Find some experienced quarterbacks
Let’s just say the opening weekend of the NFL playoffs was a cruel mistress, hopefully forgiving any possible misogynistic overtones that might have.
Saturday’s games, which I felt less sure about, went just the way I thought and hoped they would, only to watch my predictions crash and burn on Sunday.
For sure, the Chicago Bears with their No. 1 defense would outlast Philly’s second-straight Cinderella run, while Baltimore would use home-field advantage to keep its hot streak going against the always questionable Chargers, at least always questionable in the playoffs.
Wrong-o on both counts! So alas, just another .500 week.
One trend that really caught my ear in the aftermath of those games, but apparently not with all the analysts, is that the key quarterback position needs a man with some experience, preferably playoff experience.
Losing last weekend were three QBs making their first playoff appearance in either their rookie or second year in the league — the Bears’ Mitch Trubisky, Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and Houston’s Deshaun Watson.
I’ll attribute Seattle’s Russell Wilson getting knocked out for the first time without winning a playoff game to his team’s 30th-ranked run defense against the Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott.
That made up for Wilson making playoff appearance No. 6 to just the second time for Dallas’ Dak Prescott.
Stepping up were also veterans Andrew Luck of Indy, Phillip Rivers of the Chargers and Nick Foles of the Eagles. Each had more playoff experience that their counterpart, even though its’ only Foles’ second time around.
Taking this and some good home cooking into account, let’s look at this week’s divisional round. I remembered to include the TV network with these games, too:
Saturday, 4:30 p.m., NBC
Indianapolis at Kansas City —
You have to hold your breath anytime you’re not picking KC’s high-octane offense. But what the offense gives, the Chiefs’ defense taketh away in that Luck should also have a field day. In the craziest game of the playoffs, Colts, 42-39.
Saturday, 8:15 p.m., Fox
Dallas at Los Angeles Rams —
QB experience is a wash here, with Prescott and the Rams’ Jared Goff each in their second appearance.
LA, though, was trending the wrong way at the end of the season with Goff’s taking a lot of pass-rush pressure. And the Rams’ own pass rushers, Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, I keep hearing are more interested in sacks than stopping the run. Not good with Dallas’ Zeke tearing things up. Cowboys, 27-23.
Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS
Los Angeles Chargers at New England —
The Chargers have won a playoff game in this series before — almost exactly 55 years ago on Jan. 5, 1964, when both teams were in the old American Football League and the opposition was known as the Boston Patriots.
And Rivers is a spry 37 years old compared to Boston’s — I mean New England’s — Tom Brady being 41.
Still, I’ll take the Pats’ Bill Belichick combined with Brady and all their Super Bowl titles to at least advance this week. Patriots, 29-24.
Sunday, 4:30 p.m., Fox
Philadelphia at New Orleans —
The Saints’ Drew Brees has tons more playoff experience than Foles, but even if he didn’t, I don’t see New Orleans being slowed as long as they’re playing in the Superdome.
This will be in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Saints, 37-22.
Last week —
2-2, 50 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.