack of weapons, Brady's declining skills, and their defense's inability to contain Henry-- all of which were eminent considerations before kickoff-- were the bigger factors by far.

106 Agree, but also, then, why…

In reply to by oaktoon

Agree, but also, then, why pick out the one comment about Tannehill?  I mean, Tannehill didn't play well, so that prediction kind of did hit; if he had needed to lead a comeback, with the way he played, would you have been confident he could have?

DVOA called the two teams pretty even, and the graphs in the preview showed that Tennessee had been trending upward, while New England trended downward.  It seems like an odd game to use as an example to throw out DVOA when making predictions.

114 Well

I am probably still reacting to those greatest ever Defense asseements earlier in the season. SF too. Same with all that Dallas talent. I just think there are limitations to DVOA that its adherents either a) won't acknowledge or b) pass off to sample size and randomization. I just think there are aspects that contribute to NFL outcomes beyond DVOA or probably any of the experts/metrics used by the teams themselves but which do play a role in outcomes. Call it the GARRETT-- Generally Accepted Ratings Rankings Excepting Team Talent

110 Surprising outcomes…

In reply to by oaktoon

Surprising outcomes occurring at a relatively high rate in a single-elimination tournament makes absolutely perfect sense. I have no idea why you seem to think that's some sort of indictment of DVOA.

96 Better QB Wins a Majority of the Time

Kerry Byrnes over at ColdHardFootballFacts found years ago that whichever qb played better in a playoff game, their team would win a good majority of the time. Most of the time that also had to do with turnovers and qb's cause most of them.

130 This ain't rocket science.

This ain't rocket science. You can have 100 studies and theories about who should win but if my qb has 4 td's and 0 int's and your guy has 1 td and 3 int's, there is a very good chance my team will win. It's really that simple.

137 Fair enough

Fair enough, but if you think 1 qb will have a better chance of playing better and you can get an even up bet-then take it. For example, if you do that with Brady you are now 30 up and 11 down. 

102 I don't know which 'experts'…

I don't know which 'experts' you are talking about. I'm not aware of anybody serious who would use DVOA alone to confidently predict the outcome of a single game. That would be ludicrous. FO write preview articles for playoff games which cite DVOA, but these are merely used to provide an overview, and identify interesting trends and matchups. I guess some of the more jovial columns might include these sort of speculations, but yeah, that's just a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously. 

119 What are you talking about?…

What are you talking about? DVOA is the primary statistic I see the NFL through, and yet I didn't agree with any of those "conclusions." 

Also, just because it's not perfect doesn't mean it's useless. I do just fine using DVOA to inform my predictions, TYVM.

154 If there was any one…

If there was any one statistic or analytical method that could provide any deterministic insight into the result of a single game, there wouldn't be a gambling industry.

Or, as Dan Jenkins once wrote, "the ball ain't round, sometimes it bounces funny."(*)

(*) Not an exact quote, I haven't read _Semi-Tough_ in 35 years...

94 I don’t know much about…

I don’t know much about referees but seems like Shawn Smith must be pretty good if he’s doing playoff games in his second year

101 A Weird Bone to pick

So after the reversal of the Cook fumble, the clock was set back to where it was when his knee went down-- OK, correct-- but then the Vikings only had 25 secs to get a play off, meaning that instead of potentially burning 39 secs before they snapped the ball, they only had 24. As it was the Saints remaining TO and the 2 minute warning would probably have meant that NO got the ball back with around 2 minutes or a little less anyway, but why should the offensive team be penalized 15 seconds for the refs basically missing a call-- or in this case, being encouraged not to make a premature call by blowing the whistle and ruiling the play dead. I'm all for letting them play but if Cook was down-- as he was-- his team should have the full benefit of the play clock...

113 I think the idea is that the…

I think the idea is that the team could have/should have used the duration of the review to work on deciding which play to call. If they got the full 40, they'd essentially be rewarded for the official review, by your same logic. I'm not sure which is "fairer" - I'm inclined to lean toward giving the full 40 - but I get why they do it that way.

116 If So..

That's stupid... Give the ball to Cook again-- how much time do they need to come up with that play? At the end of the game-- protecting a lead-- the clock IS the playcall

109 Oh man, Wentz is out (…

Oh man, Wentz is out ("questionable") and McCown is in. Looks like Clowney hit him helmet-to-helmet (unintentionally) which knocked his head violently into the ground.

Brandon Graham also went off, not sure how bad it was (looked like maybe he hyperextended his knee).

Nevertheless, it's still only 3-0 'hawks in the 2nd quarter.

