NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend

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It’s a weird feeling, missing the Redskins in the playoffs. It shows just how quickly expectations can change. But here we are, the first week since the Redskins were eliminated. The games were entertaining, frustrating, and ultimately depressing.

Game 1: Ravens 38, Broncos 35

Well there goes my AFC Superbowl pick. Once the Broncos got on that tear, and Peyton Manning got himself into the thick of the MVP discussion, I figured no one could stop them, especially at home in the playoffs. Maybe I underestimated the Ravens. Maybe the team wanted one more shot at the AFC Championship after coming so close next year. Maybe Ray Lewis’ farewell tour carried more weight in the end than Peyton Manning’s comeback tour. Whatever it was, the Broncos lost a game in overtime that they could have won in regulation. But it was damn fun to watch them slug it out.

Game 2: 49ers 45, Packers 31

A meaningless touchdown with 1:07 left made this game look closer than it was. San Francisco owned Green Bay, and Jim Harbaugh looks like a genius now for switching from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick at mid-season. This was the most depressing game for a Redskins fan to watch. Kaepernick looked like a healthy RGIII behind a far better offensive line, and it was painful to see the “what if” scenario displayed so dramatically on TV. The good news, my NFC Super Bowl pick is on a roll.

Game 3: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28

Seattle almost pulled another come-from-behind road win Sunday, but at the end they could quite pull it off. As tough a loss as it was, there was no shame in it. The Seahawks will be back next year. Along with the resurgent Rams, the Niners, and the Hawks, the NFC West may be the toughest division in football next year. As for Atlanta, they finally got the playoff win they’ve been waiting for since 2004, and get a home game against the hottest offense in the league as a reward. The Falcons were my mid-season Super Bowl pick, but I’m liking the Niners more right now.

Game 4: Patriots 41, Texans 28

In the other depressing game this weekend, well . . . they’re back. What would an AFC Championship game be without the New England Patriots. It’s become the third certainty in life, right after death and taxes. Poor Houston never stood a chance. So will the Pats make yet another Super Bowl appearance? Or will a change in kickers be enough to finally get the Ravens back to the big game as a bookend to Ray Lewis’s storied career?

I’m done making predictions. I’m just going to enjoy the games next week with no emotional investment, and keep praying for RGIII’s recovery.

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