Wild Card Weekend went exactly how most people predicted: the playoff-calibre teams brought the pain on the youngbloods. Out of the four losers, however, there were two winners that we can expect great things from next season.
Oakland Raiders – Winner
Tragedy befell the 12-4 Oakland Raiders when Derek Carr broke his leg in the last game of the regular season. Rookie Connor Cook got his first NFL start in the playoffs and blew it in humiliating fashion. With 18 completions for 45 attempts, 1 touchdown, and THREE interceptions, I could almost hear Derek Carr’s heart breaking watching his team crumble at his absence.
I’ve been saying this since the pre-season: Houston’s Jadeveon Clowney is a monster waiting to be unleashed. Unfortunately for Raiders fans, we saw that monster take advantage of a low-grade quarterback all day.
I can’t help but feel for the entire Oakland fan base because this truly was a waste of a season that could have led to a spot in the Super Bowl. If there’s anything the Raiders, as a team and a fanbase, are known for is that they are some tough, gritty human beings.
If they were capable of wreaking such havoc in the regular season, I can’t imagine they would do anything short of expectations next season with a healthy Derek Carr.
“I’m proud of you guys…I’m proud of every guy in here.”
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) January 8, 2017
Miami Dolphins – Winner
In the wake of a 30-12 blowout at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, I can’t help but be proud of the Miami Dolphins. We only get to see them in the playoffs once in a blue moon, and their performance wasn’t exactly promising, but this gave Miami football fans something to look forward to. The standard has been set for the 2017-2018 season.
The Miami offense wasn’t exactly tough to figure out. Let Jay Ajayi run it down the middle for 2 yards. Throw an incomplete pass. Let Jay Ajayi run it down the middle for 2 yards. Punt and hope for the best.
The best part about watching Miami in the playoffs was that Matt Moore actually played a great game, which is rare for Miami quarterbacks. He threw 29 for 36 for 289 yards, 1 TD and 1 interception.
There were sparks of Miami being a good team, but now many of the young players have been tested in playoff waters. Hopefully the Dolphins can start off the 2017 season similar to how they ended it and lock in that Wild Card spot early on since the Patriots will likely continue to dominate the AFC East.
— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) January 8, 2017
New York Giants – Loser
It’s trendy to put the Giants’ loss on the team partying up in Miami the week before, but that would be too easy. There are few teams in the NFL as frustrating as the New York Giants.
Eli Manning seems to have turned into nothing short of a second-rate quarterback on a team that didn’t belong in the playoffs, regardless of previous Super Bowl championships. Odell Beckham Jr. quickly became one of my favorite active players in the NFL, but even his hilarious antics are not enough to redeem the Giants from their awful season capped off with a lackluster playoff performance.
The Giants are strangely similar to their NBA counterpart, the New York Knicks. Both teams have enough franchise-level talent, yet are awful at leading it to produce anything worth talking about.
New York newspapers didn’t hold back on the Giants…
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 9, 2017
Detroit Lions – Still the Detroit Lions
The Lions had a good season by their standards, but did anyone really expect this game to go any different than it did? The Lions still have a lot to work on, but Matthew Stafford is proving to be capable of being a pretty decent franchise quarterback.
It’s going to be a long, drawn-out process for Detroit and there are many components that need to change, but the Lions could turn into one of the better teams in the NFL.
— Ford Field (@fordfield) January 9, 2017