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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

NFL 10 Takes Tuesday

Wild on Sports
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NFL 10 Takes Tuesday
By Wild on Sports Analyst Billy Ball

Each week I give you my 10 takes from the weekend that was in the NFL.

 1. Playoff football is just down right awesome. 3 of 4 games separated by three points or less. 2 games end of the final possession. 89 point shootouts and 40 point nail bitters. All in all, a great weekend of football! And the best part is, that was just the beginning -- we get to do it all again this weekend.

2. The QB position has never been more important. Look at the QB's remaining -- Brady, Luck, Manning, Rivers, Brees, Wilson, Newton, Kaepernick. We arguably have 8 of the top 10 QB's in the game still alive this weekend and its by no accident. The old motto of lunch pale defense and a hard nose ground and pound attack have faded into the sunset and a new statistic driven, high tempo explosive passing offense has emerged as the face of the league. In short, if you don't have a franchise QB, you aren't going anywhere in today's NFL.

3. Andy Dalton is not the answer in Cincinnati. We've had a decent sample size now and it is growing clear that Andy Dalton just doesn't have what it takes to get Cincinnati to the next level. Sure, he puts up decent numbers in the regular season, but keep in mind he has four games against Pittsburgh and Cleveland who (outside of Joe Haden) are pretty inapt at stopping the pass. When the playoffs roll around Dalton folds like a cheap suit. Its too bad, he seems like a decent guy who works hard. I want to like him but the results just aren't there. As good as that defense is there is no reason why they should be one and done each year.

4. 2013 Playoff Colin Kaepernick is back. Anyone who watched the San Francisco - Green Bay game on Sunday would tell you that the most impactful player on the field was Colin Kaepernick. He finally showed that combination of the arm and the super scrambling ability to cause just a steady stream of nightmares for the Packers defense. We rarely saw that combination during the regular season but the Kaepernick we saw on Sunday was the same one that took the 49ers to the Super Bowl last season. If he is back to full form the NFC had better watch out.

5. The Chargers are legit. Every year we get that team that gets hot down the stretch, sneaking into the playoffs as a 5/6 seed and proceeds to make a deep run. This year that team appears to be the Chargers. For all the questions surrounding Philip Rivers in big games and the San Diego defense, both of those aspects were the keys to victory Sunday. Now, Andy Dalton's turnover prone nature certainly helped, but overall the Chargers defense was really impressive. Now the real test: a rematch with division rival Denver. They beat the Broncos in Denver a month ago and did so much the same way they beat Cincy last weekend. If the defense shows up they could knock off the top seed. One this is for sure, they cannot afford to get into a shootout against Peyton Manning. They just won't win that. Otherwise, they have a chance.

6. The Drew Brees cold weather curse is over -- thankfully. Its ridiculous really, this thought that some of the greats of this generation can't go out in the elements and get it done. We've heard it before with Peyton Mnaning and we heard it all week with Drew Brees. Granted, Brees didn't have his best game on Saturday. Actually, the Saints offense in general nt he first half was pretty bad. But, he went out in the 2nd half and managed the game and willed his team to victory. That's what great QB's do, they win, period. Brees has a Superbowl to his name, he is a big time QB and one of the best statistically that we have ever seen int he NFL. Forget the cold, hes a winner.

7. More injuries to the Patriots, but they will still win Saturday. The Patriots placed linebacker Brandon Spikes on the IR yesterday, ending his season. Lets just take a quick look at the notable Pats they are lost the season due to injury -- Wilfork, Mayo, Kelly, Boyce, Gronkowski and now Spikes. Really, that's probably four of their top 6 defensive players. As long as they have Talib to lock down TY Holton, they should be OK. In the end Belichick and Brady will find a way to win but you have to wonder just how this this team can be stretched before they just give up so many points that Brady can't keep up.

8. Roger Goodell's push for another playoff team is foolish. If it aint broke, don't fix it. Seriously. The NFL has a good thing going. The Wild Card races that set up the final few weeks of the season are really exciting. I understand the motive, add a game, add major revenue, make the #1 that much more important. I get it, really, I do, but I just don't like it. Keep the playoffs the way they are. I would rather see the regular season expand than the playoffs expand.

9. Trent Richardson's days as an NFL RB could be numbered. After that costly fumble on his first and only carry Saturday it would not be a surprise to see him on the sidelines in street clothes this weekend. My how the mighty have fallen. Just a year removed from a terrific rookie season with Cleveland, he was traded to Indy for a first round pick after week 2 this season. He proceeded to average just 2.9 yards per carry and lost the starting job to Donald Brown down the stretch. Last weekend might have been the final straw. It will be a tough pill to swallow for Colts brass considering what they gave up for him, but the whole situation has been a complete disaster.

10. The winners this weekend will be.... Denver, New England, Seattle and San Francisco.

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