Despite the general content surrounding the Wild Card round, I felt more disappointment throughout the games than satisfaction. On Saturday the Colts vs Texans game, lacked competition, and Sunday the Chargers vs Ravens wasn’t much of a game when it comes to excitement and equality until the end. Truth to be said, all games where tactically very rich and attractive to watch, but I was showing games to a novice and those were not the best ones for a newcomer to watch. Hopefully the Divisional Round will be loaded with excitement and close scores.
This is how the NFL 2019 playoff tree looks right at this point. The consequences of losses for the 4 eliminated teams will be different, and here is a quick word about them before stepping into this weekend games’ predictions.
I don’t know what is with the Texans and the Playoffs. It is always difficult to dissect how difficult a division really is, but having the Titans in contention until the end, I won’t take my argument in this direction. I simply think that for this game Bill O’Brien misfired in the gameplan selection. Whatever it was, I don’t see a major earthquake taking over the Texans, though maybe a change of offensive coordinator would be healthy for the team and Watson’s development.
Making it into the playoffs with such a clean record (12-4) would have already been perceived as a monstrous season for every Bear fan, player and coach if asked in August. However, the Bears were growing strong throughout the season and legitimately believed by the end of the regular season that they could have a very deep run in the playoffs. They have points to improve, as any team has, but overall they are a powerhouse in defence, have an offence that responds in the moments of need, and they are not and ageing team. For 2019 my concerns are about the coaching staff and a very difficult division. 2018 was a great year for the Bears as they were a very well coached team, but I still need to see how good Pagano is going to replace Vic Fangio. Still, a new, better kicker, some more weapons on offence, and this team will be highly competitive again. Concerning the division, the Bears will be facing a renewed Packers team with Matt LaFleur. Some angry Vikings, wanting to swipe out the feeling of failure with which they finished the 2018 season. Finally, the Lions are a big question mark for the coming season, where I fear for Patricia’s seat.
I have a similar opinion with the Ravens, in the sense that we can consider the 2018 season globally as a success. The defence was consolidated as a top one in the league. The offence has re-encountered their identity, and Harbaugh has been confirmed in the position for the coming years. I believe for any team sport, having an identity, knowing how the team wants to play, helps enormously for succeeding. Nonetheless, in my mind, the Ravens need to come up with a solution that balances out the offensive strategy. In this league, with so many talented players and coaches, you are not going to go very far with a playbook so limited you can’t throw the ball effectively. At least to make it enough of a threat to open up the scene for the RPO’s and runs to the sides.
The Seahawks are probably the best positioned team in terms of identity, and feeling that the project is moving right were they want it to go.
It is very relevant to mention that the Seahawks started the 2018 season as a rebuilding team. They have assembled a great defensive group, and on offence they have survived a terrible offensive line with loads of running combos to open small gaps for the Seahawks’ running backs to squeeze in. I trust Pete Carroll will keep doing a good job rebuilding this roster and will fill it up with more talent.
What the Seahawks have, and I admire above everything else is their capacity to compete and stay in the games despite the elements. They have kept a very competitive tone all season long, being less talented than other teams, having less weapons than other teams. And this is all to attribute to Carrol and his coaching staff.