Cover 3: NFC Playoff Storylines

Leave Odell Alone

The New York Giants wide receiving corps caught some heat for being pictured on a boat in Florida on its day off Monday. After eliminating Washington from the playoff picture at FedExField on New Year’s Day, Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis were criticized for not spending their day off focusing on their matchup with the Green Bay Packers this upcoming Sunday.

Head Coach Ben McAdoo defended his players in a press conference saying, “The players are off. They are not working.” How the players choose to spend their days off should not concern any of us. They had a day off following a victory and decided to spend it in Florida.

They then reported to practice on time Tuesday to prepare for their upcoming playoff game. The Giants receiving corps, specifically Odell Beckham, has received quite a bit of criticism from both the league and the media about issues on the field. Off the field, he should be allowed to live his life without scrutiny. The players complied with the rules set forth by their coach, and that should be that. If people are going to criticize them, criticize them for the routes they run, not for how they spend their free time, that is as long it is safe and legal.

 

The Coldest Division in the NFL

At any given point this season, it looked like three different teams could have won the NFC North. The Minnesota Vikings started off the year 5-0 before losing six of their next seven and dropping out of the playoff picture. The Detroit Lions won eight of nine games during the heart of season and looked to be in prime position headed into Week 15 to win the North with a 9-4 record.

Then out of left field, the Green Bay Packers, who many had written off due to a four-game losing streak, closed out the season with six straight victories. Three of these wins were against playoff teams, including a victory on the final day of the season against the Detroit Lions that awarded Green Bay a 10-6 record and their fifth NFC North title in the past six seasons. Detroit, however, was not eliminated from the playoffs as their 9-7 record granted them the final NFC Wild Card spot. The Lions will travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks this weekend in what will certainly be a tough game for Detroit.

 

Winners and Losers

The first game of NFC Wild Card Weekend has the Seattle Seahawks hosting the Detroit Lions. Both these teams have fallen on slightly hard times lately. Seattle, led by Russell Wilson, is 3-3 in its last six games — alternating wins and losses — ending the season with a mere two-point victory against a weak San Francisco squad. While Seattle cannot seem to string together two wins, Detroit is limping into the playoffs following three straight losses.

Prediction: Seattle 26, Detroit 20.

The colder game of NFC Wild Card Weekend features the Green Bay Packers’ high octane offense against New York Giants’ resilient defense. Over its final six games, quarterback Aaron Rodgers led Green Bay’s offense to an average of 30.9 points per game using weapons such as Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery in the absence of wide receiver Randall Cobb. On the other side of the ball, New York’s defense has proven it is one of the league’s best. Over its last six games, it has only allowed 14 points per game, and has been able to keep the Giants in games when its offense has stalled. However, Rodger’s offense may prove to be too much for the Giants’ defense to handle.

Prediction: Green Bay 24, New York 14.

As for the rest of the playoff picture, a hot Atlanta Falcons team boasts the best chance of representing the NFC in the Super Bowl. Led by MVP candidate Matt Ryan, the Falcons have the offensive assets to win their final game at the Georgia Dome and make the trip to Houston.

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