NFL Wildcard Playoff Weekend

NFL Wildcard Playoff Weekend: Good, bad & ugly

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Wow! What a weekend of football! This was perhaps the best Wildcard round I've seen in quite some time. Here are my observations:

The Good

-Derrick Henry is a cyborg. The Titans' running back is listed at 6'3 and 247lbs. How a man that size moves the way he does is unreal. He pounded the Patriots defense into submission to the tune of 182 yards on 34 carries. But my favorite play of his was the screen pass he took 22 yards to set up his only rushing touchdown of the game. Catching the ball was a knock on him and he showed he could do so on that play.

-In that Titans/Patriots matchup, Mike Vrabel got the best of Bill Belchick and used a Belichick-esque knowledge of a loophole to aid him in bewating his former mentor and coach. The rule allows teams to take penalties and run clock outside of five minutes left in a game. On 4th&5, they took the clock from 5:52 and didn't actually punt until 4:51. A delay of game and a false start helped them run the time off. Brilliant strategic move!

-Russell Wilson is elite. He hasn't had a good offensive line, no a true number one receiver, and only had a number one running back when Marshawn Lynch was there his first go round. Yet he's managed to get his team to double digit wins in all but one of his eight seasons, the only time they missed the playoffs at 9-7. He led the Seahawks to a 17-9 win over the Eagles and look to be a problem for the NFC. Don't look now, butrookie DK Metcalf is emerging as his number one target after that 160 yard performance.

The Bad

-Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady went 20/37 for 209 yards and threw an interception. The Titans made him look very average. Granted, he doesn't have the same type of weapons he used to have in the past, but there are other quarterbacks who don't have weapons and manage to do more. Speaking of the Patriots...

-What happened to that vaunted defense? The Titans manhandled them. They ran 40 times and only attempted 16 passes. Sure the final score isn't indicative of a dominant win, but having that big of a run to pass differential shows that one team knew what they were good at and stuck to it.

-With the Eagles down 17-9 in the 4th quarter, Doug Pederson decided to go for it. He dialed up the right play, backup quarterback Josh McCown threw a good ball, but Miles Sanders dropped it. They were in field goal range, but knew they needed a touchdown and two point conversion.

The Ugly

-Carson Wentz left the Eagles after their second possession of the game. It appears as if he suffered a concussion. He was scrambling and threw a pass to Boston Scott when Jadeveon Clowney hit him. As Clowney landed on him, it seemed to have mashed Wentz's head into the ground.

-Saints coach Sean Payton decided to go for the 10 second runoff at the end of the regulation instead of using their last timeout. It brought the clock down to 11 seconds instead of 21 seconds. This didn't cost them the game, but it would've been nice to have more time to possibly take shots at the end zone from the Vikings' 31 yard line with extra time.

-Josh Allen should look in the mirror when he looks for reasons why the Bills lost to the Texans. He made several boneheaded plays that cost his team a chance to advance. Perhaps the most puzzling was his alley oop lateral to his fullback that they miraculously managed to not lose the ball on. I've never seen a play that dumb in quite some time.

This was the first time the NFL had not one, but two overtime games in Wildcard round. Every game was decided by one score, every game was competitive, and every game had us on the edge of our seats. The top four teams in rushing yards per game all made the playoffs (Ravens, 49ers, Titans, and Seahawks). Two had byes, the other two advanced in road wins. If this doesn't emphasize why the run game is still very important to today's game, I don't know what will. The ages of the remaining quarterbacks in descending order: 36, 31, 31, 31, 28, 24, 24, and 22. Goes to show you that age doesn't matter, it's all about how you play the game. Also shows that the younger guys are stepping up and ready to take the throne from the older guys. These next couple weeks should be fun to watch!

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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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