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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Houston has lost seven of eight

Mariners ride big fifth inning to series win over Astros

Jake Odorizzi earned his second loss as an Astro Sunday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

With the losing streak behind them by taking the middle game on Saturday night, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Sunday afternoon to try and make it back-to-back victories to take the series. Instead, they'd suffer their seventh loss in the last eight games.

Final Score: Mariners 7, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 7-8, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ljay Newsome (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-2)

Odorizzi locks in through four while Houston grabs a lead

Jake Odorizzi did not start his afternoon the way he needed to in order to have a good rebound outing compared to his first start. In the 37-pitch first inning, he issued two walks and an RBI-single, putting the Mariners at a significant advantage early. Odorizzi flipped the switch, though, finding a rhythm to retire the next ten batters after that RBI-single to get through four innings with just one run allowed.

Offensively for Houston, they quickly responded to Seattle's run in the first with one of their own in the top of the second, capitalizing on some shoddy defense by Seattle to get Carlos Correa to second to set up an RBI ground-rule double by Aledmys Diaz, tying things up 1-1. It stayed that way until the top of the fifth when a leadoff walk by Chas McCormick would turn into a run after a stolen base and two sacrifice flys to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Mariners explode for four in the fifth

The lead was short-lived, as Seattle would explode in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff single and one-out walk to set up a two-RBI triple by Mitch Haniger to go ahead 3-2. That would prompt Dusty Baker out of the dugout to end Odorizzi's day and move on to Brooks Raley. Raley would not fare any better, giving up a two-run homer to Ty France to extend Seattle's new lead to 5-2. He would finish the inning, putting Odorizzi's line final: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 89 P.

Seattle takes the series

Seattle would strike again in the bottom of the seventh against Joe Smith. After a leadoff walk, the Mariners would get back-to-back one-out RBI-doubles to extend their lead to 7-2. After Smith in the seventh, Peter Solomon would make his major-league debut in the bottom of the eighth and work around a one-out walk for a scoreless inning. Houston would then come up empty in the top of the ninth, dropping the finale and the series to Seattle.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Denver tonight and get an off day tomorrow. Tuesday night, they'll start a quick two-game set with the Rockies at 7:40 PM Central. Houston currently has Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 5.27 ERA) penciled in as their starter, but with ongoing illness, he has not yet been fully confirmed. For the Rockies, Jon Gray (1-1, 2.87 ERA) is expected to start.

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