120 After all the 15-yarders for…

After all the 15-yarders for "grazing the QB's helmet with an open palm," it's great to see the league continue not to give two shits about concussing non-marquee players.

 

Plenty of open-field h2h hits in the secondary are unintentional or unavoidable (as are the aforementioned head-slaps). They still get called!

123 Are you saying the Wentz…

Are you saying the Wentz play should have been a penalty?  Because it was on a scramble, he was being tackled normally, and it so happened that his helmet hit another player's as they were both falling in the same direction.

Also, how few "marquee" players are there if Wentz and Wilson aren't included?

126 There was nothing wrong with…

There was nothing wrong with the Wentz play.  You're grasping at straws.

And my Wilson comment was about your reference to "non-marquee" players, not about him getting or not getting calls.  If Wilson isn't a "marquee" player from your perspective, who are the marquee players?  Just Brady, Rodgers, and Brees?

128 I'm not getting into an "is…

I'm not getting into an "is flacco elite" thing right now.

But literally everything you've just written about the hit on Wentz is wrong, and calling it straws ain't gonna change that.

Zero effort on Clowney's part to make contact with any non-helmet part of his body.

129 Clowney was chasing Wentz…

Clowney was chasing Wentz from behind, and dove at him.  This kind of hit happens 50 times a game, it's just bad luck that their helmets hit.  Unfortunately, these type of concussions are going to be near impossible to legislate out of the game.

And don't get salty about the "marquee" thing - you're the one who made the blanket statement about non-marquee players not getting calls, and referred to Wentz and Wilson in the next two sentences.  So you kind of already did get into the "is Flacco elite" thing yourself.

148 You can't prevent them, but…

You can't prevent them, but you can penalize them. That was a ridiculous non-call on a play that changed the course of the entire game. Now, they'll slap Clowney with a light fine and he'll get to play against the Packers. Ridiculous.

111 Josh McCown was 25th in DVOA…

Josh McCown was 25th in DVOA and DYAR two years ago with the Jets. That's about the best the Eagles can probably hope from him if Wentz can't come back.

117 NBC trying to resurrect the Run to Win Narrative

Had a whole segment about how the top passing teams are out of the playoffs and the top running teams are in the playoffs. I was really hoping this sort of thinking had been killed. Now, however, they are trying to act as if they are on the cutting edge because most people now believe passing is more important for winning. Instead, they are just behind the times.

Honestly, that segment captures the NBC's approach to presenting a football game perfectly. It's like watching a broadcast on FOX or CBS from 20 years ago.

127 Huge roughing the passer…

Huge roughing the passer call gives Seattle 1st & goal from the 5 instead of 3rd & 10 from the 10. On replay it looked like Barnett might have been blocked into Wilson.

135 Someone needs to tell…

Someone needs to tell Collinsworth how crediting Clowney’s “athleticism” when he clearly diagnosed a play call sounds in 2020.

136 The Eagles have done a…

The Eagles have done a better job of moving the ball as this game has gone along, but their inability to finish drives with TDs is keeping this game relatively uninteresting.

138 Romo and Collinsworth have…

Romo and Collinsworth have both been awful this weekend. Booger and Aikman both did way better. WTF?

140 Do the Seahawks like being…

Do the Seahawks like being in 3rd and long? It's like that's their goal every possession: face 3rd and long as often as possible

155 Well, Wilson's the best…

Well, Wilson's the best player on their team and on 3rd-and-long he gets to pass, so obviously the key strategy for the Seahawks is to get to 3rd-and-long as frequently as possible.

 

141 Seattle looks like they are…

Seattle looks like they are going to hold on, but this hasn't been a great performance considering who the opposing QB is. I think the Packers should be substantial favorites next week.

145 Said everybody after every game since 2013

Same things being said back then too.

Next week is an easier matchup.  GB is 23rd in run defense.  They won't be able to tee off on Wilson.  Meanwhile, our defense can only be shredded for so many yards.  Rodgers can only find WR's that are so wide open.  There's no such thing as more wide open than what Seattle lets them get.  Look at Bengals game.  Look at when Rothlisberger went out and Rudolph diced them up.  Ken Norton Jr. calls an incredibly awful game.

Guess what I'm saying is, good team, bad team, Seattle plays them all the same.  Should be another GB-Sea classic.

153 Green Bay fans know their…

Green Bay fans know their team has been accused of "winning ugly" all year. My guess is Seattle fans have heard many of the same things considering the Seahawks close game record this year. This could be the winningest ugly game of all time. 

142 Oh look another possesion…

Oh look another possesion where the Seahawks don't gain any yards before 3rd and 10. Why even bother with 1st and 2nd down?