The 2011 NFL season may not be over yet (as I type this, the Cowboys-Giants are in pregame warmups), but the season has already produced one of the oddest postseasons I can remember. The matchups alone just make you gasp.
No. 1 Packers, No. 2 Niners: We all could've picked Green Bay getting a 1st round bye. But San Francisco? This is the team with Alex Smith starting at QB, right? And we are going to see Candlestick Park in the postseason again? Unreal.
No. 6 Lions at No. 3 Saints: Other than the fact that the Lions are in the playoffs for the first time in over a decade, there isn't anything really odd about this matchup. Well, except this could be one of the great playoff shootouts we've seen in a long time. Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford have been lighting it up and there are just so many great receiving threats out there. Probably THE premiere game next weekend.
No. 5 Falcons at No. 4 Cowboys/Giants: No matter what, this will be all about the NFC East champion. The one who didn't screw up and actually won the division tonight. No matter what, no one will remember Atlanta is in this. Too bad because the Dirty Birds will probably win.
Since both wildcard games are toss-ups, who knows what we'll get in the divisional round. I'd love to see Saints-Niners. I'd love to see a third Lions-Packers game if it was anything like today's tilt. Again, the Cowboys/Giants/Falcons winner against either Green Bay or San Francisco would be stunning.
No. 1 Patriots, No. 2 Ravens: This is absolutely no surprise. These two, along with the Steelers, have been thought of all year long as the best teams in the AFC. Nothing to see here.
No. 6 Bengals at No. 3 Texans: Unbelieveable. Houston is making its first playoff appearance ever and we have no idea who the QB will be. Matt Schaub? Nope. Matt Leinart? Nuh-uh. T.J. Yates? Maybe. Jake Delhomme? Texans fans hope not. Oh, and the Bengals are there as well. The same Cincinnati team that blew up its core from the last six years (Carson Palmer, Chad Johnsocinco) are making it with rookies Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. These guys were babies when the Bengals last won a road playoff game ... back when the NFL team in Houston were the Oilers.
No. 5 Steelers at No. 4 Broncos: Yes, Tim Tebow is in the playoffs. Yes, the Steelers will be double-digit favorites for this one. Yet the defending AFC Champion franchise that has won more Super Bowls than anyone will take second fiddle to the Broncos. This should get ugly real quick.
If the Bengals beat the Texans (like they did a few weeks back), that means we get another Steelers-Ravens game. What a war!!!! I want it. That would mean the young Bengals going against the Patriots, which would be fun. If Houston won, a Texans-Ravens matchup would be a bit boring but a Steelers-Patriots game would be nice. But what if Denver wins and we get Tebowmania at Baltimore?
Look at this list: Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger have 7 Super Bowl titles among them (if the Giants make it, then Eli Manning adds an 8th ring). Matt Stafford, Tim Tebow, T.J. Yates, Andy Dalton and Alex Smith have zero playoff appearances among them. Then you have Joe Flacco, Matt Ryan and maybe Tony Romo. Guys who've been there and not gotten it done.