The Kickoff: Wildcard

Hello everyone, and welcome to my new series here at Frantic Talks. For those who missed the rundown on our last podcast let me give you an even briefer rundown before we start. A few years ago I ran a series on my own blog entitled “Bowl Bound” where I took the collegiate football bowl games that happen at the end of each season and simulated them in the latest NCAA Football game I had and posted the results. Eventually I took that idea and turned it pro, and by that, I mean I took important games in the NFL regular season and gave them the same treatment. Sadly, this only lasted for one week before I just quit doing it. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be taking the NFL playoffs and running those games through my super scientific procedure.

We’ll be starting this with the four Wild Card games and to be more specific, the Tennessee Titans versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Something tells me Frantic is interested in this matchup…

  • Titans…please…tackle.
  • Someone buy the Chiefs’ kicker his meal after this.

Titans win the coin toss and elect to receive and are off to a good start with a 10-yard kickoff return… Luckily they move the ball downfield with a few short passes with a couple of runs thrown in. After a holding penalty against Tennessee, Mariota decides to try for a long ball to the endzone and it is caught around the five-yard line…oh and it’s dropped. Back to the basic short passes to get around the Chiefs’ 35 where the Titans stall and are forced to kick a field goal. They miss, letting the Chiefs take over and move the ball quite efficiently down to the Titans’ two-yard line. Here though, the Titans defense musters up and holds the Chiefs to just a simple field goal. Chiefs lead 3-0. After the field goal, both teams trade drives with the Titans getting sacked. A. Lot. The Chiefs have a decent looking drive going late in the second quarter before the Titans learn they too, can sack. This doesn’t stop KC from getting back on track and kicking a 47-yard field goal to take a 6-0 lead into the half.

Second half begins and we see Kansas City doing more of the same, running the ball effectively and somehow getting 20-yard catches when they absolutely need them. Meanwhile the Titans keep being good at not tackling and getting facemask penalties. Late in the third quarter, we see the Chiefs being the Chiefs and getting down to the three-yard line where we see the Titans show up again and hold KC off from the touchdown. Chiefs kick another field goal to increase their lead to 9. Fourth quarter arrives and we see Tennessee make a few good plays on their drive and they make their way down to Kansas City’s 5-yard line. Once they arrive here, Mariota decides that throwing to players that are wide open is not important, a quick run play gets them literally on the goal line…oh wait, we’re moving back five yards. Fourth down Tennessee, what are going to do? Oh, kick a field goal…ok. Chiefs still lead 9-3 with just over two minutes left in the game. That is pretty much all that happens for the remainder of the game as the Titans cannot muster up their defense to get the necessary stops against the Chiefs and all they needed to do was run out the clock. Final score: Kansas City, 9, Tennessee, 3.

So with that game done, we should see the Chiefs moving on to play either New England or Pittsburg which will be determined by the winner of the Jacksonville and Buffalo game. That game is coming up, but first let’s move to the first NFC wildcard game where we shall see the Atlanta Falcons taking on the St. Louis Los Angeles Rams. Let’s hope someone doesn’t blow a 25 point lead…

  • Dear Atlanta, stop running. It’s not working.
  • Let the little yellow pieces of weighted fabric fly.

Atlanta wins the toss and gets things started by immediately being sacked for a loss of three. Not bad, especially when the following play is a 17-yard completed pass. Three plays later the Falcons get a really nice 44-yard run around the left edge to get to the Rams’ 7-yard line, but then on the next play the Falcons fumble. LA recovers in a rather sloppy manner, but hey they now have the ball from their own 16. PSYCH! The officials decide to take a look at the play to determine whether or not the runners knee was down before the ball started to come out. Official Footage Review determines he was indeed down and Atlanta takes right back over…only to waste their opportunities and be forced to kick a field goal. Atlanta leads 3-0 midway through the first quarter and I’m having a sense of déjà vu. LA’s first play yields a 32-yard reception and they keep moving forward, albeit slowly, but they keep moving. First quarter comes to an end and as the second begins we basically see the Rams just throw the ball away each and every time once they near the goal line. As a result, LA kicks the field goal and we’re tied at 3. The most exciting thing to happen during the Falcons’ next drive was that time they fumbled the ball and recovered it to lose even more yardage. That was, until they nailed a 57-yard field goal to take the lead 6-3. With less than a minute left in the first half, we see LA take the lead with a quick one play, 80-yard TD pass as they now lead 10-6. The last 30 seconds of the second quarter was an interesting series of events. Atlanta was forced to punt, but LA blocked the punt and got decent field position. LA then fumbled but recovered it and then kicked yet another field goal. Rams now lead 13-6 at the half.

Halftime consists of the commentators mocking me for skipping halftime by saying, “So much for the halftime report, I guess we’ll see you at the postgame report.” Joke is on you, I skip the postgame report too.

Third quarter starts with LA getting the ball and trying some fancy plays, and then being forced to punt on fourth and inches. The Falcons take over after the punt and successfully get some fancy runs of their own to work for some easy first downs. They near midfield and just choke by overthrowing every single person they try and pass to. Third quarter comes to a close and we begin the final minutes with the Rams taking over and realizing the running game works for them. It does indeed work for them as they chew through most of the fourth quarter and all of Atlanta’s timeouts. During this time, the Rams near the goal line and choose the better sportsman option of simply taking a knee to finish running out the clock. Thus, winning 13-6.

