Wild-Card Winners

Keeping Drew Brees upright and away from Trent Cole will be vital for the Saints to beat the Eagles on Saturday in Philadelphia. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Keeping Drew Brees upright and away from Trent Cole will be vital for the Saints to beat the Eagles on Saturday in Philadelphia. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Player You Need to Know This Weekend

Terron Armstead, left tackle, New Orleans (number 72). Armstead has a professional pass-rusher, Trent Cole (last seven seasons: 66 sacks), coming outside his left shoulder all night in Philadelphia, where the crowd will make it hard for Armstead to hear his quarterback, Drew Brees. In his first two games as a starter, Armstead, a rookie third-rounder from Arkansas-Pine Bluff, has allowed either three or four sacks, depending on your source, and was a nightmare in protection two weeks ago at Carolina. You can be sure if the Saints pull the upset at Philadelphia, Armstead will play better than his first two games show.

Sound Bite of the Week

“Any way possible I could get a signed jersey from you?’’

—Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis, to Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez during Gonzalez’s last career game Sunday, as captured by NFL Films. Gonzalez said sure—after the season.

Ten Things I’ll Be Watching For This Weekend

Seeds Of Doubt

The NFL playoffs are flawed, and Don Banks argues it's high time the league rewarded teams with the best records home games in the postseason. FULL STORY

1. The weather. And not just in Green Bay, where it’ll be below zero and breezy Sunday afternoon at kickoff. Had the NFL scheduled Cincinnati’s home game against San Diego for Saturday afternoon (a recent playoff tradition), it would have been about 40 with the sun setting. But Sunday it’s supposed to be sleeting or snowing all afternoon, with temps around 33. Saturday night in Philly: No precipitation, but about 24 degrees with 10-mph winds. Not Breesian, in other words. Dome in Indy. Inhumanly cold in Green Bay.

2. The coaching jobs. Titans drag feet. Raiders likewise. Browns fact-find, try to convince Josh McDaniels it’s a great job. Lions shrouded in secrecy. Vikes too. Washington carpetbombs. And will Penn State steal an NFL coach with Nittany roots, like Jim Caldwell?

3. And while we’re at it, Josh McDaniels. He’s gotten hot again, though his rep was badly tarnished by The Tebow Experiment. It’ll be interesting to see if the team that makes the most sense for him—Detroit, with a just-add-coaching quarterback in Matthew Stafford—gets serious about McDaniels. And he about them.

4. Bob Stoops. If he’s interested in an NFL head-coaching job, he’s got a lot of friends in the NFL—and his Oklahoma team’s seven-sack, 45-point bowl display against Alabama Thursday night won’t hurt.

5. The draft. It’s 18 weeks away, but if Blake Bortles of Central Florida declares for it in the coming days (and don’t try to hide that you’re coming out, Johnny Manziel), there could be a gold rush on top-10 quarterbacks: Teddy Bridgewater, Bortles, Manziel and Tajh Boyd all will contend to go to Houston (picking first), Jacksonville (third), Cleveland (fourth), Oakland (fifth), Minnesota (eighth) … and maybe second overall, if St. Louis can find a ransom partner.

6. The new Tampa Bay braintrust. Lovie Smith will coach, Jeff Tedford (tutored Kyle Boller, Joey Harrington, Aaron Rodgers, which is quite a triumvirate) will offensively coordinate, and now we’ll see how much more of the Dungy Era Buccaneers can be scotch-taped back together to try to challenge three better teams in the NFC South.

Chris Kluwe (Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)
Chris Kluwe (Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)

7. The Kluwe fallout. The former Vikings’ punter, Chris Kluwe, writing on Deadspin, accused his special-teams coach in Minnesota, Mike Priefer, of using homophobic slurs after Kluwe very publicly supported gay marriage. One of the rants Kluwe accused Priefer of going on was positively brutal. Priefer denied it all. This story’s not over.

8. Jeff Triplette has a wild-card game … in Cincinnati. That’s where, four weeks ago, he botched a replay review as badly as a replay review can be botched. And five weeks ago, he got reprimanded by the league for messing up the last series of the Giants’ game at Washington, signaling for third down while two of his wing officials said it was first down. It’s bizarre enough he somehow earned a playoff game, but going back to Cincinnati?

9. The Jay Cutler deal. Let the debate commence: In exchange for not guaranteeing him a dime after the third season, and thus being able to cut him then, the Bears handed their incumbent quarterback (who has missed 12 games due to injury in the last three years) $54 million over the next three years. After that, the contract for the next four years is non-guaranteed, and he can be cut without a cap hit. Maybe it’s me. Seems excessive.

10. Fate of the ‘Fins. While Stephen Ross ponders, all Dolphins coaches and brass wonder about their future … and what in the world is taking so long for the NFL investigation into the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin ordeal to finish. Could Ted Wells be watching every frame of the 2012 “Hard Knocks” footage?

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98 comments
Joe10
Joe10

Peter King would have picked Philadelphia no matter what. Saints can't play outdoors. Saints can't play on the road. Saints cant play in the cold. Breaking news: Eagles can't play next week.

Pat11
Pat11

I guess this is why they play the games, so no know it all writer can pick and choose who makes it to SB. He will be lucky to get half his picks correct.

MichaelZierdt
MichaelZierdt

Why does Jeff Triplett, the referee who gifted Cincy a touchdown and momentum after that great Colts goal line stand get to officiate the Cincy playoff game? Seems like the REAL Cincy secret weapon

KristopherLohmuller
KristopherLohmuller

Peter, you make a comment about Lacy worried about not feeling the ball and imply the weather will make it that much harder, but then say that Gore will run it a lot. Is it harder to feel the ball when it is colder or not? If it is, then maybe you see Gore cough the ball up a couple times.

udpert
udpert

Josh McDaniels' reputation hurt as a result of the Tim Tebow Experiment? As far as I recall, Tim Tebow never started a game for Josh McDaniels. Josh drafted Tim, but was fired because the Broncos started 3-9 in 2010, when Tim was still on the bench. When Tim eventually started (under Eric Studesville and then John Fox), he posted a winning record as a starter, with a playoff victory. Hardly a reason for Josh's reputation to take a hit; in fact, quite the opposite.

EaglesPdx
EaglesPdx

I'm an Eagles fan but how can New Orleans with all the SuperBowl experience and weapons not be the favorite over Philly's 2nd level pass defense, little to no pass rush and no real safety help.  Brees and New Orleans were built to beat Philly's weak pass defense.  New Orleans will pass to free up the run.  Easier job for New Orleans to force Eagles to pass by stopping the run.

BY
BY

Blake Bortles did not look NFL ready in any way unless he is trying to be a running back....

skanee00
skanee00

Gore hasn't been running as well as he was earlier in the season, so I don't think it's a given that the 49ers have a better running attack than the Packers.  Green Bay does have a definite advantage in the passing game, with Rodgers completing 67% of his throws and Kappy 58%.

The Packers also have a definite advantage in the sub-zero temperatures.  They've been living and playing in colder weather for months now, so it's not going to be so much of a shock for them.  The 49ers on the other hand just played a game in Arizona's dome, so they're looking at a temperature swing of about 75 degrees or more. I don't care how tough you think you are, that would negatively affect anybody's concentration.

peterkingstinks
peterkingstinks

What no politics peter king? Shocking that you stick to football related stories...

CSK
CSK

As for Kluwe-  you forgot to mention he also called his coach Leslie Frazier a "coward" and blamed his being cut- and subsequent continued unemployment- on his beliefs- (as opposed to his actions)


Meanwhile, the Vikings cut Kluwe after they drafted a punter (who amassed almost identical stats as Kluwe the year before)...but for over a million$$ LESS....just as they had done the year before when they cut Longwell when they drafted a kicker.


Thats simply common salary cap sense- not politics.


Meanwhile, Kluwe could even catch on with Raiders...did they fail to sign because of his politics...or his declining punting ability?