Continuing on to our third of four total games, we will see more AFC wildcard action with the Buffalo Bills (no…not the outlaw of 1800’s era Western U.S.) taking on the Jacksonville Jaguars.

  • Such an exciting game, yet such a boring ending.

Buffalo wins ye olde coin toss and will start things off for us. At first it doesn’t look like the Bills will get anything going for their opening drive as they get stopped on third down. However, they get a renewed chance as that last tackle was a facemask penalty as well. Just as the Bills look to be forced into punting they somehow convert for another first down and find themselves within the red zone. As they are nearing the goal line, they get a little carried away with the false start penalties. A quick slant pass nets the Bills field position on the one-yard line as the first quarter comes to a close. A play later, the Bills are in and are up 7-0. Jacksonville finally gets their chance to do some damage and have decent luck at moving the ball. Then they go and decide to fumble it right as they cross midfield and Buffalo recovers. We come back from the two-minute warning and the commentator has to search for his cue card…ok then. Bills still have the ball and are continuously converting first downs to move the chains bringing them ever closer to scoring distance. They make their way down to the three-yard line and make a quick pass into the endzone to go up 14-0 near the end of the first half. As the final few seconds of the first half tick away, the Jags make a nice 30-yard pass downfield to get well within scoring distance but have to settle with the field goal as time expires. Bills still lead 14-3 at the half.

The third quarter mainly consist of me hearing the commentator saying the name “Bortles” a lot as he connects on several passes to move the Jags downfield. The Bills are not able to stop Jacksonville as they switch to the run game, this works and the Jaguars score on a 26-yard TD run to cut the deficit to 4. “That’s not enough!”, says Jacksonville as instead of going for the typical PAT they take, and get, the two-point conversion. Buffalo now only leads, 14-11. The fourth and final quarter is now upon us, Buffalo has the ball and seems to have something going for them on this drive. Which they do…a lot of sacks once they get down around the 24-yard line. After that, Buffalo utters those words that I have heard all throughout this series so far, “Send on the kicker.” They do, and miss. There is still time left for Jacksonville…if only they could stop getting penalized! In the last minute they eventually quit getting penalized and start moving the ball forward making it to the Bills’ 14-yard line. They get here and stall out, calling a timeout and returning to kick the field goal. Again. Now the Bills start calling all the timeouts…please stop. The kick is up…and it’s through the uprights. The game is now tied at 14 and it looks like we’re heading into OT.

Kicking off overtime we have Jacksonville receiving the…uh, kickoff and then promptly fumbling. Luckily they still keep possession. The following play sees Bortles being chased out of the pocket and throwing a 44-yard pass, across the field, while running to keep things from going south quickly. This continues and the Jags find themselves right outside the endzone and punch it in to end the game, winning 20-14.

Our final wildcard game returns to the NFC where the Saints of New Orleans go marching against the Carolina Panthers.

New Orleans wins the toss of the round device known as a “coin” and elects to receive. They get nothing going for them and have a quick three and out and are forced to punt. The Panthers take over for the first time at their 38. One play later, we find Carolina within striking distance after a 36-yard reception. One more play later we find them going backwards after an easily sniffed out option play is shut down. They get going in the right direction with a 25-yard TD pass over the middle, putting the Panthers up 7-0 midway through the first quarter. When the Saints take back over, it looks to be a repeat of their initial drive with it being 3rd and 15, then Brees throws a 20-yard pass and have a first down. Following play, he decides that a 56-yard TD pass sounds better and we find ourselves tied at 7. Both teams trade drives for a while until New Orleans eventually finds some rhythm to move the ball downfield late in the second quarter. It takes them a few attempts at the four-yard line, but the Saints manage to sneak in a quick pass to someone in the back of the endzone to go up 14-7, still late in the second quarter. Panthers squander away their opportunities by majorly overthrowing their intended receivers and are forced to punt. Time winds down with nothing else happening.

“And apparently due to time constraints, we fast forward to the second half.” – Madden NFL 17 Color Commentator

Panthers take things over to start the second half, but the Saints’ defense holds up and forces three quick plays to get their offense back onto the field. Two plays later and the Saints crack off a big pass to go all the way to the one-yard line where it kind of looks like the receiver just fell down but in all reality, he was totally tackled. Despite this, Carolina holds the Saints to just a field goal. New Orleans now leads late in the third quarter, 17-7. Saints’ defense continues to hold up, meanwhile, the Panthers’ punter continues to make 50+ yard punts. Drew Brees uses this drive to just throw the ball away because he’s cool like that and when they go to punt…the Panthers block the punt. They start the Saints’ 14-yard line at the start of the fourth quarter. Two plays later, the Panthers cut the Saints’ lead to three with a touchdown of their own. New Orleans still leads 17-14 with most of the fourth left to play. The Saints want that TD back so they do what saints do and march down the field and take back that touchdown. Late in the fourth, New Orleans is up 24-14. With time winding down in the game, the Panthers respond with moving the ball down to around the 15 but a series of penalties starts moving them in the wrong direction. On 3rd and 23, the Panthers throw to the endzone out of desperation and it gets intercepted; however, the officials say he was out of bounds and that gives the Panthers one more attempt. Fourth down and another interception happens but this time there is no way to possible overturn it. New Orleans take over at their own one and wind out the clock with a couple of run plays.

There we have it, the wild card games have been ran through my super scientific method and we shall find out how accurate these “predictions” actually are this weekend. Join me next week as we’ll be doing the same thing for both the NFC and AFC Divisional games.

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