SephirothDZX
SephirothDZX

I dunno, I just don't think the 49ers are a safe pick. 

FeedTheRightWolf
FeedTheRightWolf

Finally at least some acknowledgement of the weather and its potential impact... (Indy/KC excluded of course) but even this acknowledgement is not reflected in the projected scores. (Mr. Banks made the same error and his projections even had the headline 'High scoring weekend')  Good old fashioned hard-hitting, time chewing, ground and pound football will help keep scores low and (if current weather projections hold) the biggest impact will actually be felt in the take for granted 3 points when a team gets to the opposing 35.  I would even go so far as to say that even an attempt from the 25 (making it a 42 yarder) is going to be far from a gimme in the projected conditions and some tough coaching calls will have to be made regarding punt/FGA or go for it on fourth down.  Unless the game is on the line in the final minutes/seconds (or possibly at the half), I don't think we will even see an attempt from the opposing 30 or beyond.

RescuedfromESPN
RescuedfromESPN

Can't believe PK expects SF to go to Lambeau in subzero temperatures, and picks the 49ers to win. Newsflash, the 9ers defense is ranked 13th, lets not pretend it's anything special. Green Bay will put up 30+, and at the end of the day, Kaepernick can't keep up with Rodgers.

mrfrogburger
mrfrogburger

Is there a site that maintain PK's picks stats? He always seems off to me for some reason.

magic mushroom
magic mushroom

AFC title game will be Broncos hosting the Patriots if i had to guess else NFL is going to lose a lot of money.

George
George

Josh McDaniels is a proven ponk - let the buyer beware.


And $18 million dollars / yr (essentially "Manning money") for jay cutler?!?


HAhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


SeriouslySkeptical
SeriouslySkeptical

All the earlier talk about the planet heating up makes me wonder if I need to start buying shoes with thicker soles.

bulltorch
bulltorch

Sorry guys. Mr. Tom brady will be hoisting a lombardi, making out with Giselle with super bowl MVP at Met-Life.  . Then tens of thousands of M$$$holes will infiltrate NYC and take over the city at the command of Bellichick.. The plan is coming all together now... 

JeffFarley
JeffFarley

How in the world did you come up with 25 points for the 49ers?

MikeKW
MikeKW

can't believe Triplette got a playoff gig,  just thankful not the Colts game.

Mark20
Mark20

One only has to see Jay Cutler's idiotic new contract (how much will he be hurt in the next three years?) and the Browns interviewing Josh McDaniel's to tell you that NFL ownership is not the vestige of the brilliant.

lukiendave
lukiendave

how about McDaniels actually just focuses on his JOB. Pats players and fans are getting upset by this. He signed a contract how about he actually completes the year first. He comes off like a scumbag after the Broncos OC said no to every one. 

RandySchirmer
RandySchirmer

@Pat11 - What fool reads an article which he knows is a writer's predictions and then posts an insult to that writer for making predictions? Did he hurt your feelings because he didn't pick your teams? What is wrong with people? 

pirate
pirate

@Pat11 As will we all. He isn't saying "This will happen." He's saying he thinks this is what will happen. It's just a story, nothing to get bent out of shape over.

blynder
blynder

@udpert 

McHoody Jr did draft Tebow; and he had coaching and GM responsibilities (hence the drafting of the Tebow); but he really ran the franchise down (not just the losing record, but the recording issue as well as the general demeanor of the team changed).  His reputation wasn't just about Tebow, but a few other things.  


And yes, the Tebow was a part of a winning record, but it certainly wasn't all him.  That defense was very stout then and really deserves a lot of credit.

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

@udpert All that Pro-Tebow marketing you just spewed is negated by the fact that Tebow is out of the NFL with not a single team willing to risk having him on a roster, forget being an established starter as a first round pick.

RandySchirmer
RandySchirmer

@EaglesPdx I think a lot of has to do with NO's record away from home. (3-5) and their play-off record on the road is 0-4. Also domed teams have lost 7 straight road play off games. Odds makers factor all of this in. The Philly pass rush isn't as bad as you indicate although I agree that Philly's safeties are a weak link and could be targeted by Brees. That will be determined by how effective the pass rush is. They don't need to hit Brees necessarily but collapse the pocket and make his lack of height a factor. If he doesn't have lanes to see through he will be less effective. 

Thomas15
Thomas15

@EaglesPdx Stopping the run vs. Eagles is easy to say, difficult to do. #1 RB #1 Rushing team in League for reason. Eagles Pass D looks worse than it is. Always on the field with opponents throwing because they're behind on scoreboard after another 3 minute 4 play TD "drive" by Eagles Offense. You may end up right of course. But if McCoy isn't stopped, Brees will have limited time and possessions to score points. I'm with you on Brees and Saints Offense. Not so sure about Saints D stopping McCoy and co. 

checkpointcharlie
checkpointcharlie

@RescuedfromESPN The Niners defense is ranked 13th? What stats are you looking at? They are the 3rd ranked scoring defense, and the 5th ranked defense based on yardage. They are clearly one of the best defensive teams in the NFL.

JPM
JPM

@RescuedfromESPNCan't believe you pick Green Bay to win, with Rodgers facing sub-zero temps and stiff wind.  This game will be decided in the trenches, with running backs.

BrianGoodner
BrianGoodner

@magic mushroom I can't wait until we move on from the Brady/Manning era.  It's been fun, but it's getting a little old...well, actually it's been a little old for awhile...it's VERY old now.

JPM
JPM

@SeriouslySkepticalAdmit it: you don't understand global climate change.  A warming planet and oceans means more extreme weather.  Do some research.

CoreyLivermore
CoreyLivermore

@Richard--Ramirez

Care to elaborate on why you think they are clueless?  Or are you incapable of doing so because you are the clueless one here?

goHeels
goHeels

Curler's contract is very team friendly. The Bears are getting a QB who led one of the best offenses in the NFL, and none of it is guaranteed past three years. How is that bad? That any team would be interested in McDaniels is stupid though, tbh.

Pat11
Pat11

@RandySchirmer@Pat11Because he picked philly and they lost to a much better team.. Also Peter king is known to favor teams from the Northeast.

Jon8
Jon8

@luvfoozball@udpert


BS! What he stated were facts! Tebow being out of the league has nothing to do with a long-gone Josh McDaniels!

goHeels
goHeels

DVOA has SanFran ranked 13th.

SephirothDZX
SephirothDZX

@JPM @RescuedfromESPN  And in the trenches it's going to be a push. Eddie Lacy and Frank Gore's stats are pretty dead even. San Francisco's defense gives up 4 yards a carry per rush, Green Bay gives up 4.5 yards per rush attempt. 


This game is going to be won by quarterbacks simply because I think the rushing games and the rushing defenses balance themselves out pretty well. Green Bay's pass defense is pretty awful, but at the same time I don't know if I'd trust Kaepernick over a fresh Aaron Rodgers when it comes to playing in inclement weather.


Obviously I'm being slightly homer with my pick, but I think Green Bay has a better chance than people are giving them. If this game was in San Fran, however, it would be a 49er route.

BY
BY

@BrianGoodner @magic mushroom You don't like seeing two of the VERY best ever? (I'm a Packer fan) I bet you were glad to see Mariano Rivera retire....

Thomas15
Thomas15

@JPM @SeriouslySkeptical Admit it: you're a leftist PUNK. You have to be to label all the physicists, climatologists and other scientists who've SHOWN global warming fears are way overblown and a political exercise are paid by the Kock Bros(lol) and 'Big Oil" while you ignore the trillions of dollars stolen from tax-payers and paid to UN bureaucrats and U.S. political campaigns. You're probably a patriots fan. 

blynder
blynder

@Jon8 @luvfoozball @udpert 

I disagree - Tebow is forever linked to McHoody JR, since he traded up to take him.  Has had access to him on two teams and his success/failure as a QB will always have a connection to McHoody JR.

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